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Board approves rate increase, property sales

Farmers market also gets funding
Aaron Lewis from Terrasanna Farm sells produce at the Dolores Farmers Market at Flanders Park. The market will be on Wednesdays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Beginning this year, the market will feature live music.

The Dolores Town Board Monday raised rates for water and sewer services, increased funding for the farmers market, and preliminarily approved property transactions and a solar project.

Beginning May 1, the water rate will increase by $5 per month, to $30.84 per month, a 19.3% increase. The sewer rate will rise $2.25, to $30.91, a 7.8% increase.

Rates were last increased in 2015, 2009 and in 2006.

The board and town staff said increases are needed to fund rising maintenance costs and system upgrades to the 50-year-old infrastructure. It passed by a 6-0 vote.

The increase will help finance a $650,000 project to replace deteriorating water lines beneath Colorado Highway 145. Nine deteriorating lines need to be replaced before the Colorado Department of Transportation repaves the highway in 2021.

To help pay for the project, the town has applied for a $292,630 grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs. To cover the 100% grant match, the town would pull from reserves and take out a 4% interest loan, with payments covered by the monthly $5 water rate increase. Revenues from the increases will also help build water and sewer budget reserves for future maintenance and improvements.

The town board created a task force to research a potential tiered water use billing system that would incentivise water savings.

The board agreed to contribute annual funds to support the farmers market in Flanders Park. This year, $1,000 will go toward live music and new banners.

The Chamber of Commerce will promote the market, which takes place on Wednesday afternoons from 4-7 p.m.

There are no vendor fees for farmers selling goods, but a donation bin will be set up if they want to chip in for operation costs.

“The farmers market is great for our town, and is a good community event that takes place in a town park,” said Mayor Chad Wheelus.

The board gave Interim Town Manager Ken Charles the go-ahead to apply for a $98,000 DOLA energy grant to help fund a solar project for Dolores government buildings.

“It would allow us to own the system after six years and benefit fully from the energy savings,” he said.

Three buildings proposed for the panels are Town Hall, the public works shop and the wastewater treatment facility. The town plans to partner with Shaw Solar.

The town board approved the sale of an unused piece of town property on 14th Street to Dolores School District Re-4A for $40,000. The former town shop location is slated for additional school parking.

The board gave preliminary approval to use the revenues to purchase 36 acres of the canyon rim property on the northwest end of town for $36,000. The Harris property purchase will provide open space, allow for rock fall mitigation, prevent cliff-side homes, and allow for potential new trails. As part of the agreement, the open space will be named after the Harris family.

“It will add value to town,” officials said.

The board gave thanks and a round of applause to outgoing board member James Biard, whose term is up. Biard has served on the board for five years.

“Thanks, I enjoyed serving. It was fun, most of it anyway,” he said.

Upcoming events

The chamber banquet is March 28. The theme this year is Wild Wild West Steampunk. Citizen and Business of the Year will be announced. For more information and tickets, visit doloreschamber.comThe Spring Fling, which supports the Joe Rowell Park playground, is April 4 at the Dolores Community Center. A children’s carnival is 3-5 p.m. and includes an Easter egg hunt. At 5:30 p.m., the adult portion will begin, with beer and wine, and a silent auction. On April 17, Mountain Film comes to Dolores. For more information, go to mountainfilm.org.