June 2023 News since the May 2, 2023 Election
Welcome to our new Board! At the May regular meeting Mike Smith was seated for a second board term, and re-elected to the offices of Board Secretary and Treasurer. David Karas was welcomed as a new Board member. Other officers elected at the meeting were John Loll as Vice President and Vivia Lawson as President.
Thank you to everyone who returned their ballots on time for the Board of Directors election! Of about 1,500 eligible to vote in the election, about 248 valid ballots were returned on time. Unfortunately, a handful of ballots were mailed too late (e.g., they were not delivered in person to the District office), and were received after the election deadline L. Fortunately the results were not close.
A first order of business for the new board was a special meeting with the Town of Crestone to discuss wastewater services provided by the District to the Town. This meeting was only confirmed three days before it happened. Such are the uncertainties of organizing large groups of decisionmakers and their lawyers. Apologies for the late notice to anyone who was inconvenienced. It was a hybrid meeting with representatives from Town and the District participating both on Zoom and from the District board room. We discussed plans and funding logistics for the new wastewater treatment plant, and also engaged in thorough, candid, and civil conversation about the need for Town and the District to work together, and the barriers in the way of cooperation. The District felt it was important that this be a public meeting, and several community members joined to listen. Thank you for your interest!
Another wonderful piece of news is that during the spring, US Fish & Wildlife (USFWS) agreed to a short term rate reduction for water purchased by the District. Beginning in July, we will be paying $75 per acre/foot for raw water. This is a substantial reduction from the contested rate we have been paying for several years of $244.27 per acre/foot. The new rate is much closer to what our Water Services Agreement with USFWS specifies we should be paying, and will result in savings to the District of approximately $58,000 per year. This temporary rate reduction paves the way for the parties to agree to long term changes to our Water Services Agreement. Our relationship to the Federal Government is unique in the entire country. As a result our friends at USFWS move slowly. This new agreement has been in negotiation for a long time, and the rate we have been charged has been contested for a number of years. Thank you Fish for offering this interim concession!
May 10, 2023
The Official election results have been certified.
Two (2) Directors were elected to serve a four-year term.
Congratulations to Mr. Smith and Mr. Karas and thank you to all who participated.
Following are the Official Results of the Election:
Mike Smith = 195
David Karas = 167
William Peck= 36
Dan Gray = 52
Michael Scully = 30
Thanks to everybody for taking part in this process!
April 18, 2023
Post by District Manager
In the April 2023 edition of the Crestone Eagle a letter was submitted asking certain “Questions for the Baca Grande Water and Sanitation District". These questions have not been presented directly to the District. Nevertheless, answers to these questions are set forth below to promote transparency and provide accurate information:
Q.1. Why is our banking done in Utah County, Utah? We have a local credit union.
Will you consider keeping our money here and build community by investing locally?
A. Our banking is not done in Utah.
B. Credit Unions tend not to want Public Funds because Public Funds must be collateralized 102% with specific investments such as Treasury Bills/Notes, Government-backed investments, etc. Credit Unions are in the business of lending their funds.The District needs banking functions such as Lockbox and the ability to work with third party payment companies such as Paymentech and Xpress Deposit.
Q. 2. Why is our accountant in Denver? A responsible public institution should make its accountant transparent and available. Will you consider hiring a local accountant?
A. Our accountant is transparent, available and attends the monthly board meetings. The district needs to have a qualified, governmental accountant familiar with the deadlines, accounting rules and regulations specific to Special Districts that must be followed.
Q. 3. Why are meetings on Zoom only? The COVID narrative is passé. Will you consider welcoming the public back into the board for meetings?
A. Yes, this has been considered. At its March 19, 2023 meeting of the Baca Grande Water and Sanitation District Board Directors, the topic of having in-person and Zoom meeting formats was discussed. Zoom meetings are being preferred for its larger attendee capacity. The small board room at the district office is a concern for in person meetings and another big concern is security. Following discussion, and upon vote, unanimously carried, the Board will continue with Zoom meetings for the next six months and continue to be open for hybrid special meetings.
March 3, 2023
Post by BGWSD Board President - Vivia Lawson
With the completion of the self-nomination period on February 24th, and the self nomination of 5 candidates to 2 Board seats, we now enter the 2023 election season for our Baca Grande Water & Sanitation District. The candidate names and election process are posted in the Elections section of this website. But other than factual information, the District must remain neutral on all election matters.
Often members of the community look to the District to administer candidate forums, or to include candidate biographies with the mailed ballots, but these activities are the responsibility of the candidates themselves. Often, and this election is no exception, we have seated board members (in this election we have both current and former board members running for election), and there are many ways the District may be misunderstood to be preferencing or disadvantaging one or more candidates should it participate in any activities related to campaigns. According to our District legal counsel, Mr. Marcus Lock, who has advised the District for many years, and is well respected, made the following response to my questions about the role I as a board member and as Board President must conduct myself during this season:
“…the District, employees, and Board members cannot spend public monies to “urge” the electorate to vote for or against any particular candidate…Public employees and Board members…cannot use District resources, time, or employees to do so and cannot state that they are advocating on behalf of the District in their official capacity. Basically, you can have a personal opinion about who should or should not be elected but that opinion has to be completely separate from the official business and activities of the District, which must remain neutral in all respects. The only role the District can play in the election is to conduct it neutrally in accordance with the election code. There is no wiggle room or gray areas here. This is one of the few black and white areas of the law. And violations are treated seriously.”
Every election season Mr. Lock reminds us of our duties as public servants, and I every year realize with greater acuity how my own perspective may or may not be widely shared, and how people who hold roles of public trust must be doubly mindful of our responsibilities, the implications of our authority, and the limits of our abilities.
With this in mind, I urge members of the District to familiarize themselves with the candidates, and I urge candidates to make themselves known to the community through all available means. Ballots will be mailed to all Colorado registered voters who either reside in the District or who own property in the District the week of April 10, 2023. If you are qualified to vote in the election and do not receive a ballot, you may contact the District office at 719-256-4310 or email email@example.com.
Returning Your Ballot:
1. Ballots may be dropped off at the District office.
2. Voted ballots may be returned by mail to PO Box 520, Crestone, CO 81131 (don’t forget to include adequate postage) or you may hand deliver your ballot to the Baca Grande Water and Sanitation District office at 57 Baca Grant Way S, during business hours. The District office is open 9:00 a.m.-12:30 PM, then 1:30 PM to 4:30 PM Monday through Friday, and from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM on Election Day.
Deadline for returning voted ballots:
Ballots must be received by the District by 7:00 p.m. on Election Day, Tuesday, May 2, 2023, in order for your vote to be counted. Ballots received after 7:00 p.m. on Election Day will not be counted. Postmarks do not count as received.
Please contact the DEO Judy Egbert at 719/580-9357 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about voting.
Sooo, we have two months to learn about the candidates and the issues. We welcome the participation and engagement of all of our members!