New Appraisal Sought By Water District Board

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After hearing that an appraisal done in June by the engineering firm of Coe and Van Loo was not sufficient to begin the condemnation process of the Pine and Strawberry Water companies, the Pine Strawberry Water Improvement District board voted to begin a process that would satisfy legal requirements.

The acquisition effort involves a second, more sophisticated appraisal in which PSWID representatives will have direct access to the two water company's entire infrastructure.

During the first appraisal, Coe and Van Loo engineers did not have permission to go on water company property.

Arizona statues allow access to the two water company properties if the owner is told in advance. The motion to inform Brooke Utilities, the parent firm of PWC and SWC, that the PSWID would be on BU property to make a physical examination passed during a July 29 special board meeting.

The notice to Brooke Utilities President Robert Hardcastle is expected to go out almost immediately.

The board meeting opened with attorney John Gliege telling members that the second appraisal was needed to provide a value of PWC and SWC as "going concerns," which could lead to an amicable purchase of the two companies or become a part of the condemnation process.

Gliege received permission from the board to negotiate with Coe and Van Loo to possibly do the second appraisal.

The board has made a purchase offer of $2.17 million to Hardcastle, which he apparently has rejected. He and the PSWID board will continue to negotiate a suitable purchase price. If they cannot settle on one, board members have indicated they are ready to acquire the two companies through condemnation.

Sam Schwalm, a member of a small watchdog group that has been critical of the board believes the offer PSWID made to Hardcastle was in error.

"Had Brooke accepted the offer, it would have fallen through because there is no money," he said.

Schwalm contends the board has put the cart before the horse in that the members are making purchase offers without first securing the needed funding.

However, at past meetings board members have discussed where the money for a takeover of the companies would come from. Also at the special board meeting, members went into executive session, but took no action when they returned.

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