Environmental Commission Vacancy – Closes 5:00 PM December 20, 2019

Commission Member Description

Title: Tribe-Appointed Member of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe/State of Colorado Environmental Commission

Closing Date: Position Closes at 5:00 p.m. Mountain Standard Time on December 20, 2019

Commission Purpose:

  • Establish rules and regulations applicable to the Reservation Air Program; and
  • Review appealable administrative actions taken by the Tribe.

Summary of Commission Duties:

  • Determine air programs that should apply to the Reservation;
  • Promulgate rules and regulations necessary for proper implementation and administration of air programs that apply to the Reservation, including determining which administrative actions are appealable to the Commission;
  • Establish procedures for the Commission to follow in promulgating rules and regulations and review appealable administrative actions taken by the Tribe;
  • Review and approve the long-term plan;
  • Monitor relationships among State and tribal environmental protection agencies;
  • Review administrative actions by the Tribe;
  • Approve and adopt fees for permits and other regulatory services conducted by the Tribe or the State;
  • Ensure consistency and adherence to applicable standards and resolve disputes involving third parties;
  • Review emission inventories developed by the Tribe and State
  • Conduct public hearings pertaining to adoption of rules and regulations or review of appealable administrative actions, and issue subsequent orders.
  • Request administrative or clerical assistance from tribal staff when necessary to issue orders and conduct Commission business; and
  • Any other duties necessary to accomplish the purposes of the Intergovernmental Agreement between the Southern Ute Indian Tribe and the State of Colorado Concerning Air Quality Control on the Southern Ute Indian Reservation.

Preferred Commission Member Qualifications:

  • Knowledge of Robert’s Rules of Order
  • Knowledge of the Clean Air Act
  • Ethical, strong integrity
  • Ability to identify conflicts of interest
  • Knowledge of environmental issues affecting the Reservation
  • Able to attend regular Commission and stakeholder meetings
  • Cooperative and able to work as a team player

Commission Member Appointment Terms and Conditions:

  • Commission members are appointed by the Tribal Council.
  • Commission members serve three year terms and are not subject to term limits.
  • Commission meetings are generally held twice per year but more frequent meetings are possible. Stakeholder meetings occur on an as-needed basis.
  • Failure to attend two consecutive Commission or Stakeholder meetings or demonstrated unethical conduct may result in appointment removal by Tribal Council.
  • Compensation is $100.00 per half-day meeting for Commission members who are not employees of the Tribe.

Meeting Location:

Justice & Regulatory Administration Building
EPD Large Conference Room
71 Mike Frost Way
Ignacio, CO 81137

How to Apply:

Send letter of interest to the:
Air Quality Program Office C/O Marlene Scott-Jewett PO Box 737 MS# 84
Ignacio. CO 81137

Or Hand deliver to:
Justice & Regulatory Administration Building
Air Quality Program
Marlene Scott-Jewett
71 Mike Frost Way
Ignacio, CO 81137

Or Email
airqualitysouthernute-nsn.gov

PRESS RELEASE: The Southern Ute Indian Tribe clarifies relationship with the Town of Ignacio and on-going water and wastewater rate discussion

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT

Christine Sage, Chairman – 970.563.0100

Patrick Vaughn, Southern Ute Growth Fund – 970.563.5000

Hayes Briskey, Southern Ute Utilities Division – 970.563.5500

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: JUNE 24, 2019 – 3:30 P.M.

The Southern Ute Indian Tribe clarifies relationship with the Town of Ignacio and on-going water and wastewater rate discussion

Southern Ute Indian Reservation – For decades, the Southern Ute Indian Tribe has maintained and valued its long-standing intergovernmental relationship with the Town of Ignacio. The Southern Ute Indian Tribal Council and the Town Board of Trustees, along with the Town Manager, meet frequently to discuss various issues of common interest.

The Tribe, through its Utilities Division administered by the Southern Ute Growth Fund, provides treated water, wastewater and natural gas service to the tribal campus, local tribal members residing near Ignacio and the Town of Ignacio. Two years ago, the Town of Ignacio expressed concern that the water and wastewater rates charged by the Tribe were higher than those of other water and wastewater providers in the area. Since that time, the Tribe and the Town have been discussing water and wastewater rates and jointly engaged an independent third-party contractor to conduct a rate study.

It is important to note four significant issues in this discussion:

  1. The Tribe has spent $40 million of its own money (no grant funding) on modern facilities that meet or exceed all applicable regulations for water and wastewater services. These costs are NOT included in our utility rate structure. Even now, the Tribe is in the process of building a new $3 million reservoir for the water system that will provide additional emergency storage and redundancy.  Again, the costs for the reservoir are not included in our utility rate structure. These and other tribal-funded infrastructure improvements have been important and generous contributions to the community.
  2. The Utilities Division water and wastewater funds are running at a deficit and rates need to adjust to break even. We do not operate the Utilities Division as a profit center.
  3. The Growth Fund does not charge the Utilities Division for overhead related to oversight, HR or accounting and therefore, that overhead is not allocated to our utility rate structure.
  4. The utility rates charged the Town are the same rates charged to the Tribe and the tribal member customers.

The Southern Ute Utilities Division is proposing an increase in water and wastewater rates as follows:

WATER:         Current Rate:               $32.80 base per 8,000 gallons + $4.10 per 1,000 gal thereafter

Proposed 2020 Rate:    $47.80 base per 6,000 gallons + $5.00 per 1,000 gal thereafter

Proposed 2021 Rate:    $62.80 base per 6,000 gallons + $6.00 per 1,000 gal thereafter

2022 and beyond:         CPI-U increase annually

By way of comparison, here are some of the rates per 6,000 gallons charged currently by other area utilities for ¾ inch water service:

LPAWD:  $63.80; Forest Lakes: $42.00; Edgemont Ranch: $70.00; Durango: $46.51;

Bayfield: $26.25; Pagosa Springs: $42.79

WASTEWATER:     Current Rate:     $72.09

Proposed 2020 Rate:    $87.09

Proposed 2021 Rate:    $102.09

2022 and beyond:         CPI-U increase annually

By way of comparison, here are some of the rates per 6,000 gallons charged currently by other area utilities:

Forest Lakes: $29.50; Edgemont Ranch: $95.00; Durango: $93.39 in town;

Durango $186.84 outside town; Bayfield: $49.74; Pagosa Springs: $49.88

During this rate analysis, the Town requested, and the Tribal Utilities concurred that wastewater rates should be based on actual winter water flows to obtain true usage.  Now, using our proposed rates and the winter flows, the rates we charge to the Town as a bulk customer will actually go down somewhat from the current bulk rate charged.

The Tribe prioritizes the health of its tribal members and tribal resources such as land and water. We have had no recordable discharge incidents from our wastewater plant since it was built.  Very few utility operators in the Four Corners region can make that claim.  Our water system has had to deal with the Missionary Ridge fire runoff and siltation for years following the fire.  Again, without any violation of standards.

The Tribe also cares about the health and safety of the broader Ignacio community. For example, in 2012, the Tribe (with the Town’s support) waived wastewater and natural gas tap fees as a donation to the Ignacio School District. This waiver significantly reduced the cost of construction of the water main and meter assembly that brings water and fire flow capacity to the school district’s new middle school and the West Mesa region of Ignacio. The new water main also could potentially supply water for any future development in the West Mesa region.

Many water and wastewater providers are now coming to grips with deferred maintenance and ever-increasing operating costs. In fact, in 2018, the Colorado Department of Local Affairs conducted a Colorado Municipal Water and Wastewater Rate Survey.  That survey states that “water and wastewater rates appear to double approximately every 15 years.”  Building, maintaining and operating these facilities properly costs money.  Southern Ute Utilities operators are State of Colorado certified, safeguard plant operations and strive to reduce environmental and health risks.  Our circumstance is magnified by operating a quality system spread over a small population. One cannot opportunistically and selectively choose other municipal rates to argue they are being overcharged. Each provider operates a unique system with unique issues. To meet all applicable regulations, the Tribe must incur certain costs in operating its system. Like all utilities providers, the Tribe recovers those costs from rate payers. Unlike some other utilities providers, however, the Tribe is not charging the Town and other rate payors for the capital costs of the Tribe’s system.

The Southern Ute Indian Tribe, Southern Ute Growth Fund, and the Southern Ute Utilities Division will continue to strive to cultivate a constructive and collaborative relationship with the Town of Ignacio while providing the best water and wastewater services in the Four Corners region and Indian country.

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