2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner

Cascade water district imposes rate hike to its customers

Published: February 28, 2014, 10:20 am, by Matt Steiner

Cascade residents will be paying at least $25 more per month for their water after officials with the water district announced a rate hike earlier this week.

Jennifer Tanaka, an attorney for the Cascade Metropolitan District, said the $25 increase for residents with a standard, three-quarter inch tap will help the district offset costs related to a legal dispute with Colorado Springs Utilities. CSU has been leasing water to the western El Paso County town as part of a pact signed in 1990.

“The board made it clear that the fee is only for the purpose of repaying the city,” Tanaka said of the decision made at Tuesday’s meeting. “Once everything is paid off, the fee goes away.”

According to Tanaka, a trial between CSU and the district was continued after an agreement made in mid February. The Cascade Metropolitan District has an outstanding debt of $495,000 owed to the utilities company. Tanak said the continuance will allow the district time “to depose a key witness.” She said the lawsuit is pending.

A letter sent to Cascade customers in early February said, the district had been seeking legal action against CSU in order to get out of the 1990 agreement and work toward building its own water treatment plant.

The Cascade district is also embroiled in the middle of an embezzlement investigation. According to November 2013 news reports in the Mountain Jackpot newspaper in Teller County, former district manager Terry Malcom is accused of allegedly pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars that was supposed to go toward debts. District officials told customers that work toward acquiring its own water system will be delayed until it can “replace the missing funds to meet financial obligations.”

The reports state that Malcom also allegedly stole from the Arabian Acres Metropolitan District which serves the Florissant area.