Pagosa Springs: Tab for new treatment plant $1 million over expectations

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From the Pagosa Sun (Jim McQuiggin):

Unfortunately, for the town and sanitation district customers, bids for the construction of the wastewater treatment plant came in higher than expected. “At least a million dollars over what we’d hoped,” said Pagosa Springs Town Manager David Mitchem. After raising customer rates almost 67 percent last year (from $22.50 to $37.50 a month) in order to fund the new plant, the town of Pagosa Springs finds itself in the unfortunate position of needing fewer effluents and more affluence. Indeed, unwilling to further boost rates — perhaps due to the prospect of a citizenry strapped for cash but loaded with tar and feathers — the town is scrambling to find outside sources to help offset the unexpected expense of the project.

“There’s some different funding options out there,” said sanitation department supervisor Phil Starks. “If we get loans, we’d have to raise our rates, again, which the mayor is dead-set against. So we’re really looking at grant options.” In fact, the initial rate hike was a condition for accepting a $1.5 million loan from the Colorado Water Resources and Power Development Authority (CWRPDA), taken out to pay for construction of the plant. In order to secure the loan, the sanitation district agreed to substantial customer rate increases as set forth by the CWRPDA. Additionally, the CWRPDA mandated an increase in tap fees, from $3,750 per Equivalent Residential Tap (ERT) to $4,400 per ERT — an increase of 17.3 percent.

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