Town Board puts off making a decision on new water rates

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— Hayden Town Board members were taken aback Thursday night when they saw the numbers for a proposed increase in the town's water rates.

The town has not raised water rates for 10 years and has in effect been subsidizing the town's water utility.

To break even, the town would need to collect $187,000 from water users in 2003. The town also has a debt to pay off after taking out a loan for water-treatment plant improvements.

The board has already agreed to raise the base rate $1.80 per month, but that money will go to paying the loan.

At Thursday night's board meeting, Town Manager Rob Straebel presented a rate schedule that would bring the water utility to a solvent level.

Under the proposed schedule, users will be charged more per gallon if they use more than a set amount.

Though the rates make fiscal sense for the town, they would almost double water bills.

"I'm not advocating that we do it all at once," Straebel said. "We should phase these (rate) raises in."

"Not doing this for 10 years is really hurting us," Mayor Chuck Grobe said. "The problem is that this town is small, but we still have to do the same testing and buy the same chemicals as bigger cities. But we don't have the per capita (to pay for it)."

The board asked Town Clerk Lisa Johnston and Straebel to draw up a rate schedule that would raise rates slowly with a goal of solvency in five years.

The decision was tabled until the new figures can be discussed.

In other business, the board adopted a resolution passed by the Hayden Planning Commission to let the town's comprehensive plan be considered its Three-Mile Plan.

Two annexation requests have come before the town in recent months and state statute requires that any town annexing land must have a plan for three miles beyond its boundaries before it may do so.

The comprehensive plan, developed with input from the community, fulfills all those requirements.

According to the plan, the annexation proposal known as Old Farm Village would be appropriate to annex. Another proposal, Sunburst Ranch, would be considered only in part. The plan does not allow for annexation outside Hayden's urban growth boundaries, which applies to more than 300 acres of the Sunburst Ranch development.

  • The board considered a letter of interest from Hayden High School Principal Nick Schafer for a position on the Hayden Recreation Board. Schafer lives outside of the town limits. The board asked that the Recreation Board develop and adopt a set of bylaws before they would consider the request.
  • The board approved a nonexclusive agreement with Amigo.net that would allow the Alamosa-based company to place several antennae on the town-owned Hospital Hill Pump Station. Once the antennae are in place, Hayden residents would have access to wireless Internet services.
  • Police Chief Jody Lenahan announced that the town lost a court case on Monday night over whether chickens are allowed within town boundaries. The judge wanted to see a municipal ordinance in place that clearly defined "livestock." Currently, the town relies on state statute, but an officer is working on a draft of such a local ordinance, he said.
  • The town received a $3,000 grant from the Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp., Straebel said. The money will be used for new playground equipment and benches. The town will begin the project next spring, he said.

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