Queen Creek officials finalized the purchase of the Queen Creek Water Co. on Tuesday, putting the private water utility into public hands. The cost of acquisition was just under $37 million and includes bringing on 30 water company employees as town staff.
The town secured a $40 million low-interest loan through the Water Infrastructure Authority of Arizona to pay for the purchase and help cover repair and expansion costs.
The Town Council and town management has been working on the purchase of the water company for the past 18 months.
Residents will see little change in terms of operations, and the takeover will be seamless, town officials said. But residents are expected to see an increase in water rates beginning July 1. The increase is needed as the town is expected to pay about $3 million annually for 20 years on the loan, town officials said.
The town's rate consultants said water fees for a customer using 10,000 gallons of water monthly would increase over three years from $23.70 per month to $34.29 per month. Town officials said those rates are below the state average of $40 per month.
The process for the water rate increases began Wednesday night with a Town Council work study meeting on the rates. A public hearing is tentatively planned for May 21.
Assistant Town Manager Patrick Flynn, who headed up the purchase for the town, called the purchase "a legacy acquisition."
"Water is a key resource for any area, but it is especially important in Arizona," he said. "Like our own municipal fire department, ownership of the water utility is all part of the evolution of a growing town."
Councilman Jon Wootten said it's exciting to see something that has been worked on for so long come to fruition.
"It's been a great cooperative effort between many councils and staff members, (former Queen Creek Water Co. owner) Paul Gardner and the water company," Wootten said. "It will be a great benefit to the town."