Steamboat Springs The potential consolidation of the city and Mount Werner Water and Sanitation District might lead to increased efficiencies, but residents should not expect to see a drop in water and sewer bills at least not anytime soon.
City Council President Kathy Connell said the two districts are looking to merge to cut down on costs, but an economic analysis would have to be done before any rates were changed.
The Mount Werner district encompasses the area east of Fish Creek Falls. By consolidating the two water entities, costs for capital projects and other shared services like legal fees could be combined.
"The goal is to get more efficient. What the efficiencies are and how they pan out, we don't know," Connell said. "We do know one thing, by taking two entities and putting them into one, there will be efficiencies to be found."
Once those efficiencies are determined a study could be done on a new rate structure, Connell said.
But, Mt. Werner Water Manager Bob Stoddard said that rate structures might not match between the two water entities because of economic differences that exist today. He pointed toward the maintenance of the older water facilities the city has as to the differences that could play into determining prices.
At tonight's meeting, members will get their first chance to discuss an ordinance that would form the Steamboat Springs Water Authority.
The agreement comes after just five meetings, a change from the last round of negotiations that took five years before breaking off.
In the proposed amendment to the city charter, which was released late Monday afternoon, the authority would be responsible for the outstanding debts of both the city and Mt. Werner.
According to city documents, once the district is dissolved, all assets and liabilities of both water facilities are transferred to the newly formed authority.
But, it is just the city that would be entering into the agreement with any debt, while the district would have the potential of bringing in reserves.
Stoddard said the district definitely had enough reserves to pay-off its $3.5 million debt with the Fish Creek Reservoir, but he was unsure of how much reserves the district exactly held.
The city, on the other hand, would be bringing in the debt from the $11 million expansion of its wastewater treatment plant.
The city had been paying off the debt through tap fees the city charges to hook residents' houses to water and wastewater facilities.
That process is something Stoddard sees as continuing after the authority is formed.
"Tap fees are the typical way (to pay for capital projects) and I expect that to continue," Stoddard said.