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City water rates go up for 2009

by Gretchen Orr

WALSENBURG- The Walsenburg City Council meeting this week was quite enjoyable, offering up a lot of laughs and just a little controversy. 

    Water rates could increase in 2009 depending on usage.  Current rates are $22.50 for the first 5,000 gallons of water used each month.  In 2009, that threshold will be lowered to 4,000 gallons for $22.50, Councilwoman Edi Flanagin explained, “with an additional charge of $1.25 for each 1,000 gallons used after that.”  For use over 15,000 gallons the rate will be $2.25 per 1,000 gallons.  Councilman Bruce Quintana was the lone no vote on the resolution, saying emphatically that it amounted to an increase in water rates for citizens.   He felt strongly that this action  is not responsive to concerns expressed by Walsenburg residents who attended the last citizens forum.

    Butch Corsentino, City Ranch manager, reported  that the Falduto brothers have removed all but 55 head of cattle, which they would like to have permission to keep on the property over the winter.  The request relates to long standing problems with raw and treated water issues on the ranch.  Well water useage for the cattle had been in excess of adjudicated levels, and the Faldutos had been asked to have all cattle off the property within thirty days.  The Faldutos proposed using pond water instead of well­ water.  

    Lively discussion ensued,with City Attorney Dan Hyatt pointing out that the City has a fiduciary responsibility to maximize income from the property, and that extending the lease would do that.  Councilwoman Susan Blake responded saying that the cattle should be off the property for a potential gravel pit operation  “which is where the money is- all those ‘cotton pickin’ rocks.”  While there was disagreement about whether the two activites were mutually exclusive, in the end, Council reaffirmed their decision to require that all cattle be off the property by Dec. 15.

    Chief of Police Larry Baldonado reported on the house fires in Walsenburg, (see related story page 1) and asked that the public come forward with any leads as to the identity of “Mik” the tagger who has been defacing property around town, including tagging the new Walsenburg Wild Waters sign in broad daylight.  The department is stepping up patrols to stop such vandalism.

    The City is requesting bids for legal notices from the Huerfano Journal, the Signature and the County World newspapers.   City Administrator Eric Pearson noted that last June the World said it would prefer to make a proposal for services that could be offered in addition to the legal notices.  Pearson asked the Council if they would like to act on this request and do the bids as a Request For Proposal from each paper to see what additional services they might offer, or keep it as originally decided upon, a straight re-bid for legal notice line charges.  Councilman James England pointed out that, ”We may be muddying the waters,” by asking for an RFP from each paper when ”all we really need is the bottom line for legal notices.”   He recommended, “while we all want the glitz and glamour, it makes sense that we keep this as simple as we can.”  He continued, saying that in this small town, the City already has the support of the local papers for additional services such as publicizing events and public service announcements, that they “have been very good about supplying us with all the rhinestones and goodies.  It ought to be based upon just the legal notices.”  Council members agreed.

    Alicia Bryant, Mike Lave, Kathryn Doolittle and Maurice Rodriguez were appointed to positions on the Planning and Zoning board.

    In other business the Council discussed how the City is saving money on the wastewater treatment plant by doing in kind site work  with City crews.  Public works chair Flanagin noted that City infrastructure for  water and sewer lines, installed in 1948,  are reaching the end of their estimated life span, so the City will need to begin seekingmoney for replacement.   Liquor license renewals were approved for the Blue Rooster Saloon and for Thirty Eight Special Discount Wines and Liquor.