The Worse Case Scenario In The Horton Water Issue

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Editor:

I certainly hope it's not too late to give advice to the council concerning the renegotiation of the water and well contract they so imprudently signed with Horton.

Early in the Star Valley water discussions, Mr. Walker said he thought those in Star Valley were acting out of fear. Of course, they were. There are homesteads with wells in Star Valley which are older than most of the members of the council and town staff, and those homeowners were afraid their wells could be drained down, making their lifetime of work worthless.

Horton's assurance of $100,000 to mitigate that kind of problem is so puny to be laughable, though to most individuals who can never hope to make that much in even more than a year, it might seem huge, even generous.

One hundred thousand dollars would come nowhere close to compensating the homeowners, especially at today's real estate prices. And speaking of today's prices, what does $100,000 represent to Horton?

If we use the estimated price of a condo in the 30-unit development which the council approved a month or so ago -- $250,000 (certainly not "affordable" housing) as an example of what developers feel they can get per unit, Horton's offer of $100,000 to cover the contingency amounts to less than half the cost of one house in his Mogollon Ridge, and he plans to build 35 units.

Suppose that such a draw down does occur and the worse case scenario does come to pass.

Suppose a lawsuit, or even a class action lawsuit, is started. There was more than one water study done and there would be at least an even chance it could be shown that the Horton well and pipeline and the Payson acceptance of that water were responsible for the problem.

It should be obvious that $100,000 would come nowhere close to satisfying a judgment in such an event. The town would be the deep pocket, and the town's liability policy would have to cover the loss. Horton's cost would be minimal.

Council, the advice I offer is this: It was not smart to sign the contract so fast, if at all, but for Pete's sake, in your renegotiating, try to even out the financial responsibility of the worse case.

Star Valley may have been acting out of fear to begin with, but now it's the Town of Payson and the council's time to be afraid.

Lucille Groenke, Payson

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