Paperwork Stymies Final Pine Water Agreement

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A Pine Strawberry Water Improvement District board meeting set for today, Aug. 25, to discuss a final stipulation-judgment of condemnation that could soon lead to PSWID’s acquisition of Brooke Utilities two water companies was postponed late yesterday.

Board secretary Richard Dickinson said the meeting was called off because members had not received all the documents they needed in order to make a decision about the stipulation-judgment prepared by Brooke attorneys.

That delay marked the second postponement on discussion of the stipulation-judgment.

It was to be originally discussed at an Aug. 20 meeting, but the board did not act saying they had not received a draft until one day prior to the meeting.

The morning after that monthly meeting, board president Bill Haney said, “We did not have adequate time to review it or receive comments from our attorney, the bank’s attorney, our bond counsel, and the counsel for WIFA, all of whom are checking it over to ensure that it protects our interests and will expedite obtaining a more favorable WIFA loan in the near future.”

If Brooke and the board eventually agree on the stipulation-judgement, it would then be forwarded to Division I Yavapai County Superior Court Judge David L. Mackey for approval.

If the judge gives his stamp of approval, the on-going condemnation lawsuit the district had filed in that court would end and the sale of the water companies to PSWID would be a done deal.

PSWID district manager Harry Jones said the stipulation-judgment that was to be considered at the two postponed meetings is simply a more formal and legal agreement of the handshake deal the board and Brooke Utilities agreed to late last month.

In it, the board agreed to buy the two privately owned water companies for $3.5 million. The deadline for the board to pay the purchase price and assume control is Sept. 22.

Immediately after the board takes over, a water meter moratorium imposed years ago by the Arizona Corporation Commission would end.

The moratorium, which restricts the number of new water meters that can be installed per month in the two towns, put a sever damper on home building in the area.

The money to purchase the two water companies will come from a two-year $6.4 million loan from Compass Bank. The district, however, hopes to secure low-cost, long-term federal water infrastructure at a lower rate that the 4.75 percent it will pay Compass Bank.

At the Aug. 20 meeting, the board did discuss retaining Shaffer Water Management to run the water district for a fee of $240,000 per year. However, the deal was not finalized.

“The board wanted a little more time to review the operations contract and to incorporate a couple of minor changes,” Haney said.

The board did agree at the meeting on a three-year lease of office space for $25,185.60. The office space, located on Hardscrabble Road will be shared with Sunny Mountain Realty.

Dickinson said a date for the Tuesday’s postponed meeting would be announced soon.

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