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
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,
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
Monitor Photos/Pearl Cantrell
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.
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