Mayor Moves Forward With Proposal To Buy Mountain Water Co. - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Mayor Moves Forward With Proposal To Buy Mountain Water Co.

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MISSOULA -

Missoula Mayor John Engen is moving forward with his proposal to buy Mountain Water Company. On Wednesday, city council gave Mayor Engen its initial support to enter into negotiations and, if negotiations fail, to pursue eminent domain. That's the city government's power to take private property for public use.

Mayor Engen said it's about time the City of Missoula owns it's own water.

"This is a purchase supported by revenue Wednesday, it's an existing business, we know we can pay for the facility," Engen said.

He took his proposal to buy Mountain Water Company from the existing owner before city council, a move, he thinks, will be best for the community, and the future of Mountain Water.

"Our interest is in maintaining and sustaining the system at the lowest possible rates, and the most effectively for folks we serve," Engen said.

Two years ago, the Carlyle Group purchased Park Water, which owns Mountain Water. Now, Mayor Engen is concerned about Carlyle's financial future, and thinks its time for the city to step in.

"This is serious business, and Carlyle needs to know we're serious," Engen said.

Mountain Water president, John Kappes said when Carlyle purchased the company, it made a deal with the city promising to consider any proposal the city makes to buy the company.

"At this point Carlyle is not actively trying to sell Park Water or Mountain Water Company, so they're waiting to see what mayors offer will be," Kappes said.

If Carlyle doesn't come to an agreement with the city, Engen said the purchase will be made through condemnation, meaning a court will decide on a fair market value and the city will pay Carlyle accordingly.

"We put everyone at risk here, but there's great reward and I think it's worth the risk," Engen said.

Kappes said right now this is between the mayor and Carlyle, and Mountain Water employees are focusing on serving their customers.

"We feel Mountain Water provides essential service to this community, we believe we do it in a reasonable way and provided great service to this community. We'd hate to see any thing change that."

Since this is a potential purchase by the city, the public has a chance to comment during a hearing on October 21.

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