by Eric Mullens
WALSENBURG — Despite having what administrator Dave Johnston described as an ‘embarrassed’ general fund balance, the Walsenburg City Council Tuesday night pledged $5,000 in 2014 to the Huerfano County Water Conservancy District as part of matching funds for a state grant.
The issue came up when former conservancy district board member and current city councilor Erin Jerant introduced conservancy board member Lewis Edmundson. Edmundson spoke about a planned water shed assessment of the Cuchara River basin that could be funded in part by a grant from the Colorado Water Conservation Board if enough matching-grant money could be obtained. He said the assessment would cover issues concerning run off mitigation in a post-fire environment and other areas. The conservancy district will be seeking $5,000 contributions from the Huerfano County Commissioners, Town of La Veta, and the Cuchara Water and Sanitation District. He said the conservancy district hopes to be able to add $10,000 to the fund and the La Veta Fire Protection District has committed a donation.
Edmundson said while the grant is estimated to be worth $50,000 to $70,000, the state is seeking a 50% match. The district hopes to be able to talk the state down to 10 or 20 percent.
After some discussion, council took the approach that anything that ensures protection of local water sources is important and voted 8-0 (member Cathy Pineda was absent as she was attending a function in Washington, DC) to send the district a letter of commitment for funds in 2014. Now, the city will just have to find an appropriate legal fund from which to obtain the money.
In other business: council voted unanimously to approve in principle a $295,000 contract with Parker Ag Services for the sewer lagoon repurposing project; the formal contract will before the city council in the near future.
Approved unanimously was Ordinance 1038 that establishes a dormant water service fee of $200. This eliminates the need for abandoned water tap property owners to purchase a new tap when water service has been disconnected for six consecutive months or more.
In another water issue, the city’s utility committee will meet on October 21 with a single-subject discussion agenda concerning local cemetery water use.
Ordinance 1037 was passed, reducing Planning and Zoning board membership from nine to seven.
Ordinance 1035, which adopts the 2010 Model Traffic Code, was passed. At 5:45 pm the city had held a public hearing on this item. There were no comments from the public or city council.
In other business, the council accepted the CIRSA 2014 Property/ Casualty Preliminary Contribution Quotation, approved a liquor license renewal for Sarti’s Bar, and amended the Personnel Manual regarding accumulated vacation days for employees.
Johnston reminded and invited council members to attend the Fireball Run activities at Walsenburg Wild Waters Sunday, Sept. 22 at 1:30 pm.
Gary M. Vezzani was elected Walsenburg’s mayor in Tuesday’s special mayoral election/recall vote. Preliminary results announced Tuesday night show that both Nick Vigil in Ward