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Glendale opens valve on sewer and water accounts to fund Coyotes

From left; Phoenix Coyotes right wing Mikkel Boedker, Daymond Langkow, Rostislav Klesla and Lauri Korpikoski watch the =k- celebrate after overtime of Game 5 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Western Conference finals, Tuesday, May 22, 2012, in Glendale, Ariz. The Kings won 4-3 in overtime to advance to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Matt York/AP

Like many of us faced with bills we can't pay, the city officials in Glendale, Ariz., are poking around in all of their bank accounts looking here and there for the money they need to hand over to the NHL.

This account in the Arizona Republic is a sobering look at Glendale's attempts to find the $25-million (all currency U.S.) it owes the NHL for the operations of the Phoenix Coyotes over the 2011-12 season. In the end, the money was taken from Glendale's sewer and water account for the second consecutive year, which was not according to plan. That $50-million has to be paid back to that account, which Glendale plans to do over the next 40 years.

Just as sobering is that the Glendale politicians did not seem to have a grasp on just where that money was coming from.

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The plan was that the money-losing Coyotes were to be sold before this season's bill came due. Then the $25-million was supposed to be the responsibility of the new owner.

However, with council having conditionally committed to a payment of $17-million for next season, the latest prospective owner has yet to formally agree to a lease with Glendale for Jobing.com Arena. Greg Jamison's purchase of the Coyotes from the NHL is conditional on a lease agreement.

There is a draft agreement in place and it is expected to be made public by Friday. Glendale council is supposed to vote on the lease at its regular meeting June 12 when it is also expected to formally approve a budget for the next fiscal year.

But nothing is ever certain when it comes to the Coyotes, as NHL commissioner Gary Bettman reluctantly admitted last week.

"I can't say anything with one-hundred-per-cent certainty," he said. "I think the likelihood is, based on everything we know today, the process should conclude successfully, but it's not something I'm in a position to guarantee."

Jamison, the commissioner said, "continues to put his equity together," which is another way of saying he is trying to raise the money, if not through investors then through Glendale taxpayers with generous terms in the arena lease.

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