BULLHEAD CITY — The H20 Committee has received a large donation from the Bullhead City-Mohave County Association of Realtors.

Proposition 415 is a referendum seeking voter approval for the city to acquire the local water infrastructure system from EPCOR Water Arizona and provides ceilings on the amount of money the city can borrow to pay for the system and the interest rate on the loan.

The proposition states that the city wants to borrow up to $130 million at an interest rate of up to 8%. 

The donation was sorely needed, said Royanne Ortiz, one of the committee’s board members. 

She also expressed gratitude to the association because its $15,000 donation is more than double the total amount raised by the grassroots political action committee, which advocates for voter approval of Proposition 415, according to election paperwork filed with the city last week.

H20 had raised about $11,000 in donations up to that point. It had no money to spend until recently, though the group has been in existence since last year.

The EPCOR-funded political action committee, Taxpayers Against City Takeover, ended 2018 with $211,491 — in preparation for an earlier version of Proposition 415 that ended up not being put to a vote last year. Its latest financial report filed with the state noted that $50,000 was brought from an earlier campaign for current use.      

“We believe in supporting the community and wanted to get them as much money as we could,” said Karen Summitt, president of the Realtors association.

The association worked for a couple of months on securing the donation, which is the largest the organization of about 420 area real estate professionals has ever provided. 

It already had been allowing the H20 Committee to use its meeting center for events. 

High water rates “affect our homeowners and renters, impact growth and employment to the city and area,” Summitt said.

The H20 Committee reported having collected donations of only $950 in its financial report ending Aug. 10 and had raised — but also used — more than $10,000 in its latest financial report for a period ending Sept. 30.

The association’s donation to the H20 Committee will be documented in the PAC’s next financial reporting period. That fourth quarter report is due next January.

A contractor working for the city has estimated the value of the Mohave and North Mohave systems to be about $55 million. EPCOR has stated that it’s not interested in negotiating with the city and hired its own contractor, who determined the infrastructure to be worth about $133 million. That report is supposed to be released by EPCOR this week.

If the referendum is approved by voters, the local water system’s value will be determined by a court if the two sides can agree on a price.

The city council opted to seek voter consent to acquire the system after the Arizona Corporation Commission approved interim rates that raised the cost of EPCOR water for customers in Bullhead City who use an average amount of water from $26.25 to $33.24. Bills for those in the North Mohave district went up from $25.98 to $34.88.

During the past few years EPCOR’s rates have increased by nearly 90%, according to Proposition 415 supporters. 

The ACC didn’t approve the initial rate plan that also proposed consolidating all of EPCOR’s holdings across the state, so the company returned to the commission with the interim rate request that took effect in April. EPCOR will return to the ACC next May with a long-term rate plan.

The all-mail ballot is due at the county elections office on Nov. 5. Mailing it about a week ahead of the Nov. 5 deadline is recommended. The Bullhead City branch of the Mohave County Library will accept ballots on Nov. 5 until 7 p.m.

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