BROWNING – The town of Browning has been in the process of disbanding due to financial issues since 2016.
In February the Browning Receiver asked to shut the Browning government down or liquidate the town’s assets because of the millions of dollars in debt owed.
In March of 2016, a Lewis and Clark County District Judge appointed Robert Denning to take over financial control of the town’s assets and debt.
After taking over, Denning found that the town had not balanced their books in about five years, nor had it filed an annual financial report.
According to Blackfeet Tribal Business Council Chairman Harry Barnes, the Tribe has been in negotiations for a lawsuit about an outstanding water issue.
“That was one of the court’s concerns is that they find some settlement to that. The town had really gone defunct because of some financial issues,” Barnes said. “A lot of people blamed it on the tribe but it was not the tribe, it was management issues.
Barnes said the settlement states that the tribe will receive what is left of the assets. The tribe will get a few acres of land, some equipment and a few buildings.
They will also buy Browning City Hall and the money will pay the other plaintiffs in the lawsuit. The Blackfeet Tribe has taken over the public services the town of Browning used to be responsible for.
Barnes said that the town can now heal as the process comes to an end.
“I appreciate the tribal council efforts in resolving this thing and putting an end to a drawn out case that has been really harmful to an entire community,” Barnes said. “Now we can start healing, mending, and moving forward in a more positive way.”
Barnes said there are about two to three months left until the former city of Browning is officially dissolved.