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  • Judge rejects Tucson’s attempt to move water rate dispute behind closed doors

    Apr 08, 2022 | Read More News
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    A Maricopa County Superior Court Judge on Friday rejected the city of Tucson’s attempt to move to arbitration the County’s lawsuit opposing the city’s arbitrary water rate increase for unincorporated county residents. The suit will proceed before Judge Randall Warner.

    The City Council imposed a 10 percent rate increase that went into effect Dec. 1 for about 70,000 Tucson Water customers in the unincorporated county. The rate increase also affects the County, which purchases water from the city for numerous facilities in the unincorporated county.
    The Board of Supervisors in November authorized suing the City over the rate increase and filed suit Dec. 17. The suit alleges the City’s action:
    • violates state law requiring water rates be “just and reasonable;”
    • is discriminatory by not treating similarly situated customers equally;
    • violates the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article II, Section 13 of the Arizona Constitution, providing for equal protection under the law and protection against race-based discrimination; and
    • violates Article IV, Part 2, Section 19 of the Arizona Constitution prohibiting governments from enacting “special laws.”
    The City of Tucson filed a motion to compel arbitration and move the proceedings behind closed doors in an attempt to keep the significant issues out of the courtroom and the public eye. The City cited previous water and sewer service agreements between the City and County, stating those agreements required arbitration. Judge Warner denied the motion, saying the dispute before the court is not about the previous agreements but about matters of “…constitutional, statutory, and common law duties allegedly owed to ratepayers.”