Aspen: Sanitary sewer rate hikes

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From The Aspen Times (Andre Salvail):

Bruce Matherly, manager for the quasi-public entity that handles sewer maintenance and wastewater treatment for Aspen and outlying areas, said the district board approved a 10 percent rate increase in early December. He said some customers have called to question the hike over the past few days, and most have expressed understanding of the reason once it was explained…

The rate hike was necessary, he said, because the downturn in the economy over the last few years has led to a construction slowdown. New construction means new business for the sanitation district, and pumps money into the entity’s capital fund, which pays for various repair and maintenance projects for the area’s sewer and wastewater-treatment systems. Capital revenues have fallen steadily since 2007, when they amounted to $3 million. They totaled an estimated $800,000 in 2008, $500,000 in 2009 and $350,000 in 2010. This year, the district has budgeted $478,000 for capital projects, but that’s a loose projection, and not all of the tasks outlined in the budget will be tackled…

The board decided to raise rates 10 percent as a method of garnering extra money to cover the cost of 2011 projects — whether scheduled or unforeseen. The district has a rainy-day fund to cover emergencies but didn’t feel it would be fiscally prudent to tap it, he said. The increase will generate about $280,000 over the year, Matherly said. “It’s not much money, but every bit helps,” he said. “The board is trying to stay proactive and increase the revenue stream just in case. We’ll see if the increase keeps us in the black.”[…]

Currently the district is having some issues with its aeration system. The problem is a lack of consistency in getting enough air to microorganisms used to treat wastewater before it’s released into the Roaring Fork River. The water the district releases has to be extra sanitary because the river is a gold-medal trout-fishing stream.

More wastewater coverage here and here.

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