Council looks at sewer rate structures
The Steamboat Springs City Council looked at three rate structures it could ask five water districts to follow when a 25-year agreement expires.
On Tuesday, city-hired consultant Rick Giardina gave an overview of the city’s sewer agreements and the effects different rate structures would have on the city. The current structure has city residents footing the bill for added costs, he said.
Giardina proposed three rate structures — a per volume rate, a flat rate and a combination of the two — that could be used for all the districts.
On Oct. 31, 2005, a 1980 agreement on city sewer services will expire. The agreement is between the city and Tree Haus District, Steamboat II Water and Sanitation District, Mount Werner Water and Sanitation District, Ski Town Campground and Sleepy Bear Mobile Home Park.
The city bills these districts on a per volume basis, which Giardina said has the city residents paying for additional operational and maintenance costs on the main interceptor line and wastewater treatment plant.
Residents inside the city pay for sewers through a flat fee and an additional volume fee. The districts can bill its customers however they prefer.
If the city had a flow rate structure, all the districts would pay based on the volume of sewage it discharges, which is what the current system does.
If the customer does not have any sewage, then nothing is paid. The structure does not take into account, or cover, the costs it takes to serve that customer at peak capacity, Giardina said. It would benefit low-volume users and those who don’t live in their homes year-round.
In a flat-rate system, customers would pay the same rate regardless of how much sewage they put in the system. This structure benefits large volume users and covers the costs for peak capacity.
The city also could use a combination of the two structures, such as having a fixed rate, and then charge by the volume for any residence using more than the average family usage of 7,000 gallons a month.
It also could do a flat rate but require larger homes to pay more than smaller ones.
Even if the city and the districts’ customers were all billed under the same structure, Giardina said, sewer bills would vary, as the districts would add costs for administration and collection.
City Council members varied in their preference for rates. Councilman Ken Brenner said he leaned toward a flat fee. Councilwoman Susan Dellinger said she preferred a structure that combined a flat rate with a volume rate.
Councilwoman Kathy Connell said no matter what the rate structure, the No. 1 goal should be to have fair and equitable rates.
“I would push for one common approach,” Connell said.
Representatives from the Steamboat II and Mount Werner Water Districts gave input on the rate structure.
Steamboat II District Manager Doug Baker asked the city to continue with its current agreement of a volume basis and noted that his district would not benefit from a flat rate because it services mostly year-round residents.
The Mount Werner Water District wrote a letter to the council stating it was doing its own water and wastewater collection rate study. The district also requested that the agreement would continue to have the district bill its customers and to continue paying the city’s bill on a quarterly basis.
In other council business:
n The city agreed to buy the 101.55-acre piece of land between River Road and Colorado Highway 131 and just south of the Chuck Lewis Wildlife Area. The site is on the Lafarge North Gravel Pit, which is intended to be reclaimed and used in a similar manner as the wildlife area. The land cost $896,000 and is being funded primarily through state and federal grants.
n The city is working on a settlement with those who oppose its application for a recreational water right. City Attorney Tony Lettunich also noted that the Colorado Water Conservation Board has asked that the application not go before the District 6 Water Court until it is determined whether the Gunnison recreational water rights application will go before the Colorado Supreme Court.
n The city agreed to allow a two-week period for those who have outstanding parking tickets of more than $100 to pay their fines before putting the boot on their vehicle. The list of those who have not paid numbers more than 100 and totals almost $30,000. After the first two weeks, if those vehicles are spotted, a boot will be attached to the wheel to make it impossible to move the vehicle.
n The council agreed to look at an ordinance that would allow liquor stores to hold tastings. Under state changes to a liquor law, stores are now allowed to hold tastings, but the city would have to approve that under its home rule charter. Two liquor stores have requested the ordinance be adopted.
n The city has received 15 applications for the proposed Growth Commission. The council and county commission will discuss the make up of that commission at its next joint meeting.
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It is going to be a hot week in Steamboat Springs.