After eight years of legal wrangling, Missoula Mayor John Engen announced what was termed ‘a global settlement’ with Carlyle Infrastructure Partners in which the City of Missoula will pay $4.13 million to settle all claims.

At the Missoula City Council’s ‘Committee of the Whole’ meeting on Wednesday, Engen, speaking via ZOOM, provided details.

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“Carlyle came to us with an offer to settle all claims; the arbitration claim and every remaining claim in district court all of which pose a risk to the city as well as to Carlyle. They suggested the settlement figure of $5 million, and in consultation with attorneys and staff, we've negotiated a settlement number of $4.13 million and that's what we're asking you to approve today.”

Engen said the arbitration decision will finally end the contentious and expensive case for what is now the Missoula Water Company.

“It settles all of the litigation that's pending,” he said. “It settles the arbitration case. We write a check for $4.13 million and we're all done. Carlyle has no claims against us nor do we have claims against Carlyle.”

Engen said the settlement will not affect local taxes, nor will it impact rates for Missoula Water customers.

“The financial impact of the settlement agreement will be debt service of about $318,000 a year and all of that debt service is paid through the water utility,” he said. “There will not be a rate increase to support that debt service, nor will there be any effect on general fund taxes.”

Engen repeated his promise that local ownership of the water utility will result in millions of dollars in savings to the Missoula community.

“Our ultimate goal has been achieved,” he said. “I guarantee you that our purchase of a system will have saved ratepayers in Missoula millions and millions and millions of dollars over the course of our ownership. While improving the system, which desperately needed it as a function of deferred maintenance and we continue to control the most precious resource that I think is available to make life and the city of Missoula happy and that is our water supply and distribution system.”

Watch the entire Committee of the Whole meeting here.

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