Missoula City Council Approves Over $140 Million In Bonds To Purchase Mountain Water Company
The long journey of the City of Missoula and its effort to acquire Mountain Water Company came to an end on Monday night with a vote to approve the sale of $140 million in bonds to purchase the utility.
In a unanimous vote of 12-0, the city council backed Mayor John Engen and his leadership through the condemnation, lawsuits, trials, and Supreme Court case to force the water utility into public control.
The total loan request included $88 million for the sale of the utility itself, $13 million in legal costs, the total acquisition cost is $110 million and with associated costs the total came to $140 million.
Following the vote, council members expressed their emotions about the years-long effort. Ward Two's Jordan Hess said the decision would be seen in a favorable light as time passes.
"My belief is that when we wake up tomorrow this action will be judged favorably," Hess said. "Based on my understanding of the community and my interactions with constituents, that that is a fundamental truth. But, my sincere hope and my sincere belief is that these actions will be judged even more favorably in a hundred, or even 500 years."
Former Chief Administrator for the city, Bruce Bender, congratulated mayor John Engen on his ultimate victory to bring the water system into public, rather than private hands.
"Mayor Engen and the city council, congratulations," Bender said. "This is a great moment. The people of Missoula have been waiting for this for a very long time. Congratulations to you, Mayor Engen for your vision, for your endurance down the long and winding road with a lot of bumps."
Ward Five's Julie Armstrong expressed her condolences to the employees of Mountain Water for all they endured during the long fight over the utility's ownership.
"I want to personally apologize to the employees of Mountain Water for what they've gone through for the last couple of years," Armstrong said. "I'm sorry you suffered through the anxiety of not knowing wat was happening to the future of your employer and for the constant tension of reading the daily headlines, and for any trauma induced by hearing disparaging statements regarding the quality of your work.This is a good thing. We will all go forward, and I'm truly sorry for any of the stress that your and your families may have undergone."
When the transaction is complete the utility will be known as the Missoula Water Company.