Mike Bachers statement to City Council 10/20/16
To the Esteemed Mayor and City Council of Wimberley,
I'm writing to express my support for moving ahead with the city-owned wastewater system, an option made even more appealing by the $1 million grant offered by the Economic Development Administration.
We have spent decades on this subject. I recognize this is one of the most polarizing issues the city has ever faced. The common ground we all share is that not one of us takes for granted what makes Wimberley a special place to live. Those of you affiliated with VOW have more than fulfilled your obligation to that PAC. You have vetted every option carefully. Your duty now is to choose the best option for all the citizens of Wimberley and not just for special interests.
This decision will impact generations to come. Please do not make the historic mistake of negotiating what may appear to be a comparable deal with Aqua Texas when such an incredible win-win opportunity is on the table. Aqua Texas specializes in closing deals with small communities like Wimberley, but that's only the beginning of what is by all measures a very slippery slope with a very slippery corporation.
The argument I've heard repeated ad nauseam against a publicly owned facility is based on the political stance that government is always bad and that the free market solves everything. That approach just doesn't hold water at the local level when you're talking about long-term contracts and permanent infrastructure. How many other bids from other private companies was the city able to solicit? Free market economics are not in play here.
What makes any member of this council think they'd be able to negotiate a contract with Aqua Texas that puts Wimberley in a better position than every other small town that's made the mistake of signing up? You're dealing with a powerful water corporation with an obligation to its shareholders to turn a profit and to grow its margins, year after year, into perpetuity. I'm sure you all have assurances that the early numbers would make your own tenures on council look fiscally responsible. Please have enough common sense to recognize that within a few short years Aqua Texas would more than make up for any short-term discounts they offered to sweeten the deal. This system will be in the ground long after each of you has moved on, long after VOW has dissolved, and long after Aqua Texas would have any obligation to those who opened the floodgates in 2016.
I could focus on the environmental superiority of the city-owned system, which I think should be central to this debate, but the current discussion seems focused exclusively on money. Even in strictly financial terms, the city-owned wastewater system is the far better choice, now and especially into the future. The EDA grant is a bonus we should all be celebrating as we close this divisive chapter. The right choice for the future of Wimberley is to own and control its own facility and to ensure its elected council members and committees are willing to enforce regulations around growth and expansion.