Letter Asks County To Revoke Pine-Strawberry Water Board Power

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In a letter addressed to the Gila County Board of Supervisors, Ray Pugel requested they revoke the authority of the board of directors of the Pine-Strawberry Water Improvement District.

The letter was sent on Oct. 24 regarding some concerns he had with the Pine-Strawberry Water Improvement District and was discussed at the Nov. 14 board of supervisors' meeting.

The letter that addressed seven separate concerns was sent to supervisors Tommie Martin, Shirley Dawson and Joe Sanchez.

Pugel said the most important part of the letter dealt with giving Brooke Utilities $300,000 to drill a well that would be paid back through increasing the water rates to residents.

Pugel also said the public's money is at risk because drilling and/or finding a well is not a sure thing.

"The taxpayer gets the risk, and as a reward they get a rate increase," he said. "That makes no sense to me."

District 1 Supervisor Tommie Martin, whose district includes Pine and Strawberry, said the letter shows a lot of frustration on everyone's part in Strawberry and Pine.

The letter, she said, is an individual asking for help from the county.

"For years, folks were getting charged a lot for little water because the water was not there," she said, adding one of the complaints is the infrastructure to deliver water is extremely poor.

Martin said she thinks the problem is that Brooke Utilities, the commercial seller, has not put much money into the system.

"There are people whose contention is that the water company puts no money into the delivery or looks for water," she said.

The District I supervisor said she would like to look at every possible avenue to come up with a solution rather than revoking the authority of the PSWID board of directors.

"I am not even sure if it is legal," she said. "I am not sure if we can do that."

On Tuesday, the supervisors discussed Pugel's letter in an executive session, and Martin said it was not an action item.

Martin said that County Manager Steven Besich will let Pugel know that his letter was received. Pugel did not attend Tuesday's meeting.

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