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Walsenburg one step closer to raising gas rates

by Bill Knowles

WALSENBURG- In an effort to insure that the city of Walsenburg has the funds to make future purchases of natural gas, the city is moving closer to rate increases for the utility.

    During the first regular city council meeting of 2011, the council approved Resolution 2011-4.  The resolution establishes  a no-notice storage and transportation delivery service agreement with Colorado Interstate Gas that will allow the city to use gas storage facilities in Denver.  The term of the agreement is from October 2010 to April 2012. 

    With storage settled, the city will be scheduling a Town Hall meeting to discuss the rate increases with the residents of Walsenburg.

    The city’s consultant, Mike McFadden of McFadden Consulting Group, has previously shown the need for the increase which could raise gas rates by about 27.5 percent or $11.77 per month on residential billing and around $67 a month on commercial accounts.  The stated reason for the increase is to fund transportation of the gas to Walsenburg’s customers.

    In other action items, the city council passed Ordinance 997 on the second reading Tuesday evening upping the number of members that will sit on the city’s Planning Commission to nine from the previous seven.  Then they reappointed Paul Rivera and Dr. William Beverly to the committee. 

    Rivera and Beverly had been appointed to the committee in November 2010, and it was then that the city discovered it needed to pass a new ordinance to increase the number of members.

    The city council also approved the purchase of the residence located at 207 W. 5th Street for about $17,650.  The funding will be taken from the Capital Improvement Fund. The city council voted 6-2 approving the purchase with Mayor Bruce Quintana absent.

    Voting no were Mayor Pro Tem Craig Lessar and council member Sylvana Lind.  Lessar voted no in order to stay within budgetary restraints.

“I thought we agreed to no extra spending this year,” Lessar said.  “I thought we were going to save as much as possible so we could approach 2012 with a healthy budget.”

    However a background paper on the action compiled by the city’s administration shows the city owns the property on either side of the residence.  Purchase of the property would give the city total ownership of the lots on 5th Street.  It would also remove any complaints from those who might be living on a property next to a semi-industrial organization.  “We would have to look at the house that’s on the lot and consider what it might be used for before we decide to tear it down,” Don Saling interim city administrator said.

    The city council went into executive session at 7:05 to receive legal advice.

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