Wednesday, December 4, 2002
Steamboat Springs For a month, the City Council has been meeting in executive sessions to discuss its attempts to resolve a money dispute with the Steamboat II Metropolitan District.
The two parties are negotiating the amount that is owed to the city in past tap fees, future tap fees and water rates.
Since Nov. 5, the city has met in executive session during its regular City Council meetings to discuss negotiations with the Metro District. Neither side would comment on where the negotiations stand.
But City Attorney Tony Lettunich said the city is working at setting up a date in February for engaging in mediation, which would likely be overseen by a retired judge.
"We are trying to set up a date so that if volunteer negotiations don't work out, we can go to mediation," Lettunich said.
But Lettunich said the city would like to see the dispute resolved in December, or more realistically, January.
The two parties have been working on an agreement for the past two to three years. Since Jan. 1, 2000, the Metro District has been collecting tap fees for new development, putting it in escrow and waiting until an agreement was reached.
This summer, the two parties almost went to court over the disagreement.
The city claimed the Metro District owed it $168,423 in sewer tap fees, $220,296 in water tap fees and $14,000 for the district's share of debt service.
The city was asking that Routt County not issue building permits for Steamboat II until the district proved its capacity to meet the water and sewer needs for new development. But the day before the two parties were scheduled to go to court, the Metro District gave the city $203,000 for past tap fees and reached an interim agreement for the Metro District to pay tap fees when building permits are issued.
But disagreement still existed between what the city believed was owed in tap fees since Jan. 1, 2000 ($388,719), and the amount the Metro District had collected ($203,000).
The Metro District believed it owed $123,596 less in sewer tap fees than the city expected. The difference is mainly accounted by a change from a tap fee of a flat $400 to one that charged $18 per fixture.
The $61,930 difference in what was collected in the water tap fees comes from a disagreement in whose water is being used in the Sliver Spur subdivision.
The city believed the subdivision pulled its entire water supply from the city and should have paid a full city tap fee instead of the half-priced tap fee other subdivisions in the district pay.
But the Metro District claimed the city water mixes with a tank that holds the district's water before it goes to Silver Spur and the entire Metro District.