Village seeks voter approval for $4.5 million bond election

(Chronicle file photo)
(Chronicle file photo)

The Village of Angel Fire maintains about 120 miles of roadway and, according to village officials, a proposed General Obligation Bond is the only way the village can begin to improve those roads “to meet todays standards and demands.”

Toward that end, the Angel Fire Village Council approved a proclamation calling for a Sept. 13, 2016 mail-in bond election. Registered voters in Angel Fire and Colfax County may vote in the election but Colfax County registered voters who own property in the Village of Angel Fire must first get a certificate to vote from the Village Clerk.

According to a bond election brochure, “virtually all” 120 miles of village roads “are in need of maintenance and many need to be rebuilt. Forty years of erosion and blading have taken a significant toll on the roads leaving them full of potholes and unsound.”

At the same time, according to the brochure, “much of the water and wastewater systems have exceeded their useful lives.”

The bond will fund $3 million for roads and $1.5 million for water/sewer repairs/replacements — a logical choice, according to the village, since water and sewer pipes are generally beneath the roads — bringing the total to $4.5 million.

The funds will be used to start a 20 year master project that Village Finance Manager Bret Wier estimated could total $30 million over 20 years.

“We did not make this decision lightly,” Wier said. “It will cost $1.5 – $2 million a year to actively repair and improve roads, water and wastewater. The GO Bond was our only option. There will need to be grants in addition to the GO Bond funds. We will consider co-op, MAP and other grants to supplement this money.

“The biggest expense, from what I understand, is going to be rebuilding the roads (from the ground up) to get them correct. We will be laying down well-structured roads, which will be easier to maintain.”

A couple of residents raised the concern that the bond would add an unfair burden to owners of the so-called HUD lots, many of whom already paid to have road and infrastructure on or to their property.

Wier pointed out, “Part of this money is committed to maintenance.”

Responding to comments that the village should just tighten its collective belt to get the projects done, Wier told The Chronicle, “We have a $10 million budget and the biggest expenditure we have is our streets department. We have already cut a lot, including employees and expenses. None of those things would get it done.

“To really do this, and do it right, it’s going to take $1.5 to $2 million every year. For us to spend $2 million a year for the next 20 years, there’s no way we could get that out of our budget, even with cuts to police, fire and maybe even closing the community center.

“We did consider minimizing the impact to the taxpayers” and, he added, “the speed at which we could do some of these improvements.”

Wier added such impact will be lessened if this bond passes in September since, “It may be the lowest bond rates in the history of bonds.

Village purchasing asphalt zipper

Even before voters decide on the GO bond, the village moved ahead with plans to purchase an asphalt zipper, a relative low-cost grinding machine that can do “reclamation, stabilization, asphalt grinding and milling…. from small patches to up to a half a mile per day.” (From the website asphaltzipper.com.)

“We didn’t feel like we could wait for the the bond election to pay for this,” Wier said. “In case the bond election doesn’t pass, we will pay this off under a loan agreement. We hope to have it up and running in July.”

New hours for paying bills

In his report to council Wier said, “Starting July 1, the village will be open 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. to better serve the community. The Finance department staff switching to a 4/10 schedule — staggered.”

Auditors find village books ‘clean’

Wier also told council village auditors “told me today that this was the cleanest accounting they’ve seen to date (to which Mayor Barbara Cottam added – to appreciative laughter “for us!”), So far they’re finding free.”

Last year the village got all its audits up to date placing Angel Fire in compliance “for the first time in seven years,” cottam said then, adding “it comes with a lot of work from the village staff, past and present.”

Because the state requires audits be up to date, Angel Fire was unable to apply for capital outlay funding and grants. Last year the mayor noted infrastructure and roads will be “top priorities.”

Rate increases passed

Using consumer price index (CPI) averages, as recommended by village staff, council approved small rate increases for water, sewer and solid waste collection.

Increases are as follows:

  • 4.3% for meter installation and bulk water fees;
  • 4.3% for tap fees;
  • 3.8% for water and sewer rates;
  • 4.3% for water and sewer availability rates; and
  • 3.8% for solid waste trash service.

“The reason we do it this way is to avoid having to jump 10-20 percent,” said Brian
Bredthauer, village recycle & solid waste superintendent. “If we do it every year to keep up with inflation, it makes sense.”

Referencing the trash rates, Mayor Cottam said, “You all have worked on this for quite some time and I appreciate it. I commend you for what you’ve done.”

Library receives village funds

Citing the service it provides to the community, the village council approved a lump-sum payment of $4,000 to the Shuter Library of Angel Fire.