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BLOOMFIELD — Bloomfield city councilors on Monday evening approved a lawsuit the city filed against Farmington last week in an effort to acquire its own electric utility from the city that provides it power.

The complaint claims Farmington broke a contract that would allow Bloomfield to purchase electric utilities within it city limits. Bloomfield contends that a 1960 court order allows Bloomfield as well as Aztec the right to "acquire such portion of such properties each is entitled to acquire from the defendant," which is Farmington.

Farmington officials interpret the court's decision to mean Bloomfield can obtain property Farmington acquired from Basin Light & Power Company in 1959. But Bloomfield officials believe they can buy the infrastructure within the city limits.

"We're willing to pay fair market value," Bloomfield City Attorney Ryan Lane said before the meeting.

Bloomfield filed the lawsuit on Aug. 18 in district court, and Farmington has 30 days to file a response. Then the court will set a trial schedule and, if the parties don't settle, a trial date.

After the meeting, Mayor Scott Eckstein said he wasn't concerned the lawsuit would hurt the city's relationship with Farmington. It's just business, he said.

When Bloomfield residents pay their utility bills, the profits go to Farmington, whose officials can spend the money improving their city's quality of life, he said. That profit should remain in Bloomfield, he said.

That's one of the many reasons he said he thinks it's time Bloomfield acquires electric utility capacity from Farmington.

"But we have a good relationship with them," he said.

Dan Schwartz covers government for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4606 and dschwartz@daily-times.com. Follow him @dtdschwartz on Twitter.

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