Merger could save money

Savings would be in the hundreds of thousands


— If the city merges with Mount Werner Water and Sanitation District, more than $500,000 in capital and operation costs and $100,000 in annual operating expenses could be saved.

City Manager Paul Hughes said $500,000 is a conservative figure and could go as high as $700,000. Manager of Mount Werner Water Bob Stoddard said $100,000 could be saved annually as the two entities consolidate lawyer fees and other operating expenses.

Tonight's council meeting is one of the last times the water agreement will come to council before it is taken to a citywide vote on Aug. 13. On June 18, the council gave its second approval for an ordinance that amended the City Charter to create the Steamboat Springs Water Authority.

Tonight the council will see a resolution that supports the creation of the water authority and on July 16 they will vote on a second ordinance reading that approves the coordinated election with Routt County.

At the July 2 council meeting, councilmen Steve Ivancie and Paul Strong opposed the ordinance on the grounds that Aug. 13 was not enough time for the election and would not draw enough voters.

In the resolution the city will vote on tonight, one of the advantages listed for the consolidation is the immediate savings of more than $500,000 to customers.

"That number is conservative, it is closer to $700,000. But the $500,000 is an easier number to justify," Hughes said.

The biggest item Hughes sees as saved is the $325,000 expansion of the city's water and sewer shop. Hughes said the city had planned on expanding the shop for office and vehicle space but with the consolidation it is no longer needed.

Stoddard said the reduction of $30,000 to $40,000 in annual costs could be saved in just attorney fees alone. But savings in other shared personnel costs could take that number beyond $100,000.

Another advantage listed on the resolution was the equalization of water and sewer tap fees within two years. Although tap fees might equalize, the authority agreement allows for a different rate structure to exist between the city and Mount Werner Water District.

Under the consolidation agreement, the district's water and sewer rates could only be changed through a rate study.


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