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Antonito mulling water, sewer rate hikes

Posted: Thursday, Jan 15th, 2009

Antonito Public Works Supervisor Rossi Duran presents information on the town's water and sewer system upgrade projects to the Board of Trustees, during their Jan. 8 regular monthly meeting.
ANTONITO-Users of Antonito municipal water and sewer systems could be looking at rate increases for those services, depending on information being gathered now by the Antonito Board of Trustees. The matter came under discussion during the BOT's regular monthly meeting, held Jan. 8, when Trustee Virginia Sylvester proposed raising water and sewer rates each by $1.50 per month.

A hefty infusion of grant money from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs has enabled Antonito to begin upgrading its water management facilities this past year. Sylvester mentioned that during the grant applications DOLA suggested that the town begin "slow, incremental" water and sewer rate increases to bring those charges into line with the actual cost. It was stated that rates have not increased significantly in Antonito for several years. Mayor Michael Trujillo said it was his understanding that DOLA wanted the town to raise rates by as much a seven dollars each, per month. He supports some rate increase to have "better standing" with DOLA officials, as the town still needs grant money for various municipal projects.

Trustee Eloy Atencio suggested the town wait to raise rates until all municipal users are using water meters. Such meters are now being installed in Antonito and their use should give authorities accurate information on use of water and sewer. Atencio said, " Once we set water meters, we may not have to increase rates." Trustee Harold Abeyta said the town should consider the rising cost of fuel, labor, materials and other items needed for system improvements, before water and sewer rates are established.

Trustee Ted DeHerrera said he felt the timing was wrong for a rate increase, citing the current economic hard times. He said the increases could wait because the water system is now paying for itself.

Town Attorney Doug George suggested consulting financial information contained in a report on the town's sewer and water prepared by Davis Engineering. That company has done the engineering for the town's water and sewer improvement and he said the report should contain information on the cost to finish installing water meters, the cost to complete a municipal water filtration plant and the cost of other improvements.

The matter was tabled until more information is obtained, but the general feeling was that rates would likely go up.

In business news from the January BOT meeting a new pharmacy got its business license and an established tire shop got a promise of help relocating. Bryan Sandoval applied for and was granted a license to open his Antonito Pharmacy in Suite No. one, of the 1911 Building. Building owner Clifford Aragon said the pharmacy would have an outside entrance from Antonito's Fourth Street and appropriate signs and advertising would be installed. Mayor Trujillo and Trustee DeHerrera both said Sandoval's plan sounded good for the town, and the application was granted.

With the announcement that Antonito now has a grant to begin work on it's $197,600 downtown, outdoor plaza, Shem's Tire Shop of Antonito must relocate so the town can demolish its current home to make way for the plaza. Owner Shem Montoya asked the BOT for help in relocating, in part because his shop may not be able to move into property known as the "old gas station." Montoya stated that at one time the building was promised to him, but now it seems to be going to the Guadalupe Parish Credit Union.

The building once housed the Antonito branch of the Conejos County Library.

The town of Antonito and the GPCU have been in negotiations concerning the sale of the property for several months. The minutes of past BOT meetings are being researched to see if the town made any specific offers to Montoya concerning the fact that he has to move to make room for the plaza. Mayor Trujillo mentioned the importance of Shem's Tire Shop as a going economic engine in town and that of the GPCU's plan to build a brand-new office building on Antonito's Main Street.

The BOT promised Montoya to help him find a suitable solution to his problem, that would keep an important business in business and let a new one take its own place in downtown Antonito.

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