The Granada Trustees are faced with two expensive issues that will impact the town’s residents in the future. The Trustees discussed their revenue options to upgrade the aging water lines in the community, a matter that is being carried over from last year; and how to afford to bring the town’s landfill into compliance with state regulations, again with only limited funds available needed to correct those deficiencies. The Trustees met in regular session, Wednesday, March 8th at the town complex.
The main concern is being able to repay a zero percent, 30 year, Drinking Water Revolving Fund Loan which could save 80% of the cost of the two phase project. Last year, a rough estimate of the complete project, wells and pipeline, would cost approximately $2.2M with $1.17M for the distribution system and administrative costs and another million dollars for rehabilitating the tanks and drilling a fourth well. Consultants from GMS Engineering want to touch base with the Trustees to get a determination on a possible grant from the Department of Local Affairs which would help pay down costs. Even with grant funding, the cost to the community would be in the neighborhood of $600,000.
Landfill issues are also proving to be an expense for Granada, as well as numerous small communities in southeast Colorado and around the state. Landfill upgrades have been a concern for Granada as far back as 2011 when over a dozen deficiencies at the site were noted by the Colorado Department of Health and Environment (CDPHE). Some pertained to record keeping but others were focused on the landfill operation in general. Following a February 28th meeting in Lamar, which was open to all area communities, the issue of costly improvements has become more pressing.
Two letters requesting some common sense leeway are being sent to Governor Hickenlooper and other elected officials on behalf of the communities by the Prowers County Commissioners and the Granada Trustees. The commissioners cited, ‘increased regulatory authority over small landfills in rural and economically depressed communities.’ The letter points out the economic hardship new regulations are creating for these small towns and the recommendation of creating a transfer station as a solution to the costs doesn’t really alleviate the money spent to maintain a new facility. Closing a landfill is also an open-ended and costly venture because the state regulations require constant upkeep of the landfill site. The letter asks for assistance in educating the CDPHE on the unique needs of small communities which are made more difficult by regulations which may be more beneficial to a large landfill operation and more punative to a small one.
The letter from the Trustees detailed the costs associated with the landfill coming into state compliance; more for the required engineering studies, creation of plans and reports than for the actual day to day operations of their landfill. Of the 14 deficiencies listed in a November 2016 inspection, four were for the way trash was handled, signage and storm run-off ditches, all of which were quickly corrected. The balance of the deficiencies went to paperwork. The Trustees estimated up to $200,000 would be needed to become compliant and an additional $60,000 to $80,000 annually to remain in compliance. The letter said the current annual costs to operate the landfill are budgeted at $12,000 and passing on the costs to meet the new requirements is a financial burden the residents cannot handle, especially in light of a dwindling population and the fact that 50% of the residents live below the poverty line. The Trustees are asking for a legislative waiver for the smallest landfills in the state so they can be exempt from the ‘overbearing regulations and costs associated with them.’
Eric Depperschmidt, the new Executive Director for Prowers Economic Prosperity (PEP), introduced himself to the Trustees and briefly recapped his career which included a background in banking, leadership positions in economic development in Garden City, Kansas and a farming background in Ness County, Kansas. “I’ve only been on the job for three days, so this is the first of several outreach visits I’m having for each of the communities in Prowers County,” he explained, adding that he has an ‘open door’ policy for residents who want to discuss business development with him. An attendee of the Trustees meeting took him at his word and discussed some of his plans following Depperschmidt’s conversation with the Trustees. The board expressed an interest in his grant writing experience. Depperschmidt replied that they have been for water development projects in rural communities while he was employed by Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas and that he would assist with a GoCO grant to finance expansion plans for the Granada Town Park.
Dates for the town complex rental were approved for: March 25, April 1st, May 23rd and June 3rd. A building permit request for a resident who wanted to add an addition to their trailer house was put on hold following an inspection of the property.
By Russ Baldwin
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