District To Take Over Pine Strawberry Water

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The Pine Strawberry Water Improvement District board and Brooke Utilities have signed a stipulated agreement that could allow PSWID to take possession of the two water companies by May 22.

To gain immediate possession of the companies, the PSWID board must deposit a $3.2-million bond with the courts by the May 22 deadline.

“We expect to do that,” board member Tom Weeks said. “We’ve got the funding and it’s approved.”

The stipulated agreement was announced yesterday, April 16, at the board’s monthly meeting.

Weeks said that the funding would come from Compass Bank, which has approved a loan of more than $6 million for the purchase.

Although the board has signed the stipulation regarding the agreement, more details must be ironed out.

“There are a number of items which still have to be completed before the transfer of possession occurs and the board will be working diligently to accomplish that goal,” said board attorney John Gliege.

The board has been haggling with BU over the purchase since a successful recall election last spring, but it was a lawsuit filed March 25 in Gila County Superior Court that seemingly triggered the new arrangement.

At the time it was filed, board president Bill Haney said, “After receiving advice from our legal counsel ... we are proceeding in what we believe will be in the best financial and overall interest of the residents of the district.”

Although Brooke Utilities spokesperson Myndi Brogdon said she could not comment on the stipulated agreement, she stressed in late March that the application for immediate possession possession would mark the onset of court action to “determine the final dollar amount PSWID would pay Brooke for the assets of the two water companies.”

If the board and Brooke President Robert Hardcastle cannot agree upon compensation for the purchase of the two companies, the court will set the final selling price.

That could take from 9 to 18 months.

The original condemnation lawsuit was filed by the board in November 2008 in Gila County Superior Court. The immediate possession civil action was filed March 25.

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