We were delighted today to learn that the Arizona Corporation Commission will place the plight of Mesa del Caballo on the agenda of a special meeting May 22.
Last week, we called attention to the maddening situation afflicting the long-suffering homeowners of the small, unincorporated community on the outskirts of Payson.
Residents have suffered from years of inadequate service from Brooke Utilities, which did maintain low rates but never invested in a system to provide adequate water. As a result, residents suffered water shortages every summer — compounded by water hauling charges that doubled and tripled their summertime water bills.
A connection to Payson’s Blue Ridge pipeline promised to end those shortages and water hauling charges — at a cost. An administrative law judge on behalf of the Corporation Commission months ago held a series of hearings on the new owner’s request for permission to hook up to the pipeline. The residents will in the end pay close to $1 million to buy into the pipeline, but it will provide all the water they need indefinitely. They’ll pay higher monthly bills, but no water hauling charges.
At least, that’s what the company and the ACC staff told anxious and angry customers. They first must pay a $7 per-month surcharge for to cover the cost of the connection to Payson’s water supply. Later, they’ll pay more for their share of the pipeline costs. The pipeline will carry some 3,500 acre-feet — and Mesa del will use less than 100 acre-feet annually.
But then the water company sent out a notice that because the ACC hasn’t yet given the company legal authority to charge for the water it gets from the town of Payson now that the connection’s finished — Mesa del may get slammed with water hauling charges anyway.
This week, the corporation commission staff recommended the commissioners approve an interim rate to avert that injustice.
Good to know that they’re listening after all.