Is council between rock and hard place on west side water issue?

Bill Sims
Bill Sims

CAVE CREEK – During the Aug. 1 town council meeting, following the threat of a lawsuit by west side residents if the town does not provide them with access to water by Sept. 30, Mayor Vincent Francia stated, “We will provide water and have Mr. Stapp [Cahava Springs] pay us back.”

Unfortunately, Article 9, Section 7 of the Arizona Constitution prohibits such an action and states: “Neither the state, nor any county, city, town, municipality, or other subdivision of the state shall ever give or loan its credit in the aid of, or make any donation or grant, by subsidy or otherwise, to any individual, association, or corporation, or become a subscriber to, or a shareholder in, any company or corporation, or become a joint owner with any person, company, or corporation, except as to such ownerships as may accrue to the state by operation or provision of law or as authorized by law solely for investment of the monies in the various funds of the state.”

So, as stated, it would be against the Arizona Constitution for the town to take such action.

If the town were to take such action in order to provide water to west side residents, it could be subject to a lawsuit for violating the Arizona Constitution’s gift clause.

The water line that needs to be improved to extend municipal water to the west side is on private property owned by Cahava Springs Development Corp., which has formed a Revitalization District in order to sell bonds for the infrastructure improvements.

According to Stapp, president of Cahava Springs Development Corp., the process has taken far longer than expected, whereas timeline estimates made to west side residents, many of whom are hauling water since their wells have gone dry, have not been met.

While west side residents drew a “line in the sand” on Aug. 1 with a Sept. 30 deadline for the town to provide water or be sued, the town cannot violate the gift clause.

However, the town will be working with Town Attorney Bill Sims to address the situation.