Metro District Proposes New Rate Schedule
by Terri Wiebold
Collectively, more than seventy residents gathered at the February and March Castle Pines North (CPN) Metro District board meetings to discuss a proposed multiple year fee schedule the Metro District is proposing.
“Up to this point, the District has never really had a formalized fee schedule,” said Metro District Manager James McGrady. “Most of these are not new fees; this is just a way to formalize what we already do.” McGrady said that the District is looking to obtain bond financing and raise money for renewable water and this proposed fee schedule reduces risk for financial institutions that are considering loaning the District money.
Of interest to many residents in attendance was the issue of charging a fee to use facilities owned by the Metro District, including the Community Center and park pavilions.
Proposed Fees for the Community Center and Park Pavilions
As part of the bankruptcy settlement in 2000, the District purchased the building commonly known as the “Community Center” for $1. Since that time, the District has made many improvements to the building, including expansion of offices, painting, new carpets, etc.
“We are looking for a way to recover some of the costs we expend on this facility, including wear and tear, clean up, and garbage,” said McGrady. “We expect concern from some who have had use of our facilities in the past at no charge, but from a practical standpoint we hope they will see we are just trying to recover our costs.”
After much discussion and community input, the Metro District board decided to remove the Community Center fees from its proposed fee schedule, alleviating the concerns of many residents and HOA representatives who were present at the meetings. This allows HOA’s, the Master Association and the new City Council to continue to hold their meetings at the Community Center without a charge.
“Imposing the Community Center fee on HOA’s would not only negatively impact some of the HOA’s, but it would also result in a loss of good will between the Metro District and the many HOA’s that use the community center,” said Master Association president and CPN Mayor, Maureen Shul. “For this reason I am more than pleased the board took this provision out of their original fee schedule.”
In terms of park pavilion reservation fees, residents can reserve a pavilion for $10 an hour and be guaranteed the spot, according to Charlie Fagan, parks, trails and open space manager for the Metro District. “In the past there was no fee, but it was only a first-come, first-serve deal,” he said, “and there wasn’t a way to plan ahead and guarantee a spot.” This, in addition to the staffing hours required to handle reservations for the facilities and to clean it up, wear and tear on the park, and trash collection services justify the charge he said.
Proposed Park Land Dedication Fees and Utility User Fees
The park land dedication fees are more than double under the newly-proposed fee schedule, increasing from $150 single-family equivalent (SFE) to $350 SFE, with an additional $50 increase per year for the next five years. “This is our way of collecting a little bit of money from new residents [through builders] for use and maintenance of our parks,” said McGrady.
The District’s increase in utility user fees is another area that has caused much concern. “We, as a District, have spent a lot of money on wastewater infrastructure,” said McGrady. “This will help us recapture costs. It’s an effort to make new growth pay for itself.”
According to developer Chris Fellows, principal of HF Holdings, LLC, and owner of the 240-acre Lagae Ranch, the parcel represents the only significant area of undeveloped land in CPN and the Metro District’s service area.
“Any increase in tap fees is almost singularly targeted at our Lagae project…” stated Fellows in a letter to the Metro District. “Let me say that we are concerned about the proposed fee increase. You [District] are proposing a schedule of fees which will put the Castle Pines North Metropolitan District at the very highest end of comparable fees in the Castle Rock/Parker area. This gives us significant cause for concern.”
According to Fellows, the housing market is at the worst level it has been in perhaps 30 to 40 years. Getting builders interested in any project at this time is, at best, a huge challenge. “Factors such as inordinately high tap fees will make these prospects even worse,” he stated. One local realtor at the meeting cautioned that if we, as a community, are not careful about our tap fees, the homes in the CPN market will no longer be competitive.
The Metro District stressed that the fees were not based on those of surrounding communities or the market, but on the future needs of the CPN community. “I can assure you we are not way outside the market,” said McGrady, “but we are at the top of the list. It is to be expected…we have a very limited number of people looking to build here.”
What is the impact to CPN residents?
Although the majority of the new fees do not apply directly to residents but rather to developers and builders, there are a few fees that do impact residents’ wallets directly.
Water re-connect fees, utility payment late fees, and capital improvement fees are paid directly on homeowner water bills. The capital improvement fee, which has increased 60 percent since its inception in 2005, is scheduled to increase an additional $1 per year for the next five years.
To view the proposed rate schedule, go to www.cpnmd.org and click on “District Finances.” The Metro District encourages residents to submit input and comments to Contact by email.
The Metro District board will vote on the proposed fee schedule during its next meeting on Monday, April 21, at 7 p.m., at the CPN Community Center, 7404 Yorkshire Drive. The meeting is open to the public.
Send other questions or comments to Jim McGrady, Metro District manager at Contact by email or call 303-688-8550.