Peoria considers buying utility company - Your West Valley News: Peoria

Peoria considers buying utility company

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Posted: Thursday, May 22, 2014 7:45 pm

A utility company in north Peoria is exploring the possibility of selling its operation and the city of Peoria is considering the purchase. First, however, city officials want to gauge the interest of the public in doing so.

Public Works/Utilities Director Bill Mattingly said Peoria and the New River Utility Company began talking about a possible acquisition last year. The New River Utility Company covers an area in north Peoria that roughly includes an area between Beardsley and Deer Valley Roads and 75th and 83rd avenues, though it does extend a little beyond those borders in some places.

The NRUC has indicated they are in talks with other possible buyers, as well, but Mattingly said before the city takes any meaningful steps toward a purchase they want to hear from the residents.

“We want to learn what residents think about city acquisition of the company,” he said. “We want them to be informed if (NRUC customers) want the city be their service provider.”

Mattingly said the changes for the area’s residents should make it an attractive proposition for them. If the purchase went through, customers would get their water bills from the city along with their bills for sewer service and curbside trash and recycling. The city’s current water rates are slightly higher than those for the NRUC, he said, but for most customers the total cost of water from the city would be less than currently paid due to the elimination of a special tax district fee — Central Arizona Groundwater Replenishment District special tax district — on the resident’s property tax bill.

Mattingly also said that customer service would improve if the city took over, again due to the streamlining of all utility services and also because the city has a dedicated customer service division for public inquiries.

If purchased, the NRUC system would be integrated into the existing city system, and improvements would be made to NRUC equipment to allow for remote monitoring. Water meters, too, would be upgraded.

“From the city’s perspective, we would able to deliver the same level of service we provide to most other citizens,” Mattingly said. “(The purchase would) allow the city to respond when needed, which we cannot do now.”

Asked if there are any potential problems with the acquisition, Mattingly said: “I don’t see any downside.”

Still, Mattingly said the city is serious about weighing the public’s thoughts on the matter, which is why a public meeting is being conducted to discuss it at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Rancho Solano school, 7877 W. Hillcrest Blvd.

“There is no deadline for this process. That said, we will take the next few months to understand the wishes of the residents and then share the results with the city council,” Mattingly said. “Assuming the feedback was positive, council may direct staff to open formal negotiations.”

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