CENTER — On Tuesday Center trustees, following the advice of their auditors, paid a longstanding debt to Center Fire District totaling $41,000. The debt has been on the books since 2006 and maybe longer, Trustee Mary McClure said.
Auditors told the town that failure to pay off the debt and leave it on the books was a violation of state statutes. Trustees were not sure what the original debt was for, but agreed to pay.
“The district says we owe them more,” trustee Adeline Sanchez told the board. Assistant Town Cerk Rose DeHerrera told trustees the auditors said the only way to clear up the debt is to pay it off or have the fire district write it off, and the district would not agree to a write off.
“If we owe it, we owe it,” McClure said, with other trustees commenting the fire department is all volunteer. The funds for the payoff were taken from the light and power and the gas funds.
Trustees heard a report from utility department employees Duane Valdez and Chris Nelson regarding progress made in replacing wires and poles for the town’s electric system. The project is far enough along, Valdez said, that they will need to begin doing terminations of service to complete the rewiring. The work will probably extend into the residential section of town this fall before work stops for the winter.
The project began within the commercial district and worked its way into town. Crews are coordinating with San Luis Valley Rural Electric Cooperative (SLVREC) to run lines across Highway 112. Work will resume in the spring, Valdez said. McClure congratulated the workers for being ahead of schedule on the project.
Most of the water meters are in and meters are being read. A sizeable water leak detected from a commercial customer has been monitored for the past four to six months and will eventually be addressed, the workers said. The utility department also plans to change street lights soon.
The new water tower has not been painted yet, trustees confirmed, but the painting should begin this week. On one side the lettering will be “Town of Center” and on the other side “Home of the Center Vikings.”
DeHerrera announced she has received a bid from former Alamosa County clerk and recorder Judy Egbert for $9,500 to run the town’s 2018 election next year. Egbert has help run elections in Center for the past several years. This year she also will be running elections in six other towns, DeHerrera said.
Egbert would consult with the town on the phone during the election and set up the election process (training, ballots, etc.), but would not be there in person. The election would be by mail-in ballot and DeHerrerra said she feels she could handle much of the mail-in ballot process herself. “It’s way easy,” she said. “You can’t touch anything anyway, you just put it in the box. Everything is on camera.”
Trustees objected to the cost of the election, with trustee Sanchez commenting, “Eventually we have to be on our own.” McClure suggested DeHerrera contact Egbert and modify the contract, adding the board had confidence in her ability to handle the election. The board then approved the sending of the letter requesting modification and a price reduction.
Ordinarily town clerks run elections but Center does not currently have a town clerk. Applications have been received and candidates for the position will be reviewed by the board at a future date. Trustees said the town will hire a town administrator /clerk and the board also approved a motion to hire a town financial consultant to assist the new administrator/clerk.