Star Valley Working To Finance Utility

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In a work-study session prior to Tuesday's council meeting, Star Valley officials heard a presentation about financing the acquisition of a water utility.

Bryan Lundberg and Mark Reader of the town's fiscal agent firm, Stone and Youngberg, discussed financing options, including loans and bonds.

The town is in the process of acquiring a portion of Brooke Utilities that has more than 300 hookups in town.

Star Valley is the sole entity in the acquisition process. A press release from Payson Mayor Bob Edwards last week said that it would not be beneficial to the Town of Payson to purchase the utility.

At the regular meeting following the work-study, the Star Valley Council approved a resolution authorizing the application and acceptance of loans from WIFA, the Water Infrastructure Finance Authority for the state.

It is likely that the town will use a loan from WIFA to finance the acquisition, Town Manager Vito Tedeschi said.

"It's our first choice because it's the least expensive (method)," he said.

Reader said that based on previous experience and the size of the desired system in Star Valley, a WIFA loan, "is the advisable approach."

Tedeschi said that the town is interested in acquiring the utility within the next 90 days.

Reader said that the fastest and easiest way to acquire the utility is through an agreement where both Star Valley and BUI officials meet and determine a fair price.

"The hard part is getting the owner to come to the table and settle things out," he said. "I really encourage people to try and settle these things out."

Reader said that a condemnation process involving the legal system could take as long as three years to resolve.

The town has allotted $1 million for the acquisition.

Mayor Chuck Heron said that due to the small size of the system, the cost should be less than $1 million. Part of the funding, he said, would go toward improvements to the system and legal fees.

Tedeschi said that town officials have been working with the Diamond Star Fire Department to evaluate the need for improvements, such as more fire hydrants, better fire lines and the improvement of pipes.

Tedeschi said that prices are not expected to increase for residents, once the water utility changes hands.

"Rates should remain the same," he said. "That's our goal."

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