Summit Water Distribution Company redrafts bylaws
Summit Water Distribution Company’s customers are being asked to consider approving significant revisions to the bylaws and articles that govern the Snyderville Basin water company at an upcoming meeting later this month.
A special meeting for the shareholders of the Summit Water Distribution Company is scheduled to be held at 6 p.m. on Jan. 16 at the Jeremy Ranch Golf and Country Club. The water company serves 4,400 connections between the top of Parley’s Canyon and Canyons Village at Park City Mountain Resort, with users and businesses in the Jeremy Ranch, Kimball Junction and Trailside areas. Other neighborhoods and businesses are also served through the water company.
Shareholders own a proportionate share of the company and are entitled to a specific allotment of water based on share certificates, according to the company’s website. Only shareholders who were of record at the close of business on Dec. 18 are allowed to vote at the meeting, the website states.
The company’s Board of Directors appointed a committee to review the existing bylaws and articles and make recommendations for amendments that would reflect state law, clarify provisions and increase the company’s efficiency, according to the notice that was distributed to shareholders. Andy Garland, general manager of Summit Water Distribution, said the company’s policies were created shortly after it was founded in 1979. He said the revisions will make it easier for it to operate.
“When we went to have our annual shareholder meeting in April, we could not get a quorum because our articles and bylaws had specific rules and regulations that outlined what a quorum was,” he said. “Because of that, we weren’t able to elect new board members.”
One of the revisions the review committee recommended is redefining the term quorum. The new definition reads: The number of shareholder votes properly cast in person, by written or electronic ballot, or by proxy shall constitute a quorum for action on the matter for which such votes are cast. The current definition states “a simple majority of the outstanding shares of SWDC entitled to vote, represented in person or by proxy, shall constitute a quorum.”
“We are trying to make it easier for people to elect the board,” Garland said. “We are mature enough as a company that we don’t have a huge number of large shareholders that can dominate the way we operate.”
Another change that is reflected in the amendments enables the company to explicitly encourage water conservation. Some have viewed this revision as an attempt to take customer’s rights to water away, an inference Garland strongly disagreed with.
“When Summit Water signed as a party to Western Summit County Project Master Agreement, there is a conservation provision Summit County enacted, which requires conservation,” he said. “The state also enacted regulations in 2016 that required companies to have increasing rates for people that use more water. We needed to make sure we had the ability to do all of those things.”
Shareholders will still be able to use their full water share, Garland said. But, he noted, in the case of a natural disaster or drought, the Board of Directors may still restrict use and enact further conservation methods, if necessary.
“But, there is no conspiracy here to take something away,” he said.
As part of the company’s requirement to charge users more based on water consumption, Summit Water Distribution Company’s Board of Directors approved a new assessment structure in July.
Under the new billing structure, shareholders will no longer receive a quarterly statement. They will, instead, be sent a monthly bill based on a fixed charge and water consumption levels. The monthly charge will be the same for every user, while consumption will depend on usage, the elevation of the connection and the pumping costs associated with delivery.
“We had more than 150 customers who used more than their allotments last year,” Garland said. “But, we also have quite a few who do use less than their water share so they will only pay based on what they use.”
Garland said he has heard little feedback about the changes that are being recommended other than the concerns about the amount of water that is allotted. He emphasized that the revisions must be approved by shareholders.
“This will all be up for discussion on Jan. 16,” he said. “We’re not trying to hide anything from anyone here. These are just to promote better businesses practices.”
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