MONTE VISTA — The Monte Vista City Council added three people to the Planning and Zoning Committee during a meeting on March 17.
Four people applied for the three newly created seats. Candidate interviews were conducted prior to the meeting and Damian Arellano, Lauren Howard, and Justin Pepper were unanimously selected, 4-0, by the Council to serve on the committee. Mayor Pro Tem Victor Sigala was not present at the meeting.
Council members spoke about adding a fourth “At Large” substitute member, but City Manager Gigi Dennis said she needed to investigate that before pursuing that option.
City Public Works Director Robert Vance gave a presentation regarding the city’s previously implemented plan to go from a lagoon-based wastewater system to a mechanical plant, and how this would cause a rate increase for residents. The increase could begin sometime this summer.
Currently, there are two wastewater treatment areas in the city, Veterans and Henderson. Vance explained how the city’s wastewater permit had expired in February of 2020, and though the city received an extension, the extension had more stringent requirements.
Vance said had metal limit violations during this time due, and other items, such as ammonia, that the wastewater systems did not have a way to meet.
“These metal limits put our plants into non-compliance, and a cease-and-desist order was issued in early 2021," Vance said. "The city has continued to work with state officials to correct the situation. In order to meet the current requirements, it was determined that a fully mechanical plant would be necessary to replace the lagoon system. The city has since started to work with the USDA, and their funding program to assist us in obtaining the current required wastewater facility. We have submitted all the required paperwork and are currently waiting on a letter of financial responsibility from the USDA.”
Vance said to meet the required financial responsibility, the city would need a rate increase. He said that the rate increase would be implemented and increased to its maximum rate over the course of three years. Vance provided some numbers, but he also said that it was impossible to give exact figures until he knew what assistance the USDA could provide.
Vance said that the USDA could give possibly 40 percent in a grant and 60 percent in a loan, but he was hoping for closer to 50 percent grant and 50 percent in a loan as this would help the city much more with the implementation of the new mechanical plant.
Vance said the new plant would cost approximately $30 million. He said the city wanted to hold an informational open house for the public, so that city residents could attend, and provide feedback on a rate increase. The date of an open house was scheduled from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on April 5.
In other matters, the city proclaimed March 29 as “Welcome Home Vietnam Veteran’s Day.” According to the proclamation, “58,220 men and women died or were lost during the war, and whereas 623 Coloradans were among the 58,220 who lost their lives, and of the 2,500 who were prisoners of war or missing in action, 41 are from Colorado, with 24 still unaccounted for. Whereas it is appropriate that all San Luis valley citizens, remember the bravery of those who gave all. Let their sacrifices serve as a reminder of the cost of our freedom. Whereas on March 29, commemorate the anniversary of the Vietnam war, and salute the Vietnam veterans who served our country. Now therefore the Monte Vista City Council, do hereby proclaim March 29, 2022, to be 'Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans’ Day.'"
City Manager Dennis also talked about the possible recall of 12th Judicial District Attorney Alonzo Payne that was currently receiving some attention in Alamosa County. Dennis asked the council if they would like to write a letter of support for the recall election or do anything else. Dennis agreed that she has some of the same concerns that were brought up by the City of Alamosa.
“The lack of prosecution, the lack of care toward the victims; they are just not taking these cases into very good consideration,” she said.
Dennis said a letter of support was an option but encouraging citizens to go after an elected official might be a bad idea.
City Attorney Michael Trujillo said it would be a process to recall Payne, and he was concerned about the city spending money on going after an elected official when there are other projects that the city could spend money on. Council members agreed, however, Mayor Dale Becker said more research should be done before any action was taken.
City Clerk Unita Vance reminded city residents to register their dogs, as there had only been 28 dog tags issued this year. She also mentioned that Conour Animal Shelter was giving out tags, in conjunction with the city, for any residents who adopted dogs within the city limits.
The next city council meeting will be held on April 7.