Hearings that were originally scheduled to take place late last month regarding placing an Interim Manager at Johnson Utilities are starting today and could continue until Friday, April 20.

Today’s agenda can be found here:
http://azcc.gov/Divisions/Administration/Meetings/Agendas/2018/4-16-18.ROM.JUHearing.pdf

Complete ACC Meeting Schedule:
http://www.azcc.gov/Divisions/Administration/Meetings/

The delay in the meetings was frustrating at first, but a lot has happened in the last few weeks that could offer a lot of progress regarding the water utility issues. Pinal County Board of Supervisors, Town of Florence, and The Town of Queen Creek have all intervened in the case since that day. The inclusion of these entities is potentially a huge step towards a resolution in this case.

Many residents also used the extra time to get involved in the case. RUCO was on-hand in San Tan Valley early this month for residents to submit documentation to be included in the docket, and dozens of residents did just that.

Back in February residents flocked into Supervisor Goodman’s office and CAC to let The ACC know of their service problems, billing issues, water quality concerns, and customer service problems regarding the water utility. Thousands of residents showed up to have their voice heard over the course of the two days and six meetings. Since then a lot has happened, lets go through some of it here

February 20th & 21st – ACC Commissioners came to San Tan Valley to hear from local residents regarding their problems with billing, water quality, air quality, and any other issues that they have with Johnson Utilities. Thousands of residents show up to these hearings and hundreds speak to the commissioners.

February 22nd – The ACC opens an investigation into Johnson Utilities. The commissioners decide to start with health concerns and then move on to billing practices, lawsuits brought against residents, and threatening actions made by the utility. This action is a direct result of San Tan Valley residents making their voices heard. What started out as a simple rate increase in the minds of the ACC has now turned into a full scale investigation. “Listening to the comments coming from customers and the community, it became very clear we needed to act fast,” said Chairman Tom Forese.

March 9 – Arizona Corporation Commissioner Burns recommends an Interim Manager be appointed for Johnson Utilities. “Staff is concerned that the Company may lack the necessary managerial and technical capabilities to appropriately run the facility.” I share Staff’s Concern. Therefore, I believe the Commission should consider including the following language in any decision issued in this matter at the Commission’s March 13, 2018 Open Meeting:

“IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that an Order to Show Cause is hereby issued against Johnson Utilities, LLC shall show cause why the Commission should not order Staff at appointment an interim manager to manage Johnson Utilities, LLC. Johnson Utilities, LLC shall provide its response to this Order to Show Cause by March 27, 2018, and the Commission shall schedule a hearing to begin on this matter as soon as possible after Johnson Utilities, LLC’s response, but no later than April 27, 2018.”

March 13 – The first hearing regarding staff findings while investigating Johnson Utilities. Many things came out during this meeting including the closing of stand pipes which forced one resident to have water trucked in at a cost of $900/mo. The company that hauled that water was ironically owned by members of the Johnson family.

March 13 – Johnson Utilities files a temporary restraining order against the ACC which is the commission that is trying to protect the community. Saying that they were worried that they would not get the time to explain their side of the story before an interim manager is put in place.

March 14 – ACC Utilities Director submits findings which include roughly 45 violations in a 2 year span, and over 500 complaints submitted to the ACC in that time frame. ACC Staff recommends many changes to the company.

March 16 – In an open meeting The Arizona Corporation Commission voted and approved Agenda Item 1: “In the matter of the Commission’s Investigation of the Billing and Water Quality Issues of Johnson Utilities, LLC (WS-02987A-18-0050): Commission consideration, discussion, and possible vote regarding Staff’s Application for an Order to Show Cause.” This keeps the process moving forward.

March 21 – George Johnson is Subpoenaed. In the subpoena Mr. Johnson is ordered to appear and testify under oath regarding his continued involvement with Johnson Utilities, and his ownership interest in the company among other things.

March 29 – The ACC postponed the hearing that was scheduled for that day. This moved the meeting to April 16, 2018 which gave everyone more time to get their documentation ready, as well as allow residents more time to get involved.

And that brings us to where we are today, ready and waiting to see what happens with Johnson Utilities.

If you would like to watch the hearings live you can do so at
http://azcc.gov/livebroadcast.asp

For those looking to testify you do not need to travel to the ACC offices to do so. Supervisor Goodman’s office will  have a live feed of the meetings available allowing residents to submit their testimony remotely from his office:
33622 N. Mountain Vista Blvd.,
San Tan Valley, AZ 85142

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