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Cucharas District busy as summer ramps up

by Carol Dunn
CUCHARA — During the regular monthly meeting of the Cucharas Sanitation and Water District Board, General Manager Bob Northup told the directors that the employees have been very busy. As seasonal residents return for the summer, they need to have their water turned on, and Northup said the valley … “has really been filling up.” A second water plant will also be brought online for the summer.
The staff has been working on the Panadero Vista sewer line project, and there is less than a month of work left.
The owners of two new homes in the vicinity have requested to be hooked up to the system this summer. Chairman Art Pierce told Northup, “I did hear from some folks in Spanish Peaks with concerns about the road construction. I think it’s time to contact the county about moving forward on that.” Pierce complimented the District’s staff, saying, “I think we have a great system and a good staff. It’s very impressive.”
Northup told the board that it’s time to start on the Britton Reservoir project. “We need to hit it hard,” he said, because the project grant expires at the end of October. Northup told the board he didn’t plan to hire an outside contractor to do the project. But Director Jimmy VanLue told Northup, “I don’t think you can do it in-house for 50-grand.” VanLue pointed out that, since the work estimate was developed, the prices on equipment rental, fuel and manpower have all increased. In addition, moving one of the reservoirs downhill and off of US Forest Service-administered land was not part of the original scope of work. The board voted to have Pierce sign the “nearly finished” USFS permit, which Northup has been working on since October 2010. Northup also told the board that the dam height on the reservoirs will be ten feet or less because of the unwieldy state regulations governing larger structures. He will be meeting with the State Dam Inspector and also offered to meet with VanLue to get his input into the project.
The board voted to compensate Bob White in the amount of $250 for his services in 2012. Before he left the board in May, White had been receiving his compensation on an annual basis, rather than monthly like the rest of the board members.
Using comparative information from other utility special districts of similar characteristics, the district will be studying its employee benefit package and working on reorganizing positions and duties. The board will also be enlisting the help of the special district legal firm Collins Cockrel and Cole in setting a mandatory retirement age.
The district reported to the public that its financial audit completed by Dixon Waller and Company, CPA, went well. There was only one correction required, and it was made immediately. Treasurer Cal Sandbeck reported that two years ago the District operated with a $46,000 loss. He said that in 2011, “The employees took it upon themselves to make a few corrections,” and the district operated in the black.
Director Jim Howard reported that there was only one last item required to finish the process of its recent election. The standard conflict of interest forms need to be completed and sent to the Colorado Secretary of State.