BULLHEAD CITY — Mayor Tom Brady set out Thursday evening to clear the air.
Bullhead City isn’t going to raise taxes, and won’t be annexing Fort Mohave anytime soon, Brady said at a town hall meeting hosted by the Bullhead Area Chamber of Commerce and the Mohave County Republican Party.
The city could acquire EPCOR Water Arizona’s local infrastructure, the mayor said, but isn’t likely to pay the $130 million the company has said is the value of its local operations. Brady said a city consultant has pegged the value at about $55 million.
After voting Tuesday to call for an election on the acquisition of EPCOR’s local assets, he said, the city council cannot advocate for or against the question, but can only distribute factual information or correct inaccurate information.
However, he said, he is permitted to share his thoughts as an individual.
“I research everything,” Brady told those assembled at the forum. “I am a firm believer that we need to purchase EPCOR.”
He said that he believes that if the city takes over the utility, it can keep rates close to what they are now. EPCOR recently has been approved for a rate increase and is expected to file another rate case in May.
In response to an audience member’s question, Brady said he could “guarantee” a rate increase if the city doesn’t acquire the utility.
He said that according to the consultant, even in a worst-case scenario — paying the $130 million — the acquisition would make sense for Bullhead City.
He said the consultant’s opinion was that “if you had to, it might hurt your pocketbook now, but in the future, citizens will applaud you for the action you took.”
One result of taking over EPCOR’s local assets, Brady said, would be that the city would no longer get a water bill, which now totals about $255,000 a year.
On other issues, Brady said that the city continues to operate on the 2% sales tax it levies, along with state shared revenue and fees. He said the city hasn’t raised taxes in 34 years.
Brady said Bullhead City has a $30 million general fund budget and a reserve fund of $12 million, and that a general rule is that a government should have 10% of its budget in reserves.
“We’re poised very well should the economy turn down like it did in 2007,” he said.
He said that the city has acquired 15 acres of land near the Laughlin Bridge through the efforts of city representatives and local state legislators, and that the land will be key to future development.
Brady said that a grant for a trail between Davis Dam and the Laughlin Bridge has been approved and the project sent out to bid. He said he expects construction to be underway within six months.
The city is also adding more beaches, Brady said.
“I’m very proud of what Bullhead City is doing,” he said. “I think we’ve got a great future.”
The future does not, he said, include the purchase of Bermuda Water Co. or annexing Fort Mohave, regardless of the speculation audience members may have heard; Brady was adamant on that point.
“It’s not gonna happen,” Brady said. “It’s never been discussed. It’s garbage.”
After Brady spoke, chamber executive director John Pynakker talked about the complementary relationship between the city and the business community.
“I think a lot of the economic development you see in this town and a lot of the positives you hear are the direct result of the responsiveness of our city government,” Pynakker said.
Among the other elected officials who spoke at the forum were Mohave County Recorder Kristi Blair, who brought up some information voters might like concerning the Nov. 5 all-mail election on the EPCOR question.
She said that anyone wishing to cast a ballot in the election needs to be registered at least 29 days beforehand — by Oct. 7. Blair also said that the post office won’t forward election mail, so it’s important that voters make sure the recorder’s office has updated address information.
Finally, she said, election day is the day a ballot must be received, and that she recommends mailing them at least six days before then.
“It has to be received by 7 p.m.,” Blair said. “If we don’t receive it, your vote will not count.”