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Ranchos sewer board votes to connect sewer line

by Merrie Leininger

Waldo Walker is “ecstatic” his family can move into its new home in Dresslerville after waiting months to get permission for a sewer connection.

The Gardnerville Ranchos General Improvement District board voted unanimously Friday at a special meeting to allow one sewer connection on the condition the Walkers pay the out-of-district fee until the GID and the Washoe Tribe agree to a new monthly rate.

The Walkers, Melody and Waldo and their two daughters, Rachel, 12, and Rebecca, 10, have been living with Melody’s mom, Kathleen Hadley, in her two-bedroom Ranchos home since October. Their home has been sitting empty in Dresslerville because of a contract dispute between the Tribe and the Gardnerville Ranchos General Improvement District.

“Hopefully, (we will be able to move in) soon,” Walker said. “The contractor has 10 days to do the work after he is contacted. Once that is done, the gas can be turned on and we’re basically done. (Not being allowed to live in our home) really affects the family as a whole. It affects our personal lives, and having no control, it was kind of upsetting. It took forever. I’m really glad it is over.”

The GRGID maintains sewer lines through the district to the Minden-Gardnerville Sanitation District. It charges fees to cover the maintenance. When it raised its fees last year and decided the Tribe should pay higher fees charged to out-of-district users, the Tribe continued paying only the rate charged to district users. Because of the impasse, the board decided not to allow any new sewer connections until a new contract is signed with the Tribe.

When the board heard a proposed contract from Tribe attorney Tim Seward Feb. 7, it agreed to hold a special meeting to reconsider a hookup for the Walker family.

“This was taken because we have seen some positive movement in the negotiations. There was nothing happening for a considerable amount of time. (The Walkers’) plight has resulted in movement,” said board Trustee Dennis Le Drew.

“I hate to see anyone used as a pawn,” said Trustee Al Wagner. “If we were talking about 100 families, that would be different, but one sewer hookup is not going to make a difference one way or another in working out negotiations.”

Seward’s proposal includes lower fees because the Tribe maintains the lines within Dresslerville.

The Tribe uses a 1.4-mile span of line belonging to GRGID to transport effluent from the colony to the sanitation district. GRGID wants the Tribe to pay a $32 fee because Dresslerville is not part of the district.

Seward proposed rates of $6.28 per month or $15.03 per month, depending on when a home was connected.

According to GRGID, the Tribe has a debt of more than $27,000 in out-of-district fees it has refused to pay since the fees increased in October 1999. In-district customers pay $11 or $19 per month depending on when they were connected. That is the rate the Tribe was asked to pay before October 1999. It continues to pay that amount.