Town of Fraser should find ‘low-cost alternatives’ for water
December 17, 2013
To the Editor:
Fraser residents fearful of increased taxes and fees received a relatively inexpensive lesson during last Wednesday's Town Board meeting. The Board took the extremely divisive action of forcing residents of "old Fraser" (including Ptarmigan) to pay increased water service fees, leaving Rendezvous and Grand Park residents free of this new levy, pegged to fund a study of water augmentation storage options. Meeting rumblings warned of far higher levies in our future.
During the meeting Mayor Peggy Smith noted some Tabernash residents pay $200 per month for sewer fees, the unfortunate result of a bankrupt developer; a scenario we are working mightily to prevent happening here. Town residents voted to reject the annexation terms and are now looking to Mayor Smith and the town staff to protect us from $200 monthly service fees. Instead she again referred at the meeting to the necessity of building a "$7 million augmentation pond." Bond payments on a $7 million debt collected from old town Fraser could sink us all (at least in Old Town), payments on a 1 percent bond would be about $40 per month depending on interest rates.
We would respectfully request Town Manager Jeff Durbin to step up to the plate and work to identify lower cost alternatives to water augmentation. He can begin by working effectively with neighboring water districts on alternatives; a cursory review of these alternatives proves they do exist. He can work with neighboring property owners who have land, access to streams and even existing ponds, which could be re-plumbed to deliver augmentation water downstream during water call periods. We should not have to pay an expert to do Mr. Durbin's job.
We suggest the Board look for a replacement Town Manager if Mr. Durbin is unable to take on this task. Residents are weary of being threatened with expensive projects that have obvious alternatives.
Finally, we would respectfully request the town cease its continuing efforts to fine proponents over extremely minor violations of filing deadlines on documents submitted concerning the recent annexation election. We spent a grand total of $245 on the election effort and are now facing fines totaling $150 for late document submittals. Court cases have shown these types of fines stifle free political speech and should not be levied when organizations spend minimal funds. Neither Jane (Mather) nor I wish to hire an attorney to help with this, and we have even less desire to see town taxpayers fund our town attorney to determine of these fines are legal.
Fines are not an appropriate way to "work" with town residents who are working diligently on the common goal of protecting town residents from fees that will make it impossible for us to afford to live here, and impossible to sell homes if we hope to escape a foundering ship.