'We have no other alternative': Green Valley water customers pay up after golf course shuts down

'We have no other alternative': Green Valley water customers pay up after golf course shuts down

By Kevin Keen. CREATED Jul 31, 2013
GREEN VALLEY, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - Utility prices rise. It happens often. But this time, people in Green Valley are dealing with a hike for an unusual reason. It’s because one of their neighbors closed its doors.
 
Joan Woods opened her water bill this month to a surprise.
 
“Even though I knew they might try it, I didn't think it would become a reality,” she said.
 
On the back of her bill and 4,500 others: notice of a new "surcharge." It’s $2.75 a month or $33 a year.
 
“I'm not very happy about it,” said resident Emily Tamburl.
 
It's a surcharge, the explanation goes, "to offset the revenue loss" of a Green Valley golf course -- San Ignacio’s north course -- which closed months ago.
 
“There wasn't enough business to demand four golf courses in the area,” explained Rich Elias, San Ignacio’s golf director.
  
The course was a big water customer, paying $155,000 a year, according to Bob Hedden, head of the Green Valley Water District. He said that’s 8 percent of the district’s business.
 
Hedden said other customers will now have to make up for that loss.
 
“This is the last thing we wanted to do,” he said.
 
Hedden has heard complaints from customers and stressed there's no way to reduce the not-for-profit district’s expenses enough so they need to implement the fee, which the board approved in October.
 
“Based on where we stand today, we have no other alternative,” he said.
 
Woods will reluctantly pay.
 
“We don't want our water shut off so we pay,” she said. “They've got you. So what do you do?”
 
Other golf courses in the area also have a new fee tacked on their water bills: $1,000 a month.
 
Hedden didn’t know when the fees could go away, if ever. He said the board will reevaluate the situation at the beginning of next year and will wait to see if the golf course reopens.