Fraser Sanitation District merging into town
September 5, 2008
The first step to dissolve the Fraser Sanitation District and merge its operation into the Town of Fraser ” a move that could save taxpayers money ” was taken at the Fraser Board of Trustees meeting on Wednesday.
The trustees voted unanimously to approve a resolution to prepare and file a petition for the sanitation district’s dissolution with the 14th Judicial District Court. Colorado Statutes require this procedure for the dissolution of special districts.
The petition for dissolution is being made with the concurrence of district’s five-member board. Two of its members are also town trustees.
“The town and the district board are actually characterizing this dissolution as a merger,” said Fraser’s Town Manager Jeff Durbin.
The district and town share almost identical boundaries. For the past several years, the town has provided administrative support and office facilities for the district.
“This merger will reduce a lot of the redundancy that we have between the town and the district,” Durbin said. “By doing that we’ll be able to provide a higher level of service to the customer at a lower cost.”
The date for the dissolution of the Fraser Sanitation District has not been set because the town’s resolution requesting it has not yet been sent and approved by the court. But when it is set, Durbin said customers should not be concerned about the transition.
“The average customer will not see a difference in the level of their service,” he said. “The town will be providing the sewer service without interruption. And when people get their bills, they will still be sending their checks back to the town hall.”
Durbin said this merger will especially benefit individuals who are building new homes or businesses in Fraser. Instead of dealing separately with the town for water service and then the district for sewer service as they do now, they will only have to deal with “one entity” once the merger takes place. He said this should cut down on time-consuming paperwork for customers.
When the dissolution does take place, Durbin said the district’s three full-time staff members who operate the wastewater plant on the northern edge of Fraser will become town employees. The town currently has a staff of 14 employees. For the past year, Nancy Anderson, a town employee, has actually handled all of the district as well as the town’s utility administrative matters through an intergovernmental agreement.
While dissolving the district and merging its facilities and personnel with the town has its advantages, Durbin acknowledged there are a couple of important “challenges” that the town will have to deal with when it assumes responsibility for local sanitation.
One of those will be taking over management of the Joint Facilities Oversight Committee, which deals with the 2001 Upper Fraser Valley Wastewater Treatment Agreement between the Fraser Sanitation District and the Winter Park West Water and Sanitation District and the Grand County Water and Sanitation District No. 1.
Under that agreement, all sewage from the three districts is treated by the Fraser district’s wastewater plant.
“There has been some disagreement between the districts,” Durbin said. “But I think we can work everything out equitably.”
The other main challenge is incorporating the new sanitation department into the town’s budget. Since the Fraser Sanitation District was formed in the late 1970s, it has been funded with its own property tax mill levy, which currently totals 6.8 mills. That will go away once the dissolution becomes effective.
“Once the district’s mill levy goes away, the town could come back and ask for the approval of a new wastewater mill levy,” Durbin said. “But at this point, we’ve not looked to do that. Right now, we’re working through the budget.”