It has come to my attention that during a recent Texas Municipal League training, attended by a fellow Council Member, a reference to taxation as “shaking the money tree” was made by a presenter. While this comment may have been an attempt at humor, I nor the rest of the Council regard the taxpayers as a money tree. The reference is not humorous and is unacceptable. My sentiment has been conveyed to TML at the highest level. I would like the citizens to know that the Council regards the process of taxation very seriously. This is demonstrated by the consistent tax rate over the last 15 years. The City Charter mandates that the Council exercise fiduciary responsibility in every decision that we make that impacts the citizens.
A proposed increase in water and wastewater rates will be discussed during the July 8 Council meeting. Both of these fees support our Utility Department, an enterprise fund, which is operated as a business and must support expenses with its own revenue. Last year water rates were increased 35 cents per one thousand gallons of water. This was the first change of fees in the last 4 years.
The proposed increase of 10 cents for water and 20 cents for wastewater is not due to usage variations but, necessitated by aging infrastructure. Our water pipes and sewage clay pipes were initially put into service in the year 1880 through the early part of the twentieth century. This year, the city is projected to spend 4.9 million dollars on repair and replacement of lines. Next year, 6.2 million dollars is budgeted. Because the lines are underground, problems are not easily detected and usually appear when the lines have already failed. The City is using the latest technology called pipe-bursting to repair lines. This helps our efforts but still is not enough.
If passed, the average single-family home’s water bill will increase by $1.40 per month. Corsicana’s proposed rate is still lower than nearby towns such as Waxahachie, Farmer’s Branch, Midlothian, Ennis and Southlake. Yet, our water quality is cleaner and tastes better, earning the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s (TCEQ) rating of “Superior Water System”.
Growth of the city will eventually require building a water treatment plant at Lake Halbert costing 40 million dollars. This will be mandated by the TCEQ and will have to be financed out of the Utility Fund.
The complete 2019 Water and Wastewater Rate Study is available at www.cityofcorsicana.com under “Government”, “Council” and “Reports and Documents”. If you want to know more about this issue, come by the Mayor’s office at 200 North 12th Street.