Photo by Matt Stensland
City of Steamboat Springs Public Works head mechanic Jason Weber, left, talks to mechanic Sam Wisecup on Thursday about repairs to a fire engine at the department's shop. The city is proposing adding 1,200 square feet of office space and equipment storage areas to the building.
Public Works Director Philo Shelton has submitted a permit application that would allow the city of Steamboat Springs to add 1,200 square feet of office space plus equipment storage to the Public Works shop on Critter Court at an estimated cost of $1.6 million.
The project would allow the city to consolidate its utility division in one space. The project is funded in the 2009 city budget.
The city received a $500,000 energy impact grant in June to help with the cost of construction. The balance of about $1.1 million would be split between the city's water and wastewater enterprise funds.
Interim City Manager Wendy DuBord said the city's match for the expansion project had already been deducted from the balance of the two funds in advance of November 2008, when Steamboat Springs City Council voted to increase the rates consumers pay for water and sewer by 50 percent.
The rate increases were deemed necessary because both funds nearly were tapped out.
Shelton said the expansion is important because the crews that maintain the city's aging water and sewer lines and their equipment are scattered among four locations. The city pays $18,720 annually to lease offices.
"Getting a new facility is really a top priority," Shelton said.
In addition to increased daily operating efficiencies, he said, the expansion would improve response to emergencies such as the September 2007 water main break at the construction site for Bud Werner Memorial Library's expansion.
DuBord agreed: "When we had that water main break, there's my utility crew quite a ways out of town when they might have been practically next door."
The expansion includes a 2,400-square-foot maintenance and equipment storage garage, and an 1,800-square-foot addition to Public Works' storage area for materials. A second floor office would house the Utility Division staff.
Under the new water/sewer rates structure, the typical household served by the city system will pay an additional $295 per year for water and sewer this year.
When City Council voted to increase rates, the balance in the water fund was $33,584, and the balance in the sewer fund was about $500,000.
DuBord said the city is engaged in a study of its rate structure, including tap fees, which usually would be dedicated to building a reserve to fund capital improvements.