The Town of Cedaredge Board of Trustees met for a work session on Thursday, July 12. The work session was a discussion-only meeting with no action taken. Town administrator Greg Brinck outlined a draft schedule for developing a 2019 town budget. The process tentatively begins on Aug. 16 with an all-day workshop. The mid-August workshop will be followed by budget work sessions on Sept. 13 and Oct. 11. On Oct. 18 action will be taken regarding resolutions, ordinances, and other items impacting the budget. A final draft of the 2019 budget will be submitted to the trustees and made available for public view on Nov. 1. A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for Nov. 29 and the trustees will take action on the budget on Dec. 13.
All budget sessions are open to the public.
As part of the budgeting process, trustees were asked to let the town staff know if they have any items of particular interest so that staff can do appropriate research and prepare background information. Trustee Dayton Myers stated that he'd like information on plans to chip and seal town roads. There was also discussion of completing a project involving town storm drains.
The trustees discussed the town's drought response plan which is currently at stage two. The trustees have established temporary financial incentives to encourage water conservation during the current drought. Administrator Brinck indicated that discussions with local hotels and restaurants have led to a recommendation to use a base of 30,000 gallons per month before increased usage rates are charged. This higher base contrasts with the base of 10,000 gallons for regular residential customers. RV parks are included in the proposed hotel adjustment. Brinck is continuing to reach out to businesses and also work with concerned business owners who contact town hall regarding rates.
Adam Conway, Cedaredge's golf course and parks superintendent, reported that the golf course has been focusing on using limited water resources to water greens first with less emphasis on fairways and other areas. The town is also cutting back on watering schedules and focusing on trees and shrubs at the skate park, post office park, High Country pocket park, and main town park.
Mayor Gene Welch recalled that the town trustees have been addressing the drought since April with a series of actions leading up to the present Stage 2 restrictions. The goal remains to reduce water usage by 20-30 percent. The public needs to be aware that the local schools and cemetery operate on their own water systems and, while these entities are also conserving, their volume of use do not impact the town's supply of water.
Trustee Ralph Hanson cited the DCI articles in recent weeks by Jim Leser of the Cedaredge Tree Board as good sources of information for citizens seeking to reduce water use. Leser also authored a series of tips called "Watering yards during a drought," and this article was included in the town's "Writing on the Edge" newsletter that is distributed to all citizens along with their water/sewer bills.
Conway concluded his remarks by saying, "Stage 2 is working. We are conserving water on the domestic side and the use of treated water is down by 20 percent. We're in a bad spot, but we're doing the right thing."
To emphasize the severity of the present drought, Brinck provided the trustees with a water report comparing the town's owned water for 2018 with water available in 2007 -- a year with more average snowpack. Measured at a flow rate of cubic feet per second (cfs), the town's total owned water for 2018 is less than half the water available for 2007. The figures are 187.43 cfs for 2018 compared to 392.58 cfs in 2007.
Despite the challenges of the drought, Brinck did have a bit of good news. Jerry Young, the town's co-director of public works, found paperwork from the 1950s indicating the existence of an artesian well in the vicinity of the town's old water tanks. The town will have the well flow tested to see if it is feasible to utilize. If so, water will be pumped into Big Ditch and the volume added traded for Grand Mesa water. There are no plans to tap the well for drinking water as it is unlikely to be potable without significant filtration. Utilizing the artesian well water will involve unbudgeted costs to upgrade electricity and piping but Brinck suggested those expenses could be met using increased water usage fees that will potentially result from drought mitigation measures. Water gained from the artesian well will not be sufficient to solve the town's drought woes, but it may help the town in its efforts to strategically water public places.
The trustees will volunteer to host a "Party in the Park" on the afternoon of Aug. 4. There will be a "Celebrate Cedaredge" event that same morning in town park and the trustee sponsored event will make it a full day by adding an afternoon potluck. Trustees will set up tables and chairs and perform other tasks to welcome the public. The town will provide the main course (barbecue) and drinks. Citizens will be asked to bring side dishes to share.
The trustees closed their work session with a review of their regular meeting agenda to be acted on July 19. There will be three public hearings that day beginning at 5 p.m. All concern special events liquor license applications, one for Applefest from Oct. 5-7 and two for concerts at the Grand Mesa Arts & Events Center (GMAEC). The GMAEC performers are Dana Cooper on July 27 and Karla Bonoff on Aug. 12. The public is invited to attend the hearings to comment on the license applications.
The July 19 regular meeting will follow the public hearings. In addition to hearing department reports, the trustees will take action of the aforementioned liquor licenses. They will also consider an ordinance changing the way disbursement reports are published for public viewing. Action will also be taken on a resolution to set special drought rates for hotels and restaurant water usage and on updating the town's local liquor licensing fees to conform to categories set by the state of Colorado.
Time is allotted at the start and end of all regular board of trustee meetings for constituent comments. Barring special meetings, the trustees meet for work sessions on the second Thursday of each month and for regular meetings on the third Thursday of each month. Meetings begin at 5 p.m. in the Grand Mesa Room at 140 N.W. 2nd Street in Cedaredge. The public is encouraged to attend.