Voter Guide: Town leaders grappling with water rates and control (October 29, 2014)
APPLE VALLEY — The Apple Valley Town Council race offers three open seats, those of Curt Emick, Scott Nassif, and Barb Stanton.
By far the main issue in the campaign is the attempt to acquire the privately owned Apple Valley Ranchos Water Co., either by outright purchase or through condemnation proceedings based on perceived benefits for the public good.
The company is the major water supplier for the town and its populace and serves some unincorporated county customers who live within Apple Valley’s sphere of influence.
Candidates disagree as to whether money should be spent in an attempt to gain
local control of the precious commodity supplied by the company.
The present council members have been through years of rate hikes, with AVR’s present rate request being a hike of 30 percent over the next three years. Emick, Nassif and Stanton all support the Town’s bid to gain control of Apple Valley Ranchos and stabilize rates.
Our biggest opportunity is if we do control our water, Stanton said.
Mostly the challengers question the long-term expenses and consequences that may result from acquisition of the water supplier.
Even if the town bought the water company, rates aren’t going to go down, Roelle said.
AVR managers have said in recent months the company is not for sale as a standalone water provider. Its parent company, Park Water Co. — through the sale of Western Water Holdings — is being transferred to ownership by Liberty Utilities, a subsidiary of Canada-based Algonquin Power Utilities Corp.
Other issues in the race are the debt that was taken on by a previous Town Council’s purchase of Apple Valley Country Club and its attached water rights, whether the town should continue to allow council members to do business with the town and where the town stands on renewable-energy projects.
It is complicated with a lot of moving parts. The $450 million value came from Park Water’s general manager. The fact is (Caryle Group) only paid a little over $100 million for it. Rates go up 10 percent a year. They’ve applied for 30 percent for the next three years. Can we lower the rates (if the town owns the company)? Maybe, maybe not. Can we stabilize them? I think so.
Source: Daily Press