Sunday, September 27, 2009

     

 

 

 

 

City wants own water company
Gun Barrel City on quest to “control its destiny” by protesting ECCFWSD purchase
of Mabank water meters; Eustace agrees to sell GBC wholesale water

By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer

GUN BARREL CITY–In a quest for “control of its destiny,” Gun Barrel City thinks it’s found a way to get into the water distribution business.
Tuesday, the Gun Barrel City Council unanimously approved a memorandum of understanding with the City of Eustace, who in the spirit of mutual respect and common goals, has agreed to sell the city wholesale water.
Now, whether Eustace can provide all the water Gun Barrel City will need to service 780 residential meters and another 118 commercial ones is one question, and leads to many other questions.
One major question is how Gun Barrel City plans to distribute and otherwise serve about one-fifth of its population, since the city has no water or wastewater treatment facilities.
All of this is coming up as the East Cedar Creek Fresh Water Supply District seeks to purchase the few City of Mabank water customers located in the GBC city limits.
The sale process has been underway for several months, and approved by both the ECCFWSD board and Mabank.
At their Sept. 16 meeting, the ECC board authorized a few more steps in the process, which has been submitted to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and is now in the required public notice period (see related story this page).
While Gun Barrel City gives its civil engineers and lawyers in Austin a workout studying these issues, city manager Gerry Boren hopes the TCEQ will consider its protest and hold up the sale.
“We want to study the situation to see if we can do a better job,” Boren told The Monitor. “If the numbers impact negatively on the consumer, we’ll back away. It’s all about the consumer.”
In particular, Boren feels if the city controlled its own water utilities, it would be in a better position to negotiate with developers and offer them attractive deals to locate new businesses in the city.
Some developers have complained about the high cost of putting in needed water improvements and issues concerning fire protection and the location of fire lines behind, instead of in front, of a business corridor, Boren said.
The planned Holiday Inn Express motel is a case in point, he said.
Boren said he feels the ECCFWSD is not sensitive to the city’s desire to grow and bring more jobs into the city.
“All they do is sell water,” he said. “What do they care if a new business brings in 50 new jobs?”
For some time now, it’s been known that Mabank’s water system is operating at capacity.
That’s why Mabank was willing to negotiate the sale of residential meters in the GBC subdivisions of Loon Bay, Thunderbird Shores, Timber Trails and Pleasure Land, as well as commercial meters along East Main, Luther Lane and Heritage Cove to the ECCFWSD. The negotiated price totals $1.1 million.
ECCFWSD is expecting state approval of bond funding for the purchase in February or March, general manager Bill Goheen said.
If the TCEQ approves the acquisition plan, the water district will have six months to obtain a minimum of 780 meters (customers) from Mabank, and will need to switch over the rest within one year.
Gun Barrel City started meeting with Mabank and the ECCFWSD about two months ago.
Gun Barrel City asked the water district if it would sell them water, but the ECC board turned them down, since they were already well into negotiations to buy the meters from Mabank.
GBC offered to help finance an expansion of the Mabank facility, with the intent GBC would buy their meters and resell water to them, but Mabank didn’t consider the proposal.
“I want in the game,” Boren said. “Eustace is willing to sell us water, and they’re going to make money on it. We’re wanting to put Gun Barrel City in place of ECCFWSD (as purchasers of the meters), and then we’d put money aside to improve the system.”
This isn’t about raising taxes, Boren said. Taxes do not come into this scenario at all.
Boren admitted the city would have to develop its own system, eventually. But the city doesn’t need to spend money before it has to.
Boren also said he’d draw up a master plan, so up-sized lines would go down major corridors and fire lines would be laid, with the aim of having the fire department able to respond to a fire anywhere in the city within four minutes.
When asked why the city doesn’t team up with ECCFWSD to forge a plan for economic growth, Boren said he couldn’t see that happening right now.
So, GBC is looking to Eustace, not just for water, but for many goals, he said.
The two cities share a regional vision for development along US. Highway 175, and may coordinate together to seek funding and grants from state and federal entities, according to a memorandum of understanding signed between the two cities this week.
Though non-binding, the memorandum states the agreement is done “in the spirit of mutual respect and interests to establish a common vision.”
Besides sharing recommendations for right-of ways, boundaries, trails, parks and storm water management, the document refers to water, specifically to Gun Barrel City purchasing wholesale water from Eustace.
“The main thing is relationship, though water plays a role,” Boren said. “As you grow (as a city) if you have water, you have an advantage.”

 

 

Neighbors capture thieves, hold for law
Monitor Staff Reports
CRANDALL–When Kaufman County deputies arrived at a residence near Crandall, they found the homeowner and his neighbor standing guard over two trespassers suspected of burglary.
Monday, Kaufman Sheriff’s Office received a call of a suspected burglary of a building in progress.
The residence was located on Farm-to-Market 2932.
The property owner received a call from his neighbor, advising him that someone was inside a building on the property.
Together, the owner and his neighbor were able to catch and hold the suspects until law enforcement could arrive.
Benny Jack Hinkle, 47, of Balch Springs was arrested on a burglary charge, a third degree felony, punishable by two to 10 years in jail and/or up to a $10,000 fine.
Hinkle also had a warrant out of Balch Springs Police Department. He is being held on $5,000 bond.
Christi Ann Swindler, 45, of Dallas was also arrested and charged with criminal trespass, a Class B misdemeanor. Her bond was set at $500.

 

 

Firefighters conduct fire extinguisher classes
Monitor Photos/Pearl Cantrell
Lt. Bobby Nix of the Gun Barrel City Fire Department instructs a group of Lowe's employees on the use of fire extinguishers Wednesday. For Fire Prevention Week, the fire department is conducting these classes upon request. Call city hall to make an appointment. They are also conducting smoke alarm installations and tests.

 

 

 

 

Lowe's employee Charles Killion takes a turn at using a water can fire extinguisher to douse a fire in the parking lot as part of a class taught by the Gun Barrel City Fire Department. Firefighters will be at Lowe’s 9:45-11 a.m. Saturday for a kid safety clinic. Kids get to build fire engines.
 


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