City of Florence revenue shortfall due to prison water #conservation

From The Canon City Daily Record (Sarah Matott):

During the last five years, the City of Florence has been steadily losing water revenue because of the Federal Bureau of Prisons cutting their usage.

The federal prison systems in Florence are one of the largest water customers for Florence.

In March, the council raised water rates against the federal prisons to address the problem, but Patterson said the federal prison systems are fighting the city on the new rates.

Patterson explained that in 2008 the federal government ordered that all federal agencies work to eliminate their carbon footprint.

The federal prisons system began cutting back on its water usage — a cost-saving measure for the prison but a problematic measure for Florence.

Patterson said the city has been losing about a half a million in revenue during the last few years, which has made it difficult to balance the budget…

One of the options, Patterson said is raising taxes or the water rates.

“The dilemma is we already have some of the highest rates in the state of Colorado,” Patterson said, adding the city does not want to raise rates on residents anymore.

The second option for the city would be to cut back on water projects, such as updating the water lines.

The last option for Florence would be to aggressively expand who they sell water to. He said the city already has been using this option some by trying to “aggressively” add water users and starts…

Patterson said they would continue to negotiate with federal prisons, so they can pay a reasonable rate. However, he did also say, if they continue to fight the new rates, a lawsuit in the future could be something else the city would pursue to avoid higher rates.

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