Culvert costs shifted to owners

John Scarffe, Nederland.  Nederland Public Works proposed changing Town code pertaining to culvert installations during a regular meeting of the Nederland Board of Trustees at 7 p.m., September 19, 2017, at the Nederland Community Center. Changing the code would remove the burden of requiring Public Works to install culverts at the Town’s expense.


Public Works Director Chris Pelletier said the amendment to the ordinance just changes two words. Current codes put the burden of installing culverts on the Town, and he would like to change that to the homeowner.


“They are in the right-of-way, and the town will maintain them. We have a standard so that doesn’t change,” Pelletier said.


Public Works doesn’t have the resources to fulfill this requirement, Pelletier said. The amended version states: “Owners of driveways in existence prior to the passage of the ordinance codified herein may install a culvert under any driveway that has access onto a public street, road or right-of-way.


“The property owner shall pay the cost for materials. Materials may be purchased through the Town at Town cost plus 20 percent. Culverts may be installed by the Public Works Department, or by a contractor authorized by the Public Works Director, at the Town’s property owner’s expense.”


Trustee Kevin Mueller said we can see how easy it is to change code. He would like code changed to make it more environmentally friendly.


“I’m fine with this,” Mueller said. “We should be making these kinds of changes to the codes that improve the environment.”


Mayor Pro-Tem Charles Wood asked why this was done originally. Town Administrator Karen Gerrity said she thinks this was unintended. The intention was never for the town to pay for culverts.


Trustee Topher Donahue asked if the Town would have further water issues. It seems strange to have landowners pay for something on the right-of-way.


Trustee Dallas Masters said: “I can see why this was written this way, so the Town can control installation of culverts. If this is what you want, I’m in support of it.”


The Board approved the ordinance, with Trustee Julie Gustafson voting no.


Pelletier told the Board that Public Works wishes to repurchase Plant Investment Fees (PIFs) that have been sold prior to codes requiring that PIFs only be sold when a building permit is issued. Three PIFs are possibly being transferred for less than their true value.


One of these is the one that Boulder County almost purchased in the pursuit to build affordable housing at the property on Third Street. It is important to recapture these costs and end the practice of transferring PIFs.


This reduces the Town’s ability to generate revenue and essentially subsidizes contractors and developers to take advantage of connecting to the Town’s infrastructure at a lower cost than the Town would sell them, according to background. Current Municipal Code allows for the repurchase of PIF’s:


“The Town shall sell a water tap only to persons obtaining a building permit. In the event no building occurs within 12 months or the building permit expires, the Town shall be entitled, at its option, to repurchase the tap at the same PIF with a connection fee paid to the Town, at any time thereafter, by giving written notice to the purchaser of the tap or the then-owner of the property.”


Pelletier said that the Town will recoup revenue as properties are developed. Current PIF revenues for water are $33,445 above projected revenues for 2017, according to background. Staff wants to re-purchase a water PIF for $12,000.


Current PIF revenues for sewer are $8,481 above projected revenues for the year. Staff is asking to re-purchase two PIFs for $6,500 each. Staff anticipates collecting more fees before the end of 2017. This should not have a negative impact on budget and ultimately will improve revenue.


“We have PIFs floating around there purchased in 1969, and these are being sold at a lower rate. I want to buy them back and resell them and recapture their true value and use,” Pelletier said. It’s more than $5,000, so he is asking the Board if he can do it. There is money in the budget to do it.”


Gerrity said they will include this in the budget next year. The Board approved repurchasing PIFs.


The Town’s Engineers JVA, Inc., provided a presentation to describe the Biosolids Project and to inform the public of the Town’s intent to pursue a $2 million State Revolving Fund (SRF) loan for an expansion to the waste water plant. The purpose of this presentation was to inform the public of the needs, impact and costs of the project.


Josh McGiven, principle in charge, Andrew Sparm and Melissa Rhoads, project engineer, said that even though this is a requirement of SRF funding, staff wants to make every effort to ensure that the public understands the project and is well informed of the Town’s intent. The Board approved a task order at its October 21, 2014, meeting to allow JVA Inc. to perform the Biosolids Study.


A Biosolids Study was completed in 2015 that presented different options for waste treatment. The Board heard this presentation of results and options at its July 7, 2015, meeting and approved a task order at the August 2, 2016, meeting to allow JVA to perform the first task for design services for solids processing.


The first task is to submit a site application to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. According to background, staff received approval for moving forward with the second task, designing the expansion to the Waste Water Treatment Facility for Biosolids processing.


At this meeting, the Board was given a schedule for implementing the project, which included the timeline for the Owner’s Project Requirements (OPR). The OPR was approved at the June 22 regular meeting.


JVA was approved to move forward with 60 percent design on July 22, 2017. On July 31, an application was submitted to the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) seeking $950,000 in funds or roughly half the cost of the project.


The Town is nearing the final steps in acquiring funding and moving forward with the project. The SRF application must be submitted in October.


McGiven said that due to the National Environment Policy Act, they have to make sure the project has no impact on the environment, and they do have a finding of no significant impact.


Sparm that that in 2013 the existing Waste Water Treatment Facility was completed. The project came in over budget, and the Town received funding from the Revolving Loan Fund. True Biosolids handling was eliminated.


In August 2014, the Town hired JVA, which looked at roads, drainage and treatment, Sparm said. In February 2015, the Town received a letter from the State that the pond was creating odors.


Town staff worked hard to mitigate odors through chemicals and monitoring, Sparm said. In July, the State said the pond may be leaking. In 2015 a survey for the seepage study was conducted and an alternative was selected in order to move forward. In 2016, the Biosolids project started.


In February 2017, the prequalification form was submitted, and a credit check for the Town concluded it is well-positioned for the project and should receive $2 million in funding. Now JVA is working through design. In June 2017, the Project Needs Assessment (PNA) was submitted, and it was approved in July.


Rhoads said we are doing this project because of compliance issues with odor and seepage, and we have existing facility limitations. With all the water being hauled downhill, we should be able to do some dewatering.


There must be a way to evaluate alternatives regarding cost, sustainability, operational considerations, odor mitigation, footprint, ability to operate during winter weather conditions and ability to meet Class B Biosolids regulations.


Two alternatives are digesting or dewatering. Three digestion and dewatering alternatives are available, Rhoads said. Selected was the aerobic digester and screw press, keeping it easy for staff to operate.


Sparm said that final construction documents would be completed by end of this year.


The loan application submittal date is November 14, with the anticipated bid opening in March 2018.


Regarding funding sources, McGiven said that in August the Town applied for a $950,000 loan through the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA). The minimum matching funds is 50 percent, which would come through the Revolving Loan Fund.


DOLA ran a credit check and looked at the financial impact on customers, and they are hearing good things from DOLA, McGiven said. The Town can spread the loan out over time.


“We’re going to spend $2 million to reduce operating costs. There will likely be some rate hikes for the customers,” McGiven said.


Trustee Dallas Masters asked how much more staff time will it take. McGiven said it will take staff two days a week for four hours per day. They are trying to minimize how much time staff will be at the facility, which is the reason they selected the screw press. It can operate on its own.


Mayor Larsen said the Biosolids project will come back to the board in early November. The Board met on Tuesday, October 3, 2017, and Tuesday, October 17, 2017 at the Nederland Community Center.


(Originally published in the October 5, 2017, print edition of The Mountain-Ear.)