From the Rifle Citizen Telegram (Mike McKibbin):
Councilwoman Jennifer Sanborn, one of two council members to vote in the minority when the issue has arisen, criticized Mayor Jay Miller for what she felt was a “gross exaggeration” about a possible plant failure leaving the city without water for perhaps months.
“I think it’s wrong for an elected official to try to instill fear in people when it’s not warranted,” Sanborn said. “I just don’t think it’s morally right.”
Miller had earlier said he did not want to see the city step back and consider other plant alternatives, as Sanborn suggested.
“We’ve been diddling around with this for the last five years and I feel if we push this back and back, we’re going to have businesses leave town, then we will have a catastrophic failure of the city,” Miller said. “I’m not willing to take that chance.”
Miller added that if a core part of the current plant on Graham Mesa fails, it would take months to have a replacement part manufactured. The plant was designed to use a treatment process that is outdated and replacement parts are no longer manufactured on a regular basis…
The motion passed 4-2, with Sanborn and Councilman Randy Winkler opposed, as they have in several previous votes on the issue. Councilman Keith Lambert was absent from the meeting. City Attorney Jim Neu later noted council’s action meant city staff will move forward to close on the loan, but pointed out the city does not have to spend the entire $25.5 million on a new plant.
City Manager John Hier said he will schedule a work session with city council in the near future, to review various funding options for the new plant in an attempt to lessen the burden on rate payers. In his closing comments at the end of the meeting, Miller said his earlier statements were not intended to instill fear in residents, but felt the issue had to be discussed among councilmembers. He also asked the Citizen Telegram to not portray his comments in that light.