by Joseph Leckarcayk
In the interest of full disclosure, let it be known that the author of this article is married to the Mayor.The good news is, it looks like the residents and business owners of Lyons are getting a nice little Christmas present under the tree this year compliments of the Board of Trustees (BOT). The bad news is, the tag reads “Do Not Open Till Spring.” The Trustees voted unanimously Monday night to instruct Administrator Victoria Simonsen to proceed with the drafting of an ordinance that would drop all water user base rates, residential and commercial, by approximately eight dollars per month.
Unfortunately, the wheels of ordinance change move slowly; first you have to draft the ordinance, post the appropriate notices, hold the first reading, then a second reading with a public hearing (you think anyone will show up to oppose the rate decrease?), the proposed ordinance change must get the required four votes, and finally, it then takes 30 days before the new ordinance goes into effect. So realistically, we’re looking at sometime in late March or early April (just about the time of the Town’s elections, what a coincidence!) before this starts showing up on your utility bill. But hey, what is it they say about a gift horse?
In a related topic, which won’t affect most of the citizenry as directly, the Trustees also instructed Simonsen to start the wheels rolling for a reduction in water tap fees. The current rate for a new water tap is $17.500. The proposed rate would be $8,500. Former Mayor Nick Angelo happened to be in the audience (at this point he was the only one in the audience) and he cautioned the Board that with 1.9 million dollars in capital improvements over the next five years in the pipeline (pun intended), and talks about paying off the water bond early, a reduced water fee, and a down economy, perhaps now was not the time to lower the tap fees. When Mayor Julie Van Domelen asked him for some historical reference on how the tap fees got so high, Angelo said, “they went from nine thousand, to twelve, to fifteen, to seventeen-five, whatever the market would bear.” He added that the housing market was booming at that time, and the tap fees didn’t slow anything down.
Van Domelen had a different view, saying that even with the reduced water rate, the water enterprise fund would still be accruing a surplus. She also noted that the 1.9 million dollar expense for capital improvements on the Town’s water system, would not only make the system more efficient (thus saving money) but, it would still leave approximately a 2.6 million dollar surplus in the fund. She further reasoned that if that money were in fact used to pay off the water bond early, the annual savings from the debt service (interest on the bond) would allow the water fund to remain in pretty good shape. Van Domelen also noted that there was no telling how much development the high tap fees might have stifled during these tough economic times. This argument didn’t dissuade Angelo, but for the most part, the Board sided with Van Domelen, and Simonsen was given her marching orders in a 6 to 1 vote. Trustee LaVern Johnson, sided with Angelo.
In other less sexy business, the Board approved the consent agenda, consisting of the December accounts payable, and the December 5 meeting minutes. They also approved a resolution extending an intergovernmental agreement between the Town of Lyons and Boulder County Public Health for the Youth Interventionist/Specialist contract. A resolution to approve the transfer of the cable television franchise agreement from CAMS cable to Lyons Communication was okayed, and an extension of the annexation incentive period was granted to Raul and Manny Vasquez (all the paperwork is in, they just need 90 days for the surveyor to complete his work). The approval of payment for accrued employee benefits (vacation, sick leave, and comp time) was passed, and the presentation of the September, October, and November Clerk & Treasurer’s report and financials was tabled until after the New Year.
The Trustees gave their reports, as did the staff. Simonsen talked about the future changes coming up for the location of Town Hall offices. Public Works will be moving to the wastewater treatment plant site, Boulder County Sheriff’s Substation will move into the old Public Works Office, Parks & Rec. will move into the old sherif’s substation, and the rest of the overcrowded Town Hall Staff will move into the Parks & Rec. offices (kinda like musical chairs). Simonsen also informed the Board that the sales tax revenues for the month of August, were not only up from last year, but that they were up by more than $23,000 over what had been projected. The meeting was adjourned, and the philosophical discussion between the two Mayors, Van Domelen and Angelo, carried on for another twenty to thirty minutes, with neither side agreeing with the other’s point of view.