Response to Carefree Citizens for Affordable and Sustainable Water ad

Recently a full-page advertisement was placed in the Sonoran News by a group identifying themselves as the Carefree Citizens for Affordable and Sustainable Water calling on the Town of Carefree to merge the Carefree Water Company with the City of Scottsdale.

We (Tony Geiger and Ralph Ferro) have been the Carefree representatives to the Cave Creek Water Advisory Committee since August of 2013 representing the interests of Carefree users on the Cave Creek system. Between us we have over 55 years of experience working on the technical, financial and political aspects of owning, operating and maintaining sustainable municipal water systems. During our terms on the committee we have spent thousands of hours going to meetings, doing research, making presentation and trying to figure out the best way forward for Cave Creek Water and The Town of Carefree as well as to make sure all Carefree residents have safe, reliable and sustainable drinking water.

Currently Carefree is in the process of moving over 1,000 Carefree residents from Cave Creek Water to the Carefree Water Company. This has created some misinformation within the community. Please let’s clarify this misinformation.

Based on our experience we recommend that residents consider the following FACTS:

  • Water is the most precious resource that any community can control in the arid desert of the Southwest.
  • The most responsive level of government is the government closest and accountable to the people. To transfer Carefree’s precious resource to an outside political entity – that is not accountable to the residents of Carefree – would be irresponsible.
  • Municipally owned water companies are set up as a self-contained enterprise funds/business accounts within a municipal budget. As a result, the costs to deliver, maintain and operate a water system is the sole responsibly of the rate payers of each business account. If Carefree residents were added to the Scottsdale system (as was suggested in the advertisement), the rate would not be the same as the cost to Scottsdale residents. Carefree would not see any economy of scale benefit. In addition, the rate would be set by the City of Scottsdale. Carefree residents would have no control over the cost or the quality of the water delivered, not to mention losing control over our CAP water allocation.
  • Scottsdale has no interest in buying the Carefree Water Company or “merging” it into their system. This is a discussion which the Carefree Water Company has already had with Scottsdale. They would look at us just like they look at a developer building a 2200 unit subdivision outside their City boundaries who wanted Scottsdale water service. We would have to upgrade our system to meet Scottsdale design specifications (costing millions of dollars) and GIVE the system to Scottdale.

Each and every citizen wants safe, high quality water at the best price. However, the solution is NOT to convey control of this limited resource to outside political entities which do not share Carefree residents’ best interests. Just look at the evidence Cave Creek provided us. At the end of the day, upon consolidation of these accounts, it is more than likely that our water rates will be minimally impacted because we are gaining significant economy of scale, we will have local representation over all of our water resources and more importantly, when compared to Scottsdale even though we may pay a few hundred dollars more annually in our water bills Carefree residents still save thousands of dollars a year by not paying a municipal property tax as Scottsdale residents do.

Tony Geiger – Carefree representative to the Cave Creek Water Advisory Committee 2013 – 2017 (Chair 2016-2017)

Ralph Ferro – Carefree representative to the Cave Creek Water Advisory Committee 2015 – present