Oak Creek enters homestretch in updating water metering system
Oak Creek — Considered long overdue by some, the Oak Creek Town Board is moving into the final stages of completing a long process of upgrading the town’s water metering system — or lack thereof.
“It seems like it’s always been talked about. Now, it seems like we are actually moving in the right direction and doing it,” said Tom Holliday, public works director for Oak Creek. “There is enough history with most of the people that they have heard it before, and they just don’t think it’s going to happen. I think that’s a lot of it.”
Following what at times was a heated public discussion at Thursday’s town board meeting, however, it looks as if everything is falling in place to have new water metering systems in place at all residences and businesses in Oak Creek by the end of the summer.
The town has long used a flat-rate system to determine water fees, with all residences paying the same amount. Until now, there has never been a way to determine how much each household used.
So far, Holliday said, there are more than 80 meters in place around town, which are being used as a benchmark to help determine a base rate to be used when the rest are in place.
“We have a lot of meters in place right now, and that’s where we are starting to collect our data to set a base rate, because it is a big issue,” Holliday said. “We are actually putting more sophisticated meters in that we can get more data off of — leak detection, that kind of thing. And actually, the new meters are cheaper. They are all American made, and they are not cheap plastic. They are quality meters.”
Part of Thursday’s board meeting included passage of resolution 2015-016, which will increase the monthly water fee by 10 percent in 2016, which equates to about $5.02 per residence and $7.47 per business. There was some discussion from the audience about the necessity of the rate increase and whether certain businesses, especially those in involved in marijuana cultivation, should be charged more.
However, the town board voted unanimously in favor of the increase, which a recent Cost of Service Study determined was “needed to … cover the costs associated with operating, maintaining, repairing and replacing the town’s potable water system.” The 10 percent increase is exclusively for water and does not include sewage.
Once the new systems are in place, properties will be divided into two classifications — residential and business — with a third, industrial, being a possible option. How to fund the full cost of upgrading the town’s metering system is still being determined.
“That is not budgeted yet, because that determination hasn’t been made as to what is going to be the method that meters will be paid for. Until that’s determined, we won’t budget it or identify the revenue source,” said town administrator Mary Alice Page-Allen. “We’ve been working on this pretty diligently for the last few years, frankly … I would say we are in the home stretch.”
Also of note Thursday, the town board approved its 2016 budget with little discussion. The budget includes an increase in the monthly trash removal charge and the levy of general property taxes to help offset general operating costs.
The board also approved a land use change of minor impact, allowing Brett Griffin to demolish an existing structure and build a marijuana cultivation facility at 215/217 Arthur Ave., as well as a revocable permit agreement with the South Routt School District to build a new, temporary safe walkway for students.
Thursday’s meeting was the final of 2015 for Oak Creek. Its first meeting of 2016 will take place on Jan. 14.
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