Parker Water postpones inclusion agreement signing
By Chris Michlewicz
The inclusion of the Castle Pines North Metro District (CPNMD) water and wastewater facilities into Parker Water & Sanitation District (PWSD) – which nearly 96% of voters in the CPNMD cast ballots in favor of last May – has been indefinitely put on hold due to the emergence of legal and financial issues. The PWSD board voted unanimously in early December to delay the inclusion, which was scheduled to take place on January 3.
According to a statement CPNMD released December 14, 2021, both parties continue to work diligently and in good faith to complete the voter-approved inclusion. However, a number of unforeseen legal, financial, operational and supply chain issues will not be resolved by the original January inclusion date.
A timeline to sort out the entanglements has not been determined. Ron Redd, district manager of PWSD, itemized eight outstanding issues in a presentation to the PWSD Board (pictured right).
Redd said the next step in the process is “sitting down and defining those issues and what we consider a success to be so we know what we’re both shooting for.” That includes assessing the risk involved in inclusion to protect PWSD and its customers.
“There’s no chance it will not go forward,” Redd assured. “Both parties are set on making this happen; it’s just a lot of work.”
“There’s no chance it will not go forward; both parties are set on making this happen. It’s just a lot of work.”
-PWSD District Manager Ron Redd
When asked whether the inclusion proposal might need to go to another public vote, Redd said legal counsel for each entity has differing opinions, with PWSD citing potential future legal challenges to the original vote. Redd noted that, “There’s a sentence or two in the (inclusion) agreement stating the parties can make changes.”
CPNMD’s response was, “Though aware counsel is reviewing the question, we see no need for another inclusion election and intend to avoid one.”
The resolution passed by PWSD’s board says inclusion will be deferred until the outstanding issues are resolved.
Some of the recent complexities were discovered during the due diligence process required prior to merging CPNMD’s water and wastewater assets with PWSD’s.
Because of improved efficiencies, customers in Castle Pines were expected to see a decrease in their water and wastewater bill. Likewise, PWSD customers would see a $60 annual reduction in their property taxes. The inclusion of CPNMD would also help offset the cost of farm projects on the Eastern Plains undertaken by PWSD; the costs include the acquisition of water rights.
Redd is optimistic that inclusion will eventually take place but said the timing to resolve lingering issues is out of their hands. “It’s a little uncomfortable to defer inclusion, but it’s the right thing to do,” he said.