In an emergency meeting last night, the Star Valley Town Council voted 5-0 to approve a resolution authorizing the town to immediately acquire the portion of Brooke Utilities that services Star Valley, by any legal means possible.
The council also voted 5-0 to authorize the use of the services of the Phoenix-based law firm Snell and Wilmer for the acquisition of the utility. Councilors Bill Heath and Art Lloyd were not present at the meeting.
The council's decision brings the town one step closer to acquiring a water utility that has 305 hookups in Star Valley, just days after the Payson Town Council voted 6-1 to investigate the feasibility of purchasing the utility for Payson.
Councilor Mike Vogel was the dissenting vote in that decision.
Star Valley Mayor Chuck Heron said Star Valley has the legal right to the utility because it is within town limits.
"Basically, we're doing just what we said we were always going to do," Heron said. "We'll take over the water utility and it will be business as usual. We just (had) to pass this resolution to get the ball rolling."
Star Valley Town Manager Vito Tedeschi estimated the cost of the acquisition could be up to $700,000, based on similar transactions in towns throughout Arizona in recent years.
Star Valley Town Attorney Tim Grier said the law firm selected by the town for the acquisition process deals specifically with this type of process. He estimated the legal fees to be greater than $5,000.
Heron agreed with the selection of the law firm to handle the matter.
"We have to bring in the big guns and that's what this is for," he said. Town officials have already apportioned $1 million in the town's next fiscal budget, beginning July 1, for the acquisition of a water utility.