Since the termination of the Parker water inclusion in February, the path towards dissolution of the Castle Pines North Metro District, or CPNMD, has been unclear. But in a unanimous decision on June 20, the CPNMD approved an intergovernmental agreement, or IGA, to transfer its stormwater system and necessary property rights to the city of Castle Pines – handing over one of its main responsibilities and bringing the body a step closer to dissolution.
Until this decision, CPNMD provided its community with stormwater, water and wastewater services and managed the district’s parks, trails and open spaces, according to its website.
The new IGA transfers the ownership of the district’s stormwater infrastructure to the city in its current condition, Castle Pines Public Works Director Larry Nimmo said in the June meeting. In addition, the district will transfer its stormwater enterprise funds of over $1 million to the city for the sole purpose of administering the stormwater utility, according to the agreement.
According to Castle Pines City Manager Michael Penny, the IGA creates a more unified stormwater system for the city.
“Both from a capital needs as well as an annual operations standpoint, just having two governmental entities really made for inefficiencies in the management of that system,” Penny said.
In addition to creating inefficiency, the preexisting stormwater system posed liability concerns for Castle Pines, said Joseph Marencik, the city’s stormwater coordinator. Castle Pines has a stormwater permit from the state that imposes regulations the city must meet, he said.
“Something could happen in the metro district system and… even though we didn’t cause it, as soon as it enters our system, we now become one of the responsible parties,” he said.
Marencik said having rights to the metro district’s stormwater system gives the city more control over the quality of stormwater services for all residents.
According to the IGA, the city may alter existing stormwater fees charged to city residents based on documented costs of maintaining the system, projected future capital improvements and other relevant factors.
District customers currently pay $5 per month for stormwater services, said former CPNMD district manager Jim Worley in the June meeting. CPNMD vice president Chris Lewis expressed concern about the potential for fees to rise under the city’s management.
According to Marencik, the fees will be determined based on a full-scale engineering assessment of the condition of the stormwater system and associated maintenance needs.
“Without knowing exactly what’s going on, what the current condition is and needs going forward, there’s no reliable way to estimate (the fees),” Marencik said. “Under state statutes, any changes have to be fully justifiable about why we’re doing that — we actually have to have some concrete numbers to back that up.”
Penny said the estimated fees from this analysis would be presented to the city council in the first quarter of 2023.
According to CPNMD board member Tera Radloff, transferring stormwater rights is a step towards consolidation of the city and the district, which would create more efficiency of government. This increased efficiency could eventually be reflected in where city taxpayer’s funds are going, she said.
“The 3,500 residential and commercial customers on the west side are paying for basically two whole administrations,” said Radloff, who is the former mayor of Castle Pines. “There could be more efficiencies if those two combined.”
Because of this IGA, Radloff said the district can also put more of its focus towards water and wastewater services. After the Parker water deal was terminated, the board started looking into a wide range of water providers for the district, including Centennial Water and Sanitation, Aurora Water, Castle Rock Water, Parker Water and Sanitation and the possibility of remaining as a smaller water district.
If the district decides to pursue a new inclusion plan, another vote would be required in a special election, Radloff said. The election result in which CPNMD customers overwhelmingly approved the Parker inclusion plan would not be applicable to a new water inclusion decision, she said.
In addition to the stormwater IGA, Radloff said she hopes CPNMD will soon transfer ownership and management of its parks, trails and open spaces to the city. This would contribute to efficiency in management and would reduce complications in transferring stormwater easements, as a lot of the district’s stormwater infrastructure exists in its open space property, Penny said.
The groups will discuss this idea in CPNMD’s study session on Sept. 21, Radloff said.
According to Penny, transferring stormwater and parks, trails and open spaces to the city implements the council’s overall goal of being a single governance system with ease of communication for citizens.
“From a city council perspective, that is serving the community and making it easy for the public to maintain the accountability that comes with that,” he said.
The closing date for the stormwater IGA is Sept. 30.
CPNMD president Chuck Lowen did not respond to Colorado Community Media’s requests for comment.
Editor’s Note: This story has been corrected to reflect accurate information about the stormwater fee analysis presentation. The findings will be presented to the city council, not CPNMD.