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In 2010 Allan Bunch and I were elected to the Board of Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District because people felt it was operating in a manner harmful to its ratepayers and taxpayers. There have been astonishing accomplishments during these four years. I am not seeking re-election, but Bunch is, and incredibly has become the victim of poison pens wielded by people with no direct knowledge of events, or who are unwitting conveyors of patently false or unfair allegations, or who have personal axes to grind (Allan’s long-suit is not tact and diplomacy).
For clarification, Bunch did not become president of the District until the election of 2012. Even before then we had changed Board policy on the notoriously unaffordable Dry Gulch Reservoir, bringing to a close endless and expensive litigation it had engendered, ceasing further expenditures and in fact refunding $918,765 that had been exacted from ratepayers for the ill-conceived project. That was a promise kept. The capital investment fees which owners had to pay in order to build were $13,458 per equivalent unit at the beginning of 2010. Now they are $5,634. Another promise kept. No new debt has been added. The District’s debt-to-tap ratio has gone down and will improve in 2014 as $2,183,263 of debt is retired, $925,000 of that in accelerated payment. Numerous other economies and efficiencies have been effected.
Especially galling have been the accusations made about a 18 percent rate increase. Pure poppycock. First, there were no changes to wastewater rates. Secondly, anyone can read the 2013 rate study on the District’s website for the planning years 2013 to 2024. The Board began March 2013 to review and revise the 2011 plan and accepted the consultant’s analysis that the existing water rate structure was inadequate to meet projected operating, maintenance and capital costs during the current 10 year planning period. Over the next nine months, various manners of raising revenue were considered as well as a serious critique of the assumptions used to arrive at projected cash flow. The Board chose a plan that raised revenue 4.4 percent for four years, then projected no increases 2018 to 2023. The rates set in 2014 to meet revenue needs followed public notice published in The SUN and a hearing held on November 12th. While the base rate was raised and 2,000 gallons included for the first time, the tiered rates for consumption above 2,000 gallons were all lowered. (See p.12 of the report for projected affect on ratepayers). The final rates adopted by the Board at its December 10 meeting were for the one year of 2014 only (p.5 of the rate study specifically recommends annual update).
In short, promises have been kept over Mr. Bunch’s term on the PAWSD Board, and the prosperity of the community enhanced by Board decisions. The accusations that have been printed contain misinformation and inaccuracies, which is an unfair way to support other candidates. I support the re-election of Allan Bunch.
Roy D. Vega