Suit filed vs. water rates
A local community activist is bringing a lawsuit against the city of Yuma.
Jack Kretzer filed the lawsuit Friday afternoon in Yuma County Superior Court.
Kretzer said he has retained attorney James T. Gregory to write up the paperwork for the lawsuit, which concerns the Yuma City Council's action last year to increase water rates.
Kretzer had challenged the rate hike through a referendum attempt that would have forced the council's action to a public vote.
However, after Kretzer collected what apparently would have been sufficient signatures to force the water rate hike onto the ballot, City Attorney Steve Moore held a news conference to announce that the city's actions were administrative and therefore not subject to a referendum.
Kretzer is challenging that interpretation. He said he's asking the court to find that in instituting the rate hike, the city council did indeed take an action that was subject to the petition and referendum process.
Contacted for the city's reaction to the lawsuit, city spokesman James Stover said there could be serious repercussions.
"We haven't seen the lawsuit, so we can't respond to it specifically," Stover said. "However, I can say that if Mr. Kretzer's actions resulted in the court withholding funding through the Water Infrastructure Financing Act, it could bring development to a complete stop and could be a severe blow to the local economy. You won't find businesses or individuals investing in a community that can't meet the water needs of its citizens."
WIFA financing is the principal method Yuma is using to pay for the water and sewer expansion it needs. WIFA is a state-sponsored financing mechanism that allows cities to borrow money at a very low interest rate.
Stover added that local schools could suffer as well.
"How do you meet the need for new schools without water?" Stover asked rhetorically.
T.M. Shultz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6852.