New Utility Code Nears Completion

A significant project is underway at the city. Over the next several months, we will re-write the Salida Municipal Code.

The water and wastewater utilities chapter is the first to be addressed. The ordinance adopting the revised code will be presented to city council on April 19 for approval on first reading. Changes of most significance are highlighted in this article.

A provision for abandonment of unused taps is being proposed. Fees paid, less 3% to cover administrative costs, will be refunded if a request is made within 90 days of the abandonment. Otherwise, the physical tap must be made and service fees must be paid to keep the tap.

Properties served by a well, private sewer line or septic system will only be required to connect to the city’s water or wastewater system upon failure or a major expansion of existing structures served provided the property is within 400 feet of a city line. Under the current code, a change in ownership also triggers a requirement to connect.

The provisions for water leak adjustments will be discussed with council and may change.

We are continuing to remove rates and fees from all chapters of the code. Instead, council will set rate schedules by resolution.

Upon second reading of the new utilities code on May 3, the city council will be asked to approve the schedule of water and wastewater fees, rates and charges. With just a few exceptions, the schedule will re-affirm existing amounts with reference to the new code section where the fee, rate or charge is authorized and described in the code.

The following changes are being considered for new development:

  • Reducing the water and sewer tap fees for accessory dwelling units (ADUs)
  • Implementing a deed restriction option that would eliminate water and sewer tap fees for ADUs that are essentially an extension of a single family residence
  • Eliminating the reduction in water tap fees for the rarely used irrigation-only tap
  • Eliminating the premium for three-quarter inch commercial water tap fees (8% greater than residential)

The bulk of the changes proposed will eliminate unnecessary provisions or redundant language and will provide better consistency between water and wastewater provisions. In addition, procedures and penalties for addressing violations are clarified. Most administrative details are eliminated.

The new code will allow for future changes in billing processes such as switching from a quarterly to monthly cycle. This will be further considered if we find a majority of our customers are in favor of this change and we can justify the incremental costs.

If you have not already done so, please stop by City Hall to complete a customer survey or follow the link to an on-line version of the survey at www.cityofsalida.com. We have already received useful feedback. We will work to address issues raised and requests for additional information. When providing comments, please be specific to help us understand and respond to your concerns.

The next chapter of major significance to be addressed is the Land Use and Development code. In addition, a re-write of the General Provisions and Revenue and Finance chapters is underway.

As I pointed out in the last past regarding the subject, this project is a high priority for two main reasons. First, some sections of the code have become obsolete. The code should be up to date and relevant. Secondly, staff has been charged by the city council to improve operating efficiencies. The removal of conflicting language within and between chapters and unnecessary rules and administrative details is a step in that direction.

We encourage citizens to participate in the work sessions and regular meetings of the city council where these revisions are being discussed. The city council meets on the first and third Tuesday of each month. Work sessions generally last from 8:30 until 10:30 AM and the regular meetings begin at 6:00 PM.