BULLHEAD CITY — A ballot initiative asking Bullhead City residents to allow the city to acquire EPCOR Water Arizona’s local infrastructure has been arranged with Mohave County.
Proposition 415 is the name of the ballot initiative.
The City Council on Tuesday approved moving forward with balloting after hearing final comments about the idea. Voters would need to ensure their mail-in ballots are returned by Nov. 5 for their opinion to be counted.
Registered voters will be asked to approve bonding of up to $130 million — the amount EPCOR reports the system is worth. Terms would be for up to 30 years with an interest rate no higher than 8% annually.
Raftelis Financial Consultants determined the value of EPCOR’s local system to be around $55 million.
The city already owns water rights. EPCOR has the water delivery infrastructure, however.
EPCOR has said it’s not interested in selling its local infrastructure holdings to the city. The city and EPCOR likely would go through an eminent domain condemnation process to determine the system’s worth if they can’t reach a sales agreement.
A sales price would be decided on in court. That decision would be evaluated by the city council, which ultimately would decide if the price is appropriate.
Before the election, Raftelis will gather more information about what city would need to do to take over and properly operate EPCOR’s local holdings.
There’s already an opposition campaign: No On 415 — Stop the Government Takeover.
The group is circulating a petition and offering lawn signs to people on its side. It has a website: http://noon415.com. On the website, the organization reported its efforts are being paid for by Taxpayers Against City Takeover, a political action committee sponsored by EPCOR Water USA. In filings with the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office in May of 2018, Shawn Bradford, EPCOR Water Arizona vice president of corporate services, was listed as TACT’s chairman.
Bullhead City residents in favor of the city obtaining EPCOR’s system created the H20 Committee when the 2017 rate and consolidation proposal submitted by the utility company was being heard by the Arizona Corporation Commission. The H2O Committee has a Facebook page.
That rate and consolidation case decision wasn’t fully completed by the ACC — though commissioners came to a 2-2 decision stopping the utility’s plan. In turn, EPCOR filed for interim rates and the commissioners approved that shorter-term request by the utility company. The ACC also asked EPCOR to deliver another long-term rate plan based on information collected this year. That request is to be submitted in next May.
Groups interested in submitting written arguments for and against the city’s EPCOR acquisition proposal can go to the city’s website for details: www.bullheadcity.com. The deadline for filing arguments is Aug. 7.