Fraser Sanitation District: ‘If it ain’t broke, why do you want to fix it?’
September 24, 2008
I was pleased to see your article on Sept. 5 about the town of Fraser dissolving the Fraser Sanitation District. Many cities and towns have special districts to address specific needs and special services like water and/or sewer and fire.
I believe special districts exist for a reason, to perform specialized services. In my opinion, wastewater, and therefore water quality, is too important for politics. A special district can only engage in business directly related to its reason for existence. A Sanitation District only gets involved in sewer issues.
The Fraser Sanitation District has always had a close relationship with the town of Fraser. When I came to the Fraser Sanitation District as a board member, the town and sanitation district shared one employee who did town, water and sewer business and a builder could come in and talk to one person and get all paperwork or permits required. As the area grew, a rift developed, and the town and sanitation district both saw the need to change this years ago, and have been working to improve this. The goal was always to get back to the level of cooperation and communication we enjoyed before. I believe this has been successful. The town and sanitation district have shared billing and accounting for many years and once again share an administrative employee. So, I don’t see much room to “reduce a lot of redundancy.”
The sanitation district does not maintain streets, plow snow or settle zoning issues. And the town doesn’t maintain the sewer system or treat the sewage.
As far as the hoped for “higher level of service,” I am skeptical. Because the Fraser Sanitation Board directly oversees the enterprise, as a special district should. The town structure is different. Seven board members, pay a manager to manage town issues. I am not saying the town board does not get involved, but the level of involvement is different because of the structure, and they have all the issues of a town to deal with. Purely by virtue of these two points, I believe sewer issues and therefore river water quality will never get the level of attention this current special district structure provides. There are other advantages to having a special district for sewer or water, because it provides an additional level of process for major projects.
When the Maryvale P.P.D was approved by the town decades ago, the town did it’s best to address all issues. Because actual development did not start for many years, newly created and overlooked items were stipulated in the sewer acceptance process, as requested by the town.
If it ain’t broke, why do you want to fix it? Currently, the Fraser Sanitation District’s tap fees and service charges are substantially less than any comparable Mountain/Resort area. If there are savings to be had by dissolution, why does Fraser Sanitation District have such reasonable rates and fees? Currently, the sanitation district receives more in interest on investment, than it pays in interest on debt. Fraser Sanitation District financials are a matter of public record, and I believe, in very good standing. If the debt is paid off, that income interest will be lost. The Fraser Sanitation District also has un-assumable contracts with developers for insuring adequate construction of sewer mains and systems and with the Joint Facilities Oversight Committee. I am sure the town and Joint Facilities Oversight Committee will be able to work something out, but I am concerned about renegotiating financial contracts with developers in this climate at this time. Coincidentally the same day your paper ran the “Fraser Sanitation District Being Absorbed by Town” the sanitation district received a letter from a developer quoting the Colorado Open Records Act, requesting information on three items. One being why there are “delays associated with the dissolution of the Fraser Sanitation District”.
It seems to me, the only gain is to big developers, and the risk is all to the taxpayers. Besides, when has any government said they will save taxpayers money, and actually done it?