Silt water district now taking stock of options
SILT — Reacting to voter rejection of a measure to “de-Bruce” the finances of the Silt Water Conservancy District, district director Kelly Lyon said wryly on Wednesday, “It doesn’t look like the vote’s going to change, does it?”
After sharing a chuckle over the joke, Lyon said the district’s management was not certain what its next step will be, although some ideas already are floating around.
“Maybe we’ll just have to raise fees on the water,” he said, “We need to build up the reserves” in order to tackle needed repairs to the aging and failing infrastructure of the district.
The district serves approximately 624 customers directly, according to district officials, but 2,399 voters cast ballots in the election on Tuesday, rejecting by a tally of 1,257-1,142 the proposal to de-Bruce its finances so it could go after grants, loans and other funding sources of income to pay for improvements to the leaking pipelines, ditches and other infrastructure owned by the district. Lyon said the facilities, many of which are a century old, are spilling as much as 20-30 percent of the district’s water resources every year, and are in danger of collapse.
Lyon explained that perhaps half of the district voters are not actual shareholders in the district, “but in different ways they benefit from the water” that flows through the district’s facilities, and are counted as eligible voters in the district.
The term de-Bruce refers to the state’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights, or TABOR, a constitutional amendment authored by conservative Douglas Bruce of Colorado Springs and passed by Colorado voters in 1992, which places strict taxing and spending limits on local governments and quasi-governmental entities such as the Silt water district.
As an explanation for the defeat, Lyon remarked, “I think a lot of people are against more taxes, and they thought somehow that we were going to tax them [more].”
Reluctant to predict when or if the district might go back to the voters for help with its financial problems, Lyon noted that the district might do so at some future date.
But for now, he said, “Some way or another, we’ll make it, we’ll get through.”
He encouraged residents of the district to attend the board of directors’ next meeting on Nov. 13, at 7 p.m. at 120 S. Seventh St. in Silt.
“It’d be nice if somebody shows up to tell us what to do, maybe some suggestions,” he said.
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Federal lands in and around the Roaring Fork Valley will be under a Stage 1 fire restrictions starting Friday, officials with the White River National Forest and Bureau of Land Management announced Wednesday morning.