The long-awaited and much-anticipated sale of the Pine and Strawberry water companies from the privately owned Brooke Utilities to the Pine Strawberry Water Improvement District could be completed by tomorrow, Sept. 30.
“If everything goes smoothly, we should be approving the loan documents (on Sept. 29) and closing the acquisition on Wednesday,” said PSWID board presi-dent Bill Haney. “There will be no formalities at closing, just signing a lot of papers.”
The $3.5 million to purchase the two companies is coming from restructured Compass Bank loans at 20-year fixed and variable rates.
Originally, the board intended to finance with Compass for two years and, during that time, refinance through the Water Infrastructure Finance Authority (WIFA).
However, at a Sept. 15 PSWID board meeting, Haney said WIFA would not refinance the purchase price, but would finance other costs involved with the operation of the two companies.
Also at the meeting, Haney said in the near future the board intends to issue revenue bonds to eventually refinance the bank loan.
Before the deal could be completed, Division I Yavapai County Superior Court Judge David L. Mackey had to OK a stipulated agreement between Brooke and the water district. Mackey’s OK, wipes away the ongoing condemnation lawsuit the districts filed months ago.
At the Sept. 15 meeting, board members voted to have PSWID attorney John Gliege sign the stipulation, which Brooke lawyers reportedly also agreed to, and send it to the judge.
Once the judge signed it, the district had three days to pay Brooke the purchase price.
According to the stipulation, Brooke is responsible for liabilities prior to the transfer, and the district assumes liabilities after the transfer.
If the transfer does go as planned, Shaffer Water Management will immediately take over operations of the two water companies. Brooke has agreed to help for 15 days with the transition of all operations to SWM and the district.
The board has also agreed to hire Steve Stevens and Pat Kolasinski to serve as independent contractors doing customer service and office managerial duties. A contract has been issued to A Better Connection for after-hours answering and emergency services.
One of the complaints about Brooke over the past few years is that billing was done in a foreign country, where there was little, if any, personal customer service and water user complains were ignored.
Creative Technologies has been awarded a $16,000-plus contract to supply a billing system and once the sale is finalized, the district will buy about $10,000 in spare parts from Lewus Electric in Payson.
While the purchase comes as a welcome relief to many residents holding property but awaiting hook ups due to the ACC-mandated water meter moratorium, the board indicated at a past meeting new hook-ups will probably not be approved until next spring.
Brooke has turned over to the district a waiting list of about 90 residents wanting new hook-ups.