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Council takes first step towards gas rate hike

WALSENBURG — The Walsenburg City Council Tuesday night approved an ordinance on first reading that will allow for an eventual ten percent rate increase for all natural gas customers served by the city run enterprise. Ordinance 1083 will mark the first gas rate increase since February 2011 and calls for an approximate 80¢ per month increase in the base customer charge; from $7.98 per month to $8.78 per month. Councilman Charlie Montoya suggested council approve two ordinances, one with an in-town price and another with a probable higher gas rate for out of city limits customers. Walsenburg’s natural gas enterprise services customers outside of the city limits, such as the town of Aguilar. The suggestion, made during the finance committee work session, did not carry over into the regular session when council voted on the issue. Montoya and councilman Dennis Hoyt voted against the ordinance and Montoya also voted no on the motion to set a public hearing on the issue. Both motions passed and a public hearing on the rate increase will be held at 5:30 pm, Tuesday, February 9th. In other business, city council approved Ordinance 1082 on second reading. The ordinance allows for larger signs to be located adjacent to highways around the city. Council approved a resolution changing personnel

allowed to sign checks from various city accounts. One bill for recent repairs at the water treatment plan was approved on a 7-0 vote, while another issue dealing with a proposed contract for evaluation, troubleshooting, and repairs to the U/V lighting system was removed from the agenda to clarify the actual scope of work the contractor will perform. Council unanimously approved a liquor license renewal for Uptown Liquor. After discussion on possible conflicts of interest, Martra Holdings LLC President and CEO Brian Trani was appointed to the city’s planning and zoning commission. Trani’s appointment will not take effect until after his firm has fully completed all zoning issues for their growing suite construction and operation. Trani will recuse himself from P&Z discussions or votes when, or if, any further zoning issues concerning his company come before the commission. Council engaged in lengthy discussions during the finance committee work session concerning mandates from the State of Colorado regarding the raw water line and the Capitol Hill water ground storage tank. The city will undertake a survey of the 17 current owners of the 27 taps along the raw water line to ensure none of the water is being used for domestic purposes. The survey will be conducted this month to meet a state mandated deadline in February. Further discussions are planned between local and state officials on this issue. The city will begin advertising for a new municipal administrator using resources from the Colorado Municipal League, the state workforce network, and others, in hopes of building a candidate list for interviews in March and selection of a new administrator by April 2016.