Holley-Navarre Water wants beach utility for free

In corporate mergers, the deals sometimes include exchanges of stock, assumption of debt or cash paid by the acquiring company.

But in Holley-Navarre Water System’s proposed acquisition of Navarre Beach Water System, the small county-owned utility would essentially be gifted to the mainland nonprofit.

“We won’t pay anything,” said Paul Gardner, Holley-Navarre’s general manager. In a phone interview with the Navarre Press this week, Gardner asserted that if Santa Rosa County demanded compensation in return for his utility taking over Navarre Beach Water’s operations, “It would be a deal breaker.”

If approved by county commissioners, the combination–described by County Engineer Roger Blaylock as a “transfer of water and sewer operations”- would put about 4,000 Navarre Beach customers under the control of a company that hit its 14,000 ratepayers with a 17.5 percent increase last December.

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