Ratepayers group agree with Court of Appeals | Letters | Dec. 10
December 10, 2010 · Updated 3:12 PM
The Bainbridge Rate-payers Alliance is pleased with the recent decision of the Washington State Appeals Court on the issue of financing the Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP).
The court approved the use of debt financing for the project, an approach the Ratepayers Alliance never opposed and in fact told the court in its filings was “an appropriate source of funding.”
As to two other issues raised in our appeal, the court indicated the issues were not yet “ripe” for judicial review and thus declined to rule on the questions.
The first addressed the use of city’s Water Utility and Storm Water Utility funds as a backup source of dollars to ensure that WWTP bond interest and principals were paid on a timely basis.
The second was whether the amount of the bonds ultimately issued exceeded the amount necessary for construction of the WWTP.
Thus, the court left the door open for future litigation on these issues depending on how events play out.
Stated another way, the city failed to accomplish what it implicitly wanted from this appeals court decision – a judicial blessing for unfettered and unquestioned:
1) Access to the water and storm-water funds to pay debt service on the WWTP bonds; and
2) Funding for non-WWTP projects via an excessive repayment of bond proceeds to the Sewer Utility Fund.
Thus, while the city has been told that it can issue bonds, the court’s caution regarding the legal potholes the city could step into if it issues bonds has left the city in legal limbo regarding its ability to issue bonds.
In addition, research over the last several months has revealed previously undisclosed flagrant abuses by the city of its water, sewer and storm water utility monopolies.
Based on preliminary estimates, these discoveries could support new claims for damages due thousands of city ratepayers well in excess of $3 million.
As an alternative to continued litigation, we urge the city to join us in candid discussions oriented towards settling the existing lawsuit and the newly identified causes of action.
Sally Adams, secretary
Bainbridge Rayepayers Alliance