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Wed, March 20

Tarkowski: StoneRidge survey inconclusive

PRESCOTT VALLEY - Results of a survey on resolving the bond debt at the StoneRidge subdivision are inconclusive because not enough homeowners participated, Town Manager Larry Tarkowski said Monday.

Fewer than 100 of the estimated 550 people who attended the six meetings with Tarkowski and Management Services Director Bill Kauppi filled out the surveys, Tarkowski said. However, a number of the homeowners attended more than one of the meetings, which Tarkowski presided over two weeks ago.

Three people contacted by the Courier, including homeowners association board member Louie Lizza, said they did not fill out the survey, which suggested three options.

Lizza said he did not fill out the survey because the decision rests with the town government, not the owners of nearly 1,000 homes in StoneRidge.

"We are just the ones that are going to get stuck footing the bill," said Lizza, who was referring to the pending bankruptcy filing by the developer, Tempe-based SunCor.

SunCor's status prompted Tarkowski to arrange the meetings to explain the ramifications of a SunCor collapse on the homeowners.

The town government and SunCor established a community facilities district in December 2001 to finance the bridge on Stoneridge Drive and streets. SunCor issued $14.8 million in general obligation bonds for the improvements in the 1,800-acre subdivision located south of Highway 69.

The CFD requires homeowners to pay $3.30 per $100 in secondary assessed valuation to finance the improvements under the 25-year lifespan of the bond. SunCor and the homeowners have been paying a combined $1.4 million a year in debt service payments, and the debt currently exceeds $13 million, according to town officials.

SunCor's collapse means homeowners could see their annual assessments for the CFD double from a current range of $800 to $1,000 a year, according to Tarkowski.

The CFD survey gave the homeowners three options for resolving the matter.

The options are:

• Accept SunCor's offer of $1 million in an additional deposit with the bond trustee - deducting recent contributions - in addition to the current $2.96 million deposit.

• Counter with an additional deposit of $2 million. If SunCor does not agree, take chances with any SunCor bankruptcy filing and "aggressively seek" assets from SunCor and its corporate parent, Pinnacle West of Phoenix.

• Counter with $4 million in an additional deposit, and take chances in bankruptcy court if SunCor does not agree.

The survey also asks homeowners whether the reserve account - current or increased - could be stretched "in any scenario that requires payment from it by making small incremental increases in StoneRidge tax rate each year."

The options did not appeal to homeowners Bear Shimmin and Dottie Jones.

Shimmin, a homeowner for less than two years who attended four of the six meetings, said, "I felt I had plenty of information, but it was not going to be my decision. That decision was going to be made by (town) staff and the (CFD) district board. And this survey was almost political cover."

Jones, a real estate broker who moved to StoneRidge from Hemet, Calif., on the day before Thanksgiving, said she does not believe the survey "is going to help us any."

Jones said the Town Council, which serves as the CFD board, should try first to recover money from SunCor.

Tarkowski said council members "heard the comments and the angst expressed by the citizens," adding staff will seek "the best resolution possible."


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