Officials from the Town of Marana and Pima County are still looking at what will happen next following a ruling last week, where the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled the town’s takeover of a wastewater plant is invalid.
This is the latest ruling in an ongoing battle between the Town of Marana and Pima County over rights to a sewer treatment facility located in Town limits. Until January, the facility was owned by the county.
The decision goes against an earlier court ruling that Marana could take over the facility owned by the county, and a law passed by the Arizona Legislature.
The Appeals Court also ruled against the Town’s annexing of property surrounding the treatment facility.
Judge Phillip Hall wrote in the ruling that while the Town has the authority to provide sewer services to residents, it cannot seize the wastewater treatment facilities without the proper compensation.
Marana Town Manager Gilbert Davidson said he wasn’t surprised by the ruling regarding the Town’s takeover of the facility, or on the annexation, but a third court decision did surprise him.
The Appeals Court overturned a Superior Court ruling that a 1988 vote authorizing Marana to own and operate wastewater services.
Now, Davidson said the direction the Town will take is going to be discussed at length with the
council. He did not say whether or not the Town would file another appeal that would take the ongoing dispute before the state’s highest course.
Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry said he will also be discussing the next step with the Pima County Board of Supervisors.
Besides the recent ruling, there are still plenty of other issues that have yet to be settled. After the Arizona Legislature passed a law that allowed Marana to seize the northside wastewater treatment facility, the county filed a lawsuit claiming it is unconstitutional.
Huckelberry said the county challenged the law because he feels they were unfairly targeted by state lawmakers, which he stresses is unconstitutional. The county contends that the law only applies to Pima County, which goes against state law.
Earlier this month, Huckelberry said if Marana didn’t start paying for the facility as stipulated in the state law, they would file another lawsuit against the Town.
Given the recent court ruling, the Town doesn’t have the authority to take control of the plant at all.
The plant in question is one of five owned by Pima County.
Along with the other rulings, the Appeals Court also ruled that Marana is responsible for attorneys fees.
Huckelberry estimated the fees to be around $200,000.