The City of Maricopa is not taking over Global Water Resources anytime soon, but it is courting Maricopa Consolidated Domestic Water Improvement District.
A special taxing district, Maricopa CDWID is the water utility for properties in the Heritage District, some of the oldest homes in town. City Manager Rick Horst visited the CDWID board in February to explain the benefits of a union. From accounts of the meeting, the CDWID is not enthusiastic about the prospect.
Taking over the improvement district has been in the City’s long-range plans for a while.
The City and CDWID have been in something of a relationship for a while, too. The City, in fact, was paying the utility’s rent in the Duke Plaza. But Maricopa CDWID cleared out in October, apparently without notice, as it moved to a building that was a daycare on Garvey Avenue.
When Holiday Inn Express was flirting with the idea of building in the Heritage District a decade ago, developers had been concerned about the flow capability at the time. An intergovernmental agreement between the utility and the City allowed a 200,000-gallon water tank to be placed where CDWID’s offices were and moved the offices to the Duke Plaza.
In 2017, the water improvement district merged with the much smaller New Saddleback Vista DWID and now serves around 350 connections. Maricopa CDWID does not provide sewer service.
Horst said a takeover would mean lower water bills, a better system and better property tax rates. It would also eliminate the need for the board and the district tax.
“We can guarantee rates for 10 years,” Horst said, adding part of the board’s reluctance was “a fear of an increase in rates.”
The plan would have the City take over ownership and operations of the CDWID system after the proposed takeover, relieving the City of the expense of hiring administration and operators for the utility. The City would then turn to an appropriate vendor, such as Global Water, for day-to-day management.
Horst told the board, with few details, there were three large developments pending for Maricopa. Lack of sewer service, he said, had caused some issues with developing properties in the Heritage District.
Horst said there was little response from the utility board while he was there, but they had a full discussion after he departed the meeting.
District Engineer Bill Collings expressed doubts the City could legally lock in rates as Horst suggested. He also said capacity had not been a problem in a recent flow test for the Sonoran Creek development, which is to bring more retail to the area between Culver’s and Dutch Bros.
According to the minutes, the board felt Horst was trying to be intimidating when he said the CDWID would be responsible if the City were to be sued for not providing services and protection. Field Operations Manager Gilbert Sanchez told the board the CDWID is not required to provide fire protection because it is not a fire district.
While Horst said he had a list of complaints that included the utility’s lack of working with Maricopa Fire/Medical Department on flow tests, Sanchez told the board the CDWID allowed hydrant blow-offs for fires and department training “at no cost to the City.”
Meanwhile, Maricopa CDWID is wooing Valle Escondido Domestic Water Improvement District, which has expressed interest in a merger. Maricopa CDWID already has agreements with Valle Esondido as well as Seven Ranches, Papago Butte and Thunderbird Irrigation Water Delivery District No. 1. When the Papago Butte DWID water tested high for nitrates in March, for instance, the warning against giving it to infants came through Maricopa CDWID management.
The City continues to pay rent for the empty space in the Duke Plaza vacated by CDWID. Horst said if the City had been given a heads-up about CDWID’s decision to move its office, there would have been more time to find another tenant for the rooms.