In a statement released Friday, the City of Missoula and Liberty Utilities have reached an agreement that could result in the city's official takeover of Mountain Water Company by May 31.

City of Missoula Communications Director Ginny Merriam quoted the press release for KGVO News on Friday afternoon.

“The City of Missoula and Liberty Utilities have reached an agreement that will finalize the City’s right to acquire Missoula’s water system from Mountain Water Company as previously ordered and affirmed by the courts,” Merriam began. “The agreement will end any further litigation regarding the City’s right to ownership of the assets of Mountain Water Company and will ensure an orderly and smooth transition to City stewardship of this precious natural resource. The City and Liberty Utilities have agreed on terms that are consistent with plans that City leadership has proposed and presented to the Missoula City Council in recent months. We believe the agreement will result in a seamless transition for water utility customers, employees and developers. The attorneys are in the process of drafting a comprehensive Settlement Agreement expected to be finalized over the next weeks.”

 

According to the press release, here are the major points:

1) The comprehensive settlement calls for the City to make payments to Mountain Water in the amount of $83.7 million. In addition, the City will make payments to named parties in the developers case; Carlyle for its attorneys’ fees; and Liberty Utilities/Park for transitional services. These additional payments bring the total settlement to $96.4 million.

2) Such payments will be in satisfaction of the award of just compensation entered by Judge Karen Townsend in November 2015 as well as all post-trial rulings regarding attorneys’ fees, costs, and post-valuation improvements that have or could be awarded by the court. The only remaining claim belonging to Mountain Water Company is a potential contingent claim for interest during the period of the court proceedings.

3) Liberty Utilities will cooperate completely in the transition to City ownership and operation and will immediately provide access to proprietary business information that will enable the City of Missoula to begin configuring a customer database for billing and customer service functions. The City will contract directly with Park Water for certain transition services.

4) The City and Liberty Utilities are working with the two remaining named parties in the developers’ case filed before Judge Halligan, and it is anticipated that the parties’ discussions will result in the developers’ case also being resolved as a part of the overall settlement with Mountain Water. Remaining developers who have outstanding contracts with Mountain Water but who are not named parties in the developers’ case will have their contracts assigned to the City. Payments will be made on those contracts by the new water utility in the normal course of business over the remaining life of the contracts.

5) Mountain Water will immediately grant the City access to the physical facilities owned and operated by Mountain Water for purposes of transition planning and preparation. Mountain Water has pledged that its current employees will cooperate in facilitating a smooth transition.

6) The City will extend offers of employment in good faith to employees of Mountain Water who have not yet committed to become City employees in accordance with statements previously made by the City publicly and to the courts.

7) The Missoula City Council is expected to make a final decision on the settlement before May 20.

8) Both parties will make all reasonable efforts toward a transfer of ownership by May 31.