CS&WD board awash in controversy over commercial water rates

Cuchara Inn chooses to close at end of season over high water costs

By Renee Rinehart –(Published: August 17, 2017)  In an attempt to work with the Cuchara Inn on delinquent water bills, the board of Cucharas Water & Sanitation District asked the owner to submit a repayment plan, but then demanded full payment.

Those two options caused a lengthy regular meeting on Friday, August 11 and drove the board to extend the regular meeting two more times, with one meeting Tuesday and another yesterday. These meetings were an attempt to settle the dispute over excessively high water bills for the Cuchara Inn.

Yesterday, the board denied a motion to temporarily adopt the La Veta commercial rates, which charges half the EQR rate for hotels. Director Tom Lewis made the motion, then voted against it, along with Board President Gerald Van Nort and Director Henry Harnly. Directors Jim Berg and Art Pierce voted in favor of the motion. About 25 residents attended the Wednesday meeting along with business owners of Yellow Pine Guest Ranch and The Timbers.

Scott Lynch, owner of the Cuchara Inn, read a statement to the CS&WD board Wednesday, announcing they will close the restaurant immediately and close the hotel on Nov. 1. He said, “It has become apparent that no matter how much research Marshall Moore and I do, no matter how we try to frame the facts in a way that will not offend or embarrass the board members by exposing how little they understand about what they were elected to do—it has no affect.”

Lynch went on to say, “This board is far more invested in appearing right than actually being right.” He said the stress of the never-ending game by CS&WD has robbed their family of peace, enjoyment and causes almost daily frustration.

Lynch ended his statement with, “Next time the water board election rolls around, I hope you will give more weight to the idea of competency in your candidates, I think you will be much better served.”