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Cuchara Inn/Timbers request rate reduction

by Carol Dunn

CUCHARA- At the regular meeting of the Cucharas Sanitation and Water District on November 13, Director Dan Brewer confirmed that he and his wife have purchased the Cuchara Inn & Timbers Restaurant.  “The community has been overwhelmingly supportive,” he said.  Brewer stepped out of his role as a Director to approach the Board as a citizen, requesting that the District consider temporarily lowering the water/sewer rate for the hotel.  Brewer said all plumbing fixtures have been removed from 20 of the hotel’s rooms, and the rooms have been gutted, including 7 kitchen suites.  He plans to work on those in about a year.  Brewer added that the remaining 24 usable rooms, including 3 kitchen suites, are not in good shape and need to be remodeled.  The current water/sewer fees for the Inn are $1759.60 per month.  General Manager Bob Northup will do a walk through with Brewer to develop an EQR list.  The temporary rate reduction could lower the bill by 6-7 EQRs per month.  Northup said there is a precedent for the rate reduction with new construction and homes that are torn down or burned down to be rebuilt.

    Northup reported that the water line project at Spanish Peaks, planned for seven years, is finally finished.  The distance was only 300 feet, but Northup said rough digging and weather complications slowed down the workers considerably.  The Board confirmed that the Park Road and Panadera Vista Road water lines are still on the long-range schedule.

    According to Northup, eight homes are left to hook up to sewer taps in the Pine Haven subdivision.  “We’re nearing the end of construction season,” Northup added.  Six of those homeowners are working on arrangements for hookups, and only two have not contacted the office with their intentions.

    The SCADA system at the ski resort is having problems, and Northup has ordered a new control panel.  When asked whether the District should consider replacing the system, Northup replied, “There’s little things all the time, and it seems that’s just the way they are.  I’ve worked with different SCADA systems around the county . . . There are quite a few systems out there, and you’re looking at $25,000 to $35,000 to change the system out.  It’s not really worth it.”

    The Board decided to raise their deductible on property and liability insurance to $2,500, which will save 25- 35% on the cost of premiums.  Northup said the potential savings to the District is $6,000 per year.

    Prior to the meeting, a hearing was held on the 2010 budget.  The budget lists total proposed operating income at $1,105,799 and proposed operating expenses at $1,088,842, for a net of $16,958.  Anticipated carryover of net income at the end of 2009 is $51,951.  Employee insurances are up about 45% since 2008, and Workers Comp has nearly doubled in the same time frame.  The Board considers the number one priority for future projects to be the ski resort water plant, with a budgeted expense of $840,500, about 89% of that from grants.  Northup said the engineering must be done in advance of applying for grants, since most of the Stimulus Funds are allocated for “shovel-ready” projects.