- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 6, 2014

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) - Missoula has amended an eminent domain filing as it seeks to own the water system that serves city residents.

A complaint filed Monday says Carlyle Infrastructure asked for the city’s support for its 2011 purchase of Mountain Water Co. in order to gain the Public Service Commission’s approval. In exchange, Carlyle officials said they would sell the company to the city in February 2013, according to details of the complaint published by the Missoulian (http://bit.ly/1fMoN5B).

According to the complaint, Carlyle director Robert Dove verbally agreed to sell the water system to the city after two years.

Dove insisted that Carlyle’s intention to sell Mountain Water Co. at a later date could not be put in writing or disclosed, or then-owner Sam Wheeler wouldn’t sell to Carlyle, the complaint said. Wheeler had “an aversion to public ownership,” the complaint states.

The 2013 sale would take place after Wheeler left the company’s board of directors, the complaint said.

The city said it believes Carlyle now plans to sell Mountain Water as part of a package with other holdings.

“If true, not only has Carlyle failed to live up to its word to the people of Missoula, it also has executed a classic ‘bait and switch’ technique by making false promises in order to obtain the city’s public approval of its 2011 acquisition of Mountain Water Company without intending to perform on such promises,” the complaint said.

Carlyle spokesman Chris Ullman confirmed Dove remains managing director of Carlyle Infrastructure. Ullman did not address the “bait and switch” allegation.

Missoula offered to buy Mountain Water several times last year, including an offer of $65 million. After several rejections, it filed an eminent domain proceeding against The Carlyle Group last month.

Missoula Mayor Jim Engen wants the city to acquire Mountain Water to put the utility in public ownership.

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Information from: Missoulian, http://www.missoulian.com