Judge blocks Tucson’s move to bring water rate lawsuit to arbitration

(Source: MGN)
Published: Apr. 8, 2022 at 4:01 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - A judge rejected the city of Tucson’s attempt to move the water rate lawsuit between the city and Pima County to arbitration.

The suit will proceed with Maricopa County Judge Randall Warner presiding.

The Tucson City Council voted for a 10% water rate increase that went into effect on Dec. 1 for about 70,000 Tucson Water customers living in unincorporated areas.

In mid-December, the Pima County Board of Supervisors voted in November to sue the city over the rate increase, and the suit was filed the next month.

The suit alleges that Tucson’s water rate increase

  • Violated a state law that requires water rates to be “just and reasonable”
  • Is discriminatory
  • Violates the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution and Article II, Section 13 of the Arizona Constitution, which provides for equal protection under the law and protection against race-based discrimination.
  • Violates Article IV, Part 2, Section 19 of the Arizona Constitution, which prohibits governments from enacting “special laws.”

The city of Tucson filed a motion to compel arbitration and seal court proceedings from the public, citing previous sewer and water agreements between the city and county.

Warner denied that motion, saying the current dispute is not about previous agreements, but “concerns matters of constitutional, statutory, and common law duties allegedly owed to ratepayers.”

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