Construction of the Osprey Packs world headquarters moved a step forward on Monday when the Cortez Sanitation District lowered its plant investment fees.
During its monthly meeting, the Cortez Sanitation District board decided to charge Osprey the lowest fee possible to connect its new building to the city’s sewer system. That meant changing the way the Sanitation District calculates the fees for low-impact buildings such as offices. Osprey Packs, an international backpack manufacturer, is in the process of moving its world headquarters to a roughly 27,000-square-foot building near the intersection of East Empire Street and North Mildred Road.
The Sanitation District often calculates the plant investment fees for businesses based on “single family equivalents,” or the number of single families that could use the same space as the business. But Osprey requested that its fees be calculated based on the size of their water meters instead, since that number would be significantly lower.
Jim Candelaria, vice president of the sanitation board, was for the reduction from the beginning, saying that “single family equivalents” may be accurate measurements for restaurants and businesses that produce a high volume of waste, but they’re not as useful for office buildings like Osprey’s, which will only need sewer service for a few bathrooms and break rooms.
“I’ve never been a fan of the SFEs,” Candelaria said. “I would just as soon never hear ‘SFE’ again in the time that I’m here.”
But a few other board members pointed out the city could lose money if they lowered the rates and Osprey ended up using more water and sewer services than expected. Phil Starks, the district superintendent, said other cities have gotten in trouble when businesses’ monthly sewer fees didn’t cover the cost of their actual services.
In the end, though, Starks and the other board members agreed that’s a chance they are willing to take when it comes to Osprey. Lisa Bunker, the company’s facilities manager, said she doesn’t want the city to lose money, but convinced them that by lowering the fees, they would be doing the whole community a favor.
“This is such a really great thing for this community,” she said. “We are really excited about the future, and talking a lot about, ‘How are we going to engage the community?’”
Cortez City Manager Shane Hale also attended came to the meeting to support Bunker.
The board voted unanimously to calculate the building’s plant investment fees based on its 1.5-inch water meter size, adding up to a little over $19,000. The headquarters will accommodate about 80 employees, with the capacity to grow to more than 100. It will not replace the current Osprey location in Cortez, which will continue to operate as normal, but it will become the company’s headquarters for the United States and the world. Construction on the foundation has begun.