The Hayden Town Board passed an ordinance Thursday that will increase water usage rates in 2005 and move the town closer to balancing the fees with the cost of providing water in 2007.
The ordinance will not affect base rates, which are set charges intended for capital water projects and other maintenance but have supplemented usage fees in paying for water production. Last year, the town began a five-year plan to revise usage rates and bring the fees in line with production expenses.
The ordinance will raise the rates to between $1.70 and $8 per thousand gallons, depending on user type and amount.
The town designates seven user types -- including residential, senior and commercial -- divided into three water blocks according to the range of gallons used.
The town estimated the average residence using up to 6,000 gallons in January 2005 will pay $5.27 compared with $3.26 paid in January 2004.
Businesses using between 12,001 gallons and 25,000 gallons in January next year will pay an average of $26.65 compared with $16.73 in January 2004, according to town estimates.
On the subject of water and sewer tap fees, board members decided they would rather adjust the existing equivalent-residential-unit system used to calculate the fees instead of changing to a system that would base fees on pipe size.
The standard tap fee for a residence, $5,700, is considered an EQR. Fees for commercial uses are calculated as multiple EQRs depending on factors contributing to overall use.
Implemented several years ago, the EQR system had not been applied in a commercial application until recently, when developers discovered tap fees for the Mountain Valley Bank were $17,000.
"The fees are just too high and you're discouraging commercial development," said Bill Hayden, who is helping to develop the bank.
Resident Aaron Wiltfong also criticized the current system, arguing that it should be more flexible to accommodate different projects.
Motivated by similar concerns, Town Manger Russ Martin explored the effects of using a system based on the diameter of pipes used.
On Thursday, he presented to the board a table showing estimated differences in the EQR and size-based systems in various applications.
Although the size-based system may reduce bank tap fees to about $10,000, the difference in other applications, such as a convenience store, were not as significant. In the case of a coin-operated laundry or 5,000-square-foot industrial warehouse, the size-based system may raise fees compared with the EQR system, according to Martin's estimates.
"I'd like to see it stay the same for now," said mayor pro-tem Chencho Salazar, who with other board members decided the differences didn't justify overhauling the EQR system.
To prevent the system from discouraging commercial development, Martin proposed the town include one set of bathrooms -- which typically are public restrooms -- in the first EQR.
Whereas 1,500-square-foot buildings typically would have two EQRs, the adjustment only would require one EQR, he explained.
Martin also suggested the town be open to negotiating fees with large commercial operations using more than a certain amount of water and sewer service.
The board requested he further explore those options.
In other business, the board determined the town will be a co-applicant on the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association's request for a $600,000 Energy Impact Assistance grant to purchase and improve The Haven Assisted Living Center in Hayden.
The application will require a signature but no financial obligation.
Also, the board determined it will hold a public hearing regarding the 2005 budget during its regular meeting at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 2. The board will consider capital projects to pursue and donation requests, as well as any public comments regarding those and other issues in the proposed budget.