New tap fees to skyrocket in April |

New tap fees to skyrocket in April

Cliff Thompson

Residential fees will nearly double; and commercial fees will jump a whopping 660 percent.

“The idea is to let growth pay for growth,” says Becky Bultemeier, finance director for the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District. “We want new users to pay their fair share for the capacity we have been reserving for them.”

Driving the new fees is the fact that the water district is no longer playing catch-up. With a new $12 million, 5-million-gallon per-day water plant in Edwards, east of the Edwards rest stop, the district actually has more supply than is needed.

“We’ve now got excess capacity,” said Bultemeier.

Joining the Vail and Avon water plants on a looped, redundant system, the new plant will supply enough water to meet buildout from Eagle-Vail to Wolcott, according to water officials.

The new rates, developed for the Upper Eagle Regional Water Authority by Roger Hartmann, a nationally recognized consultant, were approved by the six participating metropolitan districts making up the authority.

For developers wanting to prepay tap fees to avoid paying the new rates, a certificate of occupancy must be issued for their project by June 30 of this year, says Dennis Gelvin, general manager of the Eagle River Water and Sanitation District, which manages the authority’s operations.

“We want to give people the opportunity to finish those buildings under the current rates,” he said.

In the past, Bultemeier said, fees charged for water use – as opposed to those charged to developments hooking up to the system – paid a disproportionate share of the cost of creating new water plants.

“Service fees paid a larger portion of debt service in the past,” she said. “Developers have paid tap fees to the metro districts for their distribution system. This (new fee structure) is just for new plants.”

Buz Reynolds Jr., mayor of Avon, a former member of the authority’s board of directors – and a contractor – said the new rates are a fair and equitable way of recovering costs for new facilities plants.

“As a contractor, you always get upset because the cost of the overall projects just keep increasing,” Reynolds says. “The bottom line is the recovery costs for those plants should be paid by growth.”

Contractor Harry Gray of Gray-Stone Construction in Minturn isn’t so sure, however.

“For developers right now, margins are terrible. If you’re a guy with a little bit of money, there’s a lot of better places to put it than developing a project in this valley right now. If it’s a cost you can’t pass on or can’t get back, you can’t do the deal.”

Cliff Thompson can be reached at 949-0555 ext 450 or

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