Proposed Salida Water/Wastewater Fees & Rates Need Further Scrutiny

Attention doctors, lawyers, Indian chiefs, and other citizens served by Salida Utilities. Dramatic change is in the air. Please pay attention before the changes show up on your monthly water/sewer bills.

The first reading of Ordinance 2018-06, Amending Chapter 13 regarding Water and Wastewater System Development Fees and Rates, was on the February 20 council agenda. (packet pages 104-111). The reading was continued, and will be discussed at the 6 p.m. March 5 council work session.

I’ve read the proposed ordinance and attachments several times. Some changes need further definition, and others are confusing, but I verified with our City Administrator that the proposed ordinance bundles attached residential units into a new category called “multi-family”. The proposed code states: “Attached residential units, including duplexes shall be considered multi-family unless each unit is on a separately owned lot.” Therefore condos are included in the new “multi-family” category.

Here’s the first jaw-dropper. Staff proposes that multi-family owners pay, per unit, fixed monthly service/maintenance fees that are 60% of single family residence fixed monthly service/maintenance fees.

Therefore, all the luxury condos along the river, and elsewhere, all the second home condos, and all the vacation rental condos, will be paying 60% fixed monthly fees of what a single family residence will pay.

Therefore, under this proposed ordinance, the property owners with one house will be subsidizing all condo owners. Is that what council and their constituents want?

Why does the City continue to resist the concept that fixed monthly service/maintenance fees should be charged based on the actual service and maintenance provided by the City, which is the service line to the meter? The proposed ordinance disregards the concept of “one owner, one parcel, one service line” pays one set of fees, whether it be a single home or duplex or other multi-family residence. The policy of “one owner, one parcel, one service line pays one set of fees” is policy for other municipalities. It’s ethical and legal. The proposed ordinance, that charges the same fees for a duplex with one or two metered service lines, is highly questionable. This should concern council.

The second jaw-dropper: The proposed ordinance doesn’t include amendments to Municipal Code Sec. 13-3-30 – Water and wastewater rates and charges.

Apparently, City Staff would like council to approve new categories of customer classes and percentages they pay compared to single family residences, and then, at some later date, raise the fixed rates.

Water/wastewater rates and charges should be part of the current discussion, including a resolution to (presumably) increase rates that – like proposed ordinance 2018-06 amending Chapter 13 – will impact our monthly bills.

Amend Chapter 13 responsibly. Concurrently, present a resolution for new rates and charges, so that we may understand how the changes, in total, will impact our Salida Utilities bills.

Obviously, my lone voice has been lost in the halls of City of Salida. Please attend the March 5 council work session. I’d like to see a citizens group involved in the decision making process. Would you? My email is [email protected]

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