Arizona Liability Bill: Bad For Taxpayers Or Fair To Developers?

By Christina Estes
Published: Monday, February 19, 2018 - 7:23am

(Photo by Christina Estes - KJZZ)
Southwest Gas pipeline project along 15th Avenue in Phoenix.

Phoenix says taxpayers could be the big losers if a bill at the state capitol becomes law.

The legislation, HB2116, would limit developers’ liabilities on certain projects they built and then gave to local governments.

Phoenix spokesman John Wayne Gonzales said developers are focused on infrastructure like water and sewer lines.

“Some years ago, some 20 or 30 years ago, people are now making claims that they received cancer from some of the materials they used in building the infrastructure and so now they’re filing lawsuits trying to reclaim the damages," Gonzales said.

If the bill passes, Gonzales said local taxpayers could be held solely liable after eight years.

(Photo by Christina Estes - KJZZ)
Construction project along 15th Avenue in Phoenix.

But Spencer Kamps, a spokesman for the Home Builders Association of Central Arizona, said the legislation stems from an Arizona Supreme Court case, which involved an existing eight year statute of limitations on filing legal claims against contract work.

If approved, Kamps said, the bill would apply to items that developers are required to build as part of the permitting or zoning process with cities.

“This is an improvement paid for by private parties and then we give it to them,” he said. “And, if their position is we need to be liable for that item forever, that is unreasonable.”

The Arizona League of Cities and Towns also opposes the bill saying it “could subject cities and towns to liabilities they did not cause or have any control over for projects that receive a permit.”

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