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City council sets distance limits and rates in water haul ordinance

Year end budget adjustments and requests acted on

by Eric Mullens

New city administrator James Toth (right) said he has spent his first two weeks becoming familiar with staff, department heads, city facilities and current projects. He thanked city council for hiring him as he attended his first city council meeting and had words of praise for city crews in how efficiently, and quickly the water main break on Main Street was handled last week. Also pictured at left, city attorney Dan Hyatt and center, city clerk Wanda Britt. Photo by Eric Mullens

WALSENBURG — The Walsenburg City Council worked later into the evening on election night 2017, setting rules for water haul users, approving a $6 M loan for the city dam project, making budget appropriations and selecting a new audit firm for the municipality.

With all seven members present, the city council approved Ordinance 1110 approving a loan from the Colorado Water Conservation Board not to exceed $7,000,000 for the city dam renovation and enlargement project.

The council discussed the new water haul Ordinance, #1109, and decided to charge a seven cent per gallon price and allow users who live either within ten miles of the city limits or have a physical address that falls within the 81089 zip code to buy water ‘off the wall’ from the city. There were concerns about residential water haul customers who live east and south of the city, and councilmembers indicated they hoped the decision to include both the ten mile limit and zip code will address those users’ needs. The new application for water haul customers will mandate the customer must present a physical address where the water will be used and for what purpose. The city hopes the new system will discourage water use for illegal practices, such as unlicensed marijuana grows. The ordinance was approved unanimously.

City council made two votes Tuesday night concerning a request by Maria and Brendt Berger for a donation towards the matching grant funds they are trying to raise that will allow for a History Colorado grant to go through for improvements to the Roof & Dick building that houses the Museum of Friends at E. Sixth and Main in downtown Walsenburg. The Bergers had expected, following city council discussion at their last meeting, that their request for $2,500 would be granted. However, through the course of the evening council members were made aware of their own spending habits during 2017, especially in the area of vehicle purchases. “I think we’ve spent more on vehicles this year than the city has in the past 20-25 years,” councilman Greg Daniels said.

The council voted 7-0 to allow a $500 donation towards the MoF matching grant, utilizing funds from the Downtown GID. A motion to appropriate $2,000 from the General Fund to the museum failed on a 4-3 vote.

In other business:

• After an approximate 45-minute executive session, council voted 7-0 to approve Resolution 2017 R-17 concerning city water rights (no rights were given up by the resolution).

• Unanimously passed Resolution 2017 R 12 that increased the 2017 budget for capital equipment purchases from $103,000 to $170,000;

• Unanimously passed Resolution 2017 R 13, that provides funding for expenditures relating to improvements in the Northlands’ GID from zero in the current budget to $1,666,713 (this reflects spending from both the CDBG grant funds and the USDA loan funds and is not related to any new spending on the part of the city);

• Passed on a 6 – 1 vote, Resolution 2017 R 14 providing funding for the support of the Museum of Friends from a proposed $2,000 budget item to $$2,500; however a later vote in the evening made this point moot as the motion to appropriate $2,000 from the General Fund failed (councilman Daniels voted against the resolution);

• Unanimously passed Resolution 2017 R 15, which authorized a $175,000 loan from the Street Improvement Fund to the city’s General Fund; the interest rate was set at 1.5 % ( the same the money earns in it’s bank account). This was necessary as the city council had budgeted $175,000 as funds it would receive from the sale of buildings and some property at the former Lathrop Youth Camp to the Huerfano County Hospital District. That sale has yet to be finalized in this fiscal year.

• Unanimously approved Resolution 2017 R 16, which names NBH Bank as the paying agent for the City’s Water and Sewer Activity Enterprise water and sewer revenue refunding bond issue, approved in September 2017.

• Council also selected Holscher, Mayberry & Co., LLC of Englewood, CO as the new city audit firm. City finance director Mark Ellis said the move would save the city approximately $25,000 over the course of the year.

• Council took no formal action this week on a request for tap fee waivers (approximately $5,200 for gas, water and sewer) from St. Mary’s Church for their new Church Hall to be constructed on E. 7th street, south of the present Mazzone Hall. Council discussed the possibility of a transfer of taps from that building to the new one, with the church community paying for all parts and labor. The item is expected to be addressed by resolution at an upcoming meeting.

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