Water district votes to keep $120 fee

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Virgin Valley Water District board members Rich Bowler and Sandra Ramaker iron out discrepancies in recent public statements made in local newspapers. Photo by Stephanie Frehner.

Virgin Valley Water District board members Rich Bowler and Sandra Ramaker iron out discrepancies in recent public statements made in local newspapers. Photo by Stephanie Frehner.

At Tuesday night’s regular Virgin Valley Water District (VVWD) meeting, the board of directors voted 4-1 to keep the Will-Serve letters and fees at $120 per year ($10 per month) per EDU on underperforming developers. After the last meeting on August 16, representatives from Pulte and RFMS met with VVWD staff to discuss compromising on the fees if the 10 percent development requirement was not met in a calendar year. The proposal brought to the board was to meet halfway at just $60 per year, or $5 per month. “I have a problem with that,” stated Vice President Barbara Ellestad. “Active users are already paying a $10 bond payment on top of a $25 base rate. In a way, $10 is not that much to ask from these developers to keep their EDUs.” The $120 per year per EDU would only kick in if the developers cannot show that they have developed at least 10% of their areas.

The argument from the developers that they paid for all of their Ordinance II fees in the beginning, some 10 years ago and that they shouldn’t have to keep paying, since they paid in advance. Ellestad noted that “We have all paid Ordinance II fees, and we continue to pay. This isn’t fair to the active rate payers for the developers to not pay their share.”

Board member Sandra Ramaker, the lone nay vote on the motion, said that she felt the additional $120 per year per EDU could be a hardship for the developers. “After reading the letters from each of them that we didn’t have at the last meeting, it’s opened my eyes to several things. $80,000 a year doesn’t sound like a lot of money to developers, but it could be a hardship.”

RFMS representative Rick Hawes showed up late and stated that they were coerced into buying their EDUs and that they would rather give them back than have to pay for them. Board member Ben Davis spoke up and pointed out that by buying those EDUs at the low prices back then, they are still saving money, and will for the next 15 years rather than losing them and having to repurchase them in the future.

“We’re not trying to penalize anyone who is actively developing,” said board member Richard Bowler. “We do want the EDUs that are sitting dormant either returned or paid for.” Ellestad agreed with Bowler, stating that this was “a way to increase the income on the Will-Serves that they have already given out for which those Ordinance II fees have been paid. Many developers came in and bought those just before they were doubled or tripled from $983 to $3300 in a matter of months. I don’t think this is going to be as absolutely dire as you think it may be.”

In other business, the VVWD saw the first of three presentations from Bowen, Collins & Associates (BCA) for the update of the Master Plan Growth Project that is set to be completed in December. BCA’s representative, Aaron Anderson, provided several projections for the population of the VVWD’s service area, concluding that their estimate is that there will be approximately 25,903 by the year 2036, which is a 2.75 percent increase in growth. Anderson also confirmed that their findings took the “snowbird effect” that the VVWD has into consideration.

The board also approved awarding Forsgren and Associates the design of a new transmission line across the Virgin River at Riverside Road with two options. Representative Sam Senn was present and notified the board that the Army Corps of Engineers will be requiring 180 days to conduct their Biological Assessment study. Doing so would put the timeline for the project dangerously close to deadline during the low-flow season which is the prime time for the project to be done. Board members and staff had already agreed at a previous meeting that they could not wait another season for this to be done due to the uncertainty of reliability on the existing line.

Approval was also given to issue a letter of intent to award a project to BCA for the design and build project for certain water treatment equipment for Well 1A. “We’re sending this letter to the supplier so they will hold the price on the materials,” said Todd Olsen with BCA.

There was also approval for a study by Sunrise Engineering concerning water pressure issues on the northeast side of town at the Airport Tank to the Bella Horizon subdivision. The board voted unanimously to go with the third option proposed to them, which was tying the water lines into another line to increase the water pressure. That option would only cost the district $137,000 as opposed to their second option of $242,000 initially with ongoing power and maintenance costs to put a Booster Station in the area. The board also approved awarding that project to Sunrise Engineering.

The final motion of the night was to approve the purchase of certain generator equipment for Well 33, which will put the district in prime operating ability if there was a long-term power outage affecting their wells.

To end the evening, board members Bowler and Ramaker addressed statements recently made by Ramaker in several publications over the past month. “Reading her comments, she says it’s her opinion, which she is entitled to, she said in the 2014 agreements that specifically states that Paradise Canyon, Wolf Creek and Conestoga are excluded. I did not find that anywhere in the 2014 agreement.” Ramaker rebutted saying that “the water agreement I have here says that we brought that forward, and I don’t have anything showing that we removed any of that from the previous agreement.”

“The agreement I supplied is the original agreement,” said Bowler. He also pointed out to Ramaker that the report she was referring to was a draft that had been given to them in 2014. Ramaker claimed that she never received anything different after that draft was received.

The other point that Bowler took Ramaker to task on was in regards to her comments that “Bowler calls the amount paid by the SNWA to the WWD ‘market value.’ That is nonsense. The 2014 agreement specifically says “And the parties agree that the rental rate to be charged to SNWA shall not be determinative of the market rates within Mesquite and Virgin Valley generally. Rental rates for local use shall be determined to utilize local standards and input and shall not consider the rate to be paid by SNWA.” Bowler stated that he could not find that anywhere in the 2014 agreement. Ramaker said she didn’t have what she needed to show him but that she will research it and come back with her findings to back up her statement. “Not knowing what you were going to question, I didn’t know what to bring,” said Ramaker.

The next meeting for the VVWD on September 20 has been cancelled, so the next regular meeting will be in October.

 

Comments

  1. I learned years ago that you bring EVERYTHING to a meeting every time. Paper trails are valuable but its obvious her paper trails come from thin air. Keep digging that hole, Sandra!

  2. A developer who has to pay $10.00 per month is nothing to a developer who makes thousands of dollars per year when selling houses. If they have to pay, the cost is included to the homebuyer who purchases a house. The $10.00 fee is added to my water bill which effectively increased my water bill by 38%, not the 13% increase they approved. It sounds like these people don’t consider what their actions do to typical homeowners.

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