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Seniors may pay more for Minturn water

MINTURN ” Wally Valdez wants a discount on his water bill when he turns 65 just like other seniors have had for years.

“Social security doesn’t pay very much,” said Valdez, 56-year-old Minturn resident for 36 years. “Every little bit helps.”

But Valdez and other seniors may not get that discount when they reach 65. Town councilors have discussed whether or not to continue that discount as attorneys rewrite the town’s water ordinance.



Water leaks from faulty service lines that have closed U.S. Highway 24 and water outages prompted the rewrite, said Minturn town manager Ann Capela.

Homeowners 65 and older now get 25 percent off their monthly charge and 25 percent off the charge per additional 1,000 gallons of water used, according to the ordinance.



Seniors who own homes less than 3,000 square feet now save at least $182.64 each year. Those savings climb with an increased water bill for a larger home.

Jay Curry thought the discount was fair, but that it hiked up prices for younger residents, he said.

“But like I said, they’re senior citizens so give them a break,” said Curry, a 27-year-old Minturn resident.



The town should continue to give the discounts because fixed incomes are tough to live on, especially with the high cost of living in the valley, said Jim Rabidue, Minturn resident for two years.

Seniors who already get the discount should continue to get it, but it should not apply to new residents, said 64-year-old town councilman Jerry Bumgarner.

“I don’t do it for myself but these folks that are benefiting from it, let them keep it,” he said.

Town Councilman Bill Burnett agreed with Bumgarner, he said.

If town councilors approve the Ginn Development Co.’s private ski resort and 1,700-home development, Burnett said councilors did not want people living on Battle Mountain to get the discount.

“There might be a lot of seniors up there and they don’t want to carry that over to the annexation,” Burnett said.

Seniors have been getting the water discount for about 10 years, he said.

Minturn’s water is not cheaper to supply to residents 65 and older, so the discount is a subsidy, attorneys said in a letter to the town.

As Minturn becomes more of a “resort and retirement community” with more wealthy seniors, the rationale for the discount may no longer apply, the letter says.

Willie Joe Trujillo, 70, has been getting a 25 percent discount on his water bill for years and he hopes that will continue, he said.

If not, “They call that ‘Indian givers,'” Trujillo said. “They give something to somebody and then take it away.”

Staff Writer Steve Lynn can be reached at 748-2931 or slynn@vaildaily.com.


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