NEWS RELEASE: Tribe to cease non-essential tribal government operations due to outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT

Christine Sage, Chairman – 970.563.0100

Amy Barry, SUIT IMT PIO – 970.563.2281

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 20, 2020 – 11:00A.M.

 

Tribe to cease non-essential tribal government operations due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Southern Ute Indian Reservation – The Southern Ute Indian Tribal Council and the Southern Ute Indian Tribe Incident Management Team (IMT) continue to work on the organizational response to the recent outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) as stated in the Southern Ute Indian Tribal Council release dated Wednesday, March 18, 2020.

In response to the rapidly developing events surrounding COVID-19 the Southern Ute Indian Tribe’s Permanent Fund government will modify the programs and services to ensure the protection and safety of tribal members, tribal employees, and our community. This decision was not made hastily, rather through dialogue with the Southern Ute Indian Tribe’s IMT, local, state, and federal healthcare agencies. Key Permanent Fund staff have been delegated the responsibility of identifying critical government operations. The identified operations will be modified in accordance with the recommendations made by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) which includes social distancing and congregated groups no larger than 10 people and at least 6 feet apart. Social distancing includes limits on person-to-person contact, group meetings, and other social activities.

The Southern Ute Permanent Fund non-essential functions have also been identified. If staff have not already been identified by the IMT or delegated by the tribal administration to carry out specific business, will be directed to remain home and safe until further notice is given. A list of specific service modifications will be forthcoming.

The Southern Ute Growth Fund is also operating via a modified business continuity plan. On Tuesday, March 17, 2020 all non-essential staff were identified and began working remotely.

The Sky Ute Casino Resort has temporarily closed the gaming operations, Rolling Thunder Grill, Rolling Thunder Lanes, Seven Rivers Bingo Hall, Seven Rivers Steak Seafood Spirits and Shining Mountain Café. The hotel and restaurant, Willows Café Bistro, will remain open until further notice. Willows Café Bistro will operate from 6:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m., 7 days a week. The hotel fitness center and pool will be closed.

The three priorities of the IMT remain the task at hand. The Southern Ute Indian Tribal Council continues to prioritize communication with the tribal membership as the details of the COVID-19 progresses.

The Southern Ute COVID-19 Call Center will remain live through the duration of the modified government services being provided.  The call center hours of operation are 6:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m., 7 days a week until further direction is mandated by the Incident Management Team (IMT). In addition to fielding calls, the call center will be making proactive calls to Tribal Elders, the disabled, and high-risk tribal membership.

If you are a tribal member and concerned about your symptoms, please contact your primary care provider or call the Southern Ute Health Center at 970.563.4581 to speak with a health care professional.

 

** This information is being released in conjunction with the Southern Ute Indian Tribe Incident Management Team Public Information Officer (PIO), Ms. Amy Barry.

 

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20200320 – Tribe to cease non-essential tribal government operations due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Southern Ute Indian Tribe response to the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)

 

Southern Ute Indian Tribe response to the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 18, 2020 – 02:00 P.M.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT

Christine Sage, Chairman – 970.563.0100

Amy Barry, SUIT IMT PIO – 970.563.2281

 

Southern Ute Indian Reservation – The Southern Ute Indian Tribal Council, in conjunction with the enacted Southern Ute Indian Tribe Incident Management Team (IMT), has been diligently working on the organizational response to the recent outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Tribal information has been detailed in a video that is now available on the Tribal Facebook. Identical information has been transcribed in three documents (letter addressed to the tribal membership, Q&A on COVID-19, and Q&A on Tribal Resources) and have been made available on the tribal websites (both the public website and the Tribal Member Portal), to KSUT Tribal Radio, and on the Tribe’s Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. The Southern Ute Indian Tribe IMT has established a Call Center for both medical and general questions related to COVID-19. Individuals should dial 970.563.0214 and input extensions 2651 and 2654 for all medical related questions and extensions 2652 and 2667 for all general questions.

The Southern Ute Indian Tribal Council would also like to provide confidential financial information to the Tribal Membership to address concerns and respond to questions. This information will be available in the following ways: on the Tribal Member Portal and upon request. Requests for this information can be made to Tribal Council Communication Specialist, Ms. Lindsay J. Box at 970.563.2313 or via email at lbox@southernute-nsn.gov.

If you are a tribal member and concerned about your symptoms, please contact your primary care provider or call the Southern Ute Health Center at 970.563.4581 to speak with a health care professional.

 

** This information is being released in conjunction with the Southern Ute Indian Tribe Incident Management Team Public Information Officer (PIO), Ms. Amy Barry.

 

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Tribal Members should head to the Southern Ute Indian Tribe’s Facebook page to find the video in which Tribal Council addresses the Tribe’s response to the recent outbreak and sharing of tribal resource information.

A hard copy version can be found below:

Letter to the Membership

Q&A on COVID-19

Q&A Tribal ResourcesLetter to the Membership

SUIT Travel Updates 3/13/2020

SUIT Public Service Announcement

As the Nation, the State of Colorado, and the Southern Ute Indian Tribe continue to assess the number of positive cases of COVID-19, the Southern Ute Tribal government is continuing to restrict all employee business travel for all business and governmental entities.

Tribal employees returning from personal travel who have any reason to believe they have been exposed to COVID-19 or who have symptoms of respiratory illness must self-report to their immediate supervisor by telephone at the start of their next shift or sooner if at all possible.

Southern Ute Indian Tribe’s Permanent Fund Human Resources Department has been in collaboration with the Incident Command Team and developed a flowchart as attached to assist and clarify any concerns or questions related to travel at this current time.

The current directives, being issued by the Southern Ute Tribe’s COVID 19 Incident Command Team are designed to protect the elderly, those who are classified in the high-risk population for susceptibility, the tribal community and to maintain continuity of operations for our tribal government. We all share those responsibilities equally, and ask your cooperation, support and assistance in making these protective measures successful.

Beginning Monday, March 16, 2020, Tribal staff who may have medical questions or need clarification on symptomatic concerns can call the Southern Ute Health Center (970) 563-2362. For tribal members who may have medical questions or need clarification on symptomatic concerns following the return from traveling to exposed areas can call the Southern Ute Health Center at (970) 563-2363.

If further clarification is needed for staff regarding the travel stipulations, business restrictions, and/or return to work protocol, staff will directed to contact Mr. Don Brockus, Risk Manager, for the Southern Ute Indian Tribe at (970) 563-2449 or via email at dbrockus@southernute-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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