Water Dispute Resolved With Council Vote

Staff Writer

A decade long legal dispute over water between the City of Newport and the Village of Derby Center is finally resolved as of Monday evening. Following an executive session the council and mayor voted to accept the terms already agreed upon by Derby Center’s trustees.
A contract between the municipalities to supply water to a proposed industrial park on the Derby Road in Newport was agreed upon in 1999. In 2006 the village water department adopted a new rate structure that includes a “ready to serve” fee on top of actual water usage charges.
According to a summary of the negotiations the city claimed the contract with the village doesn’t authorize the “ready to serve” fee or rate structure.
The trustees countered alleging the city connected customers who were not authorized under the contract. The three new connections received a 10 percent discount on usage reserved for industrial park clients only. The trustees also claim the city’s water usage was under reported due to equipment malfunction.
Failed negotiations led to a 2009 court filing and a finding by the superior court in Newport’s favor. In 2014 the Vermont Supreme Court ruled the village was legally authorized to charge the city the new rates and to adopt the fee.
The case was remanded to Orleans Superior Court to resolve the issue of the unauthorized hook-ups. In October 2016 following a trial a verdict favored the village and the municipalities were directed to resolve the continued viability of the connections and damages. (Read more in the Express Wednesday)