The Durango City Council may ask voters in November to approve bonds to finance a major wastewater plant upgrade.
City Manager Ron LeBlanc told the council it will be necessary to bring the project to the voters in the fall, instead of July, in order to be in compliance with the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, an amendment to the Colorado Constitution.
If passed, the potential ballot measure would allow the city to take on debt, but it would not impose a new tax on city residents, Mayor Sweetie Marbury said.
The city imposed sewer and water rate increases in January to help fund the investment.
Consultants previously estimated it could take about $55 million to renovate the plant in Santa Rita Park and make it possible for the plant to maintain state standards for nitrogen and phosphorous effluent.
However, councilors asked the city to fully explore moving the plant downstream and potentially combining the plant with the one that serves the Three Springs area, operated by the South Durango Sanitation District.
“South Durango is going to be dealing with this same infrastructure issues in 10 to 15 years,” Councilor Christina Rinderle said.
She said she would like to avoid forcing residents to make the same heavy investments twice.
If the plants cannot be combined, she also suggested looking into moving the plant beyond the high bridge
The city currently is looking for a consultant to analyze whether moving the plant south would be feasible, LeBlanc said.
“You are going to want to have that information before you place it on the ballot,” he said.