Feathered Bastard

Florence "Evaluating" Purchase of Johnson Utilities, while AZ CorpCom Treats It Like a Done Deal

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Johnson Utilities attorney Jeff Crockett appeared before the ACC with Johnson Utilities executive Dan Hodges to discuss an unrelated matter. But both Crockett and Hodges mentioned the possible sale.

"As the commissioners are aware from meetings that we've had," Crockett said, "Johnson Utilities is in the process of completing a negotiation to transfer its assets to the Town of Florence."

He told the commissioners that the issue under discussion would become "academic" once the "transaction is consummated, after the commission has had an opportunity to review the application."

Hodges echoed this sentiment.

"As far as going forward," Hodges said, "we're positive that we have an agreement with Florence, and we're going forward with the sale there, so I believe this issue's going to be a moot point, as far as [Johnson Utilities] is concerned."

Commissioner Susan Bitter Smith made mention of the "transaction" between the utility and Florence, and Commissioner Gary Pierce noted Johnson Utilities' "agreement" with Florence.

ACC Utilities Division Director Steve Olea suggested the sale was unavoidable.

"Johnson will be owned by Florence, at some point in the not too distant future," he remarked, in passing.

Contacted by New Times and asked about his statements before the ACC, Crockett said "representatives of Johnson Utilities" had met with members of the CorpCom to "give them a heads up that the company was contemplating a sale of assets to the Town of Florence."

(Crockett later clarified that "three of the meetings were with commissioners and a fourth meeting was with a member of a commissioner's staff.")

The attorney said he was not aware of a purchase price for the company and was not involved in the actual negotiations.

However, he said that the town's press release, "thoroughly describes [the] kind of discussions" the two sides have been having.

Asked why Johnson waited to sell his company, Crockett said: "Mr. Johnson has run this company for the last couple of years. But he's at a point where I think he's interested in some estate planning, along those lines, so I can't really tell you what's in Mr. Johnson's mind in terms of the reasons for the sale."

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons