Consultant outlines funding options for water projects

By Erika Pedroza | Published Saturday, March 30, 2013

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Grants aren’t possible at this time, but other financing options for waterline extensions and a new sewer plant in Paradise aren’t too bad.

At the March 18 meeting, grant consultant Pat Dillon explained to a full city council that the Texas Department of Agriculture funding cycle just ended and grants would not be available for two years. Dillon said the city would not qualify for USDA or water development board disbursements.

However, interest rates are at an all-time low, and the city could also look at refinancing its bond debt with the Greater Texoma Utility Authority, using those funds for water and sewer projects, he said.

Extending water lines to the current 36 to 40 city residents not currently connected would cost approximately $1.2 million.

“The council will have to decide if the project for this number of people is worth that cost to all the citizens,” City Secretary Teresa Moody said.

Moody noted that residents without municipal water are not paying for the current system. Instead, their tax money goes into the general fund and pays for streets, parks, fire department donations, etc.

“But existing customers would have a rate increase to pay for the expansions,” she said.

Because mandating its use would be difficult, given changes in the law. Dillon suggested surveying the intended customers on whether they wish to be connected to the city’s water system.

“If few actually want it, it might not be a good project,” he said.

When Dillon asked the council to identify their priority, Mayor Starr answered that they had previously chosen waterline extensions. But that was before school district officials requested collaboration from the city in implementing a new sewer system as mandated by the state.

Dillon suggested the council enlist the help of an attorney and engineer in devising a cooperative agreement that would specify each entity’s share of the cost and responsibilities.

For the time being, though, he will work on the waterline issues. He and his firm, Southwest Consultants, were hired that night to “assess the situation and secure funding.”

In other news, the council also:

  • voted to pay off the mortgage on City Hall. “In a preliminary report, the auditor pointed out how we were paying more in interest on this note than we’re making on on investments,” City Secretary Teresa Moody said. The $157,000 note was to be paid out of the general fund. The city purchased the building, previously a restaurant, in 2010 for $250,000.
  • hired U.S. Water Services Utility Group to provide water operator services for the city at a monthly rate of $902.67 for an average of four hours a week. The hourly rate for additional hours, including call-outs later than 4 p.m. and weekends, is $52. The cities of Bridgeport and Runaway Bay also utilize the company’s services.
  • swore in Terre Ward to Place 4.
  • changed the zoning of property at 638 Main Street from agriculture to multi-family. Owner Michael Brewer plans to build apartments there.
  • approved the February meeting minutes and financial report.

Starr also expressed his gratitude for interim Commissioner Glenn Hughes for his quick response to a request to fill the potholes on East School House Road.

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