Wednesday, February 26, 2003
Steamboat Springs The city and the Steamboat II Water and Sanitation District should reach an agreement on how much money the district owes the city by the end of the week.
Bud Romberg announced at Tuesday night's council meeting that more than two years of negotiations are wrapping up. And on Wednesday, Steamboat II manager Doug Baker said he is hoping for an agreement to be reached by Friday.
Romberg told the council that the two parties had finalized how much money the district owed the city in past fees. What is still being discussed, Romberg said, is future fees and rates. Baker said legal issues remained.
City Finance Director Don Taylor said the district has agreed to pay $158,000 in addition to the $285,000 it has already paid the city. Those costs cover what the district has owed in water and sewer tap fees and debt services since Jan. 1, 2000.
This summer, the city claimed the district owed it $168,423 in sewer tap fees, $220,296 in water tap fees and $14,000 in debt service. The district contended it owed less, specifically, $123,596 less in sewer tap fees and $61,930 less in water tap fees.
The two parties almost went to court over the disagreement this summer and were scheduled for a mediation hearing on Wednesday. City Attorney Tony Lettunich said the mediation hearing was canceled a few weeks ago.
The city and district have been working on an agreement for more than two years. Since Jan. 1, 2000, the district has been collecting tap fees for new developments, putting the money in escrow and waiting until an agreement was reached.
Romberg, who has worked on the negotiations for the past six months, said communications broke down some time ago between the city and Steamboat II.
"There was a lack of communication on what they were to pay and when," Romberg said. "And when it was all said and done, Doug Baker and Don Taylor agreed on a number."
The major disagreement centered on whether the city should charge tap fees through a flat rate of $400 or charge $18 per fixture. Because the city's water mixes with water coming from a district tank, the district agreed the city should be paid half instead of full price in water tap fees.
Baker said the city met the district in the middle agreeing to charge half for the water tap fee and charge the sewer tap fee on a per fixture basis.