Thursday, February 6, 2003
Hayden Despite concern from some county residents, it appears a five-year accelerated rate plan for Hayden water users is moving closer to implementation.
Hayden water users were encouraged to attend Thursday's town board meeting after numerous area residents complained about the proposed rate plan at the Jan. 17 meeting. But nobody showed Thursday night.
The board discussed the issue thoroughly, and several board members asked to revisit a three-year plan they said would make the water utility, which has operated in the red for years, self-sufficient in a more timely manner and free up time to pursue other important city items.
Ultimately, a majority of the board voted to seek an ordinance for the five-year plan.
Board member Ken Gibbon said the proposed plan is better for the city than a three-year plan because it eases the financial impact on residents, especially seniors and other fixed-income residents.
Now, an ordinance for the plan has to be developed before the board can approve the new rates. The ordinance-writing process could take several weeks.
Under the proposed rate schedule, water rates will increase 5.5 percent each year, a figure that includes inflation, growth and rising operating costs.
The rate structure is divided into three tiers based on water usage. The rate plan includes seven different structures dependent upon user classification, including residential, senior residential, out-of-town, commercial and industrial, nonprofits and key pump users.
Key pump users -- water users who live outside the town's limits and out of reach of Hayden's water and sewer system -- expressed the most concern over the rate plan because it raises their base rate from $5 to $25 a month.
Board members and city officials said the price hike is justified by the fact that key pump users don't pay city taxes that help pay for the water utility.
"Hayden residents are certainly contributing more to the water fund than county residents are," Town Manager Rob Straebel said.
The current $5 base rate is a generous price, Gibbon said.
"I think that $25 is not asking that much," he said.
In other news:
- The board approved a contract with the Department of Local Affairs for a $239,000 Energy Impact grant to fund the Breeze Basin Boulevard and Third Street intersection realignment project. The city will contribute just more than $99,000 for the $338,000 project that will widen the right of way from 60 feet to 90 feet and add left-turn lanes in all four directions. However, the project can't begin until the school district agrees to sell a 1.14-acre parcel of land.
- The board agreed to proceed with the request for an Energy Impact grant that will help fund a water line replacement and extension project. If awarded, the grant will cover up to $283,000 of the $405,000 project. The project seeks to replace old and broken water main lines throughout the city.
- A representative from NC Telecom presented a revised contract to the board for telecommunication services to the city. The three-year contract, if signed, will be funded entirely by the Beanpole Project, a state initiative to bring high-speed Internet service to rural communities and to connect these communities to the Colorado Multi-Use Network.