Water rates will increase early this year for City of Lamar customers as the council is expected to approve the resolution at the next city council meeting on January 11th. The council held a multi-purpose work session on the 4th to provide a final review of the rate increases for residential and commercial customers. The rates haven’t been increased in almost a decade, but the council and John Sutherland, City Administrator, agreed that the hike is necessary in order to pay down the debt on the loan secured to upgrade some sections of the city’s aging water delivery system.
The debt payments for 2016 are $909,415. As explained in earlier council meetings, the Facility Investment Fee on customer bills, which was adopted to service the debt obligation, should generate $448,000 this year. However, last year, the city’s Water Enterprise used operating savings to cover the shortfall which tightened the cash reserves. The water improvement plan for the city is far from over. The planned rate increases will help pay down costs for the estimated $3.2 million project to replace with water and electric system under Main Street this year and next, plans also include replacing the antiquated Washington Street storm water lift station, repurpose city wells 12 & 13, replace 4,000 feet of connector line between wells 1 & 4 and develop a plan to redirect storm water to the east off Main Street as part of the CDOT Main Street Project.
Angie Cue, the city’s new Community Development Manager, was informally introduced to the city council during the Monday night work session. Cue has various local ties to the Lamar area both through family and as a graduate of Lamar Community College. Administrator Sutherland remarked, “She has already had several meetings with city department heads and has been reviewing some of the accumulated information files from Shawna Hodge.” Cue plans to meet with representatives from the Department of Local Affairs as well as PCDI, SCEDD and other economic driver agencies which serve southeast Colorado. Meetings with retail and industrial owners and managers is also on her agenda as well as taking part in discussions on the changing focus for the city’s Urban Redevelopment Authority. Cue said as she has a background in agricultural economic development, that area will also come under her review. Her office will be located at the Lamar Community Building.
Sutherland also mentioned that the council’s monthly informal breakfast will be held on January 6th at the Hickory House Restaurant from 7am to 8am and residents are urged to attend to discuss any issues of concern or interest.
By Russ Baldwin
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