Search narrowed for water and sewer rate study consultant | CraigDailyPress.com

Search narrowed for water and sewer rate study consultant

Nonprofit leaders ask Craig City Council members to reinstate $20,000 funding for the Human Resource Council during a meeting Tuesday, Jan. 10. This week, city council agreed to fund several budget line items that were slashed in previous budget cycles.

CRAIG — At its first regular meeting of 2018, the Craig City Council authorized City Manager Mike Foreman to negotiate an agreement with Raftelis Financial Consultants, Inc. to undertake a city water rate study.

"The present rate structure for both of these enterprise funds may not be adequate to meet the anticipated costs for compliance with present and future CDPHE (Colorado Health Department) regulations and the present water and wastewater 10-year plans for capital improvement projects and equipment replacement. This rate study will be funded (50/50) by the water and sewer funds operations and maintenance accounts," Foreman wrote in a memorandum to council members.

A rate study was last performed in 2008 and was valid until 2012. The last time water rates were increased was in 2015. Those rate increases were based on best estimates, said Finance Director Bruce Nelson.

The new study is intended to be more than an update; it is intended to be comprehensive, as is often required to successfully win grants and apply for loans from the water board, Nelson said.

A request for proposal was issued in late 2017, with five firms submitting bids by the Dec. 21 due date. RFC was the high bid at a little more than $49,700.

"The preferred firm has more experience compared with some of the others. One consultant did the rate work in 2008," City Water/Waste Water Director Mark Sollenberger said.

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Council is not required to choose the lowest bidder when contracting for professional services, however, members tasked Foreman with negotiating a more competitive price.

"I think the price is too high; you pay me to negotiate. A $5,000 to $6,000 reduction would bring them in line with the next, most competitive (bidder)," Foreman said.

The other bids ranged between $20,000 to $46,000. According to city officials, RFC was the only firm with both financial expertise and familiarity with Craig's water system.

Council also listened to a presentation by nonprofit leaders asking that the $20,000 the city cut from the Human Resource Council be reinstated.

"HRC funds agencies that supply essential services that would have to be provided by local government if these organizations were not working," Moffat County United Way Director Amanda Arnold said.

Directors from the Community Budget Center, Yampa Valley Pregnancy Center, Love INC and Bear River Young Life joined Arnold in making the request.

Love INC Executive Director Pat Jones said a decrease in funds would be a considerable blow to her organization.

"We receive HRC, and funds are applied to a broad array of services. … We will continue to do what we can, but services would be decreased," she said.

In 2017, the city and Moffat County both supported HRC with $40,000. Money was allocated to nonprofits applying for the funds through a process managed by United Way.

"HRC gives me the opportunity to apply, and I don't have to come to you guys and ask for the money," Young Life Executive Director David Pressgrove said.

Facing a tight budget and uncertainty involving the sales tax initiative, the city decided to reduce HRC funding in 2018 by half, to $20,000.

"Nonprofits keep Craig going. They go and do the dirty work. I'm persuaded that cutting this fund will have more of an impact than cutting the EDP fund or some of these other funds. I do think that we need to have some time to re-evaluate every one of these things in-depth," Councilman Tony Bohrer said.

City Council decided to re-evaluate the level of funding for HRC on Feb. 27 as part of a review of spending decisions made prior to the passage of a new 1.75 percent sales tax.

The new sales tax exempts lodging and vehicle sales and will go into effect July 1.

City Council also took the following actions.

• Approved a letter of support to CDPHE for the Collom Expansion project at Colowyo Mine.
• Designated a bulletin board near council chambers in city hall as the posting place for public meeting notices.
• Declared Craig Press the official newspaper of Craig.

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.