Consensus likely on water haul rates
by Eric Mullens
WALSENBURG — One newly elected city councilman and three incumbents took the oath of office at the last Walsenburg City Council meeting and councilmembers during the regular session appeared to have reach a consensus on what to charge for ‘off the wall’ water haulers.
Huerfano County Judge Clay McKisson administered the oath of office to James Hudgens, the new council representative in Ward II. Hudgens defeated J.Brian LaLander 133 to 89 votes in the Nov. 7 general election. Term limits for eight-year councilman Craig Lessar opened the seat of the former Mayor Pro Tem. Judge McKisson also swore in Mayor Jim Eccher who defeated Lessar 566 votes to 352 votes in the mayor’s race. Charles Montoya received 203 votes in his unchallenged reelection bid in Ward III, and Clint Boehler was reelected without opposition in Ward I with 159 votes.
Even with the election over and the new council in place there remains a Ward III vacancy as former appointed councilmember Manuel Lujan chose not to seek election and left council chambers after the new and reelected members took their place Tuesday, Nov. 22.
An item that has caused some anxiety for water haul consumers; a new pricing structure was discussed at length during the council work session as elected officials tried to find a way to make the price of water purchased ‘off the wall’ comparable to what residential consumers pay whose bills include infrastructure, repair and replacement component costs. “We’re getting bombarded by water haul applications,” said Walsenburg Public Works Director David Harriman. Once the new water haul system is in place, all water haul users will have to reapply and establish new accounts.
The council has worked for some months to come up with a fee schedule that would include water haul prices that address infrastructure costs. The consensus reached at the last meeting took most of the recommendations for water haul costs developed by Harriman and Walsenburg Finance Director Mark Ellis, and adopted a recommendation of an application fee (one-time payment) suggested by councilman Dennis Hoyt.
While the city council has already passed a water haul ordinance (Ordinance 1109) which established a distance limit on those who can purchase up to 3,000 gallons of water a month (consumers must live within a 10 mile radius of the city or have a physical address within the 81089 zip code), the price structure will be included by resolution expected to be before city council in early December.
The water haul pricing expected to be included in the proposed resolution in December calls for a $225 application fee; a $5 load/reload (water haul card) fee, and a 7¢ per gallon cost of water.
In other business:
City council passed Ordinance 1110 on second reading. The ordinance approves a 40-year loan to the city from the Colorado Water Conservation Board that will be used in the rehabilitation and enlargement of City Lake Dam. The loan is for $6,889,210 (aggrate principal amount of the loan not to exceed $7 million). The ordinance passed on a 6-0 vote.
Council passed a cash farm lease agreement for a portion of the city ranch to Falduto Ranches LLC on a 6-0 vote. Action on two other lease agreements concerning the city ranch were postponed until December.
Action on two proposed zoning ordinances were postponed until December; they involve the AZTK and LeRube LLC/Wahatoya annexations.
Council conducted a somewhat premature public hearing on the city’s 2018 preliminary budget receiving only one comment from the public. Brian LeLander advised the city council to budget carefully for future streets projects. City council met in a budget work session earlier this week.
Council heard a presentation concerning Tree City USA membership from Colorado State Forest Service District Forester Derek Sokoloski. No action was taken.