City Expenditures on Mountain Water Lawsuit Revealed, Law Firm Makes Case Against PSC Oversight
During a city council meeting today, September 17, attorneys from the law firm Boone-Karlburg presented some of their findings concerning the relationship with the Montana Public Service Commission and Mountain Water. Attorney Scott Sterns tried to show that Mountain Water had unfair access to the commission.
"The five PSC commissioners in Helena, again, don't have a lot of expertise in running a water system," Sterns said. "We were intrigued by what we were finding in early documents at the PSC, so I sent them a subpoena asking them for all of their emails, all of their documents; Give us everything that you have on Mountain Water, please."
City council looked at a series of emails between employees at the PSC and Mountain Water attorneys, one of the emails even discussed a meeting over beer at a Helena brewery. At the end of the council meeting Mayor John Engen explained how much the eminent domain lawsuit has cost so far.
"Here's what I know today: We've spent roughly $400,000 on attorneys. We've spent another $130,000 or so on experts. This fight will continue to be expensive," Engen said. "We have not been able to come up with an estimate because whatever our estimate is for the continuing prosecution of this litigation is going to be a guess."
Councilman Adam Hertz believes the mayor has exceeded his original mandate from the City Council.
"In that authorization, the mayor was authorized to hire the firm Perkins Cole, but he since both hired and paid Boone Karlberg and Datsopoulos, MacDonald, and Lind," Hertz said. "He's also talking about hiring an engineering firm as part of this and I don't think he has the authorization to do that."
The mayor estimated that the process of the lawsuit is likely about halfway done, and said that most of the heavy lifting was already over.