Archive for Thursday, December 27, 2007

Water case court date is scheduled

Officials say they still hope talk can settle the dispute

December 27, 2007

A November trial date has been set in the lawsuit Douglas County Rural Water District No. 4 filed against the city of Eudora.

During a recent conference call that included lawyers for both sides and a district judge, the trial date was set for Nov. 18. The conference call also set deadlines of March 18 for discovery and April 30 for mediation.

"We'll still try to work with the rural water district at any time," Eudora City Administrator Cheryl Beatty said. "But we're continuing to move forward, and going to court is just another avenue in settling this dispute."

The water district filed a lawsuit in September in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan., seeking to prevent the city of Eudora from providing service to properties annexed into the city in recent years south of Kansas Highway 10 along Douglas County Road 1061.

The two sides met Oct. 24 but failed to come to an agreement. Eudora city officials offered $235,000 to pay off the water district's federal loan to settle the suit. Water district officials deemed the offer too low, saying they would make upwards of $6 million by serving present and future customers within the roughly 153 acres in the Fairfield district over a 40-year period.

In what Beatty said was an effort to build better relationships with surrounding rural districts by resolving areas of possible conflict through legislative action, the Eudora City Council approved a contract for legislative services of lobbyist Kevin Barone, who works for Topeka-based legislative consultants Joseph & Hollander as a contract lobbyist at a Dec. 17 city council meeting.

The city retained Barone's services to lobby on its behalf at this year's state legislative session and to help the city resolve any future rural water issues and foster a better working relationship with the water district.

The Eudora council's last meeting to negotiate with the water district was canceled because of an early December ice storm.

"We're still hopeful that we'll be able to meet with them in a serious negotiation before this goes to court," Beatty said.

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