by Terri Wiebold and Lane Roberts
For the fourth consecutive year, the Castle Pines North (CPN) Metro District Board of Directors voted to increase water rates and capital improvement fees.
The Board made the decision at a public meeting held on December 10. The Board also reviewed its proposed 2008 budget during the meeting. More than 30 CPN 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. 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 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.)
Jim Mason, resident of HOA2, expressed concern that that there was no information on the capital expense side showing the year-to-year numbers. “Considering the total budget ballooned from $8.9 million to almost $17 million in four years, this information would have been the most interesting to hear,” said Mason. “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.
As part of the 2008 budget, 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, the board also approved a five percent increase in usage fees for wastewater at that time, and a five percent increase in sewer capital improvement fees.
In May, 2007, the District voted on a 4.5 percent increase on tiers one and two of the District’s water budget, and also approved a wastewater rate increase and imposed a new monthly capital improvement fee for wastewater. In January of 2008, only seven months after the last rate increase, the new rates will go into effect.
“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.
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.
To view the Metro District’s 2008 budget, go to www.cpnmd.org. Please direct questions to Jim McGrady at contact by email.