The new falcon herald logo.
Feature Articles

Woodmen Hills plans for the future

Woodmen Hills Metropolitan District board members held a town hall meeting March 2 to unveil potential changes to the district’s service plan. Jan Pizzi, president of the board, said it has been 10 years since the plan was updated.The service plan draft addresses covenant enforcement in filings 1 through 10, which became a hot topic in 2008 when Woodmen Hills resident Chuck Warne won a lawsuit against the district for enforcing covenants without the authority to do so.Within each filing is a process allowing the developer to assign covenant enforcement to the district, but for most filings the process expired in 2004, Warne said. Homeowners then had 120 days to form associations and assign covenant enforcement to the district, but Warne said it never happened.Last November, the district sent a survey to households in filings 1 through 10 asking if residents wanted covenant enforcement. The survey results posted on the Woodmen Hills Web site show that out of 397 responses, 82 were in favor and 315 were opposed. But Pizzi said 83 surveys were returned without address information and a few surveys shared the same handwriting.Feedback from the town hall meeting prompted a new idea: enforcing covenants only if voters approved it.Pizzi said the district is consulting with attorneys about changing the service plan draft to make covenant enforcement conditional on the outcome of an election. She said they could create subdistricts based on filing boundaries so a vote would reflect the results for each filing.Given the complexity of creating subdistricts and the expense of an election specifically for Woodmen Hills, the district might wait until 2012 when the cost would be shared with other items on the ballot, Pizzi said.Board member Keith Moulton said he thinks an election could help the board understand the desires and needs of the people.”The people … want to have a direct say. I understand exactly where they are coming from,” Moulton said.According to exhibit C of the service plan draft, the estimated cost of covenant enforcement for the 1,179 residences in filings 1 through 10 is $105,000 a year, increasing annually by 2 percent and requiring a 5 mill levy or a monthly user fee of $8.75.Warne said he thinks an election is a waste of time and money. Instead, residents of a particular filing could modify their covenants if they want enforcement, he said. The district would then have authority to collect fees and enforce covenants in that filing under state statute.”If they are not careful, I can see another recall in the district’s future,” Warne said.Other service plan changesThe service plan draft raises the district’s debt authorization from $16,200,000 to $55,000,000 and authorizes the district to collect a mill levy for the first time.The mill levy is capped at 65 mills, with debt service, operations and covenant enforcement capped at 50, 10 and 5 mills, respectively.Exhibit C of the service plan draft shows the estimated capital requirements for three infrastructure projects needed in the next 20 years. The projects would be funded by the issuance of 30-year general-obligation bonds on Jan. 1, 2013, and paid for by a voter-approved mill levy or a monthly user fee.

ServiceDebtInterest rateAnnual mill levyMonthly user fee
Water treatment plant$10,900,0005%14.27 mills$24.62
Parks and recreation$10,445,0006%15.21 mills$26.24
Wastewater treatment plant$14,000,0005%19.90 mills$30.33
Improving the way the wastewater is handled is the district’s highest priority, Pizzi said.While the service plan draft seeks authorization to allow the district to finance the construction of a wastewater treatment plant, contracting with Cherokee Metropolitan District is another option.It would be cheaper to go with Cherokee, but the district would lose its right to the water the Cherokee plant would process, Pizzi said.”We have to look at everything,” she said. “Sometimes the cheapest isn’t the best. Maybe now is the best time to think about building our own treatment plant. Maybe labor will be cheaper.”The service plan draft also identifies a solution for the district’s drainage maintenance costs, which are currently funded out of the parks and recreation fund: establish a separate $150,000 drainage maintenance fund at a cost of 5 mills a year or a monthly fee of $5.18.The new service plan also authorizes the district to implement mosquito control and street improvements, maintain television relay and translation facilities and provide security services. The plan also provides authority for fire protection in areas of the district not included in a fire protection district.Even if some of the services are never provided, Pizzi said they need to be prepared for the future and avoid another $50,000 to $100,000 amendment.Census data shows that El Paso County is growing by leaps and bounds, and the eastern part of the county will probably see the most growth, Pizzi said.Before the amended service plan takes effect, it will have to be heard and approved by the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners; Pizzi said no date has been set for the hearing.

StratusIQ Fiber Internet Falcon Advertisement

Current Weather

Weather Cams by StratusIQ

Search Advertisers