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Walsenburg takes steps to refinance water/sewer bond debt

Approves annexation petition and sets public hearing

by Eric Mullens

Walsenburg’s administrative intern David Wise explains the two plans to update and rehabilitate City Park to city council members Tuesday night. Wise, with input from city staff and others, is developing rehab programs for all of the parks in the city. The information this week was presented during the work session and no formal action has been taken. The city will seek GOCO and other grant funding sources for the projects. Photo by Eric Mullens

WALSENBURG — The Walsenburg City Council Tuesday night approved an ordinance on first reading that will refinance the water/waste water treatment plant’s bond originally issued in 2007.

With five members present, council voted unanimously to approve, on first reading, Ordinance 1101, that would refinance the $8.5M principal debt at a lower interest rate which will save the city and consumers money in the long run. Walsenburg Finance Director Mark Ellis said the current interest rate on the bond is 5 % and could be lowered anywhere between 3.4 % to a maximum of approximately 3.67 % by the time the final reading of the ordinance and waiting period is completed. He said the savings to the city could be between $550,000 to $700,000.

The bond was issued a decade ago to finance the city’s water treatment and waste water treatment facilities. Second reading of the ordinance is expected at a city council meeting next month. Eventually Walsenburg water/sewer rate payers could see a lower charge in the Water Debt Service and Sewer Debt Service portion of their utility bill.

The city council also unanimously approved Resolution 2017R6, which indicates a petition presented for annexation meets substantial compliance and set a September 5, 2017 public hearing on the possible annexation. The area involved is a 5.71 acre piece of land on the city’s west side that houses the Wahatoya Farms LLC marijuana cultivation business and is being requested by J.R. Burrell and the other principals of the business.

It is expected if the annexation is approved, the principals may also pursue approval of a retail marijuana store in the future. In an introduction letter regarding the petition annexation, Burrell said the business would like to have the new retail marijuana portion of the business to be open by the spring of next year. City council also approved by unanimous vote, Resolution 2017R7, which adopts standards and policies concerning annexation into the city limits.

In a somewhat related item, during the work session this week, the council discussed the possibility of placing a retail excise tax of 5 % for the commercial sale of marijuana, either from dispensaries or cultivation operations within the city limits, before voters this fall. Mayor Jim Eccher said the tax would have a better chance of passing if specific uses of any monies raised were identified in the ballot item. Most of the discussion centered on the possibility of identifying parks, Walsenburg Wild Waters and youth programs as the main beneficiaries of the potential new tax dollars. No formal action has been taken on the item so far.

David Wise, the city’s administrative intern, presented two slightly different park rehabilitation plans for City Park to councilmembers during the work session. No action has been taken and a final plan has not been adopted. Wise said he would be seeking GOCO (Great Outdoors Colorado) grant funds for the park plan which, in the case of City Park, would mean a major overhaul of the skate park portion. Wise also said he would return in two weeks with two plans concerning Civic League Park and other city parks in the future.

Council members approved, by unanimous vote, a proclamation celebrating the combined 50th class reunion of the classes of 1966 and 1967 from Walsenburg High School. Former Walsenburg resident, Teresa Rudder of Alamosa, appeared before council Tuesday night and thanked the city for the proclamation. Mayor Eccher said he would present the proclamation and sign it on behalf of the city at the beginning of the class reunion dinner next month.

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