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City passes water sewer rate increase

by Eric Mullens
WALSENBURG — After nearly a year of discussion and review of proposal after proposal, the Walsenburg City Council Tuesday night passed a water/sewer rate increase plan on a 6 to 2 vote.
The plan calls for a pay as you use formula and includes a 25-percent increase over inside city limits rates to outside city customers.
This was a compromise plan, with former rates for outside city users double that of their in town counterparts.
Despite administration’s estimates the city is hemorrhaging between $9,000 to $10,000 per week under the current rate plan, councilman James Baca and Mayor Pro Tem Craig Lessar voted against the plan. Walsenburg Mayor Larry Patrick and council members Rick Jennings, Silvana Lind, Nick Vigil, Erin Jerant and James Moore voted to adopt Ordinance 1016. A caveat was also approved by the city council that calls for administration to contact the USDA and request a free water/sewer rate analysis.
The new plan presented Tuesday night calls for base in city residential rates to climb to $36.06 for water (plus customer usage) and $32.31 for sewer, plus 52 percent of water usage rates. That percentage is based on the calculation that approximately 52 percent of water usd returns to the city’s water treatment plant. The ordinance increases the cost of water for inside city residential users to $3.30 per 1,000 gallons. The ordinance passed Tuesday night eliminates the current 4,000 gallons of no-charge water per month that consumers have gotten in the past.
For the 70 inside city commercial water/sewer customers, the base rates will be $33.10 for water, plus usage and $32.31 for sewer, plus the 52 percent of the $3.30 per 1,000 gallons used that returns to the treatment plant.
For outside city residential customers the base rates climb to $45.07 and a cost of $3.71 per 1,000 gallons used for water and $40.39 plus usage for sewer. The option presented by city administration indicates there are only three outside city limits residential sewer customers currently on the system. For the current 15 outside the city commercial users the base water rate will be $45.07 per month, plus $3.71 per month per 1,000 gallons of water used. Outside city commercial sewer rates will be $40.39 per month and 52 percent of $6.59 per 1,000 gallons used. City records indicate there are currently only two customers that fall into the outside city commercial user category.
A full legal description of Ordinance 1016 appears in today’s Huerfano World Journal.
Another months-long issue was settled Tuesday night when Walsenburg Housing Authority resident Manuel R. Lujan was appointed to the housing authority board and affirmed in a unanimous vote by the city council. Lujan had expressed interest in the position last summer. But Mayor Patrick appointed himself to the position saying Lujan’s letter of interest had come in late, in fact the day the city council was to vote to affirm his self appointment. The council had voted to affirm his appointment, but in a later session, voted to rescind that affirmation. Lujan attended the city council meeting and thanked the mayor and council members. Lujan’s term on the housing authority board is for five years and will date to the seat being vacated in July 2012.
In other business city council unanimously approved retail liquor license renewals for Safeway and Kay’s Liquors. Council member Jerant, a principal in Kay’s Liquors, abstained from the vote.
Council approved an optional insurance coverage renewal.
Council voted to approved a housekeeping amendment to comply with Worker, Retiree, Employer Recovery Act of 2008 and Small Business Jobs Act of 2010.
The city council will now begin to concentrate on the 2013 budget, with a work session planned for 5:30 pm, Tuesday, November 27.

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