by Terri Wiebold and Lane Roberts
For the fourth consecutive year, the Castle Pines North (CPN) Metro District Board of Directors has voted to increase water rates and capital improvement fees.
The decision was made by the Board at a public meeting held on Monday, December 10. The Board also reviewed its proposed 2008 budget during the meeting. More than 30 residents gathered to hear District Manager Jim McGrady discuss the financial position of the Metro District, and to ask questions regarding the District’s spending practices.
McGrady joined the District as manager in 2005, and since that time the budget has doubled. Back in 2005, the Metro District budget was $8.9 million. The 2008 budget, approved by the Board during the meeting, totaled more than $16 million.
“It is apparent that each year the same mill levy has generated considerably more income because of the increased assessed evaluation,” said Galen Crowder, HOA1 resident and former Metro District board member. “In fact, it has been more than enough to fund budgets that far out pace the inflation rates and certainly a lot more than my three percent cost of living adjustments on a fixed income.”
Other charges on monthly invoices also caused more concern among residents. For example, one resident’s water bill totaled $84.08 for November. Of the total bill, only $17.58 was actually for water used (6,000 gallons.)
In 2008, the Board voted to raise the capital improvement fee to $20 a month. Implemented in 2005, this fee was originally $12 and was created to generate capital reserves for future renewable water. In addition, a five percent increase in usage fees for wastewater, and a five percent increase in sewer capital improvement fees were also approved by the board.
In May, 2007, the District voted on a 4.5 percent increase on tier one and tier two of the District’s water budget, and also approved a wastewater rate increase and imposed a new monthly capital improvement fee for wastewater. Seven months after the last rate increase, the new rates will go into effect in January, 2008.
“Ultimately, I see water rates in the area doubling,” said District Manager, Jim McGrady.
Many attending the meeting were interested in the amount of money the District spends annually on outside consultants and the process used for bidding jobs. Questions were also raised about the number of district employees and the budget increase of almost $63,000 in additional salaries for two new employees expected to be hired in 2008.
Several questions were also asked about the budgeted $1 million set aside for the Parks Authority to help fund a new park in CPN.
When asked why funds have not been transferred to the Parks Authority, Metro District Board President Ted Lohr responded, “That money belongs to the Metro District. If down the line we decide that purchasing renewable water, for example, is in the best interest of all the residents, then we may use it for that. It is still our money.”
To date, no renewable water has been purchased by the District.
“There was no information on the capital expense side showing the year-to-year numbers which, considering the total budget ballooned from $8.9 million to almost $17 million in four years would have been the most interesting information to hear,” said Jim Mason, resident of HOA2. “This budget growth occurred when there was very little growth in population served and virtually no reported progress on obtaining rights to renewable water or the transportation and storage of renewable water in 2005 to 2007.”
The board later voted unanimously at its regular meeting to approve the proposed budget as well as the resolution adopting the new rate schedule for water and wastewater services for 2008.
The Metro District board consists of local residents who are elected by CPN voters. The Board will have three positions up for election in May, 2008, including: two four-year positions currently held by Mark Shively and Courtney Brand, as well as a two-year seat currently held by Carl Lowman.
The Metro District will have the new rate schedule and the 2008 budget available at www.cpnmd.org in January, 2008. Please direct questions to Jim McGrady at contact by email.