Earlier this summer, our consultant sprayed the District’s rights-of-ways and common areas for weeds and with the deluge of rain and then drought, the weeds have reappeared. Our consultant will be back in the neighborhood Tuesday, August 31st and possibly Wednesday to address these issues for the District. They will follow all published protocols and we appreciate your patience as the continue to make a positive difference in the neighborhood! Please call our office at 970-884-2925 if you have questions.
Originally Posted on June 30, 2021 and Updated on July 14, 2021 and August 11, 2021
We conducted our final Rate Study Public Meeting #3 on June 21st at 1:00 pm where our Board of Directors, our consultant from Rural Community Assistance Corps (RCAC), staff and any residents in attendance reviewed the findings of the Rate Study. The bottom line conclusion is that the last rate increase conducted in FLMD occurred in 2013 and with the current operational costs relative to budget deficits and projected/required Capital Improvements Plan (CIP) infrastructure needs, the District has to increase rates. Special thanks and kudos go to Chris Brandewie from RCAC for conducting this comprehensive and in-depth Rate Study for the District and for our Attorney for guiding us through this process to ensure we noticed it correctly and followed State Statutes through the process! We also appreciate Board’s involvement and leadership, and that of those residents that attended the public Rate Study and CIP meetings…that went along ways in ensuring people were receiving the most current and accurate information that was available. The required cost increases are identified in Resolution 2021-09 (Rates, Fees and Charges) that was approved by the Board of Directors at the August 10, 2021, Board Meeting. We will post the approved Resolution once it is signed by the Board President.
To see what the new rates will be compared to the old rates, the District also put together a spreadsheet/worksheet that shows that comparison rates, fees and charges information. If you have questions about the rates or rate study process, please contact the District at 970-884-2925.
Originally Posted on June 24, 2021 and Updated on August 9, 2021
From the District Manager
Our plan earlier this summer was to start having the Board of Director’s meetings in person given the anticipated progress being made with the COVID-19 vaccinations and the pandemic. However, given the rise in the Delta Variant and the impacts to both vaccinated and non-vaccinated people, it would be careless and irresponsible for these meetings to be held in person at this time. So, starting with the August 10th Board meeting, the upcoming meetings (until further notice) will be held via Zoom. The meetings will still occur the second Tuesday of every month at 1:30 pm. The Zoom links can be found both on the posted Agendas (https://flmd.com/agendas-2021/) and on the District’s Calendar (https://flmd.com/calendar/). As time progresses, we will keep everybody posted on any changes in scheduling.
The Assistant Fire Management Office for Fuels on the Columbine Ranger District contacted us yesterday to inform us that as part of their ongoing prescribed fire program, they have several units adjacent to Forest Lakes Subdivision that they are starting to look at for possible burning as soon as September of 2022. A map of all of their burn units is attached, but they are primarily referring to Units VP2K, VP2J, VP2H, VP3G, and VP3F. They plan on spreading out the prescribed fires in these units over several years to reduce the amount of smoke and other impacts on the community, so for example they may burn VP2K and VP2J one year, then 2H another, then VP3G and VP3F the third year. They may start prepping the control lines around these units as early as this summer and this will entail crews with chainsaws and hand tools cutting brush/trees and digging a fire line in the soil. Their access to these Forest Service Units will most likely be through the subdivision. As we get closer to these activities, we will update this post and the Forest Service will aim to have some public meetings and field trips so that anyone interested can get more info on what they are doing and why.
In January of this year, TDL Recycling approached the District about starting a Recycling Program in the subdivision. Some of the positive highlights of their proposal included providing bins by the existing dumpsters to allow residents to dump trash and recyclables in close proximity to each other, proposed minimal cost, that they would manage the debris from the bins on a daily basis and would remove snow around their bins, etc. However, the negative items of their proposal included, the District managing the billing, billing all residents for recycling whether they use it or not, how to ensure and who’s responsibility it would be to ensure all items were properly segregated, etc. Plus, there were other issues that were discussed including District staff not having personnel to help manage a new program, the fact that new rates would have to be established through a public process, the fact that the District is currently undergoing a rate study where residents should not be required to pay for an “elective” program like recycling, etc. The District Manager provided the Board with the attached list of Pros and Cons and at the May 11, 2021, Board Meeting to help the Board of Directors determine which direction to go from a policy standpoint. The Board unanimously decided to go with path #1, which states, “Leave the program as it is, with residents simply having to travel approximately 8 miles to recycle materials at TDL’s facility on Highway 160 in Bayfield. Yes, there is a little impact to residents with this option, but this inconvenience is minimal and surely does not outweigh the costs and issues identified above” in the Pros and Cons list. So, implementation of a District-wide recycling program was “tabled” for the immediate future, where there could be an opportunity again readdress it sometime in the future.
As a public supplier of community water, the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE) requires that the Forest Lakes Metropolitan District provide a water quality report known as a Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) to our customers. The CCR tells you (our customers) what tests have been done, what levels of contaminants have been detected, and whether the levels detected violate any drinking water standards. Although many people only want to know that the water is safe, others want to know more about the water they drink. Fortunately, this is yet another year that we have great news to report. You will find a copy of the 2020 Water Quality Report here, and under the Services/Water drop-down menu, you will find CCRs for the last 7 years, to include this year’s.
Originally Posted on April 4, 2021 and Updated on August 3, 2021
From the District Manager
As part of our new “Small Improvement District Main Line Extension Program” where we generate the funding from lot owners to provide main line extensions along their roads, we just completed these extensions for both water and sewer along Spruce Way and Pine Top Drives this summer. With this program, we ask those lot owners to pre-pay their water and sewer tap fees and we then directly apply them to complete the water and/or sewer line extensions the following next summer. Fortunately, we were able to complete this project this summer through the generosity of many of the lot owners! The attached map shows where this extension occurred, and we thank all of the residents for their patience as we continue to make a positive difference in the subdivision! Next Summer (2022) – Main Line Extensions along Snowbird Court since many of the lot owners have agreed to pre-pay their taps fees in order to make this project happen!
As we head into the summer season, all indications at this point is that we may not see the amount of water in our rivers and lakes as we have in the past few years. In fact, one article (https://cronkitenews.azpbs.org/2021/04/15/snowfall-in-the-west-indicates-20-year-drought-will-persist-and-intensify/) stated that, “sparse monsoon rainfall last summer and spotty snowfall this winter have combined to dramatically worsen the drought across the West in the past year, and spring snowmelt won’t bring much relief”. The key this summer (starting now) is to conserve water in our daily lives to ensure our water supplies are not negatively impacted during the rest of the year. The District mandated water conservation tactics a few years ago and we are presently asking that residents start taking steps to conserve water usage knowing how our water supplies have been impacted over the past summer and winter seasons. What steps can you do as a resident? We have links to various websites below that will help educate people on what they can do to help with this effort. Keep in mind that FLMD does not necessarily endorse these websites. Rather, they are provided for informational purposes:
Originally Posted on April 13, 2021 and Updated on May 12, 2021
From the District Manager
Since my arrival almost a year and a half ago, it has been a huge priority of mine to get a “road map” together that systematically looked at the required sewer, water and roads infrastructure upgrades the District needed to complete over the next several years. We contracted with San Juan Engineering almost a year ago to complete this for us and on March 8th we received their Draft Report. I must say that Rick Johnson and Matt Mathers did an excellent and very comprehensive job with completing this 30 year masterplan for the District! On March 8th, we provided copies of this document to staff and our Board of Directors, and we posted a copy of the document on our website for the public to review. Staff has met with San Juan Engineering on 2 occasions to review the plan and to provide additional input, and our Board was briefed on the Masterplan via Zoom at a public Special meeting/Study Session meeting on April 7th at 1:30 pm. We are happy to state that the report is now final and a copy of it is on our website for the Public’s review.
As a side note, we have seen many reports on the condition of our Nation’s infrastructure, and our infrastructure within our subdivision will need the same attention to ensure it is able to handle existing and future District and resident requirements. This Masterplan will help us prioritize the work that is needed while giving us the ammo to seek different funding avenues to make the critical and important projects happen!
Each year, fire and rescue crews around the country respond to fires that are caused by improper disposal of hot coals or ashes from fireplaces, wood stoves, pellet stoves, grills or mobile fireplaces designed for use on decks or patios. The fact is, coals and ashes from fires can remain hot enough to start a fire for many days after you think the fire is out. The exact amount of time for complete extinguishment and cooling depends on many factors such as how hot the fire was, what was burning, how much unburned fuel remains, etc.
To be safe, simply treat all ashes and coals as hot, even when you think they have had time enough to cool. To properly dispose of ashes or coals we recommend the following:
If possible, allow ashes and coals to cool for several days in the area where you had the fire. These devices are designed to contain their heat safely.
When it is time to dispose of the ashes, transfer them to a metal container and wet them down.
Keep the metal container outside your home and away from any combustibles (away from structures, your porch, etc.) until the refuse is hauled away.
DO NOT place any other combustibles in the metal container.
DO NOT use a combustible container.
When it is time to dispose of your ashes, please note that in 2020 the District purchased an ash bin for all residents to use. When you go to the trash dumpsters, just look for the below container:
Thank you to all who have registered for FLMD e-billing, we appreciate it greatly!
Those of you who are interested in our e-bill service but haven’t registered yet, you will need the following information:
5 digit pin number located at the very top-mid portion of utility bill
4 digit account number located in left top corner of utility bill
Last 4 numbers of your social security number
If you have multiple accounts, each one will have to be entered separately.
*Registration errors are mostly because of typos and incorrect account/pin numbers. If you are logging on to make corrections, you will need to allow 24 hrs from your first attempt before logging back in. Also, if you’re updating an email address please notify FLMD office at Office@flmd.com
Over the past several months, we have seen many deficiencies with the capabilities of our existing Assyst Accounting software and some of them were noted during our Audit of our 2019 financials. We reached out to Edgemont Metro District, Pagosa Area Water and Sewer (PAWS) and the Town of Bayfield to determine which software they use. Each of them uses Caselle Government Accounting software and after interviewing their financial staff we learned that they are ecstatic about is capabilities, training, technical support, price, etc. We also made a matrix that compared the capabilities of Assyst and Caselle and there was just no comparison between them. We are very excited about implementing this new accounting software, staff and the residents are sure to see the benefits through more accurate cost accounting, financial tracking and reporting; easier and more efficient way to process customer accounts, customer bills and payments and payment entry; on-line and credit card bill paying; improved service work order system; convenient, accurate and detailed cash receipting; more efficient process of issuing checks (check on demand) and managing vendor payments; more effective ability to manage the entire purchasing process from requisitions to receiving, etc. To get all the modules we need, the total upfront cost, which includes training, set-up and conversion would be about $19K. The monthly Hosted Maintenance & Support cost would be about $920 for two workstations. We have budgeted these funds in the 2021 budget to make the transition.
Can you tell that we are excited? We hope so because since the current staff arrived over a year ago, fighting with these archaic financial systems has been a source of headaches and frustration from Day 1! We will start making the transition to Caselle in January and we continue to work hard in making long-term positive differences in the District and for the residents. We ask for your patience as we implement our new accounting software!
Snow Storage and the Management of the District’s Right-of-Way
The road right-of-way averages 25 feet from the centerline of the roadway, and this area is needed for snow storage, drainage, and signage. At times, it is necessary to plow snow well off the road into the right-of-way to make room for the next storm. Homeowners and residents should be cautious about landscaping and placing objects in the right-of-way (parked vehicles, trailers, campers, trash containers, etc.), which could obstruct traffic and get damaged by snowplows. While snowplow operators are careful to avoid contact with items in the right-of-way whenever possible, citizens are solely responsible for any damage which may result to these objects or to the District’s snow removal equipment. Additionally, you risk having any vehicles removed and towed if they are illegally parked within the District’s right-of-way. On the other hand, we have had instances where children are building forts within berms or snow mounds that are also within the right-of-way. The snowplow operators cannot see children in these mounds and we ask for your help to eliminate all of these life, health, safety and property damage issues.
Many times it is very difficult for residents to attend the monthly Board of Director’s Meetings, despite their best efforts to slice out that time. We do complete Minutes of the meeting, but also want residents to be able to listen and view the meetings when they are unable to attend them. With that, starting with the December 8th meeting, we will upload the recordings from the Zoom Meetings! Since we expect to continue using Zoom in the future for all meetings whether we can meet in place or not, this will continue to be available to all residents. The Recordings will be uploaded under the “Organization” Drop Down Menu.
Deadline and Conditions to Install Taps for Pre-Paid Tap Fees
Under prior FLMD policy and resolutions, Owners, or their predecessors who pre-paid for water and sewer taps had a limited period of time to enter into a Service Agreement and have the physical taps installed for the pre-paid prices. The time for obtaining taps at pre-paid prices has long since expired. Notwithstanding this fact, we understand that some Owners whose lots have pre-paid tap fees may have been told by FLMD staff at the time they purchased their lots that tap fees were paid in full. For any Owners who were informed by FLMD staff that their tap fees were paid in full, by direction of the Board of Directors, FLMD will honor such representation and will install taps for pre-paid prices provided the conditions in the attached letter are fulfilled. We also mailed this letter to all Forest Lakes Subdivision residents. If you have questions, please don’t hesitate calling the FLMD office at 970-884-2925.
With the help of Dan Naiman Architecture, we completed the as-builts and Building Condition Assessment of the Community Center. The architectural team will present their findings and recommendations at tonight’s board meeting.
Originally Posted on April 6, 2021 and Updated on July 20, 2021
This ballot initiative was put in front of the voters on November 3rd to seek $347,385 in financing to relocate the FLMD Admin Building to Forest Lakes Subdivision and it passed 612 votes “Yes” and 496 votes “No”. FLMD staff and the Board of Directors have finalized the loan terms through First Southwest Ban and the District awarded the construction contract to Hotter Construction Inc. Given the delays in the issuance of the Building permit, Martin Hotter will start construction of the new building the end of July 2021. The estimated construction timeline is 6 months and we expect to have the building construction complete early in 2022. We invite you to review the drawings showing the floor plans, exterior elevations, site plan, and other construction drawings that are on the website. If residents have questions, please don’t hesitate calling us at 970-884-2925.
In Forest Lakes Subdivision, there are about 790 structures, whereby about 415 of them are connected to Forest Lake Metropolitan District’s sewer infrastructure. This means that there are about 375 of these structures that are handling their wastes generated in their homes through on-site septic systems. Is there a problem with this? Definitely not…as long as these systems are being properly operated and maintained on a regular basis. What is sewage? How does a septic system work? What is a leech field? Should I use chemicals in my septic system to help it operate? If I have a septic system, how often should I inspect my tank and the leech field? If I don’t see “stuff” coming out of the tank, am I Ok with not having it pumped on a regular basis? How often should I get it pumped? Are there possible environmental concerns if I don’t inspect my system or pump my tank regularly? Definitely all great questions and as a homeowner, you should be able to find answers to these questions without too much effort.
Forest Lakes Metropolitan District provides a wastewater system and that takes care of the materials generated from homes that are connected to our infrastructure. Put another way, we have jurisdiction over what goes into our system and we are required for the O&M of this system. For on-site septic systems, you (the homeowner) are responsible for the O&M of the on-site septic system that is on your property. Just like maintaining your vehicle, your OWTS requires maintenance too. San Juan Basin Public Health, through their Environmental Public Health Program, is the regulatory authority for on-site water treatment systems (OWTS) in La Plata County. Additional information on their programs can be found at: https://sjbpublichealth.org/septic/. On another note, if you are selling your property after January 1, 2019, your OWTS will be required to undergo an inspection prior to sale. This requirement helps identify failing and hazardous system and protects property buyers from unforeseen repair obligations.
So, back to the questions posed in the first paragraph. There are several resources on the internet that will educate you as a homeowner on the proper O&M of your OWTS. After spending a few minutes researching this, we have found 4 very good resources that should help you in this area. Even though Forest Lakes Metropolitan District does not officially endorse these resources, we are providing them to help you make decisions concerning the O&M of your on-site septic systems:
We also found a very user-friendly YouTube video (20 minutes) that walks you through this information as well and it also delves into some of the technical aspects of OWTS: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=udBaGyzJyU8
If you have a great resource on this topic and would like to share it with your neighbors, feel free to contact our office with that information (970)884-2925.
Where is the Metro District Office, what are the hours of the Trash and Brush/Slash Facility and where are they located, how many Board Members are there, what is the link to the District’s website, who are the internet providers in the area, who do I contact if I want to hook up to natural gas, how many fish can I legally keep while fishing Lake Simpatico, etc., etc., etc.? If you have had the above questions and many others, we hope you will find value in reading the new Forest Lakes Welcome Guide! Our goal is to provide residents of Forest Lakes subdivision with a “one stop” location to help get them oriented to their new community as quickly and as painlessly as possible. We will have hard copies at the Main FLMD office, and we will also include other valuable information, such as the Firewise and Pine River Shares Programs!
Have you heard about “Pine River Shares?” Maybe you want to be part of the Program or you have herd of it and want to learn more about it? Please visit their website: http://www.pinerivershares.org/ or check out the attached Flyer! Even though this Program is not part of Forest Lakes Metropolitan District, we are proud to advertise it on our website because of the services they provide to the residents in the Pine River Valley!
As a District, we remain committed to providing information and guidance to residents, and those that wish to conduct business in the District, that is easy to understand and that makes sense. In that light, we revamped our Excavation Permit Application, created a flowchart that describes the process and have developed a Handbook where the applicable documents can all be found in one place. We believe in “one stop shopping” and we appreciate any feedback you may have so we can continue to refine this and other information packets so that they are completely user friendly.
The Excavation Permit Application is to be used whenever a resident or a contractor will be installing utilities in the District’s right-of-way or when residents will install culverts (for driveways) where the work will also occur in the District’s right-of-way.
For questions related to this process, feel free to contact Forest Lakes Metropolitan District at 970-884-2925. Or, come see us at 271 N. Mountain View Drive, #271, Bayfield, CO 81122.
Given the continued fire risk in Forest Lakes Subdivision, open burning of brush, slash, debris, etc., is not allowed anywhere in the subdivision under any circumstances. Brush and slash can be brought to the Brush/Slash pile at 6893 County Road 501 for District personnel to dispose of. Pertaining to recreational burning, the approved and published covenants for Units 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 already prohibit recreational burning in fire pits or under any other circumstances, and the District will defer to those regulations. If you have questions, please direct them to the District Manager at 970-884-2925.
The Forest Lakes Metro District has neither short- or long-range plans to extend services (water, sewer and road improvements) into Unit 3. It is cost prohibitive (estimated at almost $28M), and we don’t have the budget, manpower, nor time to install that infrastructure into Unit 3. This was recognized by the Board of Directors back in 1985 when they passed a Resolution that stated, “the District would not construct or guarantee the construction of any of the public improvements to be located within Unit 3…”. This funding issue is exacerbated by the fact that our Capital Improvements Plan identified almost $26M in infrastructure work that needs to be completed in Units 1, 2, 4 and 5. Given that the District’s Service Plan states that the District is supposed to provide this infrastructure, the then Board should have sought an amendment to the Service Plan back in 1985. To correct this gargantuan error, our current Board of Directors passed Resolution 2021-08 on July 13, 2021, and then officially recorded it with La Plata County Clerk on July 22, 2021. This document is attached for reference. We are currently coordinating with La Plata County’s Community Development Director to develop the “right” documents so that we can seek La Plata County’s Board of County Commissioner’s (BOCC) approval to officially delete that requirement to provide the infrastructure upgrades to Unit 3 from the District’s Service Plan.