ARS 9-514 Interpretation

In City of Casa Grande v. Arizona Water Co., 199 Ariz. 547, 20 P.3d 590 (App. 2001) the Court concluded that A.R.S. 9-514 requires a municipality to obtain specific rather than general authority. In that case, the City sought to acquire a portion of the Arizona Water Company's public utility property in Pinal County through a condemnation action. 199 Ariz. at 548,1, 20 P.3d at 591. The Arizona Water Company contested the City's right to condemn the property under A.R.S. 9-514, arguing the City had not first obtained the requisite voter approval. Id. at 549,3, 20 P.3d at 592. The superior court dismissed the City's condemnation action, finding the City had not obtained the voter approval required by statute. Id. at 549,4, 20 P.3d at 592. On appeal, as in the superior court, the City argued that, "because its charter, adopted in 1975, grants it general authority to engage in the public utility business, it was not required to hold a public election pursuant to 9-514 on whether it could acquire the portions of Arizona Water Company's assets it sought." Id. at 550,7, 20 P.3d at 593. The Court held that the City's charter, which provided that the City "shall have the power to own and operate any public utility . . . and to lease or purchase any existing utility properties used or useful to public service" did not satisfy the "common sense meaning of the language of 9-514, which calls for voter approval of a particular project, not general authority." Id. at 550, 554,7, 22, 20 P.3d at 593, 597.