Tuesday October 6, 2015
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Rare indeed is it that two letters to the editor target the same local problem. This week it happened. Two letters about the mess during PSWID meetings.
Not long ago, disgusted with the things going on at those board meetings, full-timer and part-timer alike we joined together to ensure professionalism at board meetings. We elected an engineer who speaks from an honest, open-minded, well informed viewpoint, and rid ourselves of a board president who dared to yell at anyone who asked a question.
Apparently the problem still exists.
From Sue Green:
"Gary Lovetro, PSWID vice chair, is [a bully]."
"Interrupting, dismissing and insulting Mr. Schwalm and his attempts to be heard whether it be verbal or through rude actions like talking during slide presentations or claiming violation of OML (open meeting law) is astounding to say the least. Even the PSWID lawyer refuses to make a decision on OML violation. The board continually attempts to silence and block ideas and/or suggestions by Mr. Schwalm. If Mr. Schwalm’s ideas are allowed to be presented, there is no sincere consideration, just interruption, intolerance and disdain."
From Bernice Winandy:
"[Re the steep increase in water rates] it is quite likely that this steep increase would not be necessary had PSWID been more careful handling PSWID funds."
"For example, PSWID had the Strawberry Hollow Well appraised. However, when that appraisal came in at almost half the asking price, PSWID said the appraisal was too low. They had the well re-appraised and then paid the seller full asking price."
"PSWID also paid full asking price for the Milk Ranch Well after spending thousands of PSWID dollars on the well prior to the purchase of the well. This well, according to pre-purchase talk would produce over 100 gallons a minute, now “by design” produces only 45 gallons a minute."
"Fully aware of the sand problems in the Milk Ranch Well and Strawberry Hollow Well, PSWID drilled two more wells in the same approximate area. Should they have known those two wells would also have a sand problem?"
There is no way they could NOT have known. I told them myself several times there would be problems. Even with my handful of geology courses it was obvious that drilling deep wells in the center of a valley located between highlands composed partly of sandstone and other sedimentary rock, with thousands of years of sand and silt deposition, would result in clogged pumps and filthy water. And so it has.
How is it we who have invested hard cash in first or second homes cannot seem to stop our water rates and taxes from skyrocketing again? Why can't we find someone to run a small public utility without bullying, smoke and mirrors, credit card abuse, anger, and ridiculous plans to dig up the entire system and replace it?
PSWID is an example of what happens when people with a "vision" lose sight of reality. Pine/Strawberry residents simply cannot afford the "vision" that the Board members have. Water rates almost double those of Payson. But what really scares the living daylights out of me is the $7.5 million bond issue. Heaven only knows what will happen to the cost of water if they put this bond issue through. Then they are supposedly going to use economist.com for the financial. Seems that this company does not have a good track record with PSWID as far as predictions. Afterall, according to prepurchase talk, buying the water companies was not going to be a financial burden to Pine/Strawberry residents. But then again, maybe the PSWID board didn't handle finances the way economist.com envisioned.
Whatever, it is time to stop the runaway spending, check one's "vision" and get on track with the reality of the Pine/Strawberry community. I can only repeat, if they don't want to listen to the voice of the public, they should resign.
Guys, once I get started. Tommie Cline Martin, assisted by John Nelson, led a very good Town Hall earlier this year. I really was impressed by the supervisor. She talked about a well functioning governmental body as a triangle with the wide base at the bottom with the power of the people flowing up to the board members. She went on to say that the inverted triangle with power flowing from the top to the bottom is dysfunctional. I left that Town Hall meeting feeling certain that PSWID would change its ways. How disappointed I am that a whole room full of people, Tommie Cline Martin, John Nelson, etc. just wasted their time. The PSWID Board continues as it had in the past.
At the last meeting, I wasn't there but I heard from many people and you can listen to the tape, that a certain board member would not give the floor to another board member. The out of order board member continued to talk over the other's presentation until a member of the audience asked him to be quiet. Why didn't the board chairman take action to keep the out of order board member in order? Is this an example of how things are literally going to be rammed down our throats?
On a lighter side, a friend sent me an e-mail that is a list of famous insults. Here are some examples: "He uses statistic as a drunken man uses lamp-posts...for support rather than illumination." Andrew Lang (1844-1912)
"He has no enemies, but is intensely dislike by his friends.." Oscar Wilde
and more to come
You all are beginning to sound like a bunch of little kids.
Either recall the board or take your ball, go home, and quit crying on here.
Drill your own wells. They can't stop you from doing that on your own property.
Several people here in Payson have done that. The last chief of police drilled his own well just south of Green Valley Park Lakes before he built his house, and has all the water he wants. His neighbor across the street wanted trees and Payson told him he couldn't plant them so he drilled his own well and has a forest around his house.
You are right, Pat, we have done a lot of complaining about PSWID. Unfortunately, there is so much to complain about. However, your advice about drilling our own wells won't work. Many of us are on lots 1/3 to 1/4 an acre with septic systems. I don't think we would have the room for a well. Also, I think many of the lots might have restrictions about ownership of what "lies beneath."
But, thanks anyway. And I will take heed of your advice.
Tommie Cline Martin is the best. If PSWID ran the way her office does we wouldn't have a worry in the world. That's what so puzzles me. How can we have some public officials that are so good, so typical of the Arizona I came here to be a part of, and others be so useless?
"Why didn't the board chairman take action to keep the out of order board member in order?
Are you kidding?
Read this: "Either recall the board or take your ball [and go home]."
We have the power. We just aren't using it. If I were younger, and weren't forced to dedicate my days to my beloved wife you'd learn what the meaning of "putting your money where your mouth." You have no idea of the number of times I have taken on people who thought they were untouchable and beaten them. But all I can do now is watch, wait, and vote.
Maybe I ought to do a string on what one determined person can do.
By the way, Pat, since you own a place up here and are taxed you're part of the group.
I don't have a water meter so they will play hell charging me for water. Haven't had a meter in over two years.
Yes there will be taxes but I won't be around to pay them if something isn't done soon my son will have to pay them.
One summer they charged me $80.00 hauling fee on top of the regular fee and not a drop of water was used at the house. So I said no more.
Pat, "but I won't be around to pay them if something isn't done soon...." Does this statement mean you are experiencing some serious health problems?
It goes without saying that we all care about you.
Absolutely we care about you Pat! Your quick wit and short comments often make me laugh :-)
We all hope you are around to make us smile for a long long time.
As for the theme of this blog, I was the person that had to tell Mr. Lovetro that he was being rude by loudly engaging in conversation with others, including CH2M Hill (the Management Company who know better) while Mr. Schwalm was trying to give a presentation. A bully is indeed a good description of Mr. Lovetro.
A recall is not out of the question, the board has had long enough to respond to public pleadings and opinion.
Thanks for all the nice comments.
No more health problems than usual, but as slow as you guys are at getting PSWID on the right track your grandkids will probably be still fighting the fight. (:
Pine was such a pretty little town at one time. Water ran down a ditch on the east side of the road all year long and people irrigated from it. I think property owners up there still have water rights that were recorded long ago. That might mean something to think about.
Thanks, Pam. You start the petition and I'll sign it. This time the weekend folks will be with us. They got burned badly last time because they believed all the hype and tripe. A lot of those weekend folks are professional business people. They know how to run something. And they didn't buy up here to pay excessive water charges and high taxes. They know full well that tearing up the entire system and replacing it is not the way to create a long lasting, fiscally sound water district. In fact, it sounds like someone's way of throwing money toward someone.
We need to be careful who is on that recall petition. We don't want to hurt anyone who has been genuinely trying to do a good job. I'd like to see a board like the one we had to begin with. They did the job without the slightest bit of controversy or anger.
Pat, glad to hear it's not something new. I suppose you feel the same way I do: Everything ends someday, and it has been a long run.
I'm glad you mentioned the old irrigation system. I've listened to a lot of stories about the Pine of the early years, especially the 20's and 30's. I'd liked to have lived here then. In fact, even though I loved the simple people in my old Staten Island neighborhood, and still do, I'd love to have been born here. It would have fitted me to a t.
When Lolly and I moved up here we both knew we had made the right move. On our very first morning, as we were looking at a house stacked with furniture and boxes and, and were just getting started with it all, our front doorbell rang. There was the little old lady from down the street with a very traditional form of welcome, a small, plain, still warm from the oven, loaf cake. She welcomed us to Pine and the neighborhood, told us that if we needed anything we should just walk down the street and ask. Then she left, saying that she knew we were busy. It was exactly the same greeting we had had when we first moved into a small house in Layton, Utah, 37 years earlier.
I will never forget the look on Lolly's face. "Well," she said, smiling that little knowing smile of hers, "looks like we're home at last."
"...home at last." A kid from New York City and a girl who grew up on her grandfather's tea and coffee plantation in India.
Says a lot, doesn't it?
It's take energy for recall. The community needs to come together and participate in this process. No participation - no recall, it's as simple as that. Don't complain about the water rates, don't complain about the higher property taxes, don't complain about the disrespectful treatment from this PSWID Board or the corruption that affects the community if you're not willing to put your commitment of time and energy for the highest good of the community!
Tom, PSWID is still out of control because the communities of Pine/Strawberry are still so divided. I found an old water billing from Scottsdale - 1995, to be exact, and it was for 55.00. I don't have a pony in this show any longer, but I can sure tell you that most newbies never received a 700.00 water bill from Brooke Utilities.
I wouldn't want a volunteer/elected position on the PSWID board - I wouldn't want to hear the junk that is rumor and innuendo. I have no clue WHY there is still so much anger.....
Evidently,one had to have lived through the TRULY corrupt years, Deb, in order to appreciate what we now have. I'll take 45.00 water bill over a 700.00 one any day.
Your comments do not hold air. They are so wide of the mark they don't even deserve a reply, but I'll give you one:
"I don't have a pony in this show any longer...."
In that case, what is your motivation is commenting on this issue?
Also, saying that Pine and Strawberry are divided sounds like an attempt to drive a wedge between the people up here so they will not act in concert. Forget it, divide and conquer tactics were used last time; they will not work this time.
Also, just exactly what do the days under Brooke utilities have to do with what is going on now? Does the fact that a wrong was done years ago by someone else make the wrongs being done today okay? Is that how you justify it? Is there some kind of logic or reasoning that supports that position? Could you send me a link? Thanks.
All that any political move takes is for a few people to get together and agree that they will start doing something. If I were free to do it I would be one of them. I'm not, but anyone who starts the movement will have my support.
Thanks Tom - appreciate your comments very much. Anyone interested in helping in efforts in doing something about the current PSWID Board, go to: http://waterforpinestrawberry.com/Contact.htm with any and all interest.
Thank you, Tom. You personally INVITE me to participate in a discussion, then berate me? You crucified the woman that spoke on behalf of the water company as being in "conflict of interest" yet, Deb Schwalm is allowed to entice a recall??? (with her husband being on the board, I'd certainly call this a conflict of interest. You will call it free speech). I am and have been a member of this community for going on 9 years, and I plan to keep it this way. Thanks again for the "invitation". I will politely - yes POLITELY bow out of this tunnel vision conversation.
Jane, since you apparently no longer live in the community, and therefore have no real stake in the matter why do you continue to peddle your misinformation. First of all, as Toms says what happened before is history and cannot be changed. However, we do have control over what is happening now and in the future. If you want to bring up the past we can always bring up the pre-Hardcastle days when the water companies were under local control and when illegal hook ups were allowed, when the water company was not paying its electric bills, etc. And frankly, who installed all that sub standard water pipe that we are now hearing about. Frankly, if you ever received a $700 water bill you either had livestock, were a commercial hook-up or were abusing water usage.
The present PSWID administration has put the community in debt in the amount of $7.5 million and would like to double that debt by issuing a bond. Jane, you will not have part in paying off that debt, and frankly, since your pocket book will not be involved your comments are not worth anything.
I hate all this crap. I have always been a believer that when people sit down and talk it almost always resolves their differences, but this time all I hear from people who go to meetings is that they get yelled at when they try to talk, so I guess that — as Pat says — if we don't join together and do something we will have to put up with it forever.
Here's what I believe is the bottom line: If we bite off more than we can chew at a time when there are many people just barely hanging on here in Rim Country we are going to get ourselves into troubles that we cannot get out of. The water system is working. I see no proof that there are actual leaks that are wasting the amount of money that is claimed, and even the amount claimed would not justify tearing up everything, even those parts which have never shown, and do not now show, any signs that they need repair.
The worst possible thing that could happen to us would be having to tear up the entire system and replace it, so how is making that come true a solution? That's like shooting yourself in the head so that you don't have to worry about being shot in the head.
And one part that really gets me angry is the fact that we have now been told that a goal of doing all this is to "expand" the system. The one and only thing that could mean would be running pipes to places that now do not have homes on them.
My comment is the same comment that any sensible person would make:
Ray, you want to to extend the system that we paid for, are still paying for, and will be paying for for many years to come so that new homes can be built for you to sell?
YOU pay for it!
Or add the price of the extension to the cost of a meter as an impact fee. That's what is done everywhere else. Can you give me any good reason why people who already have paid millions of dollars to enjoy a quiet full time or part time home in the Rim Country should ante up millions more so that someone else can get the same thing free of charge?
C'mon! Just one reason!
If you really want to recall the board, it only takes one person to get it started.
Back in the early '90's the FS was going to shut off all camping every where on the shores of Roosevelt Lake .
We were going there every weekend from Mesa and in my mind I said,
I typed up a one page information sheet of what was trying to happen. Then a petition sheet for people to sign. Traveled around the state talking to people.
(Believe it or not I used to be a quiet person and would not think of standing up in front of a crowd of people, but the worm turned.)
They were trying to take away my play ground. I left the information sheet and petitions at boat dealers, sporting goods stores and many other places. Then went back every week or so and picked them up. When I would get several sheets I would make 5 copies. One for the FS and one for each congress person from Ariz. Spoke with the FS many times, Jon Kyle, John McCain, Bureau of Reclamation and any other door I could open.
I finally had 15,020 signatures. Did not ask for money and refused it from anyone that offered. It was my fight and I won. They charge for parking and camping on the shore but people are able to go there.
Some one in Pine or Strawberry needs to get off their rear and start a recall if that is what is needed. As I said it only takes one person to win a battle if they are serious.
"Anyone interested in helping in efforts in doing something about the current PSWID Board, go to: http://waterforpinestrawberry.com/Contact.htm with any and all interest."
I take it you didn't like my suggestion. No problem. I understand why you can't do it.
There are lots of other people that can but won't. Easier to wait for someone else to do it.
All I read on here is whining and no one will do anything but wait for someone else to do it.
Lots of luck getting anything done. It won't be much longer that Pine and Strawberry will be ghost communities with vacant houses everywhere. Businesses will start closing like they are in Payson.
I went to the website and didn't get much out of it.
I don't intend to ever live in my house in Pine and as it is to be passed on to a member of my family they can worry about it.
I do pay my taxes, so feel I have the right to say what I feel about the water there.
I am paying for things in the taxes that I don't use. School, library, fire dept. and the water crap. Even pay to have the d--- weeds mowed.
Didn't really grasp that you were making a suggestion. If you were suggesting that I get actively involved, all I can say is that in my situation that is a complete impossibility. I can do things that do not require me to leave this house. Beyond that....?
Along that line, maybe this is the time and place to point out how much this dumb thing I am typing on, along with the vast network of intersecting wires, satellite links, and towers have changed our lives. Right around the world we are closer together, know more each other, are in more immediate contact, and perhaps even understand each other a little better.
Who, when I was in my twenties, would have cared two pins whether or not some government in Syria fell? Who cared, or even knew, that someone in the Chinese government was being tried for corruption. The answer is simple: no one.
And as for information....?
I can learn more in five minutes, and with greater ease, sitting right where I am than I could have learned ten years ago in several days spent in a large university library.
Think of what that means for those who are young and just learning. And for those who are old and want to still feel involved with the world.
Yes, we pay a price. Because we can see more of what is happening, we worry about it. Because we see the news about children everywhere, we fret — just as did our ancestors in Greece and Rome two thousand years ago — that the children of today are rude, ignorant, and lazy. But the question is: since our parents said the same thing about us, how come we turned out so well?
You should know I was not suggesting you do the petitions for a recall. I said I understood why you couldn't do it.
There are probably a lot of retired people sitting around with nothing to do that could do something besides whine. Or people who are out of work and can't pay their water bill.
Would be a great job for them. No pay, but maybe no big water bills later.
Mr. Ray Pugel should resign as Chairman and Board Member of Pine Strawberry Water Improvement District (PSWID) due to the obvious conflict of interest with his Realty and Development Business in Pine Strawberry, Arizona. Mr. Pugel has come under scrutiny from the community over his agenda on the PSWID Board pushing to add an additional 7.5 million dollar bond to the communities’ already high financed debt. The board’s aggressive budget has already caused a 30% increase in water rates and double the property taxes. The community should be feeling the full impact of the rate increase by now. The proposed aggressive repair plan is not what the community wants. The community has spoken without being heard. The repairs do not have to be done as proposed – a slower pace and less expensive options can be chosen to spread out the expense to residents. From Mr. Pugel’s published articles, you would think there is no other choice in this matter which is simply not true. As well, there is still no transparency with bids and actions between the PSWID Board and Ch2MHill Management Company which manages the water company. No matter how you slice it, Mr. Ray Pugel as a Realtor and Developer will directly benefit from all aspects of the proposals by the PSWID Board. No matter how you slice it, that’s a conflict of interest.
Mr. Pugel is not going to starve if he never sells another piece of property.
If you don't want him on the board, get up off your computer chair and start a recall.
Don't sit and whine and expect someone else to do it.
Is Ray Pugel the ONLY member of that board. Seems to me there is someone on that board that shares the same last name as you. Should we be suspect of your motives as regards your campaign against Ray Pugel in light of that circumstance? I highly doubt that Mr. Pugel is unilaterally making all the decisions that come from the Pine Strawberry Water Improvement District Board. If that is the case, then perhaps the best approach is not necessarily to get rid of Mr. Pugel, but to replace the other board members with some folks that have some spine. There is absolutely nothing that I know of that forbids others on that board from making their views known if they conflict with the decisions of the majority of the board. I do believe we still have a 1st Amendment that allows for such. Lets hear from the other board members on the issues you bring to light. It seems we are only getting one side of the story from those on both sides of the issues.
Ron, what is your opinion. Do you think the entire PSWID water system should be torn up and replaced immediately? Do you think the community should take on an additional $7.5 million in debt? Do you trust the accuracy of economist.com financial predictions?
Frankly, in my opinion un American things are going on with PSWID. At the July meeting Sam Schwalm was trying to make a presentation. Rather than listen to the presentation another board member started to carry on a conversation with people at the rear of the room. It was only after a member of the audience asked the rude board member to be quiet that this behavior stopped. Shouldn't the chairman of the board put an immediate end to the interruption by the board member? What did the interrupter find so intimidating in the presentation that he tried to prevent it from being heard. You can hear and see the whole thing by going to waterforpinestrawberry.com and clicking on the July meeting recording.
I don't want to whine, but frankly, I have never experienced this type of behavior at any public meeting except when Rim Country Water attended the recalled PSWID Board meetings.
This is Pine, Arizona UNITED STATES OF AMERICA PSWID needs to remember this FACT and act accordingly.
I've stated my views before and will not continue to post them here. My reply was to Mrs. Schwalm as regards her post directed specifically at Ray Pugel. One would have to have been living under a rock not to know what transpired between Sam Schwalm and his supporters and those "on the other side" during the whole acquisition process. From this vantage point, knowing the "players" would make one believe that the efforts of one group to prevail over the other is still very much in play. It is as Pat Randall and others have said, we are simply never going to get anywhere with these discussions as long as very strong and divisive personalities are the main focus, not the water needs of these two communities. There is nothing quite as polarizing and divisive as small town politics. I suppose that old sage wisdom is very much at work right here in our little region. I personally will not involve myself in that tumult.
OK, Ron, you have made your point. However, I think affordable water needs are very much in play. What good is having mucho water if you can't afford to pay for it? I believe that with a good careful well thought out plan we should be able to upgrade our system without causing financial harm to the present water users. I believe in living within your means. I also expect public bodies to live within their means. I believe that doubling the community's debt to $15 million is not being careful and is not living within our means.
If everyone just throws in the towel well we might just end up with heaven only knows!
There is not one thing you just pointed to that I am not in total agreement with. The reality it seems, is the "well is poisoned" and I simply do not know how we get past that. If we are ever to realize the things you just mentioned, we must.
I think that part of the attack on my comments overlaps to my husband, Sam. He is very much the minority on the board. Basically everything he says or suggests gets shut down. He can barely get it out of his mouth without interuption or being cut off completely. I post these comments for public information not just to whine. Ron, your statement, "I personally will not involve myself in that turmult." is contradictory. By saying it, you are involved and your continual comments have you involved. Pat, I wonder why you are so defensive? I haven't said anything against you. The community needs to be aware and this is part of my freedom of speech whether you like it or not.
By not getting involved, I will not take sides in this issue. I find merit and fault on both sides. I think both sides would be well advised to be more conciliatory and less combative in working through their disagreements. I am merely expressing my views regarding the opinions posted on this blog."... this is part of my freedom of speech whether you like it or not.".
You do not sound neutral on your opinions, sorry. I agree that everyone has freedom of speech.
"You do not sound neutral on your opinions, sorry." I'm sure it must appear that way to someone who is very subjective in their views.
Pat, why are you involved in this discussion if you have no stake in it. You have said that you don't have a meter at your house in Pine so there is no water bill, right? If that's correct, why do you care what we do in the Pine-Strawberry Community? I'd like to hear from Pine-Strawberry RESIDENTS who pay the bills and will feel the impact from the actions of this PSWID Board.
I will feel the impact of the water board on my property tax, I was not using water so couldn't see any sense in paying a $80.00 hauling fee, plus the minimum charge for nothing. We have owned the house since 1984 and my in-laws owned it before that. My father in-law built it before 1960, so I will continue to say what I darn well please whether you like it or not. Our family has probably paid a lot more taxes and money to the water companies in Pine than you ever will. I have an advantage, enough property to drill my own well.
Then, why don't you get off your computer chair, start a recall and stop whining? Just like you advised me.
I would like to hear from a variety of residents in Pine and Strawberry.
Ms. Schwalm, this is an open forum. Anyone can contribute.
Also, one of your comments from yesterday states "The board’s aggressive budget has already caused a 30% increase in water rates and double the property taxes."
You should clarify that this action did not double the property tax, just the portion that pertains to the water company.
Yes, this forum is open to everyone. I would like to hear from a variety of residents. Thanks for contributing. I have just been repeating how the property tax was reported in all publications and reports.
I would like nothing better than to be positive about this situation or any situation for that matter. That being said, I feel integrity comes before trying to "candy coat" a bad situation in the community that needs attention through public awareness. I fully understand that many feel there is no problem at all and we have a wonderful water company. Everyone has a right to express his/her opinion.
I agree, of course, that there is a conflict of interest. That's obvious and always has been. I have never brought it up because I am too polite to discuss such things.
I also agree that buying the water company has doubled the taxes assessed by the County for PSWID.
Since the water hauling charges have been dragged out of the garage, revved up, put out on the track again used as an argument in favor of our spending so much money I'm going to put all this in context by going back to the original discussions, where the subject of water hauling charges were covered in their entirety. I'll post two comments from that time. One I posted 6 years, 9 months ago, and one I posted a few days after the first one.
The first post has two errors in it, and I will tell you about them here so that you will know about them (they are corrected in the second post, but I still want to make sure that you know that they are there in the first post).
In the first post I referred to Ray's well as a "drill hole" because that it how it was reported at first. But after it was first reported it was cased, and so at the time of that first post it was an actual well but I did not know that. Ray came all the way over to my house to tell me about it, so I was careful to correct that comment.
In the first post I estimated that we would have to pay $8 million for the water company, which was a total of $2000 per household. That is corrected in the second post. Ray gave me a copy of the amortization schedule, which showed that the actual cost was $12 million, and the cost per household came to $6547.
Read these two posts and they will show you the actual facts as of the time just before the water company was purchased. At that time we were told, of course, that there would be no increase in rates.
Tom Garrett 6 years, 9 months ago:
Let's take a fair and honest look at what's going on in Pine (again!) by asking ourselves a few simple questions.
1. Does Pine run out of water anymore? No.
Why not? Pine Water Company is required by the Corporation Commission to truck in water as needed.
How much does trucking cost the average Pine household? The average Pine household uses three to four thousand gallons each month and pays between $30 and $40 each YEAR for trucking costs.
The suggestion has again been made that the people of Pine (and Strawberry too!) buy Pine Water Company; what would it cost them? Last time, the quoted price was $8,000,000.
What would buying Pine Water Company cost each household in Pine and Strawberry in taxes to pay back the necessary loan? Not counting interest, roughly $2000 per household. With interest, possibly three to four times that amount.
For that same $2000, for how many years could the average household pay a water hauling surcharge of $30 to $40 per year? For 50 to 60 years.
Would there be any other drawbacks to public ownership of Pine Water Company? Yes, the Arizona Corporation Commission would no longer exercise authority over the water company. There would be no one to prohibit overdevelopment by limiting the number of new meters per month.
Is there a new well in Pine? Not really, a 1200 foot deep drill hole is not a "well" until it is cased, at great expense.
If the Pine/Strawberry Water Improvement District spends $300,000 to have Brooke Utilities put in a new well in Pine, how much would that cost each household? Roughly $60 to $75, or what they would have spent on the water hauling surcharge in two years.
Having said all that, do Ray Pugel and Robert Randall deserve a pat on the back for finding new water in Pine? You bet they do!
Reasonably, what should they expect to do with their water? Negotiate the sale of it to Pine Water.
Any other comments?
Yes, one for Ray Pugel. In all fairness, Ray, if you are truly anxious to see local ownership of Pine Water Company, there is nothing stopping you from buying it yourself, repairing the infrastructure you keep complaining about, casing your drill hole, tying the resulting well into the system, turning Pine into a water-rich community, getting approval from the Corporation Commission for a fair and equitable charge for your water, convincing the Commission that the water supply is adequate to allow additional development, making a tidy profit off new construction as a developer and realtor, and living happily ever ever. But, come on, Ray! Quit trying to convince the people of Strawberry and Pine that they should buy Pine Water, thereby raising their own taxes and placing themselves under the very real threat of overdevelopment by eliminating the protection the Corporation Commission now affords them. No matter how you look at it, that's not a smart thing for them to do.
Had a surprise visitor at my door Monday evening--Ray Pugel. He introduced himself politely and asked if I had time to talk. Although he appeared to be someone quit easy to like, I had to tell him that I don't do business at home and that if he had comments to make he should do it "in writing" on this web log or in a letter to the editor. However, without sounding combative or angry, he said he didn't want to respond in writing. He didn't explain why.
He then pointed out that I had made errors in my posting. My ears perked up at that because in fairness to anyone affected by what I write, I want anything that appears on this blog, or in the Your Turn column, to be accurate.
And Ray was right, so let's correct those errors right here and now. First of all, the article describing the new well in Pine failed to mention that it had been cased, and in the absence of this vital detail I naturally described it as a "drill hole." But Ray tells me that it is cased, and I certainly believe him, and so I apologize for my error. It is a true "well" not just a drill hole. I stand corrected.
Secondly, I stated that the amount asked of the people of Pine and Strawberry for the purchase package involving Pine Water Company was $8 million. I was wrong. That was a preliminary figure that I had seen; the final figure requested was $12 million, $4 million for the water company and an additional $8 million for water exploration and necessary repairs of the infrastructure. So, even though my figure was an understatement of the cost to the people of Pine and Strawberry, and increasing the figure simply underscores the points I made, I apologize for the error.
The $2000 that I said it would cost each household to buy the water company was correct (the actual figure is $2184), but now that I have the actual amortization schedule in writing (thanks to Ray), and can include the cost of the entire $12 million at 5.000% interest, the total cost comes to $6547 per household, paid over twenty years.
(Sorry. Had to break this post into two parts because the heading I added so you would know when it occurred caused it to run over by 29 characters.)
I was in the middle of dinner when Ray came to my door, but I didn't want to just shoo off someone who was so doggone likable, so I took the time to ask a few questions. I told Ray that I was dead serious when I suggested that he buy the water company and do what he thought needed doing. His answer was, "I'm a business man. I would never buy Pine Water. It would cost too much in repairs."
Ray also told me--and he sounded quite sincere when he spoke of his feelings for this area--that even if he "never sold another house in Pine" he would want to see the water situation resolved. He also pointed out that he had joined with Robert Randall in spending $249,000 to drill a well because he was "frustrated that no one was doing anything."
So I got to meet a gentleman who certainly seems to believe he has the right answer. I still disagree with him because I think buying Pine Water is a bad idea for reasons previously stated, but it was a pleasure meeting him.
Since I have a little space left over I'll just add two comments.
One: There is no "other side" in this issue. This is a matter which involves all people who pay a water bill or taxes in Pine and Strawberry. It is our future that is involved. It is up to us to stop the plan to spend millions of dollars of our hard earned money to accommodate future expansion of the water system, which has at last been revealed as the reason for the overblown plan which has been presented to us. Just as I have said about the plan for Payson, slow and easy does it; spend what you have to spend when you actually need to spend it. Do not enter into some vast scheme to tear up the entire system on mere speculation. And if it should arise that the development of new areas requires the laying down of additional pipes then the proper way to handle that is to access those costs to those who will profit from them. They, not we, are the ones who will gain.
Two: It is a natural thing to identify PSWID employees with what is going on, but it is a sad mistake. A year or so ago I had occasion to send a "thank you" e-mail to the people who maintain the system for us and do the work needed to make the office run. I was saddened to receive an e-mail in return that said it was rare that they ever received a thank you. That made me feel genuinely bad. How about it, folks? Can we separate a couple of things in our minds and treat those who do all that work for us the way they should be treated — with a smile and a thank you?
Is there a conflict of interests in those who are business persons and are championing the bringing of an ASU campus to Payson? Of course there is. " That's obvious and always has been." Will some people personally benefit from that endeavor while at the same time most of the citizens of Payson and the region will see growth and the ancillary benefits/downsides that come via that growth?
Before you propose that the "campus" will be revenue neutral ( others are picking up the "tab") to the current residents of the region, I will take a wait and see approach. From my experience, that prospect is disingenuous at best.
That Ray Pugel and many others in Pine and Strawberry livelihoods are intimately tied to the water situation here is a no brainer. If Pine/Strawberry has an "industry" it is certainly real estate. One need only look around. But these folks, regardless of personal interests, are still our neighbors and have to live with the rest of us on a daily basis and are as well subject to the decisions that are made by the PSWID Board when it comes to their taxes and water bills. I sense we are re-fighting the whole "acquisition of the water system" all over again. Is it somewhat due to sour grapes by those whose views did not prevail in the final outcome? When all that was going on, the "enemy" I was focused on was Robert Hardcastle and Brooke Utility (Jayco Oil), and as has been shown with the Mesa Del issue, he truly was less than trustworthy and honorable. Seems others find the "enemy" they are seeking somewhere else.
I am almost 77 yrs. old. Have a very bad back which nothing can be done for and I don't intend to use marijuana.
Some days I can hardly walk thru my house. Have a pacemaker and a stent in my heart.
Uncontrolled blood pressure. Any other reasons you need for me to not be doing the recall work?
I am not whining, stating facts and if I say something wrong I come back and try to fix it.
I'm sorry about your physical limitations.
You completely changed the subject when you tried to use RCEA as an analogy for the current issue. The creation of a separate legal entity by Payson and Star Valley is a way of doing something for future development WITHOUT using tax dollars; what is being proposed by the board of PSWID is a way of doing something by USING tax dollars. It's a totally false analogy.
Also, I didn't bring up the purchase of the water company. Ray brought it up in his guest comment, and people are merely responding to what he said. Criticizing them for doing that is a inappropriate. Why should people stay quiet about something someone is using to support his position? Isn't that a rather one-sided way of looking at things?
In addition, as you certainly may have noticed over the years, I deal in facts, not sound bites. You didn't comment on a single one of those facts. They were:
a. When the purchase of the water company was proposed we were told that there would be no rate increases because the functioning of the water company would be more efficiently handled and there would be no profit taking. Please comment on that.
b. When the purchase of the water company was proposed we were told that "we have water now," and so there was no need to spend $300,000 to get water, and yet WE had no water and WE had, in fact, to pay a million dollars to get a well which is a problem requiring a costly retrofit with a filtration system. Please comment on that.
c. As I said, I did not bring up the subject of the water company purchase; it was done by those who now want to spend as much now as they did back then, and any suggestion that I am carping because of the purchase of the water company is out of line, as clearly shown by what I said at the time and have repeated many times. My comment was, and is, that we all had a chance to vote, we voted, the election did not go the way many of us wanted, but it is the very essence of democracy that when the voting was over we join together and support the result — which dozens of posts show I have done. Please comment on that.
d. Those who want to spend our tax dollars dollars want to use them to expand the current system, speculating that an expanded system might be needed to accommodate new construction; my position is that those who own houses up here have already spent enough money buying the water company and paying higher taxes and rates, and that if there is going to be an expansion to accommodate future construction it is only proper that those who will enjoy that new construction should pay for the expansion. Please comment on that.
e. I am not, and never have been, a Hardcastle fan; I am probably the only individual up here who ever went to the trouble of filing against Robert Hardcastle with the ACC, met him face to face, under oath, and in a legal hearing, and whipped him very nicely. Please comment on that.
When you get done commenting on those I have some more for you — if you like.
Who changed the subject? You made the comment about "conflict of interest". Go back a read what I said without reading your bias into it. Everything I posted was in regards to "conflict of interests". And no, I will not address each specific issues these two communities shouldered when they took local control of the water system. For those that bought hook line and sinker into all the "facts" being thrown around by both sides during that time should have done some research for themselves. Yes, it meant an increase in our water rates ( which was coming through Brooke Utilities anyway). Yes, we as two communities with self interests had no experience as to how to run and manage a water system. Still don't in large part. We are still flying by the seat of our pants. I don't know of one person on any pervious board or the current one who has a historied background in managing a water system. Do you? It's going to take time and yes there are going to be intractable issues during that time. Welcome to the world of fallen man.
"Those who want to spend our tax dollars dollars want to use them to expand the current system, speculating that an expanded system might be needed to accommodate new construction; my position is that those who own houses up here have already spent enough money buying the water company and paying higher taxes and rates, and that if there is going to be an expansion to accommodate future construction it is only proper that those who will enjoy that new construction should pay for the expansion. Please comment on that."
Simple, I agree with your position. You find one post where I have said that the way the PSWID has/is handling things in a proper way. I find it juvenile that grownups (both sides) can't get along and solve the problems before them. But then I see the same thing at the Federal level and those bozo's are supposed to be "professionals". The folks on the PSWID board are all newbies at this game and they are all volunteers.
I almost never post more than once a day, but I'm going to make an exception today because I sure liked the tone of your responses. Very nice. Thanks!
You did make one small error in interpreting what I said, so I'll point it out. When I said there was a conflict of interest I was using the term as used in state law, when someone who has a direct interest in the outcome of a decision sits upon a board or council and actually votes on that decision. That is true, of course, in our case, but I did not bring it up because as far as I'm concerned it treads too close to making an accusation about someone I respect, and there is no way I would do that. I am not into innuendo or character assassination. However, it is not true in any way where the proposed new campus in Payson/Star Valley is concerned. Sure, there are businessmen in Payson/Star Valley who favor RCEA, but that is exactly how they should feel, I think. And why not? They have no direct vote on the matter. They can't be expected to say nothing, can they? Nothing wrong with expressing an opinion.
Speaking of my opposition to the idea passing a bond to expand the system, and to consider instead some kind of impact fee on new construction, or some low-key, probably incremental, way of financing any such expansion, you say, "Simple, I agree with your position. You find one post where I have said that the way the PSWID has/is handling things in a proper way."
Thanks! I'm glad you're with me on that. Drastic solutions are rarely good ones. I think we need to push very hard to squash the idea of a sweeping overhaul of the system. I've used this analogy before, but it's a good one.
To get my dependents over to Okinawa I actually had to buy a little house because base housing was virtually non-existent. After I finally managed to get us on the base I sold the house. The NCO I sold the house to looked at a tiny rust stain on one wall and asked me what it was. I told him that from what I could see it was a sweat stain from a rusty pipe embedded in the concrete wall because of the humidity. I could see that the stain was in a place where there was no joint, but at a spot where the pipe had been set almost at the surface. I came back a few weeks later and saw that he had had the entire wall chopped up to replace the pipes. Not a thing was wrong with them. The stain was exactly what I had said it was. When I asked him why he had done it, he said, "Well it...uh, it could have leaked." You know what I told him, of course. "Well, that would have been the worst case scenario, and you just made it come true."
Same thing with replacing all our pipes. Do it as it is needed, if ever.
As for running a water system, you and I could do it with our eyes closed. All it takes is being able to count other people's money and the common sense to ask an engineer when you need an answer.
OK guys, I guess we have finally reached some kind of an agreement. :-)
I think most of us here are more in agreement than not. I simply do not have the answers as to the "Boards" intrangsigent approach. How many members of that board have we gone through and still the same situation exists. If we simply keep replacing board members, at some point everyone in these two communities will have had an opportunity to sit on the board. I'm certain there is solution somewhere, and if we seize upon it, we should also let those in Washington know so they can get back to the people's business as well.
I stated my views in previous posts but will reiterate here, I think the "board' past and present have taken way to an aggressive approach to the water system we now own and it's inherent issues. I have always favored a go slow approach, with special consideration given the financial impact on those in these two communities. I fault the "board" with not being more responsive to those that they are serving. They committed us all to the property tax and rate increase even after seeing the opposition to that move from the communities. I personally think they are trying to do too much too soon for whatever motive or intention. In my estimation, from the get go, it will take a decade or more to bring us to a dependable and well maintained water supply and delivery system. Having said all that, how are we ever going to get where we all want to be as long as this hostility and finger pointing is being thrown back and forth by both sides? I've also said there is nothing more divisive than small town politics and that is doubly true where it concerns water. One need only study the history of this nation's "water wars" to know about all that. At times I feel like Rodney King "Can't we all just get along?"
Thanks Tom for your insightful comments. This is not the same old fight, it's about current issues and actions of PSWID.
I agree, Ron. Do I ever!
You put your finger right on the problem when you said, "I fault the "board" with not being more responsive to those that they are serving." Hey! It's our town; why shouldn't it run the way we want it to? Isn't that what democracy is all about? If we can't get it straight down here at the local level, how can we ever expect DC to get it right?
Doing things contrary to what the citizens want, and then yelling at them for asking questions during open meetings is not the way to run a small town board. It reminds me of the town home development where Lolly and I bought down in the Valley. More than four years after the development was completed we were able to take our choice of a dozen or more brand new homes still sitting empty.
We bought a beautiful two story, three bedroom, two bath, full dining room place with a two car garage and everything we wanted for just $96,000. It was built by one of the best developers in the state, nothing but the best quality. We had a swimming pool, tennis courts, park, picnic area, multi-use building anyone could use for parties, perfect landscaping — everything.
We could not believe our luck!
Until we found ourselves in a hornets nest of unhappy people. Man! You should have seen the hostility! Some people had stopped paying their monthly fees. Everybody hated the place. There were so many violation notices being posted it was ridiculous. And the management company that did the cleanup, maintenance, and landscaping was just as dictatorial. The development hadn't even been completely built out. The company had just given up and walked away. Think of that!
I met with two other guys and ran for the board. It was a shoo-in. Inside of six months we turned that place into the quietest, happiest place you've ever seen. The main thing wrong was one female board member who thought that when the CC&R's said the "board" could do something that meant that she could do it. We quickly disabused her of that idea, told her to stop walking around with violation notices, told her female buddy running the management company, the same thing, and that was that.
They used to do ridiculous things like fining people because newspapers were lying on the driveway when they went on a week's vacation. Ridiculous things!
That's what we have here: People who do not seem to know that their power derives from the very people who now want them out of office for the way that have acted.
It didn't have to end this way, but now that it has, now that so many people have been yelled at during board meetings we need a fresh start. New faces, new attitude, and truly open meetings, where matters are not discussed beforehand and just voted on. What's so hard about that? As I said, you and I could run the place. You don't have to know all there is to know about water systems. You just need an engineer, a willingness to learn, and respect for the fact that the money you are spending isn't yours.
One of the things that is noticeably absent in the 'transition" from Brooke Utilities to the Pine/Strawberry Water Improvement District, is a Master Plan which was derived via the input/approval from the residents/property owners them selves. If there is one, I've never been made aware of it. Now, understand that one could never get everyone to agree on a specific day to go to Disneyland for free, so put that dream to rest. But as with any "democratic" process, the majority agreement should prevail. That's the approach that was used to get control of the water system in the first place. And yes, not everyone was happy at the outcome. I agree Tom, this is not rocket science. Yes, there are technical aspects with managing an adequate water supply and delivery system, but that is where a contracted specialist comes into play.
But to continue to beat a dead horse, how do we get beyond our past and current conflicts between the board and the folks? I personally would not volunteer for any involvement having been witness to the type of bickering going on between both sides of the problem. I have better things to do than set myself up as a target. Now you may imply that there are enough folks within these two communities that are in fact ready to subject themselves to that potential, for free, but I personally haven't met anyone so naive' as that. So, unless we find a Solomon within our midst, I am very skeptical about our success in resolving the problem.
A little more to add to your water problems if you didn't know.
You all do know that if you start digging up the water line, you have to call Blue Stake first.
They come from Winslow to make sure there are no cables, electric lines or any other pipes buried next to the water line.
About 8 yrs. ago our neighbor in Pine called and said there was a water leak by our house, didn't know which side of the meter it was on but was really spraying up in the air. She saw it about 6:00AM and called the water co. which their office was in Calif. Called us about 7:30 we drove to Pine and the water co. employees got there about 30 minutes later. Guess they had to wait until starting time to go to work. They left to find a turn off, but didn't find it for about an hour and 1/2 .
Had no maps or anything to show them where the turn off valves were located on the water system. Came back and said they had to call Blue stake before they could dig. The water must have been running for hours as the little creek behind our house was really running a good stream of water and on down to Pine Creek. We left about an hour and 1/2 later and Blue stake still wasn't there. So glad the water break was not on our side of the meter. They lost thousands of gallons of water that day.
Hope the water co. now has maps for pipes and turn off valves.
Unfortunately, the layout of the water system is very archaic and was passed down on bits of paper, etc from owner to owner. My understanding is that there was never a reliable map of the system. That's difficult to create now from lack of info. I would hope they are mapping as they are repairing and fixing at this point.
Ron, PSWID does not have a master plan. I believe that if some of the agressive personalities were removed from the PSWID Board, or if they were willing to listen and compromise, much of the confrontation would come to an end.
Right now we are at an impasse because they apparently want to completely revamp the system and double the size of our debt. While they have no master plan, they also admitted at the budget hearing that they have no idea of how much a bond issue will cost. They give the impression that they do not want to consider and less expensive approach to solving our problems.
Pat, I think PSWID knows where things are now.
Where did they get their information about the pipes and turn offs etc? Not trying to start an argument, just wondering.
Does the board go by any rules, like Robert's Rules of order and do they follow the Open meeting law?
From all I have read on here seems some kind of meetings have been held somewhere and everything decided before the public meetings. Or they are using email which is also against the open meeting law if more than three are doing it.
After moving back to Payson and watching our councils and committees and how they do things it is hard to trust anyone and their motives if they have any power at all.
" I believe that if some of the agressive personalities were removed from the PSWID Board, or if they were willing to listen and compromise, much of the confrontation would come to an end."
That has been my point . How is it that in these two small communities, the only people we seem to be able to get to volunteer to serve their neighbors by running for the board, turn out to be uncooperative and closed minded whenever they are addressed by the very people they are supposed to be serving? What's with that? Is it something in the water? ;-). In all honesty, I don't know of a single person that meets the description of those most would like to see serving on that board that is willing or able to actually dedicate themselves to that task. Do you? And one person is not going to change things. There have to be a majority of like minded individuals sitting on that board. We have not had anything remotely close to what we all want since this whole affair began, and I am simply at a loss to provide a viable solution to the problem. I think we are all in agreement as to what type of responsive board we would like, but how in the world do we actually get there? Not hypotheticals and wishes, but good available solutions with names attached. And if we can't find the solutions to that question, then we are going to be arguing over these same problems a year from now on this very blog.
"But to continue to beat a dead horse, how do we get beyond our past and current conflicts between the board and the folks?"
Ron, I am sorry to have to say that the only way to obtain peace in this community is for those who have angered everyone to realize that they have made themselves the issue. The issue is no longer pipes and water; it's people and personalities.
I don't know whether or not you have ever been to a meeting. For obvious reasons, I haven't, but I have faithfully read the board minutes each time, and I have seen this coming for a long time. People have stood up and asked questions that the whole community was asking, and have done it quietly and politely, and have been yelled at and insulted for it. That should never have happened.
If either you or I went to a meeting and was shouted at or insulted by a board member, as has happened so many times, there would have been hell to pay. Neither of us would have stood for it. I have been so shocked over some of the things that have been said that I could hardly believe what I was reading.
I tried started a string here on the forum to see if I could pour oil on troubled waters. No such luck! I quickly shut down the string because I could see that people were so angered that talking about it only made matters worse.
And when Tom Weeks asked a question about the possible misuse of a credit card by a board member and nearly got his head taken off for doing it I could hardly believe it. Here was a board member doing his sworn duty, and being insulted and threatened for doing it. It was at that point that I realized that something was seriously wrong.
You know me. I'm not a harsh person, and I definitely do not thrive on controversy, but this has gone on for too long. The board members involved have dug in their heels and will no longer talk to the very people they are supposed to serve. That means there is only one solution.
The people can't leave, can they? So the board members who are involved must leave.
I'd like to see them do it voluntarily. My advice to them is, "Go. Just go. Let someone else take over. For whatever reasons, your management style simply has not fitted this small community. Go with our thanks, but go. Let the anger fade. Let people forget. Let our two towns get on with the job of running a small water company that should almost run itself."
Pat and Bernice, I haven't said anything about your comments because, as I said, I do not believe the issue is pipes and water anymore; it is people. First let's fix the board, and then we can look at the system to see if anything needs to be done. Fair enough?
I agree, Tom, the issue has come down to personalities. There will always be different points of view in the world about differences of opinion on how to handle the issues. That is the reason there is a board comprised of seven members that discuss, listen to each other and come to agreement PEACEFULLY. Meetings should not be ugly, like they are now. After attending a meeting last month, I had an upset stomach and couldn't sleep after listening to the bickering. I even feel that way when I listen to the recordings and not attend the meetings. There definitely needs to be a change. There's got to be a better solution.
I'll offer you the same question I posed to Bernice. Do you, Tom Garrett, know of people in either of these two communities that are willing to take the place of the current "unacceptables" on the board of the Pine Strawberry Water Improvement District? If so, let's have names. Let's have a description of the process besides simply "making the current board "just go away". There has to be a process and there have to be people willing to insert themselves into what is currently a poisoned well. I hear a lot of "we should recall this person, or those persons and get someone WE like in those positions". But I tend to practicality. I simply do not see folks lined up or waving their hands volunteering to expose themselves to the task of "un poisoning the well". Besides being realistic, I can often be wrong. If there are enough folks willing to step into the fray and bring a resolution to the current problem, then by all means I will admit that I was wrong. The ball is in your court. Try not to double dribble ;-).
I only double dribble when I'm eating my porridge in the morning. :-)
I have absolutely no argument with a thing you said about being practical and realistic; none at all!
Not only that, but you are dead right when you say, "There has to be a process and there have to be people willing to insert themselves into what is currently a poisoned well."
Well, there's a process all right; It involves petitions, signatures, and a vote.
But as to your other comment?
"Besides being realistic, I can often be wrong. If there are enough folks willing to step into the fray and bring a resolution to the current problem, then by all means I will admit that I was wrong."
I see no reason why you should feel you were wrong should that come about. I'd just say that like most people you do not have a crystal ball. I actually have one, but all I see when I look in it are air bubbles, so I'll pass on trying to predict the future and go to the second string on this subject that Pat started.
Hey, I am a weekender in Strawberry and have been getting myself up to speed on the water situation in Pine-Strawberry. I am one of those people that thought everything was much better with the water supply than in past years. The reason I bought in Strawberry a few years ago was I though the water supply had improved. I'm an AZ native and grew up in Tempe, but have spent a lot of time in the Rim area hunting, camping, fishing, hiking, biking, etc. Thankfully I had parents that wanted to get out of the city often and head to the mountains. I never considered buying in the Pine-Strawberry area until the current water company ownership occurred; I was only hearing good things.
As I have dug in and read more articles, the meeting minutes from board meetings, people’s comments, etc., it’s got me worried. It sounds like all of us in this online discussion handle our personal monies reasonably well. And, we all expect people in charge of the water fees and tax monies to manage the dollars carefully. What complicates things is having people on the Board making decisions that don’t listen or aren’t willing to allow community inputs. Why does it always seem no matter where you go, people somehow get into a position of authority, and the ‘power’ changes their personality and thought process? They become hard-headed and only their agenda, interest and plans make the best sense? If you can ever get sensible people on the Board that will actually talk and listen to each other, they could get things done. I don’t agree with spending or taking on another $7.5M in debt; from what I have read the justification isn’t there.
Thanks for an intelligent, informed comment. You are dead right. We should not spend another $7.5 million. Our debt burden is already too large for such a small number of homes. We must be very careful about taking on additional debt, and we must not speculate, raising water rates and taxes on our homes to spend money on development. Development is not our responsibility. In Arizona the usual method is to place an impact fee on new construction, one that is sufficient to cover whatever extension of service is required. Otherwise, the cost of new development is added to the burden already placed on existing homes, while developers walk away with fat profits and residents foot the bill.
You know what? I think I'll take a moment out to lay out the enter Pine/Strawberry water story for anyone who wasn't here to watch it happen. Maybe that will help.
What happened here is nothing new. It has been going on in water-shy Arizona since the days of the first settlers. Slowly rising levels of population call for increasingly more sophisticated water supply solutions. It's a step-by-step process calling for thoughtful decisions backed up by careful engineering.
As with so many small towns, this was once a quiet rural community of well under a hundred homes, each with its own well, or shared well. There was some water available for irrigation and that was controlled by the first families.
Naturally, because of its their attractive mountain setting Pine and Strawberry began to grow. The first shallow wells, running from 20 to 40 feet deep and belonging to individual homes, started running dry because the water table dropped. Some were deepened by home owners, but what so often happens happened here. A couple of smart folks saw an opportunity to found small water companies, make a profit, and solve the problem. That happened here. Two main water companies were formed. There were (and still are) others. Deeper wells were drilled, usually not over 100 to 200 feet deep. The immediate problem was once again solved.
Inevitably the time arrived when those wells, too, became inadequate. But when that happened the investment needed for new infrastructure was too much for two small rural companies. A larger company with more capital for investment in deeper wells, increased storage, and other improvements bought them out, obtaining a certificate of necessity from the Arizona Corporation Commission so that its return on the expense of the new improvements was guaranteed by a legal monopoly. The ACC, in turn, protected the residents by keeping on eye on new development, making sure growth did not exceed the capacity of the companies to supply it with water.
Time passed, quite a long time. Once again there came a day when the system was becoming inadequate. Brooke Utility, which now owned the water companies, was not being run as the residents would have liked. Instead of seeking out new sources of water, it put a patch on the problem, trucking in water to meet needs. That would have been all right, but Brooke did some fancy footwork regarding water hauling charges, sometimes pumping water UPHILL to Strawberry while charging Pine residents for the water which had been hauled. Brooke, you see, had not obtained authority to charge Strawberry residents for water hauling.
Earlier, in a very wise move, Pine/Strawberry residents had bonded together and formed PSWID, at that time a "water improvement district" charged with the task of finding a low-cost source of additional water. PSWID did its job. It found that fossil water existed beneath the Rim, water which found its way into the fractured rock deep beneath the Rim thousands of years ago, flowing underground from who knows where.
Tests were run. A well site was found In Strawberry where the water would not be contaminated with silt and sand because of its level, well above the valley floor. It was tentatively called called the K-2 well. Money which had accrued through taxes assessed to run PSWID, amounting to a mere $375,000, was all that was needed to drill the well and permanently resolve the problem.
However, for reasons we will not go into here, a group of people, for reasons which I will leave to your imagination, opposed the drilling of the K-2, stating that "we" already had water, a reference to a well drilled in the center of Pine on the floor of the valley. They said that instead of spending $375,000 to solve our problems, leaving Brooke Utilities as the water company, and staying under the protective cloak of the ACC, we should (a) spent millions to buy the water company, and (b) another million to buy an untested well drilled on the flat where sand and silt were most likely going to be problems.
You should have been here, Ed. The hype and tripe were incredible. "No rate increases will occur," we were told. "We'll run the water company so efficiently that the savings alone will pay for it," we were told. "With the profit-taking gone, operating costs will be lower," we were told.
Somehow or other, more because they were mad as hell as the high-handed tactics of Brooke Utility than for anything regarding a rational solution to our water problem, enough people were sold that bill of goods. The water company was purchased. Every home in these two small mountain communities was placed under a debt burden. Each new home built since then has had to share that hidden burden.
I think that's about the time you were looking around, Ed; when some people had swallowed whole the "We have water now" myth, the "No rate increases," myth, and the rest. I'll leave it to your imagination who was singing that song, and why, Ed. It shouldn't take you long to unravel that puzzle.
You? Me? I think not. I sure as hey haven't made a buck out of this. :-)
Q: Have our problems been solved? Good question.
A: Do wells that bring up sand and silt solve anything?
A: Does a board president who yells at people who ask questions solve anything?
A: Will spending millions more to tear up the entire system solve anything?
A: Will spending additional millions for the benefit of new development solve anything?
There you go, Ed. There's the whole story in a nutshell. There's a lot more than could be said, but you have only to talk to anyone who was here when it all happened to get the rest. You now have facts — hard core, verifiable facts. Think about them. See where they lead you.
Hope this helps. Pass it along.
Next PSWID meeting is this Thursday, September 12, 2013 beginning at 6:00pm at the PSWID Office at 6306 W. Hardscrabble Road in Pine.
In case anyone missed Pam's comment on the other PSWID string, go read it. It will make your blood boil.
Tom, on the 2nd string I asked Mrs. Mason to clarify her statement as to who and where this extension occurred.
" As per compliance to said document ..... a recent main line extension to the boundary of a developers property was not billed to the developer, the public paid for it."
Good. There's nothing like clarity.
Tonight I submitted some documentation to Mr. Naughton per his request.
Regards to all.
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