Hayden Debate did not even reach a simmer during Thursday night’s Hayden Town Council meeting, when council members unanimously approved a substantial water and sewer rate increase.
“I fully expected a roomful of people,” said Interim Hayden Town Manager Lance Stewart during the meeting where a 40 percent increase in water rates and 100 percent sewer rate increase were up for a vote.
Council member Bill Hayden went so far as to solicit the input of the one member of the public who attended the meeting.
“I know what the circumstances are,” regular meeting audience member Jim Lewis said. “You don’t have to sell me.”
Base water rates will increase from $19 to $26.60. The base sewer rate will jump from $6 to $12. Each includes a 10 percent usage fee increase, which amounts to about 35 cents per thousand gallons.
The rate increases were proposed to make the water and sewer funds self-sufficient. Historically, money from the town’s general fund has supplemented the water and sewer fund, a practice the state frowns upon.
Western Slope water and sewer rates were surveyed to see how Hayden’s new rates would compare.
“We’re slightly below average on sewer and slightly above on water, but for our size of community we’re just going to have to be there,” Hayden said.
Council members agreed that town staff did a good job of informing the public about the proposed increase but said some people might be taken aback when they see their bills. Council member Tim Redmond’s wife was one of those surprised the last time Hayden raised rates.
“The first person to complain was my wife when she opened the water bill,” Redmond said after the meeting. “I said, ‘Well, you’re probably going to be yelling at me again.’”
In addition to the rate increase, re-elected council members Jim Haskins, Lorraine Johnson and Redmond were sworn in. New council member Dallas Robinson also took the oath. Council member Tom Rogalski, who was not re-elected in November, was appointed to replace Chuck Grobe, who left the council because his family is moving to Craig.
Haskins, an area wildlife manager with the Colorado Division of Wildlife, was appointed mayor. Grobe had been elected to that position.
“I think he would do an excellent job for the community, council and the town of Hayden,” said Hayden, who nominated Haskins for the position.
Haskins will replace Johnson, whom council members appointed mayor pro tem.