Council approves contract to determine value of EPCOR assets

in Mohave Daily News/News

BILL McMILLEN, The Daily News Mar 19, 2019

BULLHEAD CITY — The Bullhead City Council decided it’s worth almost $400,000 to find out the value of EPCOR Water Arizona’s system in the city.

The council voted 6-0 to enter into a professional services agreement with Raftelis Financial Consultants, of Charlotte, North Carolina, to determine the valuation of EPCOR assets in Bullhead City as the city continues its exploration of taking over the utility’s local operation.

“This is one of the most important decisions this city council has made in the four years I have been on it,” said Mayor Tom Brady prior to the vote. “It’s one of the most important we will have to make in the next decade.”

City Manager Toby Cotter said Raftelis would be asked to provide a preliminary range estimate of the value of EPCOR’s Bullhead City assets, assess a multi-year financial and rate plan and a preliminary management and transition plan should the city pursue ownership of water company through either negotiation or condemnation. Cotter said Raftelis had the financial consultants and engineers to make those determinations.

City Attorney Garn Emory said Raftelis was chosen in a “search-and-find” process rather than competitive bid because the city needed a company with an exact skill set.

“It does meet our procurement” protocol, Emory said.

City officials have been at odds with EPCOR’s rate increase and consolidation proposal — a plan rejected by the Arizona Corporation Commission — and with the company’s subsequent request for interim rates that likely will raise local water bills significantly. Early in the process of battling the rate increase, city officials floated the possibility of taking over the water utility. EPCOR officials told the city it wasn’t for sale, so the city contemplated the next step — possible condemnation to force a takeover at market value.

But determining that market value has been an inexact science at best. The city disputes EPCOR’s claim that the local system is worth up to $130 million.

Read full article at Mohave Daily News.