ALERT! Related to the topic of this CARDtalk:
Friday morning, Judge Cobb called a Special Open Meeting
for Monday, March 31 concerning the following subjects:
"Discussion with various representatives from Central Texas counties, cities and other quasi-governmental entities regarding regional water policy, the possible formation of a utility development corporation, and an update on Hays County's efforts to reserve future water supply. COBB"
Hays County Commissioners Court
10:00 am, Monday, March 31, 2014
Hays County Government Center
712 South Stagecoach Trail, Room 1004
Hays County Considers
Joining Remote Water Authority
The following editorial brings attention to a proposal that CARD believes is a serious issue for residents of Hays County and we encourage you to attend the April 1st meeting, and to consider contacting your commissioner about the issues involved.
Hays County Commissioners Court
9:00 am, Tuesday, April 1, 2014
Hays County Courthouse
111 E. San Antonio, Suite 300
The Hays County Commissioners Court on March 25th discussed and then tabled a proposal to join the Lone Star Regional Water Authority (LSRWA) located in Williamson County. The proposal was sponsored by Judge Bert Cobb to enable regional cooperation and expansion of water supply systems.
Several commissioners expressed concern for the possible financial liability that the LSRWA might impose on Hays County. The Court agreed to bring the item back for discussion on the April 1st agenda and successive agendas as needed.
The LSRWA has four member organizations - Sonterra Municipal Utility District; CLL Municipal Utility District No. 1; City of Jarrell; and Williamson County. Sontera is a community adjacent to Jarrell. CLL Municipal Utility is in Bell and Williamson Counties. The LSRWA was created as the Corn Hill Regional Water Authority by state legislation in 2011 that was amended in 2013.
Each member organization, whether small or large, has two votes on the board of directors. The Authority has the powers of a municipal utility district, including eminent domain. It does not require voter approval for its creation or its expansion. It has no taxing authority, but can accept tax revenues from its member organizations.
The Lone Star Regional Water Authority proposal was first heard in briefing by the Hays Commissioners Court on March 18th and then proposed for approval to join on March 25th. Because of the short time to respond, the following comments were offered to the Court by Hays County resident Jim McMeans, speaking for himself, but he is also a member of the CARD Steering Committee:
March 25, 2014
Re: Lone Star Regional Water Authority
Judge Cobb and Commissioners:
The proposal to join the Lone Star Regional Water Authority is preemptive and should be tabled for now for the following reasons:
1. There is no financial or engineering plan for how this water authority will fit into any future plans developed by this Commissioners Court. Please work with other entities to develop a plan of action and then join or create the structure that will work best. This LSRWA is not the answer.
2. Three of the four member organizations belonging to the Authority, Sonterra MUD, CLL Mud, and the city of Jarrell are tiny in population and financial capacity. However each of these tiny organizations would have the same number of votes on the LSRWA Board as would Hays County or Williamson County. Hays would be a minority player on the board in spite of its much larger population and financial capacity.
3. A majority of the authority’s appointed board could approve a project, sell bonds, exercise eminent domain and obligate Hays County for long term debt and then force Hays to remain a member until it paid its share of the debt. Please carefully read the legislation that created the authority.
4. No voter approval was or is required in the creation of the Lone Star Regional Water Authority or in the expansion of its boundary.
5. Finally, Hays County’s top priority in this arena of long range planning for water should be to first develop a comprehensive financial and engineering plan to demonstrate to Hay’s citizens and taxpayers the rationale for undertaking the massive debt and resultant taxpayer/rate payer cost to bring supplemental water into Hays County.
For more detail, see McMeans attachment to the above comments.