May 16 2013
On Thursday, May 16 2013 the Wimberley City Council made significant progress toward finding a solution to the pollution of Cypress Creek and the downstream Blanco River caused by old, failing septic systems in central Wimberley.
The city [applied for and] was offered a $650,000 low-interest, long-term loan from the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) to fund a planning and engineering study, which would develop a plan to bring a sanitary sewer into central Wimberley and stop the recurring pollution of Cypress Creek downstream of the Square.
At the meeting, Mayor Bob Flocke made clear that the city does NOT already have an adopted plan for the central area sewer system.
The purpose of the TWDB loan is to fund a contract with engineers and planners to develop the sanitary sewer plan that is best for the city following an interactive process involving Wimberley citizens.
[Flocke] stressed that the City Council would not be running the planning process.
By a three-to-one vote, with one abstention, Council agreed to sell certificates of obligation (COs) that will then create a debt burden on the city—that will be paid off over time with current city revenues—and seek an exemption to the ability to require a referendum on that decision.
The first step will be for the city to work with its financial advisors to sell the COs. The City Council believes that no property tax will be needed to retire the debt [for this loan].
At an earlier meeting, the City Council passed a resolution agreeing to levy a tax to guarantee the debt repayment, IF THAT WERE NECESSARY.
This was required by the TWDB before the city was considered eligible for the $650,000 loan. Then after the sale of the COs and with the TWDB loan in hand, the city can hire the engineering/planning professionals and proceed to develop a downtown sewer plan.
Prior to the decision made on May 16, the city held two community meetings to hear from citizens. After those meetings the city developed a preliminary “preferred plan” for fixing the pollution problem. Mayor Flocke again emphasized that this initial “preferred plan”—which had a cost estimate of $4.5 million—is NOT the city’s final plan.
This preliminary plan was only to develop a cost estimate to show the TWDB what level of funding may be required to build a sewer system to solve Wimberley’s pollution problem. The actual plan will be developed through the TWDB funded planning process.
Citizens Alliance for Responsible Development (CARD) applauds the members of the Wimberley City Council for the leadership they have shown in moving forward with this difficult decision. There are many opinions within the community about what is “best,” but as expressed by many at the council meeting, all agree that we must work together to develop a solution to this problem, which has lingered for more than 17 years.
CARD also recognizes and compliments the hard work and leadership of the Wimberley Central Improvement Area (WCIA) committee, which for the past two years has worked to develop a solution and has led the City Council to the point where a solution is finally at hand.