Mesa Del Residents Explore Costs To Buy Out Brooke

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About 100 residents of Mesa del Caballo attended a meeting on Tuesday intended to rally support for forming a water improvement district to buy out Brooke Utilities and lay claim to water from the Blue Ridge pipeline.

“We’re trying to form something that will help all of us,” said Bonnie Dorris, one of five people who have started circulation petitions to form an improvement district to acquire the water system from Brooke. “You’ll have a say. Right now you really don’t.”

Dwight Busby, one of the five residents seeking the signatures of 51 percent of the 400 homeowners to establish the water improvement district, said “Mesa del is a great community, but I’m not OK with the water bill. We’re just a bunch of volunteers hoping to do something better.”

The two-hour meeting tackled questions about how residents can set up a water district that could then apply for state and federal grants to enable homeowners to buy out Brooke and come up with the estimated $600,000 necessary to buy into the Blue Ridge pipeline, which would likely eliminate water shortages and the now routine water hauling fees.

The crowd seemed mostly supportive, although some residents insisted that a water improvement district could never raise enough money needed to buy out the private water company — and would spur fierce opposition if it tried to impose a tax on the roughly 40 residents who have their own wells.

Tom Kuhn, one of the five people who would serve on the first board if enough residents sign the petition, said he believed the non-profit water improvement district could offer lower rates than Brooke Utilities, since it would operate tax free and could likely win substantial state and federal grants. However, he said backers didn’t yet have firm estimates.

“The whole reason to form the water district is to get this information together,” said Kuhn.

Brooke Utilities President Robert Hardcastle recently hosted a series of public meetings to determine whether residents wanted the company to strike a deal to get 75 to 90 acre-feet of water annually from Payson’s Blue Ridge pipeline. At those meetings, Hardcastle said the cost of connecting to the pipeline in about 2015 would boost average water bills by about 130 percent — but would also end the summer water hauling charges that in the past several years have doubled or tripled summer water bills.

Kuhn said his preliminary calculations suggested the average water improvement district bill would end up lower than Brooke’s projected bill after connecting to the pipeline, but declined to offer specific figures.

“I ran a bunch of numbers and it’s not going to be 130 percent of what you’re paying now. I can’t tell you how much less,” said Kuhn.

“Why can’t you give us a number?” demanded one listener.

“Because it’s very preliminary,” replied Kuhn.

“Why would I vote for a water district if you can’t give me a number?” “Your questions are good,” said Kuhn, “but they’re premature. Next time we meet, I can give you those answers. Once we’re an official entity, that work starts.”

Backers said they hoped that a newly formed district could qualify for state and federal grants to finance acquisition of the Blue Ridge water rights and make it possible to raise the money to buy out Brooke Utilities.

Comments

Pam Mason 3 years, 2 months ago

Dear Mesa Del residents, May I suggest you approach the formation of a Water Imporvement District to buy out Brookes with extreme caution.

We too were told we would get state and federal grants to offset costs, several applications were made and the result is zero. Our rates would not go up for maybe five years, they went up soon after. Make sure you do not have "special interests" pushing their own agendas and receiving handsome payouts.

Any lawyer you hire should not have a conflict of interest or a history of state bar disciplinary actions. Make sure you are able to review any and all appraisals or public documents. Your board should be open and transparent. (Gila County mantra)

Remind any candidates that board members should be courteous and non combative when asked questions in public meetings. Don't fall for the flim flam and fancy numbers thrown out by economists, remember they are being paid to sell you on the idea that you are going to save money!

Investigate any promotional information for yourself before coming to an informed decision. Remember the saying "If it sounds too good to be true it prrobably is"

To form a Water Improvement District may be with the best intentions, but board members and policies change and like Washington they can sell you a bill of goods just to get your vote.

Why do I bother to alert you to this? I live in the Pine Strawberry Water Improvement District!

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