The Payson Town Council voted 6-1 in a special meeting Friday to investigate the possible purchase of a portion of Brooke Utilities that services the town of Star Valley.
The special meeting and the council's decision came just a week after Star Valley Town Manager Vito Tedeschi spoke with Brooke Utilities President Robert Hardcastle about the town of Star Valley's intent to acquire the utility. The portion in question -- consisting of 305 hookups in Star Valley -- is one of seven that Brooke Utilities owns in the Rim Country.
Tedeschi said despite the Payson Town Council's decision, Star Valley will continue negotiations with Brooke Utilities.
Star Valley has the right to condemn the utility because the town is now incorporated and the water system is within town limits.
Star Valley planned to increase water services and improve the current system after the acquisition.
Star Valley Mayor Chuck Heron spoke at Friday's meeting, stating his opposition to Payson's possible acquisition of the utility.
"It's time that Payson tends to their business," he said. "We're not happy to be treated as a subdivision of Payson."
Myndi Brogdon, a representative from Brooke Utilities, said the water company would look at any serious offer, including one proposed by Payson.
"We're a business," she said. "We look at all offers."
In 11 years as a water utility in the area, Brooke Utilities has never received a serious offer, Brogdon said.
Payson Mayor Bob Edwards said Payson should be a leader in the search for a solution to the regional water issue.
"It makes sense for Payson to take a leading role," he said. "We (can) put our minds together with the sole purpose of doing what's best and not parochial."
Edwards said he wanted all parties who might be affected by the development to be kept informed and included in discussions.
"(We need to) take account of all stakeholders who will be affected by this," he said.
Even with Payson's pledge to consider regional water users who may be affected, Heron said he wanted the Town of Payson to "leave (Star Valley) alone."
"We'll just proceed on with our condemnation," he said. "It's just business as usual.
"I don't know where they were going with this, but the fact that they tried it is appalling to me."
Star Valley officials allocated $1 million for the acquisition of the utility in the fiscal year beginning in July.