Water rates on table tonight at Steamboat City Council meeting

City officials to discuss proposed rate increases; Kounovsky to be sworn in

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If you go

What: Meeting of the Steamboat Springs City Council

When: 4 p.m. today

Where: Centennial Hall, 124 10th St.

Contact: Call city offices at 970-879-2060 or visit http://steamboats...> for more information.

On the agenda

4 p.m. Swearing in of Bart Kounovsky as a new City Council member; executive, or secret, session to discuss litigation, real estate and personnel issues

5 p.m. Meeting as the Steamboat Springs Liquor License Authority; joint meeting with Routt County commissioners, including discussion about extending Yampa River Core Trail system to subdivisions and open space west of Steamboat; discussion of proposed installation of new noon whistle; pre-application for proposed access road and administrative building at Colorado Mountain College’s Alpine Campus; first readings of ordinances that would set new water and wastewater rates for city customers beginning in 2011; and approve a new lease for operators of the Iron Horse Inn

7 p.m. Public comment; hearing of preliminary plat, development plan and appeal related to Rocky Peak Village

— Proposed increases to city water and sewer rates are among many issues the Steamboat Springs City Council will address tonight in its first meeting in more than a month.

The City Council tonight is scheduled to conduct a first reading of proposed rate increases through 2013, recommended by Red Oak Consulting. Rate increases ultimately could extend throughout the next decade and fund more than $70 million worth of water and wastewater improvements facing Steamboat Springs, according to Red Oak, which presented its initial report and rate recommendations last month.

The City Council asked Red Oak on Aug. 3 to prepare revised water rate and tap fee projections that would lessen the impacts on local residents and businesses struggling through effects from the national economic recession.

Red Oak is a division of the national environmental engineering firm Malcolm Pirnie. The results of Red Oak’s revisions will be presented tonight. They include a lesser increase to monthly service charges for commercial water customers and smaller increases to wastewater and water rates for most residential customers.

Red Oak and City Public Works Director Philo Shelton said favorable loan conditions from the Colorado Water Resources and Power Devel­opment Authority could reduce interest rates on 2011 debt from 6 percent to 4.25 percent.

Shelton said phasing in city costs for water and wastewater line replacement also would allow for the lower rates in Red Oak’s new report.

“The way that we lessened the blow a little bit is to phase in the repair-and-replace projects,” Shelton said.

Red Oak also presents two alternatives for residential billing: one that emphasizes a tiered approach to billing according to water usage and another that places an additional burden on second homeowners by implementing a larger, base service charge and assessing usage charges only after the first 4,000 gallons per month.

Red Oak’s updated report states the typical residential water bill — for a single-family home that uses 7,000 gallons of water per month — would increase 14 percent in 2011 under the first alternative, from the current $28.43 to $32.42. That’s not a change from the report presented last month.

Under the second alternative, though, the bill would increase 10.6 percent in 2011, to $31.43. Residential homes that use 4,000 gallons a month or less would pay just $24.32, the report states.

Monthly wastewater rates would increase 8.8 percent in 2011, the report states, from the current $26.88 to $29.25. That’s about a dollar less per month than the previously recommended 13 percent increase to $30.37 next year.

The updated report recommends slightly smaller increases to one-time tap fees for new residential construction, including water and wastewater. Tap fees would increase next year from the current $7,435 to $13,724, an increase of $6,289. The previous draft cited total tap fees of $14,190, an increase of $6,755.

The city’s monthly service charge for commercial water use would increase from $19.50 to $22.78 by 2013, Red Oak states in the new report. That’s a smaller increase than the jump to $32.70 by 2013 that initially was recommended.

Red Oak recommends an update in 2013 to address rates for 2014 and beyond.

A second and final reading of the ordinance could occur Sept. 21. Shelton said it remains his goal to see the new water and wastewater rates, and higher tap fees for new construction, implemented Jan. 1.

Also tonight

Tonight’s City Council meeting begins with the swearing in of new member Bart Kounovsky, chief operating officer of Colorado Group Realty. City Council voted, 6-0, last month to select Kounovsky to fill the seat vacated this summer by Jim Engelken.

City Council then will convene in executive, or secret, session to discuss topics including the city’s ongoing litigation with homeowners in West Acres Mobile Home Park and Downhill Drive business owner Charles “C.D.” Johnson, the city’s possible purchase of 580 acres appraised at about $2 million and owned by Lyman Orton on Emerald Mountain’s north side, and a personnel update from City Manager Jon Roberts.

In a joint meeting with Routt County commissioners scheduled to begin shortly after 5 p.m., city and county officials will discuss topics including interest in extending the Yampa River Core Trail system to subdivisions and open space west of Steamboat. That discussion is intended to gauge officials’ priority for such an extension and give direction to city and county staff on issues involved.

Tonight’s meeting also includes a first reading of the city’s new lease with operators of the Iron Horse Inn and potential approval of installation of a new noon whistle at the Parks, Open Space and Recreational Services Department building on Howelsen Parkway.

— To reach Mike Lawrence, call 871-4233 or e-mail mlawrence@steamboatpilot.com

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