Sewer fight soon to be water under the bridge

2013-03-14T00:00:00Z 2014-07-08T11:20:03Z Sewer fight soon to be water under the bridgeBecky Pallack Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
March 14, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Marana and Pima County are calling a cease-fire in the sewer-takeover conflict.

After more than five years of political fights and hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal expenses, the next step is finalizing a settlement agreement.

"And then all of this is behind us, and we're kind of pleased that it finally is," said County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry.

After Marana lost a series of court battles last year, the Pima County Board of Supervisors offered to allow Marana to buy the Marana Wastewater Reclamation Facility, 14393 N. Luckett Road, for $18.2 million as part of a settlement, as long as the town could get proper legal authority from voters.

About 75 percent of Marana voters said "yes" to the wastewater-facilities authorization questions in Tuesday's election, signaling the beginning of the end of the wastewater conflict.

A draft settlement agreement is in town leaders' hands, and they've been talking it over for weeks, said Town Manager Gilbert Davidson.

Town leaders will work with the county on the last few details of the settlement, including the final cost and payment structure and overall terms and conditions, Davidson said.

Interest rates are good right now, so the town should borrow the money and put it in an account the county can use to repay bondholders, he said.

The Marana Town Council and the Board of Supervisors must approve the agreement.

The town also will begin talks with the Pima Association of Governments and the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality to apply for permits to own and operate the sewer plant, Davidson said.

The remaining lawsuit - a case in Maricopa County Superior Court challenging the constitutionality of the state law that allowed Marana to take over the plant by paying only the outstanding debt - will be dropped.

That's because a bill to repeal the law has passed the state House and is in the Senate. The repeal also is part of the settlement.

"This has been quite a process for everyone and to hopefully bring closure to both sides is a good thing for the town and the county, and there are many other important issues we need to be working on," Davidson said.

About 2,100 Marana residents will be part of the town's system, and the others will continue to be on the county's system.

Contact reporter Becky Pallack at bpallack@azstarnet.com or 573-4346. On Twitter @BeckyPallack.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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