Charles Cusack

An Aug. 19 Bulletin article focusing on the Mountain High water issue reported allegations by several owners that the association board of directors has failed to adequately inform owners as to ongoing negotiations with the city of Bend. As an owner from 1995 to 2011 now transitioned to Touchmark, but who was involved in this issue as a member of the board of directors, as president, and a member of the finance committee, I can attest to the fact that the board has faithfully fulfilled its obligation to keep owners abreast of all facets of this complex issue, recognizing its significant financial impact.

Continual updating of the status of negotiations has been disseminated by:

• Monthly updates in the Mountain High newsletter.

• Discussion at monthly board meetings, open to the public, which regularly included the water issue as an agenda item.

• The holding of special meetings of owners on Sept. 27, 2012, and Oct. 29, 2012, devoted entirely to the water issue

• Inclusion of the minutes of such meetings and the Water Settlement Agreement on the Mountain High website.

Bend homeowners have always paid for their potable and irrigation water together: one pipe, one rate. Juniper Utility, however, initially installed a two-pipe system with separate pipes and rates for potable and irrigation water. The irrigation rate has been flat (unmetered). On condemnation by the city in 2002, as a result of a city lawsuit triggered by deteriorating service, the city advised that conversion to the one-pipe system would be necessary. This precipitated association negotiations with the city to achieve the best possible cost arrangements.

Competent legal advice has been obtained, the cost shared by the affected associations. The Water Settlement Agreement consummated in 2011 presented replacement cost for conversion pipes to be paid either in a one-time payment of roughly $5,000 or a $26.06 monthly surcharge over a period of years. This represented a significant reduction in cost per owner for the conversion as compared with earlier estimates proposed by the city. The city has proven very cooperative in working to accomplish the conversion at a cost palatable to owners/users.

Yes, there are remaining costs to be borne by owners; namely a modest charge for connecting the new pipe to residences and an increase in monthly water bills due to irrigation water being charged at a single metered rate. The 2011 agreement clearly states: “The rate for domestic water shall be the City’s standard rate for water (the rate applicable in the rest of the City, plus the surcharge of $26.06 per month).”

Countless hours have been spent by dedicated board and committee members to reach a seemingly acceptable water settlement agreement. If undone, the result could be something much worse in terms of financial impact upon homeowners.

As one who enjoyed 16 great years in Mountain High I remain interested in what happens there. Would not honoring the present water settlement agreement and resolving the remaining cost issues serve the best interest of the owners?