Mountain Water Files Motion To Stay Valuation Process Pending Appeal to Montana Supreme Court [DOCUMENT]
On Tuesday, June 30, Mountain Water's attorneys filed a motion with the Montana Fourth Judicial District Court, asking the court to stay the valuation proceedings in the city of Missoula's condemnation action against Mountain Water.
The actual motion to Missoula District Court can be viewed here.
The following is a statement issued by John Kappes, President of Mountain Water Company.
June 30, 2015
Statement from John Kappes, president of Mountain Water Company, regarding filing of Motion to Stay Valuation Proceedings Pending Appeal:
Mountain Water Company today filed a motion to stay the valuation phase of the city's condemnation action to take over Mountain Water, while the District Court's decision on necessity is pending appeal with the Montana Supreme Court.
Today’s motion reflects our belief that moving forward with the valuation stage of this case while the necessity ruling is still under appeal puts taxpayer funds and the water system itself at significant risk. To date the city, Mountain Water and Carlyle have spent millions of dollars to litigate the necessity phase of the case and that decision by the Montana Fourth Judicial District Court is now before the Montana Supreme Court on appeal. Millions more will be spent during the valuation stage. But if the Supreme Court reverses the District Court’s decision on necessity, the entire valuation process would be moot with the city still on the hook for all the valuation phase litigation expenses.
If the valuation stage of this case is not delayed, it is conceivable that the city could purchase and take ownership of the water system only to have to “hand back the keys” due to a reversal by the Supreme Court of the necessity ruling. This instability would be hugely disruptive to the operations of the water system in ways that would affect customers, employees and other local citizens.
Imagine moving all of the operations of Mountain Water into city offices, changing pension and insurance plans, changing IT systems and customer information and all of the other complex transitional issues that will arise — and then trying to change it all back due to a Supreme Court reversal. This would not only cost taxpayers dearly, but in some cases it would adversely impact employees and interfere with the operational stability, strength and capacity of the Mountain Water system.
The good news is, the water system is running effectively today. Customers can rely on clean drinking water when they turn on the tap, just as they have for over 100 years. There is no emergency that necessitates rushing through valuation.
Montana law gives significant leeway to the courts to determine the best time frame for proceeding through the valuation stage of a condemnation case. We believe that a stay of the valuation proceeding is the most logical, expedient and fair way to move forward while the necessity decision is on appeal before the Montana Supreme Court.