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What If They Gave a Rate Hike And Nobody Came?

April 1st, 2012 by Christie Young

Filed under Community, Crawford

Crawford Adopts Increases for Water and Sewer; Public Fails to Comment
Crawford Town Council Regular Meeting
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
7 p.m., Crawford Town Hall

Present: James Crook, Mayor. Trustees: Bill Mosey, Mike Teideman, Christie Young, Susie Steckel, Bruce Green, and Hetty Todd. Jackie Savage, Town Clerk. Bruce Bair, Director of Public Works.

A public hearing on proposed rate increases for water and sewer services in Crawford failed to attract any of the town’s residents to the regular meeting of the Crawford Town Council on March 7.

“I’m shocked (that no one showed),” said one trustee. Notice of the hearing had been published in the Delta County Independent and posted at Town Hall and the Crawford Post Office for two weeks before the meeting.

Before addressing the rate increases, the Council heard a report from Susan Hansen, representing the Friends of Crawford Town Hall, and from architect Tom Chamberlain on the bids that FOCTH received for work on Phase I of the renovation of Town Hall, which includes replacement of the building’s windows and doors and restoration of wood shingles and louvers on the Hall’s tower. Ridgway Valley Enterprises submitted a bid of just over $156,000 with work to be completed in ten weeks. SunKing Construction’s bid came in at $229,000 with completion in seventeen weeks.

Chamberlain recommended awarding the bid to Ridgway Valley Enterprises not only because of their much lower cost and faster completion time, but also based on Chamberlain’s review of the firm’s references and visits to other municipal buildings on which the company has done renovation work, including the old Delta Elks Building. Ridgway Valley is also doing the renovations on the old Colona School. “I am very satisfied that Ridgway Valley will do a fine job,” said Chamberlain. “And of course the cost difference is quite significant. Plus, they can start right away.”

The trustees voted unanimously to award the bid to Ridgway Valley Enterprises. Chamberlain said that he would notify the company and instruct them to prepare a contract for the work for the Council’s review at its March 21 work session. The Colorado State Historical Society and Chamberlain himself will also review the proposed contract. Mayor Crook asked if the trustees would be comfortable with the Town’s new mayor signing the contract at the April 4 regular Council meeting. There were no objections.

Mayor Crook then opened the public hearing on the Town’s proposal to increase water and sewer rates beginning April 1. With no residents to comment, Crook asked for input from the trustees. Hetty Todd, who had been absent from the meeting at which the Council had previously discussed the increases, which will add $6 per month to each resident’s utility bill, objected to “such a large increase” and suggested that a total hike of $4 per month would be more appropriate.

Todd, however, failed to convince the other trustees to back down from the $6 increase. In a vote, the Council voted to approve Resolution 1 increasing fees for water service and Resolution 2 increasing sewer rates, with Todd opposing both resolutions.

“I still can’t believe no one even came to comment,” said Christie Young. “Wait until they get their April bills––I bet we hear from folks then,” said another trustee. Bill Mosey quipped: “They’ll probably think it’s an April Fools joke.”

A scheduled final vote on a formal investment policy, as recommended by Blair and Associates in their recent presentation of the town’s 2010 audit, was tabled until April 4. Town Attorney Jim Brown was unable to get the policy to the trustees in time for the March 7 meeting.

Town Clerk Jackie Savage read a letter from citizens on Greenwood Ave. expressing their gratitude to Public Works Director Bruce Bair, the mayor and the trustees for paving and snow removal on their street.

Savage also circulated a sample ballot for the April 3 election of a new Crawford mayor and four new trustees. Although the election will be conducted by mail, Savage said that voters will also be able to drop their ballots off at Town Hall until 7 p.m. on Election Day.

In staff reports, Bruce Bair thanked the Council for approving his attendance at a wastewater conference in Colorado Springs, at which he learned a great deal about new State policies that have the potential to affect Crawford in the future, including stricter standards for nutrient removal from wastewater, and possible additional testing for bacteria in storage tanks. The latter policy is intended to avoid crises such as the recent salmonella outbreak in Alamosa, which was attributed to the town’s water supply.

Bair also reported that TDS Telecom would be extending fiber optic cables from their station on Elm St. to Missouri Flats to accommodate potential growth and increased demand there. The project will require boring under several Crawford streets. Bair said that he is working with TDS to “protect our infrastructure” and that he and Assistant Director of Public Works Don Ludwig have developed a formal excavation permit for TDS that “spells out responsibilities and liability.”

Mayor Crook adjourned the meeting at 7:55 p.m.

The next meeting of the Crawford Town Council, a work session, will take place on Wednesday, March 21 at 7 p.m. at Crawford Town Hall.

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