Steamboat Springs City Council approves water rate hike | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat Springs City Council approves water rate hike

New rates set for Jan. 1; council OKs $21M base area refinancing

Mike Lawrence

Steamboat Springs — City officials addressed two significant financial issues Tues­day night, approving a refinancing package of up to $21 million for base area redevelopment and also giving the final nod to water and wastewater rate increases for city customers next year. — City officials addressed two significant financial issues Tues­day night, approving a refinancing package of up to $21 million for base area redevelopment and also giving the final nod to water and wastewater rate increases for city customers next year.

— City officials addressed two significant financial issues Tues­day night, approving a refinancing package of up to $21 million for base area redevelopment and also giving the final nod to water and wastewater rate increases for city customers next year.

Steamboat Springs City Council expressed support in August for the refinancing package authorizing as much as $21 million. Deb Hinsvark, the city's interim finance director, presented the final documents Tuesday for the Steamboat Springs Re­­development Authority's — effectively the City Council's — sale of fixed-rate municipal bonds that would be paid off with tax revenues at the base of Steamboat Ski Area and backed by the city's "moral obligation." That means if base area revenues do not meet the debt requirements, the city would have to pay the difference out of its general fund reserves.

The bonds will pay off the city's current $17.5 million base area loan and enable completion next summer of base area work that includes a public promenade, the daylighting of Burgess Creek, public walkway improvements and underground utility upgrades.

"This is the whole ball of wax," Hinsvark said.

City Council approved the refinancing in a 6-1 vote, with Councilman Walter Magill opposing.

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Later Tuesday night, City Council unanimously approved water and wastewater rate increases that, along with increased tap fees for new construction, will extend through 2013 and help fund as much as $70 million of water and wastewater improvement projects facing the city.

Red Oak Consulting, a division of the national environmental engineering firm Malcolm Pirnie, recommended the rate increases after its assessment of Steamboat's infrastructure needs and costs.

Red Oak's 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, from the current $28.43 to $32.42. Monthly wastewater rates would increase 8.8 percent in 2011, the report states, from the current $26.88 to $29.25.

The new rates will take effect Jan. 1. City officials will update rates and infrastructure costs in 2013.

Also Tuesday, City Council debated whether to pay nearly $11,000 for a survey of residents about their vote in the referendum on Steamboat 700, a proposed annexation that city voters strongly rejected in March. The Northwest Colorado Council of Governments submitted a proposal to conduct the survey.

City Council members and citizens were divided about the issue, with some saying it could be a valuable tool to gauge future growth proposals and others doubting whether such a survey would provide any cohesive information. City Council agreed to address the issue in the context of the city's 2011 budget, which is the subject of a daylong meeting Oct. 5 in Centennial Hall.

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

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