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BCRAGD approves tax rate, budget

By Carolyn B. Edwards BCC Staff Writer

Only one local resident offered a comment during two public hearings held by the Bandera County River Authority and Groundwater District Thursday, Sept. 5. Following the hearings, one on the proposed budget for 2013-14, and a second on the proposed tax rate to support the budget, the district's board moved into a called meeting where they approved both items unanimously.
During the public hearing on the proposed budget, resident Tom Reedy spoke in favor of the board's opting to provide medical insurance for their employees.
The district's new tax rate is a 7.91 percent increase over last year's rate. The rate will sustain the budget that has $594,268 in expenditures.
During the called meeting, BCRAGD General Manager David Mauk asked the board to consider repealing the district's current drought management plan (DMP) and adopting a new plan. The district is required by law to have a DMP.
Mauk cited several reasons for proposing the new DMP. "The previous plan was done when it was wet," he said, "and we're looking at a different set of circumstances now. We also have some new laws [from the state to incorporate into our plan.]"
Mauk also decried the "lack of consistency regarding the definitions of drought stages" among various public water suppliers in the district and BCRAGD.
The proposed changes would include a Stage 4 in which the water district "may suspend the issuance of new permits," and a Stage 5 in which the district "may enforce lowered pumping rates for permitted wells."
Lou Rosenberg, an attorney representing Flying L Guest Ranch, objected to the proposed changes, saying, "If we can't water the golf course, we're out of business."
Mauk replied, "We may not be putting businesses out. The drought will be putting businesses out."
Board member Karen Ripley stressed that the proposed changes use the word "may" deliberately. "It doesn't say 'will.'"
Director Ernie de Winne, who works for a public water supplier said, "We [the PWS] don't have any teeth to enforce violators." He said he thought the proposed changes would help with enforcement and reporting violators to state agencies.
De Winne also urged Mauk to see about getting the public water suppliers in the district to co-ordinate in order to have the same stages and restrictions.
Director Sid Gibson agreed with de Winne and added, "We need to get them to have their drought management plans on file with us."
Because the proposed changes to the DMP would be, in effect, an amendment to the district's rules, there will be a public hearing set for Oct. 10. Any comments from the public will need to be submitted to BCRAGD by Oct. 3.
The proposed DMP is available to the public at the BCRAGD's offices at 440 FM 3240 during regular office hours.