SPECIAL MEETING OF THE
TRI-CITY REGIONAL SANITARY DISTRICT
BOARD OF DIRECTORS AND PUBLIC HEARING
ON THE PROJECT PROTEST.
TUESDAY JANUARY 15, 2019 5:15 PM
IBEW LOCAL 518, HWY 188, GLOBE
Yesterday's Special Meeting of the Tri-City Regional
Sanitary District Board of Directors included a public
hearing on project protests. Three hours of protests, as it
turned out. Most fell along two themes. People are upset
about the lack of information they have received from the
Board throughout the almost eight years the project has been
in the planning stage. (As Jay Spehar succinctly said to the
Board, “You're not being transparent.”) And property
owners are concerned over the cost to them, which some
have no ability to pay. (90% of the people here are on a fixed
income, commented one of the less than 50 attendees at the
Frustration was evident over the perceived lack of
information about the protest period, held from December
4th through the 18th. Despite notices mailed to 1830
property owners on December 3rd, and posters publicly
displayed throughout the district, complaints came in about
not receiving notice, and not being able to decipher the signs.
In order for the project to be halted, over 50% of the
property owners in the district must have submitted a protest.
For this project, 4.6% of property owners did. Project
engineer Mike Krebs said that 79 protests were received
from 100 parcel owners. (Some people own more than one
parcel.) The protests were counted and verified on
When the issue of extending the comment period was raised
by disgruntled attendees griping about 8 years of confusing
and scant information, sometimes limited to post office
notices on the day of a meeting, it was quickly struck town.
There is no provision in state law to extend the comment
period, even if everyone was in agreement, said bond
counselor Fred Rosenfeld.
Krebs and Rosenfeld fielded questions. Little concrete
information was shared, but one issue has been resolved:
Properties currently served by Globe or Miami will not be
assessed, nor will properties that cannot be served by the
district, such as Vertical Heights. Owners can volunteer to
be taxed, but it will be on an opt-in, not opt-out basis.
As of now, homeowners can opt out of connecting to the
new system. That will alleviate the service fee, but
properties in the district that can be served will be taxed,
regardless of if the owner chooses to be served or not.
For many, this project will not be a burden, it will be an
impossibility. While costs are projected to be relatively low-
$15 a month for service and $32 a month for taxes-it is an
elusive amount for many. Fear of not being able to continue
to live in the district was palpable.
Confusion exists over the details of the project, which are
still not set in stone. There's a lot to be determined. Cost
estimates, however, are firm. It is a $70 million project for
all three phases. The debt to the community is $30 million.
The rest of the funding comes from a USDA grant.
So what if bids are solicited for a phase and every bidder
exceeds the project estimate? The project could be
abandoned, or it could be redesigned, or grant money from
the USDA might be increased. But it will not automatically
Abandoning the project ultimately would be the death of the
area, which is primarily served by outdated cesspools and
aging septic systems, none of which fall under today's health
Ignoring the obvious, the motion finding the number of
protests to be insufficient failed. Why? Only four board
members were present and the vote was 2 to 2. Board
Member John Chism phoned TRSD attorney Bill Clemens
at the start of the meeting to say he wouldn't be there as he
was in the hospital.
Anna Petty swore in the newly elected Board members:
Stephen Palmer and Bill Tower. The results of the
November 6th election were made official, and then the
election of a new Chairman of the Board was settled.
Melissa Buzan unanimously got the nod.
Since its inception, the District was led by Board president
Bob Zache, who lost the November election amidst upset
over the way the project has been handled. The Board
recognized his service, and presented him with a saguaro
walking stick. He thanked them and walked out.