Annual MVI meeting to address fee increase

Board election also on agenda

The Montezuma Valley Irrigation Company has multiple items up for shareholder vote on the agenda at the annual meeting Saturday.

After more than two thirds of shareholders voted down a water lease last year that would have brought in nearly $1.2 million in revenues for the company, the MVIC administration is now asking their shareholders for an increase in their annual assessments to fix the company’s aging ditches.

“Historically, we’ve tried to keep our assessments low,” said Randy Carver, company president. “We’ve tried to use other options in the last six years. But those options have run out and we’re back down to just assessments. So to continue to move the company forward, we need a fee increase.”

The proposed assessment change translates to an annual increase of $7 per share assessment and an annual increase of $75 per account fee, Carver said. This would increase the per-share cost to shareholders from $20.50 to $27.50 and the annual account fee from $200 to $275.

“Replacement costs are getting very expensive and we just simply can’t ignore the needs that have to happen,” Carver said. “Especially with a natural resource as valuable as water.”

The company seeks funds to continue to encase ditches in pipe to increase efficiency and prevent water lost to leaks.

“The more we invest in the company, the more stable our water delivery will be, the better management we’ll have, and we’ll be able to go forward,” Carver said.

While the board of directors set the budget, the assessment increase must be approved by a vote of the shareholders.

The fate of two seats on the company’s board of directors is also to be determined by shareholders Saturday. No nominations have formally been secured to challenge incumbent directors Kevin McComb and Lynn Gardner, although Arriola farmer/rancher James Snyder has said he will challenge Gardner with a floor nomination Saturday.

“Water’s really important to me, my family and the whole community,” Snyder said. “I want to get involved. I want to make sure the water stays in the community.”

A board member for six years, Gardner said he would like the company to continue to put ditches into pipe and increase the net worth of the company.

“I’d like to keep our company healthy and continue to work with the board in a positive manner,” he said.

Last year’s proposed water lease would have entailed leasing 6,000 acre feet of water from Groundhog Reservoir to the Colorado Water Conservation Board for $400,000 annually to bolster the flow of the Dolores River below McPhee Reservoir for three years.

While company leadership said the impacts on irrigators would have been minimal, shareholders voted down the proposed lease, expressing fears that the leased water would be seized permanently or would be unavailable to them in case of a drought.

The Montezuma Irrigation Company holds a large portion of senior water rights from the Dolores River and provides irrigation for much of Montezuma and Dolores counties.

The annual shareholder meeting will be held Saturday at the Lewis-Arriola Community Center, 21176 County Road S. Registration begins at 10 a.m. and the meeting starts at 1 p.m.

Reach Reid Wright at reidw@cortezjournal.com