Wednesday, February 5, 2003
Steamboat Springs For the second time in as many town board meetings, Hayden residents are invited to comment on a proposed five-year accelerated rate plan for local water users.
An outpouring of community concern over the issue at the Jan. 16 board meeting left board members hesitant to approve the proposed rate schedule. The rate plan will be discussed again at Thursday's 7:30 p.m. board meeting.
"We are still taking comments from the public," Town Manager Rob Straebel said. "There will be no decisions (made by the board). We just want to invite all Hayden residents to come and give their two cents."
After 10 years without a water rate increase and a water utility that continues to operate in the red, the board voted at its Jan. 2 meeting to raise rates over a five-year period.
Under the proposed rate schedule, rates will increase 5.5 percent each year, a figure that includes inflation and rising operating expenses.
Of concern to those in attendance at the Jan. 16 meeting was the board's decision to raise key pump users' base rate from $5 to $25 per month. The key pump is used mostly by homeowners who live outside the town limits and out of reach of Hayden's water and sewer system.
The proposed rate structure is divided into three tiers, dependent upon usage.
"Our intentions are to have higher rates as the gallons usage increases," Straebel said. "These rates are an incentive for conservation. We're certainly not going to penalize someone for the average usage of water for residential and commercial users."
Residents will be charged $0.70 per 1,000 gallons for the first 6,000 gallons in the first year of the proposed rate schedule. The next 6,000 gallons will cost $0.80 per 1,000 gallons. Any water used after 12,000 gallons will cost $1 per 1,000 gallons.
These rates differ depending on the user. Seniors will receive a discounted rate, commercial users will be allowed a greater gallon usage in each tier and key pump users will pay the highest rates.
An ordinance for the proposed plan will have to be developed before the town board can approve the new rates, Straebel said.
Also at Thursday's meeting, the board will vote to approve a contract with the state of Colorado for the Breeze Basin Boulevard and Third Street intersection realignment.
In November, Hayden received a $239,000 Energy Impact grant to fund the realignment. Plans for the project are already in place, but acquiring a 1.14-acre parcel of land from the school district that is needed for the project remains the sole obstacle.
Negotiations have been ongoing with little progress, Straebel said.
"I would certainly hope that both the school board and the town board could come to a reasonable agreement," he said. "I think (the land) is the only pending issue we have."
The contract stipulates when the grant funds have to be used and when the state will reimburse Hayden, Straebel said.
The contract also states the project will be completed by Nov. 30, 2003 -- a deadline that could be complicated if the land acquisition effort continues to stall.
In total, the realignment project, which will involve widening the right-of-way from 60 feet to 90 feet and adding left turn lanes in all four directions, will cost about $338,000. The town will contribute $99,000 to the project, which is deemed necessary to protect the safety of Hayden children.
"It needs to get done before someone gets hurt," Straebel said.
The board will also review and consider a telecommunications services contract with NC Telecom. The potential three-year agreement between NC Telecom and Hayden will bring two DSL high-speed Internet lines to schools, municipalities and eventually to residents and commercial customers.
The entire amount of the contract will be paid by the Beanpole Project, a state-funded technology initiative to bring high-speed Internet access to every county seat in the state, and then spread the connection to public facilities such as government buildings, schools and libraries.