Goodbye Mountain Water – Hello Missoula Water – Money Changes Hands To Transfer Ownership Of Utility
In Missoula District Court on Thursday, Judge Karen Townsend officially signed the order of condemnation transferring ownership of Mountain Water Company to the City of Missoula.
"It's my understanding that for the satisfaction of judgment for Mountain Water, that a check has been delivered to you in the amount of $83,863,366, is that correct?" Judge Townsend asked. To which an attorney for Mountain water replied, ''Yes, your honor."
Another check for $6,825,329 was delivered to a representative of developers who had a claim against the company. William Mercer, an attorney for Mountain Water objected to the condemnation order, but the objection was overruled and Judge Townsend officially signed the order of condemnation.
So, a process that began over three years ago that led to a bitter court fight, ending up before the Montana Supreme Court, concluded with a court appearance that lasted less than 15 minutes.
Following adjournment, Mayor John Engen was asked about his feelings now that the long court case was over.
"I am feeling eager to operate a water company on behalf of the citizens of Missoula," Engen said. "As Judge Townsend said just moments ago. the city of Missoula is not going away and our water system will not go away."
Engen said much of his and the city's time and resources have been wrapped up in this contentious case.
"We have been largely devoted to this effort for three years, and three years before that," he said. "We're now going to be in the business of running a water system the way we believe it ought to be run, and that is for the benefit of the public rather that the benefit of investors a long way from Missoula, Montana."
Attorney Natasha Prinzing-Jones pointed to one pivotal moment in the condemnation process when she felt the city would eventually prevail.
"I would say the pivotal moment was when the Montana Supreme Court affirmed Judge Townsend's preliminary order of final condemnation," Prinzing-Jones said. "That was in August of 2016. I think in that moment I knew we were on a path to ownership."
A spokesperson for Mountain Water Company said they have no comment at this time.
As of Friday morning, the water utility will be known as the Missoula Water Company. The office will be closed Friday for transition. Visit this link to find out more about the new company.