Letter to the Editor: QC & Florence should not become Interim Manager of JU - SanTanValley.com

Letter to the Editor: QC & Florence should not become Interim Manager of JU

Letter to the Editor: QC & Florence should not become Interim Manager of JU

Recent developments have revealed the Town of Queen Creek and Town of Florence entering into an intergovernmental agreement to apply for the interim manager position for Johnson Utilities. We, as San Tan Valley residents, have serious concerns about such an appointment coming to fruition.

It is imperative that the ACC appoints an impartial and independent third party manager, not a joint venture of two surrounding municipalities who not only have attempted to acquire JU in the recent past but also compete directly with JU for new development projects.

In the ACC’s proposed settlement agreement prior to the hearings it was blatantly evident they understood the levity of this exact scenario:

"Under the agreement, Staff would solicit qualified operators for the interim manager position. The interim manager should be independent of any connection to Johnson Utilities. This condition should extend to those who have worked for or with Johnson Utilities and to those who have been or may be involved in any discussions to acquire Johnson Utilities.”

The aforementioned IGA is being dubbed as the Southeast Valley Regional Cooperative Intergovernmental Agreement for the Management, Operations, and Planning for Effluent, Water and Wastewater Treatment Services in the Region between the Town of Florence and the Town of Queen Creek. That’s right! These two municipalities, who deceptively claim to care only about the health and safety of San Tan Valley residents, refuse to even acknowledge our existence - instead choosing to refer to us as the “Southeast Valley Region”.

Neither the Town of Queen Creek nor the Town of Florence possess the experience and resources necessary to not only run and maintain a utility of this magnitude, but also rebuild it from the ground up. This is evidenced by both towns acknowledging the need to hire and rely on consulting firms to provide “technical and financial services” if appointed. Any cost to the towns as a result of hiring consultants to run JU will be paid by JU (STV residents). The IGA explicitly states Queen Creek and Florence will have the ability to buy, sell, construct, own, and lease real, personal, and tangible property. Both municipalities will also have full responsibility over JU’s contractual arrangements. Lastly, the IGA gives both towns the power to establish policies, set guidelines, and invest funds.

If the two towns were impartial and independent none of the above would raise an eye brow, however, the towns are far from impartial and independent. As previously stated, both towns attempted to acquire JU less than one year ago. The conflict of interest for these two towns, whose residents make up a mere fraction of JU customers, is beyond enormous. If Queen Creek and Florence are appointed as interim managers of Johnson Utilities they will have complete control over JU’s assets, investments, contracts, and decision making while not only competing against JU but also persuading developers toward annexing into their respective municipalities as part of a notorious quest to deplete San Tan Valley of its valuable commercial land.