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“Where’s the fire?”

LA VETA — Although the La Veta Town Board had what appeared to be a light agenda, the board spent a full hour on one of two items under New Business. La Veta Fire Protection District Chief Mark Brunner, joined by Secretary Sue Pezze, approached the town board with a status update on the proposed fire station. Explaining construction costs were far higher than originally forecasted, Brunner told the board the district was trying to find various ways to cut costs. He then asked the board to waive the water and sewer tap fees for the new station. The request led to a lengthy discussion with several board members wanting know why the cost went up so much and what efforts was the district taking to make cuts. Brunner noted the district had reduced the size of their water tap from 4” to 2”, but noted that the district still needed a hydrant on the building’s Birch Street apron to fill the fire trucks. Trustee Chip Kraynyk, asked, “Why pass these costs from one governmental entity to another?” adding, “What if we say no?” Brunner said he understood Kraynyk’s

concern and provided examples of things that had caused the price to go up. Brunner stated the facility would need a special separator/evaporator installed beneath the floor to capture wastes such as salt, oil, gravel, etc. when the fire trucks are washed off after a call. Trustee Dale Davis and Mayor Doug Brgoch expressed concern if the district had the right system. Brunner thanked the board saying the primary purpose of him coming to the board was not only to provide an update but share ideas and concerns. Ultimately, Brunner said, the main cost increases were in general construction saying, “We are on our second round of bids. The first round saw bids at more than double what we had projected. The top bid was $3.1 million.” Pezze noted the district advertised as far away as Albuquerque and Colorado Springs, adding the district twice put out Requests for Proposals and both times received only two bids. Brunner followed, “We wanted to use local contractors but received no local bids.” Brunner said that several contractors told him that they had plenty of work and that La Veta was a small, out of the way project. That, Brunner said, kept the minimum construction cost at $1 million and up. Responding to a question from Trustee Kraynyk, asking what other entities the district had approached for help, Brunner said they were asking San Isabel Electric Association to lower or waive the electrical connect fees. Brunner also noted that the voters were behind the project having recently passed an increased mil levy. A related discussion ensued pertaining to statements Brunner had made previously saying the district may not be able to respond to fires at marijuana growing facilities. Brunner stated, “We need to clear the air on this. We would never deny or withhold fire protection service to any grow (Marijuana) or industrial facility.” The board agreed to have their engineer review the project and report back to them ASAP. The second item under new business was SIEA’s request for their customers to either allow the co-op to buy their capital credits at .25 cents on the dollar or leave those credits with SIEA. Mayor Brgoch stated the town had around $32,000.00 in credits, which, if cashed in, would bring about $8,000.00 to the town. The board felt leaving the credits with SIEA was more prudent and voted to not sell the credits. Under committee reports the board learned: five applications for the building inspector position were received and voted to review those applications at the next all committee meeting; asbestos has been found in the old marshal’s office, which will require a specially trained contractor to remove the contaminants. A full report is forthcoming; Marshal Willburn reported, “I’m busy training the public that we do have a marshal again.”