Lyon officials approve Churchill Ranchos to switch to Stagecoach water services

STAGECOACH - The Churchill Ranchos Subdivision will be included in the Stagecoach General Improvement District's water service boundaries.

Stagecoach district Manager Lynne Arndell said Ranchos residents would pay a base water rate of $45 per month for up to 30,000 gallons of water, with a $1.50 fee per thousand gallons over the base. They will not have to pay a district tax until July 2000.

Stagecoach customers currently pay $32.50 for up to 22,000 gallons and $1.25 per thousand over the base. They also pay the 53-cent per $100 assessed valuation property tax.

Following months of debate between Ranchos residents and county officials, Lyon County commissioners last week approved placing the small, privately owned water company under the management of the Stagecoach water district. But not until the current owners meet all conditions of a negotiated agreement with district officials.

Jim Cavillia, legal representative for the Churchill Ranchos Water Company, said, "We have agreed to do whatever is necessary to bring the system up to standards the GID requires such as specific testing requirements and improvements to the system. We know Stagecoach will not accept the system until the current owner meets all conditions of the agreement."

Through a series of public hearings many residents have protested being forced into the Stagecoach district, expressing a desire to be a part of the Lyon County Utilities system, specifically Dayton Utilities. A petition, signed by more than half of the 42 water users currently on the system, objected to the district's 53-cents per $100 assessed valuation tax assessment on all properties within the district. The new hookup will not pay the tax until July 2000.

County Engineer Dan O'Brien said Stagecoach was the best option since a county takeover was not an economically practical option.

"After reviewing the options, I still feel the Stagecoach district is the better entity to take over the system," he said. "If the county took it over (the Ranchos) would be a stand-alone system and have to fund itself."

Commissioners unanimously supported O'Brien.

"All expenses would go to the Ranchos users if it was taken by the county. I could see costs up to $75 - I don't think you would be very happy," Commission Chairman LeRoy Goodman said. "Water is not cheap in the desert."

The county's legal counsel also said the system could not legally be added to the Dayton Utilities because the Stagecoach Valley is a separate water basin.

However, the district is considering elimination of the tax in favor of imposing a flat $10 Service Availability Fee on each lot in the district, including the Churchill Ranchos Subdivision. The district's written rate proposal noted "within one year it is conceivable that the Churchill Ranchos customers would pay the same rates (for the same amount of water) as the existing Stagecoach GID customers."

Though not everyone appeared happy with the decision, Ranchos resident Ray McCutcheon said, "I find the agreement acceptable and want to move forward and put this issue behind us."


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