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2022 February Newsletter
by Board Member Alex Plotken
It’s been some time since we’ve published a newsletter to bring you up to date on several matters of interest to District residents.
Topics of interest in 2022:
- System Development Fees
- Low Income Household Water Assistance Program
- Infrastructure and Capacity
- Legal Matters
- District Manager Search
- New Board Members
System Development Fees
The Board, led by its legacy members, Directors Baker, Morgan and Plotkin, have long been concerned about something called System Development Fees. These are costs to the District for ensuring your Green Mountain Water and Waste systems can support new development in the community. The fees paid by a developer, property owner or customer for a proposed new connection to the Green Mountain system are designed to provide a recovery of our capital investment in both water and waste capacity.
For a variety of reasons, the current fee structure had been in place without change for over a decade. In 2020, a resolution was offered to raise the fee based on the rate of inflation. That was a start, but we know the current fees do not reflect the actual recovery of capital investments required. The next logical step is to establish an algorithm that would calculate any annual increase in the fee structure and would require annual Board approval. The Board is currently working with experts to establish this process.
This is truly an overdue matter of fairness to everyone in our district and a significant priority for all Board members. Regular costs of water and waste service to our customers have increased, and we appear to be in an inflationary period where service costs to our users will likely continue to increase, so it’s only appropriate that those wishing to establish new service connections contribute fairly to the District’s costs.
Low Income Household Water Assistance Program
The District has recently elected to participate in Low Income Household Water Assistance Program (LIHWAP). The program is offered by the state of Colorado. Please contact the District office at 303-985-1581 to find out more information and how to apply in order to see if you might qualify.
Infrastructure and Capacity
One of the District’s ongoing issues is completion of a project to line one of the District’s water tanks. This process began in 2018. Unfortunately, upon inspection, following completion of the lining of the tank, issues were found with the integrity of the liner. Your Board, legal counsel and staff are working through a process to restoring the tank to service as quickly as possible while ensuring that District residents get full value for their money spent for completion of the tank lining contract.
The Board is working with engineering experts to conduct a review of the District’s Water and Sewer Master Plan to ensure a full understanding of the District’s capacity. The independent, outside review is critical to ensuring that our system data and the conclusions drawn from it are unbiased and offer a true representation of the District’s infrastructure. This work is also important to ensuring accurate and complete data that may fairly be applied to the algorithm to be used in establishing a future System Development Fees structure.
In light of the terrible tragedy of the Marshall Fire and the water capacity concerns that were highlighted in the town of Superior, the Board is working to understand how the development and planning stance of the City of Lakewood may impact the District’s constituents should there be a similar significant event within the Lakewood city limits.
There is recent precedent for such concern – beyond the Marshall Fire. In 2016, Green Mountain experienced a 300-acre fire. Fortunately, at the time, the wind conditions were not as severe as they were in December of 2021, but considering wind patterns in the area, our concern is now more acute than ever.
The constituents of the District won a significant legal victory last year (May 6th) in the Big Sky litigation. The Court affirmed the right of the District to say “No” to an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) which dated back to May 2018. In short, a later elected District Board became concerned with numerous unknowns in the IGA and took action in April, 2019 to terminate the IGA. As stated in the resolution at the time, there were simply too many unknowns and potential liabilities to the District and its constituents in providing service outside the District’s boundaries. As is customary, our “win” is on appeal and it is likely to be many, many months before there is full resolution to the case.
More recently, the Board has retained new, experienced District counsel, Coaty, Marchant Woods, P.C. In a short time, they have demonstrated a high degree of professionalism and understanding of Colorado’s complex Title 32 Special District Law, essential to the well-being of our District. They are handling all our legal matters outside of the ongoing litigation.
District Manager Hiring
The Board would like to welcome Mr. Jeff Tyus as the new District Manager. He comes with a valuable set of skills and experience; latest amongst them is his stint as the Manager of Operations and Maintenance of Arapahoe County Water and Wastewater Authority.
The Board worked through the process of interviewing and selecting a new District Manager in accordance with the Special District statues. The vast expertise of the current and newly appointed Board Directors was invaluable to that process.
The process was started when Mr. Kropkowski, who had performed his duties with diligence and professionalism for about a year, had informed the Board in October of 2021 that he will be taking a new position which would cut his commute nearly in half. We wish him well and he will be missed.
Upon conclusion of the recent recall election, two Directors had resigned - Ms. Peters and Mrs. Hanagan. The Board had replaced them with Mr. Todd Hooks and Mr. David Garner. The two new directors bring a wealth of financial, organization and managerial experience as they possess decades of experience in working in small to large size private and governmental organizations.
The recall had direct financial costs of $121,000 (so far) as well as indirect costs of the staff time spent and the missed SDF revenues.
In addition, the recall’s results also sent a clear message to the Board – the Constituents are not interested in providing Extraterritorial Service.
Going forward, the Board, with its new directors is moving ahead, full-speed - doing the important business, including:
- Examining the District Capacity to better understand the District’s ability to safely and reliably provide service to our Constituents, especially, in light of the current events that transpired in Superior and Louisville.
- Listening to the Constituents when it comes to any consideration of providing service outside of the District boundaries.
- Establishing an algorithm to provide an up-date mechanism for increasing the SDFs.
The Board is grateful for the support and the level of involvement from our Constituents and hopes to continue to serve you well going into 2022. We encourage you to stay informed on the wide-ranging factors affecting the District’s (hence, yours) ability to maintain secure and resilient water supply and sewer service. Thank you.
Your GMWSD Board:
Jeff Baker – Board President
Karen Morgan – Board Vice President
Todd Hooks – Board Treasurer
Dave Garner – Director at Large
Alex Plotkin – Secretary