New proposal in water dispute discussedDiscussion between the Jamestown City Council and the board of directors of Stutsman Rural Water District on their territorial dispute netted little progress Thursday.
By: By Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
Discussion between the Jamestown City Council and the board of directors of Stutsman Rural Water District on their territorial dispute netted little progress Thursday.
The bulk of the discussion centered on a plan presented by Stutsman Rural Water as a counterproposal to the city’s proposal presented last week.
The two groups have been embroiled in a territorial dispute largely centering on the area around Jamestown Regional Medical Center including the site of Titan Machinery now under construction. The plan under discussion would set boundaries between the two utilities all around Jamestown.
“The plan calls for a boundary that is yet to be negotiated,” said Geneva Kaiser, manager for Stutsman Rural Water. “Whatever is within the boundary but not now within Jamestown city limits would be served by Jamestown with a royalty payment to Rural Water. Whatever is outside the boundary would be served by Rural Water.”
Along with negotiating the boundaries of the plan the two sides would need to negotiate the royalty amount. Rural Water’s plan included a royalty of $1.41 per 1,000 gallons of water while the city’s previous plan had included a royalty of $1.02 per 1,000 gallons. The royalty amount would be added as a surcharge to the normal city water bill.
The previous plan, suggested by the city on Jan. 25, allowed Rural Water to serve larger areas but required them to purchase all water from the city.
Jim Lees, Stutsman Rural Water board member, said the group did not want to give up any of its current customers but said the boundaries could be negotiated.
Kaiser said the boundary envisioned by the Rural Water Board of Directors placed the Titan Machinery construction site within Rural Water’s territory but allowed city water service at Jamestown Regional Medical Center.
City Attorney Ken Dalsted said the plan would give Stutsman Rural Water a guaranteed income without any expenses.
“The district owns the territory the city is purchasing,” said Steve Harris, attorney for Stutsman Rural Water who participated by telephone. “Typically water districts would be better off serving these areas themselves but for political reason choose to make agreements.”
City Councilman Steve Brubakken asked if this territory agreement would be different than previous contracts that transferred territory from Rural Water to the city. Stutsman Rural Water is challenging the validity of those agreements in asserting its territorial rights in the dispute.
“These agreements would have to be approved by the (U.S. Department of Agriculture),” Harris said. “The previous contracts were in violation of law.”
Dalsted said the city would consider the boundaries and the royalty amounts. He also asked that a territory trade be considered moving the Titan location into the city’s part of the boundary in exchange for other territory.
Lees said the Rural Water board would consider all options.
“In the long term, we’re both looking for the growth of Jamestown,” he said.
The two groups did not schedule any further meetings. The City Council will hold its regular meeting on Feb. 4.
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452 or by email at email@example.com