Capital improvement projects and river study top Rangely council discussion

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RANGELY | The Rangely Town Council gathered Tuesday for a 2018 budget work session followed by a quick meeting filled with department updates and approval of election resolutions.
The council reviewed capital projects by department as well as non-typical budget items. Capital projects for the water department include a raw water tank rehab budgeted at $7,000, water line replacement budgeted for $90,000 with a DOLA grant of $45,000 and wastewater facility/collections repairs budgeted for $300,000 with a DOLA grant of $150,000. The utilities department has budgeted $150,000 for street sealing and paving with $113,750 in DOLA grants, and curb, gutter and sidewalk work budgeted for $77,700. The gas department has budgeted $8,000 for meter replacement and $82,000 for main gas line replacement with $41,000 of DOLA grant funds.
Much of the water and gas line and paving work will take place on Tanglewood Drive where the town says major utilities repairs are needed.
Additionally, the town has budgeted $26,000 with an expected $13,000 in CCITF grant funds for remodeling work at White River Village including new carpeting and an improved laundry facility.
In total the town has budgeted $765,700 which will be offset by $387,750 in grants for 2018 capital and improvement projects.
The town is expecting a decline in projected revenues of 4.4 percent and an expected expenditure decline of 17.9 percent. Other budget items discussed include a doubling of funds to the Rangey Area Chamber of Commerce from $20,000 to $40,000, Better City costs of $52,000, and asbestos team development with two remediation jobs budgeted at $50,000. The final budget will be approved on Dec. 12.
The council authorized the spring municipal election to take place via mail ballots which will be counted on April 3. They also approved Town Clerk Lisa Piering as election official.
The council was addressed by Kenneth Lieb with the U.S. Geological Survey Colorado Water Science Center about the White River algae bloom. The council is currently considering funding a study in cooperation with the county and Town of Meeker. Lieb said his office primarily gauges water flow and quality and regularly work with municipalities and other federal agencies. According to Lieb the USGS is not allowed to spend any of their federal funding without also receiving matching funds from another taxing entity. He also emphasized that their agency is non-regulatory, however, their data is entered into a federal database. “We try not to insert ourselves unless our presence is requested,” he said.
Councilwoman Ann Brady wanted to know why Rangely should participate in funding the study if all the testing sites will be located above Meeker. Lieb said they could discuss tailoring some aspects of the study to Rangely’s needs.
Lieb stated that both land use and reservoirs can be leading causes of algae blooms.
The study is estimated to cost $114,000 in its first year. Meeker has currently budgeted $8,000 for the effort. Lieb estimated that the study would conclude in fall of 2019.
Councilman Andy Key was concerned that conducting the study could impact the water district’s ability to continue working towards the Wolf Creek Reservoir as well as governmental involvement in the study and potential consequences.
Town Planner Jocelyn Mullen emphasized the importance of immediate voluntary involvement in mitigating the potential causes of the bloom to prevent further government requirements.
In previous meetings several council members expressed concerns about using USGS to complete the study saying the preferred to use a private company. Mullen informed the council that Meeker has requested to work solely with USGS on the study.
Mullen also updated the council on the asbestos abatement team project saying that County Commissioner Jeff Rector had expressed a desire to see the contracting done by private business as opposed to creating a government entity to deal with the problem. According to Mullen the commissioners are hopeful that by creating a dump able to accept asbestos materials the cost of abatement would be drastically reduced making private contracting options more affordable. Key agreed with Rector’s sentiment saying “I’m going to fight it tooth and nail because I think it’s completely not our place as a public entity. This is getting way too specialized for government involvement.”
The Bureau of Land Management is currently seeking public comment regarding the Wagon Wheel Trail System. Chamber of Commerce Director Konnie Billgren emphasized the importance of public comment supporting the trail system so that people that don’t live here don’t block the effort. Comments are due by Dec. 31.
The council will be meeting next Tuesday with the RDA and RDC to discuss Better City goals. The meeting is being facilitated by the Department of Local Affairs.