Hot Sulphur residents reject three ballot measures
November 5, 2008
Hot Sulphur Springs residents rejected three questions the town placed on the ballot ” Measures 2A, 2B and 2C.
Voters voted down Measures 2A, 180-161; 2B, 183-154; and 2C, 197-142.
The first ballot issue, 2A, asked if the town’s taxes should double. The town gets around $80,000 a year from property taxes. About $30,000 would go toward town operations and ongoing expense. And $50,000 would be used to borrow up to $650,000 for water or road improvements.
Proposal 2B asked if the town would eliminate a 5.5 percent limit on the amount property tax revenues can grow from year to year, without changing the tax levy. Property taxes are only allowed to increase 5.5 percent, but in 2008 the town exceeded its allowed revenue by about $21,000 and must refund this money in 2009 by reducing the town’s mill levy.
Issue 2C asked if the town debt should be increased by $2.15 million. The town has spent $300,000 fixing the water system and plant, and plans to spend another $200,000 in the next couple months.
An engineer has estimated Hot Sulphur Springs needs to spend $3.5 million to $4 million to repair the water system. The town received a $200,000 grant to deal with the water crisis and is requesting more than $2.3 million from state and federal grant sources. The cost would fund water storage, and take pressure off the water plant so the town can use water outside.
However, to receive these grants the town has to provide matching funding and needed the town residents’ approval on some of the options. The town could raise water and sewer rates from $64 to $93 a month to give the town more money for operations. This would allow the town to borrow up to $1.5 million for water system improvements.
Hot Sulphur Springs resident Holly Peck, did not vote for all the issues because she said town officials are not collecting all the funds owed to the town.
“Before I give them all my money I want them to bill appropriately,” she added.
This includes reading meters and charging for excess usage, “Instead of saying, ‘We have this big crisis,’ ” Peck said.
However, she did favor Measure 2C to allow the town borrowing power and improve the town’s water system.
“We do need to do something with our infrastructure, and there are definitely problems,” Peck said. “We need to have some resources for that.”
Mayor Hershal Deputy said if the ballot questions were approved, it would taken financial pressure off the town, and allow it more flexibility in setting water and sewer rates. Now, the budget will remain the same.
The town’s budget will be discussed at the next Hot Sulphur Springs Board of Trustees meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 6 at Town Hall, Deputy said.
” Katie Looby covers government and education for the Sky-Hi Daily News. You may reach her at 887-3334 ext. 19601 or firstname.lastname@example.org.