Voters to decide fate of $10M MUD bond

CROSBY – How Crosby’s water producing facility will pay for the growth for which Crosby is bracing is the issue to be decided by voters on May 7.

During the March Crosby/Huffman Chamber Luncheon, the question was asked, “What about the water system in Crosby, we can’t grow new businesses or subdivisions around here until that situation is fixed,” was brought to discussion.

The reference is to a November 11, 2004 “Star-Courier” exclusive in which Crosby Municipal Utility District’s Board recognized they were unable to promise more water than the state’s regulators certified as capacity for the utility.

Water and wastewater became a point of controversy and the guest speaker of that luncheon spoke of the importance of having the utility service in place or the community would suffer and all the growth could move to another community.

Jerry Blizzard, President of the Crosby MUD Board told attendees that, “I believe this is a true statement, but my deepest concerns are providing the most economical way to provide service to our community. The real issue is, we must make improvements to Crosby MUD to stay in compliance with all the many different regulatory agencies.”

Another question brought before MUD was how could they adjust to changes in federal, state and county regulations mandating a switch from ground water to surface water treatment and changes in chemical processes and increased standards and how can the capacity-challenged utility keep up with the demands?

At a April 19 meeting of the board, Blizzard answered these concerns.

“The days of just pumping the water out of the ground and drinking it is over for all public water systems. Crosby MUD is limited by the Subsidence District in the volume of water allowed to be pumped out of the ground. Crosby MUD is faced with the need of replacing old equipment and expanding the way we process the water and wastewater. Our water systems are pumping 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The improvements and repairs will need to be made by Crosby MUD. If Crosby MUD does not pass a Bond to pay for it, then all the water rates will have to go up even higher, and our rates are already high.”

Cost to taxpayers
The proposal would see a shift to MUD taxes of about 5 cents per $100 valuation, if the bond does not pass then the facility, forced by law to make compliance, would see an increase from an average $50 monthly water bill up to $90.

Blizzard expanded, “It is my desire to see our community be economical in the way it uses your tax money. This Bond issue is the key to helping our community provide quality water at the best price. Crosby MUD has been very successful and conservative in the past Bond election of 4 million dollars. [in year 2000] It is my hope that the community will see we have put your taxes to good use.”

This is not the MUD’s first bond election in recent memory.

Blizzard said the issues addressed in the 2000 bond package are different from those in the 2005 package.

“The past bond dealt with mainly improving the wastewater side. This new bond will be dealing more on the water side,” he said.

Relatively speaking the proposed water tax is substantially more economical than the 45 cents per $100 valuation in other, larger water districts.

There has also been discussion that a bond passage will not solve all the problems.

One potential problem is that if the bond is passed would MUD have enough funds to handle future growth.

In 2000, voter passed a $4 million bond package and by the time the new 300,000 gallon tank was on-line the district was at capacity.

Experts say that another problem is that even if the bond is passed it will take another 18 to 24 months to make the upgrades.

Failure, however is not an option, says MUD.

If the bond does not pass, officials say the problems would still exist and it will take even longer to get action, which would result in inflated prices and more of a tax burden.