Vote matters

Dear Editor:

Your vote matters, unless you want to pay more debt and unlimited property tax increases.

Whether you own or rent your home in Pagosa Springs, your water comes from Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District (PAWSD). So does a very big bill.

Fact: PAWSD customers pay the highest rates in the 4 Corners Area

Fact: PAWSD treated water loss is greater than 40 percent

Any person who discovers a water leak at their residence immediately takes action to determine the leak source and make repairs. An individual budget may require the repairs to be completed in phases by fixing the running toilet this month, and the dripping faucet next month. We all can relate to this example.

PAWSD says “the 40 percent of the water we lose only costs 1 percent of the water budget”. This is nonsense. Leaky pipes result from poor installation and/or maintenance. An entire pipeline is not discarded when it has a leak; the leak is fixed, the pipeline maintained. No individual would consider replacing an entire waterline at their residence when only a portion of the line had a leak. There are cost effective approaches.

PAWSD Board Chairman continues to state “it only costs 1 percent.” and “it’s not worth doing”. This is not a solution. This is an excuse to avoid doing the hard work necessary to solve the problem. PAWSD Board Chairman and staff need to stop the “one percent spin” in their public statements to customers — it doesn’t hold water. Our water supply is precious, and in times of drought and fires this attitude is irresponsible and unacceptable.

The capital projects to store water, build unnecessary plants, and install expensive oversized pipes to compensate for PAWSD 40 percent treated water losses have cost us millions. These millions don’t matter, in PAWSD view, just raise rates and issue debt without voter approval.

The PAWSD Board Chairman voted against allowing customers to vote on future debt increases and voted for an 18 percent rate increase plan (after first supporting a 31.6 percent increase.). He wants to allow future PAWSD boards to increase the current, excessive $40 million in debt obligations without customer/voter approval. This is a Washington, D.C. attitude.

PAWSD should fix leaks. Do not ask customers to pick up the tab with increased rates and property taxes. Lots of PAWSD customers are still in recovery mode from the recession. Adopt a common sense method and budget upon which to accomplish this task. PAWSD must make its system work within its $16.5 million dollar annual budget.

Vote for Paul Hansen and Gordon McIver, businessmen who know a 40 percent loss of treated water is not a valid, nor an acceptable way of doing business. Hansen and McIver will join Mike Church and Glenn Walsh in bringing PAWSD back to common sense and fiscal fairness by providing respectful customer service, adopting a minimum two-year rate freeze, and preserving customers’ right to vote on all proposed debt increases. Your vote matters.

Mary Ann Smith

This story was posted on March 20, 2014.