New Castle voters to decide $3 million bond issue | AspenTimes.com
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New Castle voters to decide $3 million bond issue

Heidi Rice
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

NEW CASTLE, Colo. ” Voters will decide at the Nov. 4 election whether or not to approve a proposed $3 million bond issue that would increase New Castle property taxes to finance improvements to the town’s water system.

If approved, the tax increase would amount to about $34 per every $100,000 of a home’s assessed value. Commercial property taxes would increase by a maximum of $124 per $100,000 valuation.

New Castle Town Council members unanimously passed a resolution in early September to put the question on the ballot.

“Primarily, the need (for the bond issue) is population driven,” said Town Administrator Andy Barton. “The other compelling reason is that the equipment is old and the filtration is not what it used to be. This would provide us the same level of service as we’ve had and get us by for the next five years.”

If the funding question is approved, $2.5 million would be used to upgrade the town’s water processing plant, including installation of an additional filter that would add 500,000 gallons per day of capacity, replacement of two old filters and a residual treatment pond to allow operators to recycle water used to clean the filters.

The remaining $500,000 would be used to install a raw water pump station in the Castle Valley Ranch subdivision, with raw water lines that would service the northeast part of Castle Valley Ranch so new homes could use untreated water for landscape irrigation.

An original $8 million bond issue was turned down by voters in the April 2008 municipal election. But the town hopes this version will pass.

“The Town Council has come up with a scaled-back program, because we’ll still need to eventually improve the (water) system,” Barton said. “Ultimately, it should be done in two or possibly three phases.”

The town opted to do a bond issue instead of raising water rates because of the sluggish economy and the drop in the housing market.

“We’ve had eight or nine housing starts between June and September,” Barton said. “(Housing) demand has really decreased. We’ll be adopting water conservation measures by spring of 2009.”

If passed, the increases will be seen on homeowners’ property taxes.

“I don’t believe water rate increases would cover the costs,” Barton said.

Those in favor of the bond measure say that the upgrades will prevent water shortages in the near future and that a combination of higher water service fees, higher tap fees for building permits, and a modest property tax increase would place more burden on higher-value properties in the town.

Those opposed to the measure say officials could provide the same improvements without increasing taxes by raising the monthly water service fees or increasing tap fees for new housing and commercial development.

For questions, contact Barton at 984-2311 or e-mail abarton@newcastlecolorado.org.


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