Carefree to go for smaller, annual water rate increases

By Curtis Riggs | July 1, 2009

Proposing 3 percent
CAREFREE – Town and Carefree Water Company officials will discuss imposing small water rate increases annually at the July 7 meeting of the Carefree Water Company Board of Directors.

CWC General Manager Stan Francom is proposing a three percent annual increase to deal with maintenance issues and the rising delivery charges for Central Arizona Project (CAP) water. Francom is also seeking to increase the CWC reserve account to $500,000 to deal with unexpected repairs to the water system.

The three percent increase would generate $165,000, which would go into the emergency reserve account, Francom said.

A water line, which was improperly installed in Black Mountain Foothills when the subdivision was created, recently failed requiring the water company to replace the entire line at an estimated cost of $25,000. Water pressure reducers in place on this line also failed because of the ruptured water line.

At issue in Francom seeking only a three percent increase is the hope that Carefree’s CAP water can be delivered through the Cave Creek Water Company system as opposed to Scottsdale’s. Both Francom and Cave Creek Utilities Manager Jessica Marlow are confident Cave Creek can deliver 340 acre-feet of CAP water to Carefree every year.

“We will probably be able to give more in winter and less in the summer, but it will balance out,” Marlow said.

The CWC board, which is the Carefree Town Council, first heard about the proposed increase at a sparsely attended special town council meeting on June 9. Francom and the council agreed the increase should be discussed again at a meeting time citizens are more familiar with. Water company meetings are typically held at 4 p.m., just prior to the town council’s monthly regular meeting.

Councilman Doug Stavoe said the proposed increase needs more examination when proposing a July 7 final decision.

Carefree resident Jim Peirce, who receives his water from Cave Creek, said the proposed increase needs to be “reviewed thoroughly.” He pointed out the Carefree Water Company already has some of the highest rates in Arizona.

“Some people can’t afford the rates they are paying now and Easy Street merchants are leaving in droves,” he said.