By Mike Harris – Special to The Alpine Mountaineer
Twin Peaks residents protested paying a big jump in fees for road maintenance and snow removal service to county supervisors on April 25 and it worked—at least temporarily.
Parcel owners in the Rim Forest road maintenance and snow removal service area weren’t so lucky.
The two service areas in question are County Service Area 70, Zone R-9 (Rim Forest) and County Service Area 70, Zone R-22 (Twin Peaks).
The Rim Forest service area was first up for consideration at the county supervisors board meeting held on April 25. Both service area hearings were continued from March 14.
No parcel owners from the Rim Forest service area appeared before the supervisors to address the proposed fee increases.
Supervisors voted 4-1 to approve the measure, with 2nd District Supervisor Jesse Armendarez voting no.
Rim Forest parcel owners, 141 parcels, will now go from an annual fee of $60 per parcel to $194.40 per parcel per year for ongoing operating and maintenance costs. Also, there will be an annual inflationary increase of up to 3 percent.
Additionally, there will be a $307.09 per parcel per year charge for a 10-year period to fund repayment of a loan, with interest, for a road paving project, for a total of $501.49 per parcel per year, effective Fiscal Year 2023-24, for road maintenance and snow removal services.
Showing that it may be advantageous to physically speak to supervisors, a group of residents and parcel owners from County Service Area 70, Zone R-22, which includes 141 parcels in Twin Peaks, appeared before supervisors to say why they opposed the proposed increases.
Key to their message was the fact that the fee increase proposed would go from the current $100 per parcel per year to an increased amount of $268.42 per parcel per year for ongoing operating and maintenance costs, with an annual inflationary increase of up to 3 percent.
Additionally, there would be $548.18 per parcel per year for a 10-year period to fund repayment of a loan, with interest, for a paving project. Combined, parcel owners would be facing a total of $816.60 per parcel per year, effective Fiscal Year 2023-24, for road maintenance and snow removal services.
Of those speaking, one of the challenges mentioned was that not all parcel owners received notification of the proposed fee increases, nor the date of the hearing.
Another resident said the road was never meant to receive the amount of traffic currently seen because of newer development in the area using their road as a shortcut.
Leonard Hernandez, county chief executive officer (CEO), and Brendon Biggs, director of public works, worked to clarify the situation and why the fee increases were so high.
Key to their explanations was that these two special districts, as well as several others, never included an annual increase for inflation when they were originally formed. County costs for maintenance of roads in the special districts have kept climbing for the county.
Fourth District Supervisor Curt Hagman added that fees had not kept up for 39 years.
Questioned about any response from other parcel owners in County Service Area 70, Zone R-22, Biggs noted that the county had received a 37.5 percent response protesting the increases.
Dawn Rowe, 3rd District Supervisor and currently board chairperson, said, “That’s a big number.”
Hernandez said the county could come back to the board with some other alternatives. “We can see if there are any other options,” he added.
Finally, the board said they would like the Department of Public Works and the CEO to report back on alternatives, and possibly a plan to address the inflation aspect for other special districts.
In the end, the board voted 5-0 to reject the increase plan for the Twin Peaks special district.