The Saratoga Sun -

USFS project nears completion

District Ranger Jason Armbruster provides update to CCIJPB at recent meeting


September 18, 2019

Joshua Wood

While heavy equipment was still on site Tuesday morning, the water/sewer project for the US Forest Service may be completed by the end of the month.

At the most recent meeting of the Carbon County Impact Joint Powers Board (CCIJPB) on Sept. 11, the board heard updates from United States Forest Service (USFS) District Ranger Jason Armbruster on the water and sewer line project that began construction in late 2018. The process of the Brush Creek/Hayden Ranger District connecting to the town's water supply hasn't been a short one as it began in early 2017.

Despite the departure of one district ranger, the arrival of a new district ranger and a federal government shutdown, it appears that the project is slated to come to a finish. Armbruster informed the CCIJPB that, if the schedule were to remain on track, the estimated date to turn on water and activate the sewer lift system was Sept. 25.

Along with the completion of the project, Armbruster discussed the agreement between the Town of Saratoga and the USFS.

"The second part I wanted to talk about was the water supply agreement that was presented at the last meeting. I did pass that agreement onto our grants and agreements and contracting people at our regional office. As I suspected, this type of agreement wasn't in their wheelhouse and so the agreement was forwarded onto our Office of General Counsel," said Armbruster. "They reviewed it and identified a couple of issues that would potentially preclude the Forest Service from entering into the agreement, but he didn't think it was anything that couldn't be overcome."

According to Armbruster, the main concern from the Office of General Counsel was the limitations on federal agencies to unlimited liability and indemnification. Another concern was limitations on being able to agree to long-term financial commitments. 

"The attorney did recommend or suggest one potential path forward while we're hashing out the language of the agreement would be to enter into a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), just outline what the various steps are. This is something I just took a crack at putting this together based by pulling a lot of language out of the agreement that Jon (Winter) provided. Outlines the major responsibilities of the parties," Armbruster said.

The district ranger told the members of the joint powers board that the MOU would allow the Town of Saratoga to provide service to the USFS while still working on the wording of the agreement. CCIJPB Treasurer Russ Waldner asked if the MOU was necessary to the process.

"If we end up in service before we have the agreement, is that the end of the earth?"  asked Waldner.

"No," said CCIJPB Chairman Richard Raymer, "because if everything doesn't jive, we've got the ability to shut it off." 

The joint powers board appeared to agree, it was wise to have the MOU in place to provide service to the USFS while the wording of the service agreement was looked over by both legal counsel for the Town of Saratoga and the Office of General Counsel.

The next meeting of the Carbon County Impact Joint Powers Board will be at 6 p.m. on Oct. 9 at Saratoga Town Hall.


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