Water district opposes agreement

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The city's 25-year-old agreement with the water entities that use its sewer interceptor line and wastewater treatment plant expires at the end of this month.

The City Council has appr--oved a new rate structure as well as terms and conditions stating the obligations of those districts.

But the board president of one district, the Mount Werner Water and Sanitation District, said the document contains unacceptable provisions.

Tim Borden said that after 25 years, board members expected the terms and conditions in the document to be something that water districts could negotiate with the city. Board members do not dispute the new rate structure, but they will not accept a document that imposes requirements, Borden said.

"There's a whole lot more to it than rates," he said. "We didn't expect 32 pages of additional requirements."

City Manager Paul Hughes said officials from the Mount Werner district, as well as other districts, have had ample time to be part of the document drafting process.

"We believe that Mount Wer--ner has been aware of what was going on," Hughes said.

This week, Borden signed an eight-page letter to the city. The letter outlines 33 specific concerns that district officials have with the city's terms and conditions agreement.

Bob Stoddard, manager of the district, deferred comment on the letter to Borden.

One of the concerns in the letter is that the district's board did not have a chance to negotiate with the city.

"An intergovernmental agreement, constituting a legal obligation of the Mount Werner district, cannot be imposed upon it unilaterally and without the approval of its board of directors," the letter states.

Hughes said the terms and conditions are not meant to be negotiable.

"They're meant to be the description of how the city will provide wastewater treatment services to the three special connectors that we have: Mount Werner, Tree Haus and Steamboat II," Hughes said.

The City Council voted 5-0 to accept the terms and conditions document earlier this week. Council members Kathy Connell and Susan Dellinger were not at the meeting.

The Council also voted 4-1 to send Mount Werner's concerns back to city staff for review. Members plan to send at least one representative to the water commission meeting Nov. 7.

Council member Nancy Kra--mer, the dissenting vote, said she wanted to speak with the district's board members and to develop a better working relationship.

"I think we're missing an opportunity to sit down with Mount Werner," Kramer said.

Council member Steve Ivan--cie said he would rather follow work through the water commission. The council is not ignoring the district's board members and would like them to attend the water commission meeting, he said.

"It's an open invitation for them to show up," Ivancie said.

A representative from the district or the district's board did not attend Tuesday's City Council meeting. Borden said he did not plan to attend the water commission meeting unless invited.

However, he said, he is willing to talk with the council if he is asked.

"We'll sit down with the City Council or a representative and negotiate fair terms for both sides," he said. "I really believe that we can quickly come to some terms."

Hughes said Thursday that he sent a letter to the board inviting members to attend the water commission meeting.

-- To reach Dana Strongin, call 871-4229

or e-mail dstrongin@steamboatpilot.com

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