Water authority goes to ballot

City, Mount Werner Water merger to be decided

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— Despite last-minute objections, the City Council gave final approval to put the question of a Steamboat Springs Water Authority on the Aug. 13 ballot.

With Councilman Steve Ivancie casting the only opposing vote, the council voted 5-1 to pass the ordinance that merges the city's water and sewer department and the Mount Werner Water and Sanitation District. After almost a decade of negotiations between the two entities, Council President Kathy Connell heralded it is a landmark achievement.

"This is years of negotiations. The hard work was done in the first five years of getting an agreement," Connell said.

But Ivancie said he would have liked to have seen more time given to the voters from the time they were presented with the 19-page water agreement and before they go to the polls.

"I feel it is my duty as a council member for me to express concern about the speed of this. It has come with details in the agreement and more than anything else it's the day of Aug. 13. And before we give away millions of dollars in assets and give the power to the voters, we need to talk about this," Ivancie said.

Ivancie said he would like to see the vote go on the November ballot, where he believes there will be a stronger voter turnout. He also suggested the city should mail out ballots to get a greater response.

With the council passage of the ordinance, Ivancie asked that the city host open houses and heavily publicize the vote. Councilman Paul Strong, who denied the June 11 resolution to set the election date on Aug. 13, did not attend the meeting.

John Fetcher, who started the Mount Werner District and was in the negotiation committee, said it would be economically favorable to dissolve the authority by the first of 2003 something that could only be done if a vote was taken in August.

Ed Blake, president of the Steamboat Springs Two Metro District, asked that the city consider the Steamboat Two district in forming the authority. But City Manager Paul Hughes said the district's standing as a current customer with the city had debt issues that need to be resolved.

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