Wellington Board of Trustees election: Q&A with candidate Timothy Whitehouse

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Timothy Whitehouse

Timothy Whitehouse is running for a seat on the Wellington Board of Trustees.

He was first appointed to the board in 2017 and was elected in 2018. He owns Arris Timber Works, a heavy timber construction company. He has a bachelor’s degree in history from Trinity College and a bachelor’s degree in industrial design from the Rhode Island School of Design.

Whitehouse is one of eight people running for three open trustee positions in the April 5 election. The positions are elected at-large to four-year terms.

The other trustee candidates are: Lisa Chollet, Wyatt Knutson, Brian Mason, Lowrey Moyer, Melanie Murphy, Shirrell Tietz and David Wiegand. 

The Coloradoan sent questions to all Wellington Board of Trustees candidates to learn more about their priorities and why they’re running for office.

Below are Whitehouse’s answers. All answers were lightly edited for grammar, spelling, clarity and AP style.

Learn more about Whitehouse at timwhitehouseforwellington.com.

ELECTION CENTRAL:What to know about the April 2022 elections in Windsor, Timnath, Wellington and Johnstown

Why are you qualified for this role?

The platform for my reelection bid is defined by my long-standing experience and firsthand knowledge of all the challenges our town has faced. I stand on my skills as a collaborator and doer. A high level of planning and attention to detail is critical. Starting in 2017, these challenges included addressing massive town staffing shortages and ensuring the solvency of the water/wastewater enterprise funds to support these plant expansions.

Next up, forging new alliances to support infrastructure needs, working with staff to improve two-way lines of communication with every resident, and maintaining town services during the COVID crisis. I sit on two Larimer County boards: the new landfill and transportation. On the landfill, I advocate for our community to mitigate the future impacts of the new landfill north of Wellington. For transportation, I work for funding for our town’s transportation needs.

What are the most significant challenges facing your town? 

Completing the upgrades of the Water Treatment and Wastewater Treatment plants. These projects have combined budget of $70 million. There are very tight construction timelines to complete both of these by April 2024.

Wellington’s top transportation needs are: County Road 62E and North County Road 9 near the new PSD high school, drainage and roadway improvements on Cleveland Avenue, and a new overpass at I-25. Maintaining responsible and sustainable residential, retail and commercial growth to diversify our tax base and provide additional options for our residents. This can only occur after the plant upgrades.

What would your priorities be if you’re elected?

Continue working with town staff to find additional funding that could lower water and wastewater rates for residents. I have met with Rep. Joe Neguse and staff from Sen. Michael Bennet’s office to lobby them for funding. This type of engagement will continue. Researching water conservation techniques and programs to lower utility bills and conserve this increasingly constrained resource. Expanding the trail systems to tie the Wellington neighborhoods together and to support Safe Routes to Schools solutions.

Wellington’s population is expected to double in the next 20 years. What should the town be doing to prepare for this growth? 

Continue what we have already been implementing. Since 2017, the town has increased professional staff who perform the required long-term planning a modern municipality needs to function effectively. This includes projections of water and wastewater demands until 2045 with the proper long-term financial plans to support these utilities. The town created a sinking fund within the Wastewater Enterprise Fund to build up capital to finance the next phase of construction for this plant in 2036.

The town is continuously reassessing water and wastewater rates. The town has spent the last two years revising the Comprehensive Plan (adopted August 2021) and is finishing up the Land Use Code. The first is a visionary document for appropriate growth for the next 20 years. The second is the legal document that defines land uses. Continue to manage appropriate and sustainable growth in residential, retail and commercial sectors. Create more civic engagement with the use of resident roundtables to build viable solutions.

Wellington’s water rates are about double those of neighboring towns. What do you think the town should do to address the impact of rising water rates on residents’ bills and housing prices?

This question oversimplifies a complex situation. The new water rates were necessary to keep this enterprise fund solvent and prevent state takeover. From 2011 to 2019, the water rates were not adequately adjusted as the cost of water increased 1,100%. Everyone was receiving subsidized water from this utility. The new water treatment plant will cost around $28 million, and the debt service must be paid. Rate adjustments were the only viable solution in the short term, but not ideal.

Staff are continually researching for grants and federal dollars to stabilize and possibly reduce residential rates. These efforts will continue. I absolutely understand the impacts on our residents. The trustees set up a Hardship Utility Grant (HUG) to help offset costs per household. As of June 2021, I requested my trustee pay be applied toward HUG.

Historical data about water rates can be found here.

If you’d like to discuss any other issues that weren’t mentioned in the questionnaire, please do so here.

For the last two years, it’s been extremely difficult to take notice of the positive. In April 2020, the Wellington Chamber of Commerce and the Main Streets program partnered with the town to get CARES Act funding to our businesses. Four out of 5 dollars were returned to our businesses and residents as grants and assistance. These efforts have and will continue to have positive impacts in our community. We have the best staff the town has ever had. The current Board of Trustees is fully engaged in addressing any challenge we face. We are absolutely rounding the corner, and because of all the wonderful and productive collaborations, we can all see a much brighter future for our Wellington families.