Anti-takeover mailer reaches residents (March 23, 2015)

Apple Valley council members to hear business valuation of Apple Valley Ranchos

APPLE VALLEY — A brochure that began showing up in residents’ mailboxes last week blasts the costs of government takeovers of water companies and says a town effort to acquire Apple Valley Ranchos Water Co. would lead to higher taxes and water rates.

The AVR mailer, which resembles the materials sent out in by candidates in election seasons, offers four examples of water company takeovers by eminent domain that cost municipalities more than twice the estimated cost: Big Bear Lake and Felton in California; Moorsville, Indiana, and Nashua, New Hampshire.

The Town of Apple Valley desires to buy AVR and, as part of its preliminary steps, is expected to hear a staff presentation on the estimated business-valuation at the 6:30 p.m. Tuesday meeting. However, the water company is part of Park Water Co. and owner Western Water Holdings LLC that Liberty Utilities is trying to buy.

The recent local mailer is specific to AVR and the town, and asks for water-company supporters to contact council members.

It’s all part of the process, Mayor Larry Cusack said. We’d like to purchase (AVR) — that’s our first choice.

Councilman Scott Nassif, who represented the town’s position at a March 16 California Public Utilities Commission field hearing on the Liberty Utilities offer, said he had not received any comments from constituents who said they were contacting him because of the the mailer. But the public often asks him about the situation, he said.

The mailer also refers to the 2011 Blue Ribbon Water Committee report that advises against pursuing acquisition.

We were unanimous in thinking that we ought to take it over, but the town didn’t have the proper financing mechanism in place; we thought an alternate might be found, said Carl Coleman, then-chairman of the committee. He said he’s been quiet on the issue of buying or condemning the water company since the committee reached its conclusion because he doesn’t have enough current information to make an informed decision.

Can we own it? Coleman asked. I’m not sure.

A quote used in the mailer with the Daily Press logo was from a Feb. 25 opinion piece that urges a public vote on the matter before the town pursues acquisition. The Daily Press was not involved in producing the mailer.

Source: Daily Press