BROWNING — The seven employees of a cash-strapped Montana town might be out of a job after the mayor announced that he can’t afford to keep paying them.
“Knowing what’s in the bank, knowing what we have, knowing the revenue stream coming in, I can’t keep them on,” explained Browning Mayor William Morris at a town council meeting Wednesday night. “Friday is the last day I think we can keep them going.”
The town of about 1,000 people on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation is running so low on funds that it has considered disincorporation or filing for bankruptcy, reported Lee Newspapers of Montana. Town officials blame the problems on a dispute with the Blackfeet Nation over the management of a water utility that serves the city.
Blackfeet leaders, however, say the town still owes the tribe money and must accept responsibility for its own poor fiscal management.
At Wednesday’s meeting, Morris told the six town employees present not to wait for the town to bring them back to work.
“It’s my personal opinion, and I really hate to say this,” said Morris, “because the town cannot guarantee your wages, I’m willing to write letters of recommendation, whatever it takes, but I’d seek employment elsewhere.”
“Seek employment, it you have to go across the street. I don’t want to see your families suffer,” he added.
Morris said he’s discussed the process of declaring bankruptcy with an attorney but the town has not retained legal representation.