After decades of mistrust and failure to communicate with each other, Maumelle Water Management and the Maumelle City Council appear to have settled on a new way of satisfying the concerns of both organizations.
The biggest rub for years that seemed to flare up every ten years or so was the fact that Maumelle Water Management through its parent organization Maumelle Suburban Improvement District #100 chose its own board members.
Alderman have complained that the board was self-perpetuating because it selects its own replacement if a member resigns or dies in office.
Two years ago MWM gave the city two liaison slots on the board that were non-voting. Under the new organization, those two positions will be nominated by the city and chosen by MWM board members.
Alderman who attended a Feb. 26 meeting said they were pleased with the compromise.
Mary Peyton, who has led the way to appease city concerns said the plans are for MWM to disband and transfer assets and obligations to a new Maumelle Water Authority created under state laws designed for allowing and encouraging water groups.
The new organization would float roughly $22.3 million in 30-year bonds to pay off the improvement district so it can go out of existence and also provide some much needed money for infrastructure.
Attorneys have worked out a plan for the transition to be transparent to Maumelle residents.
The boundaries for the new organization would be Maumelle city limits and the planning boundaries that go out into nearby neighborhoods.
While details are yet to be completely worked out, under its new structure MWM would lose its taxing authority it currently has as an improvement district. But the new organization could raise money through rate adjustments although the current slate of commissioners said that would be a last resort.
Documents outlining the proposed bond issuance indicate the current debt for MWM is $17.6 million.
A portion of the $21 million in new bonds, $5 million would be set aside for construction projects.
In years past the quality of water has been an issue but manager Barry Heller said the transition MWM made two years back in how it softens the well water will eventually correct the lime buildup. However he noted it takes years for those deposits to work their way out of the water lines. Occasionally the deposits will work lose and produce dark colored water.
But last time voices were raised and feelings hurt was when a well failed, a long summer drought and a special storm of extenuating circumstances resulted in a shortage of water and residents were restricted in when they could water their yard.
To many Maumelle residents, “You can’t water your lawn,” were fighting words and they let their elected officials know all about it.
Heller said the organization approached Central Arkansas Water and CAW would require the construction of a multi-million dollar water line just to get their water to Maumelle and they would require an update in the current system lines.
MWM attorney Stuart Hankins said he’d worked very hard to work out the details for a shift that basically would be transparent to its members.
He also said he intention was for the new organization to serve the same boundaries as MWM does.
A formal purchase agreement would be required, Hankins said, although “its virtually an agreement between ourselves.”