Sunday, March 21, 2010

 

 

 

 

New flood maps may effect premiums
Special to The Monitor
DENTON–Henderson County residents and business owners who do not have flood insurance are encouraged to buy coverage now to get the best possible premiums before new flood insurance rate maps go into effect.
New flood maps become effective April 5.
The new flood insurance rate maps show locations of the 1 percent and .2 percent floodplains and floodways, which indicate possible flooding risks for residences and businesses.
Property owners need to know that this could mean a change in their floodplain status.
“We encourage residents to look at the flood maps now and to be familiar with flood risks in the community,” FEMA regional administrator Tony Russell said. “The maps can help residents make informed decisions about flood insurance and flood protection.”
While many people are required by mortgage and lending companies to have flood insurance (especially in the wake of Hurricane Katrina), FEMA and the National Flood Insurance Program strongly recommend that all area residents have flood insurance.
The reason is simple: You don’t have to be in a mapped floodplain to have a flood.
Floodplain administrators (FPA) in each community have copies of the maps available for public viewing. Residents should contact their local FPA to determine if they will be impacted by map changes.
In addition, current policy holders and those planning to purchase flood insurance protection are strongly encouraged to contact their insurance agent or company to ensure that they have adequate coverage and that policies account for new flood risk data.
Homeowners who purchase flood insurance prior to April 5 may be able to grandfather the current Flood Zone saving money on flood insurance. More information on flood insurance is available at www.floodsmart.gov.

 

Earned Income Tax Credit helps families
Special to The Monitor
AUSTIN–Texas Comptroller Susan Combs says a slow economy means more Texas families may qualify to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) on their federal income tax.
“2009 was a tough year and many people lost jobs or took home less pay. But if you worked full- or part-time for at least part of 2009, the Earned Income Tax Credit could put money back in your pocket.,” Combs said.
EITC refunds are based on family size and income.
Families with three or more children and less than $48,279 in earned income during 2009 may qualify for a tax credit up to $5,657.
The EITC is also available to families with two children and an earned income less than $45,295, who can claim a tax credit up to $5,028.
Families with one child earning less than $40,463 may qualify for a tax credit up to $3,043.
For a childless family earning less than $18,440, a credit up to $457 is available.
More information about how to qualify for the EITC, printable materials for businesses and community organizations to distribute and helpful links to IRS tax forms and publications can be found on the Comptroller’s Web site at www.window.state.tx.us/taxinfo/eitc/   or by calling the IRS at (800) 829-1040. Information is also available about the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, which offers qualifying taxpayers free tax preparation assistance and free electronic tax filing at many locations.
“Last year, more than 2.3 million Texans claimed the credit and received more than $5.3 billion in EITC refunds,” Combs said.
“That’s an average of $2,313 per qualifying household, bringing financial relief to families and a boost to the Texas economy,” she added.

 

Water, sewer rate increases on tap
Residential water up $1 – sewer rates increase $1.10
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

GUN BARREL CITY–Water and sewer rates are going up come May 1.
The typlical residential customer served by East Cedar Creek Fresh Water Supply District will see about $2.10 added to the combined water and sewer service bill.
Rising costs of lab tests, salaries, fees, chemicals and needed repairs are impacting the budget, with $109,987 additional expenses for fiscal year (FY) 2011, general manager Bill Goheen explained.
The board of directors responded by approving a $1 raise to the minimum base water rate and a 50-cent increase to the base wastewater rate Wednesday.
In addition, the district is introducing an incremental fee structure that encourages water conservation.
Most of the district’s 5,000 residential customers use less than 3,000 gallons a month, and will see no change in their rate of $3.25 per 1,000 gallons.
Those using 3,001 gallons up to 10,000 gallons will pay $3.50 per gallon, and those using more than this will pay $3.75 per gallon.
On the sewer side of the bill, the average residential customer will see an increase of $1.10 per month, which includes the 50-cent base pay increase and 20-cent use increase from $3.65 per 1,000 gallons to $3.85.
Also, the billing cap on sewer service use has increased from $43.54 to $45.12 on 5,365 gallons of usage.
“This rate structure should be sufficient for two fiscal years, given the completion of the Mabank water acquisition,” general manager Bill Goheen told directors during Wednesday’s budget workshop.
Base rates on both water and wastewater were increased $1.50 Feb. 18, 2009, and wastewater usage was increased 15 cents.
After reviewing all the impacts to the proposed FY 2011 budget and the areas where the district is able to see a savings, directors approved a $4,887,733 budget.
The fiscal year begins April 1, but the increase in service rates don’t take effect until May 1.
The budget calls for nearly $3 million in expenses and $1.465 million in bonds and debt service. The new rates should generate about a $79,436 for the operating reserve with $324,000 set aside for capital improvements.
The debt ratio is set at 1.29, increasing to 1.30 with the Mabank meters purchase.
Directors also approved a contract with the city of Trinidad for the bulk purchase of raw water at a 25 percent cost savings over what it has been getting from the Tarrant Regional Water District (TRWD), which owns Cedar Creek Reservoir.
The 50-year contract stipulates the purchase of 288 million gallons of raw water, or about 60 percent of the district’s total water consumption.
TRWD approved the deal, as it seeks to solidify its many water allocations to a number that corresponds to the actual amount available.
Trinidad was given water rights to the reservoir when it was being developed because of its interference with its own city lake, and that is the reason why it can sell its portion at no cost, Goheen explained.
Mabank water acquisition
Directors learned a ruling was handed down March 9, giving Gun Barrel City status as a party to the sale intervention proceedings, so the issue is set to be heard July 13-15 in Austin.
The question is supposed to be whether ECCFWSD is capable of providing consistent service to the approximate 700 or so water meters residing in Gun Barrel City currently served by the city of Mabank, district attorney Mark Zeppa explains in his brief to the court.
If so, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality should be able to effectuate the transfer of the portion of Mabank’s CCN (Certificate of Convenience and Necessity) to ECCFWSD.
TCEQ does not need to approve the sale, only the transfer of the CCN, Zeppa stated.
In real numbers, the meters in question would bring in additional water revenues of about $273,830.
Should the sale see completion while the bond rates remain constant, ECCFWSD plans to transfer the new customers over to its system within the year following the sale.
As they are tied into the ECCFWSD system, they will pay the district’s rates.
Those still on Mabank’s system will continue paying their current rates set by Mabank, as ECCFWSD will still have to pay Mabank for their continued water service to those customers until they can be tied into the new system.
In other business, directors:
• heard a request from the City of Payne Springs to obtain an acre of property, along with the Payne Springs Fire and Rescue’s requested two acres.
• approved updated the Customer Service Resolution Policy to reflect the new rates.
• approved a pay raise for the general manager discussed in closed session. Directors Carol Meyer and Jim Boyle opposed the pay raise, saying it was too high, though they commended the general manager’s performance. The motion passed 5-2.
• directed KSA Engineers to commence with TCEQ’s Sanitary Sewer Overflow study.
KSA president Joncie Young told directors that costs this year would be minimal, while discussions commence between KSA and TCEQ, using data collected from previous I&I studies.
“It’s a proactive program that requires commitment and follow-through on whatever plan is adopted,” Young said.
“My goal is to reduce I&I by 50 percent to 60 percent through the 10-year process,” Goheen said.
“The majority of the expenses should come down during the six- to eight-year period of the program,” Goheen added. “By then, the district should be in good shape debt-wise, so specific areas can be targeted.”
“This is just to get us started, until we can see the total scope of what we’re talking about,” Young concluded.



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