Letter: Article didn’t reflect true burden on South Service customers
March 11, 2014
To the Editor,
I was disappointed in the Sky-Hi's article (March 5) on water issues affecting the Granby/SilverCreek Water Authority's South Service Area (SSA) customers, specifically failure to mention customer concerns heard at the Feb. 27 public hearing. This did not make for balanced coverage.
Key points brought up by attendees, but omitted from your article were: 1. that the capacity of the proposed treatment plant may be overdesigned for need, and 2. that snowmaking – using treated water – accounts for 20 percent of production and factored into plant capacity design, although the Authority has no contract with the ski area beyond its 2015-16 season… coincidentally when the plant is to be completed. As proposed, the nearly 1,700 residential customers would bear the cost via a potential 170-194 percent rate increase regardless of what happens with snowmaking in the future and atop any other future emergency costs passed on to consumers.
And the recent 25 percent Authority service fee increase (to $63.75 per quarter) mentioned in your article gives an incomplete picture of water costs for SSA customers. This fee is in addition to a town water fee of $58.74 per quarter which, combined with sanitation fees, now totals $264.09 per quarter per single family equivalent. Speaking as HOA president for a condo association of 73 SFEs, we've seen our quarterly water/sewer bills increase 194 percent since 2005 (up by $9,300 per quarter) and now comprise 25 percent of our budget. These flat fees are irrespective of actual consumption, which makes proposed rate increases even tougher for "second-home" users with minimal usage to swallow.I get the flat rate construct needed for the Authority to remain viable in a district of primarily partial residences, but rate increases translate into increased HOA dues, high HOA dues sway potential buyers, and ultimately this could have a profound impact on sales and resale pricing of the many condos and "vacation homes" in this district.
I understand the urgency to meet this state mandate and appreciate the Authority's focus on providing the best quality product to its customer, but given the potential cost to be borne by users and the ever-escalating water and sewer rates, I'd ask the board to reconsider alternatives as brought up at the hearing. Please consider delaying going forward on an $8 million contract until you reevaluate the scope of the plant needed, especially if there may be other solutions regarding snowmaking beyond 2016, and other interim ways to meet environmental compliance as you reevaluate. Perhaps a second opinion (design & construction bid) might be in order, too.