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Water board sets proposed tax rate, next fiscal year budget
by Gary Kent
Sep 07, 2013 | 25 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
BEEVILLE – Members of Beeville Water Supply District’s board voted to propose the effective tax rate of $0.19018 per $100 of property valuation after holding a brief public hearing Wednesday night at City Hall.

The rate is slightly less than the current rate of $0.19788 per $100 of valuation.

The decrease was possible because property values had increased since last year, allowing the district to see the same amount of property tax collected at a lower rate.

No one attended to comment at the hearing.

The vote to propose the effective tax rate came shortly after the public hearing closed and during a regular meeting that convened at 6 p.m.

Board member Ronald “Buddy” Hardy made the motion to set the proposed rate, and board member Bill Stockton seconded the motion.

The four board members present voted in favor of the motion.

Board member Kenneth Elsbury was not at the meeting because he was out of town.

Before setting the proposed rate, the board adopted a proposed budget for the 2013-14 fiscal year.

That action came after board members heard a list of recommendations from Jim Urban of Urban Engineering.

Urban pointed out the need for maintenance on water storage tanks and other aspects of the city’s water treatment and distribution facilities.

Urban recommended that the city be responsible for routine maintenance and repairs of the water system and that the BWSD be responsible for larger, capital improvements.

The engineer said a new clarifier should be built someday at the George P. Morrill, I Water treatment Plant at Swinney Switch.

He said that project could cost as much as $3.5 million.

However, Urban said the district should not take that step if the City Council opts to develop wells and a possible reverse osmosis system to supplement its current surface water with ground water.

Urban told board members that he has recommended that the City Council consider raising water rates in order to fund some of the maintenance projects that need to be addressed.

He said the council expressed a desire to learn more about the anticipated costs of the projects before deciding on how much to increase water rates.

Urban said the council was reluctant to increase water rates now and learn later that they would have to increase them again to meet the needs of the system.

The engineer also recommended that the city adopt a three-tier rate system in which customers who use larger amounts of water would be charged a higher rate.

“I think you should be lobbying the council to raise those rates to generate the money needed,” Urban told the board.

The engineer said it might be unpopular to increase water rates.

“It’s going to be real unpopular if they can’t flush their toilets,” Board Chairman Jim Crumrine said in defense of higher rates.

Urban estimated that the city and the district need to finance $1.26 million in improvements to the water system. “We’ve got three years worth of work right now,” he said.

Urban said he’d not consider any of the recommended improvements to be “Cadillacing.” Everything on his list should be considered “basic needs.”

The board briefly discussed the need for the city to begin working on possible wastewater system improvements.

“Water and wastewater,” Urban said, “they are the same. There has not been a lot of money spent on either.”

Crumrine said he would like to see the district have somewhere between $50,000 and $100,000 in reserves to allow for emergency projects when needed.

Board members also voted to enter into an agreement with Mercer Controls Inc. for quarterly inspections of equipment and calibrations.

But City Water Superintendent Cesario Vela said much of the calibration work could be done in-house because he had sent water system employees to school to learn that task.

The agreement was for $8,085, but Sherrel Mercer said he had to subtract some costs from the final bill.

The board postponed making a decision on paying an $18,248 bill being charged by Layne Christensen Co. for work done on pumps at the district’s facilities on Lake Corpus Christi.

Board members said the company was responsible for the failure of expensive pumps that had to be replaced shortly after they were installed.

Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.
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