103 sign petition to put Fraser Sanitation dissolution on the ballot
February 15, 2009
A petition containing 103 signatures has been turned in to the Fraser Sanitation District requesting that the possible merger of the district with the Town of Fraser be decided by voters.
The signatures have been approved by Grand County Clerk Sara Rosene, but a date for the election has not been set.
A hearing date to discuss the election has been set in District Court for March 31.
Once the election date is set, voters will be asked whether they would like to dissolve the Fraser Sanitation District board and put sewer services under the management of the Town of Fraser.
“Our boundaries are exactly the same,” said Fraser Town Manager Jeff Durbin. “We are two different entities serving the same customers.”
The dissolution was originally approved by an unanimous vote of the district and Fraser boards. (Read a copy of the Dissolution Agreement to Continue Services signed in September 2008 in the online version of this story.)
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However, one resident felt passionately that this was a decision, not for elected officials, but for the taxpayers.
District resident Melanie Zwick first read about the merger in the Icebox newsletter.
“The town had written that they were taking over the san district,” Zwick said. “They made it sound as if it was a done deal.
“But I kept seeing it appear on agenda after agenda, over and over.”
Zwick began attending meetings and educating herself about the subject. The more she learned, the more she had doubts about the wisdom of the district dissolution.
She is concerned that the dissolution of the Fraser Sanitation board would end important checks and balances that are in place through the existence of two entities.
There is also, she said, a trust issue.
She does not trust that the Town of Fraser will be responsible with the assets it will take over from the sanitation district.
“(Fraser) said it will put the district assets in an Enterprise Fund for sewer purposes,” Zwick said. “But I did some research and that money doesn’t have to stay in the fund. That concerns me.
“I see (Fraser) using the money for other purposes and when it is needed for capital improvements, it won’t be there.”
Durbin said that trust should not be the reason to stop the dissolution of the sanitation district.
“I believe the Town of Fraser is held accountable for fiscal decisions,” the town manager said. “We have an elected board of seven people. We have an election every two years. The public comes to our meetings. The newspaper comes to our meetings. We hold multiple, public budget meetings.
“I don’t think the same can be said for the Fraser Sanitation District ” I don’t think the newspaper goes to their meetings and I don’t think the public goes.”
Zwick began circulating a petition in December.
She and Deb Knutson went door to door collecting signatures.
“I walked a lot of miles in Fraser,” Zwick said.
One hundred signatures were required to get the question on the ballot.
It was “really easy,” she said, to collect 103 signatures. “Everybody signed it. It’s not that they were in favor or not, but they thought it was important enough that it should be decided by voters.”
Once a date is set for the election, the Sky-Hi Daily News will publish in-depth, pro and con articles explaining the issues around dissolution of the Fraser Sanitation District.
“I support the work Melanie and Deb did in getting people engaged in this issue,” Durbin said. “There’s not a whole lot of public understanding of this and having people engaged in the process is great.”
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