By Martin Kidston/MISSOULA CURRENT
In a surprise move, the City of Missoula on Thursday night withdrew it’s appeal over a price determined by a water panel in November for Mountain Water Co.
The announcement came just days before a jury trial was set to begin in Missoula County District Court. More than 250 jurors had been called for consideration for the trial, which was slated to start on Monday.
The city gave no explanation for the last-minute move. A press conference is set for Friday morning.
District Court determined in June that public ownership of the water system was “more necessary” than private ownership. That ruling, issued by Judge Karen Townsend, set the course for a valuation hearing in November.
The three panel commission, appointed by both the city of Missoula and The Carlyle Group, along with Mountain Water, spent more than a week listening to testimony. In the end, it determined the utility was worth $88.6 million.
But weeks later, a group of area developers filed a motion to intervene in the case, saying Mountain Water owed them contractual obligations of more than $21 million.
The city had obliged to pay the contracts once it took ownership, but only if the court subtracted the obligations from the total valuation award, which was to be determined starting with Monday’s trial.
It was unknown late Thursday if the city of Missoula and The Carlyle Group had reached a last-minute agreement. The city had expected to take ownership of the water system this year, once a final offer- or jury-determined value – was set.