A Flood of Water News (sorry)

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The city of Missoula’s years-long crusade to own its own water is in the final stages (I estimate about a dozen more stories before we put it to bed) with a couple of significant happenings this week.

First, District Court Judge Leslie Halligan ruled Tuesday that the developers fees, however much they end up being, will come out of the $88.6 million purchase price.

While that’s great for the city, it doesn’t exactly end the case. Halligan also gave all parties 45 days to enter the amount they believe is fair (the previous number bandied about was $22 million), so expect some further debate over that.

Halligan wrote “preferably, through compromise or otherwise, the parties could present a single number to the Court.” That seems unlikely, given how far apart the city and Mountain Water have been on almost every dollar amount that’s come up in this case.

She also threw out the idea of appointing a panel to oversee the court accounts that would be set up to receive Missoula’s payments.

Again, Halligan gave all parties the option to file their preferred method for distributing the money, this time within 60 days.

Again, expect those opinions to differ a good amount.

But no matter how this shakes out, the city’s officially off the hook for additional payments to developers, which is good for their financing package.

I’m curious if the city will rethink the reserve loan option City Council’s Committee of the Whole approved last week, or if they’ll still borrow the extra $22.4 million just in case. They’re set to talk about it Monday night.

Good on Keila Szpaller for condensing a 45-page ruling into a readable story. I recommend looking through the decision anyway, though you can skip to section H on page 37 to the good bits.

In other news, the Hardy Boys mystery “Rock Bottom at Lolo Creek” is sitting atop the Missoulian’s online chart this morning for some reason. No comments or anything, just a need to know- why is the creek perennially dry?

-PF