Bayfield trustees support higher price for bulk water

Many rural residents depend on bulk water they buy in Bayfield, Ignacio, or Durango. On July 1, Bayfield town trustees supported raising that charge from $6 up to $10 for 1,000 gallons.

Town Manager Chris La May proposed the increase. He noted in his staff report that the town spent $260,782 in 2007 to buy land and construct the bulk water salesman just off Mountain view Drive. It replaced the old bulk water salesman where town hall is now.

Unlike town residents, bulk water customers have not paid any plant investment fee "to aid in cost recovery of the capital expense," La May said.

Bulk water sales revenue in 2013 was $34,598 for a total of just over 5.8 million gallons.

The service is losing money if you count depreciation and the $3.13 per 1,000 gallons cost to produce the treated water, La May said. He put the annual operating cost at around $58,320.

Public Works Director Ron Saba said one periodic cost is the dollar bill changer and the coin mechanism. It was replaced late last year and will need to be replaced again in a year or two at a cost of $1,500 or $1,600.

Raising the rate to $10 per 1,000 gallons would cover the operating cost, La May said. Only Bayfield and Ignacio (the Southern Ute Indian Tribe) charge $6, he said. Other communities charge $14 in Durango, $17 in Mancos, and $12 in Cortez, he reported.

Mayor Rick Smith said, "I'd be inclined to cover our costs at least." He cited a rumor about a year ago that the town was going to shut down the bulk water salesman. "The county commissioners said please don't close it. ... It's an enterprise fund, so you can make a profit."

He speculated that convenience is more important than price, in terms of a price increase sending customers somewhere else.

There was discussion that the La Plata/ Archuleta Water District (LAPLAWD) plans to put in a bulk water salesman, raising the question of whether the town will need to continue the service, or whether the town might sell its bulk water salesman to LAPLAWD.

Trustees supported the price increase to $10. La May will bring back a resolution for formal adoption.

In other action on July 1, trustees approved a resolution setting guidelines for naming or re-naming town property. Compared to previous meetings, the revised proposal got little discussion. The main issue has been naming or re-naming something after an individual, especially one who has died.

As approved, the guidelines say, "Town property may be named or re-named whenever public necessity, convenience, and general welfare require; however, re-naming shall occur on an exceptional basis only."

Names may be initiated by any town citizen or owner of property in town, the town board or town staff, or a land developer conveying public property. The town board reserves the right to reject any or all naming suggestions.

The resolution lists criteria for naming recommendations. For naming after individuals, it stipulates a minimum five years after a person has died, and that person has "demonstrable meaning to the citizens of this area."

Trustee Ed Morlan was sharply critical of the original proposal, which was more formal than "guidelines." He called the revision an improvement and made the motion to approve it, but not before he suggested, "The water salesman cries out to be named. Could we give the naming right to LAPLAWD?"