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2011-12-15 digital edition

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2011-12-15 / Front Page

City Council Facing Tough Decisions

City could be facing $10,000 a day in TCEQ fines for delayed water and sewer directives

This week, the Lexington City Council has serious matters to address. Three items on their regular meeting agenda involve water and sewer projects that have been identified by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) as immediate priorities for the City.

Item 9 states, “Discuss and possible action to take the necessary steps to go forward on borrowing bond money to complete the 10 year agreement with TCEQ.”

Item 13 states, “Discuss and take action on status of wastewater plan project.”

And Item 14 states, “Discuss and take action on potential TCEQ action regarding wastewater.”

Actually, all of the above items have been on the City Council’s agenda off and on for more than a year, and the City is about to face major fines imposed by the TCEQ if they don’t act soon.

Mayor Robert Willrich, Sr. has said, “ The City obtained a $250,000 grant to help finance TCEQ required improvements to our wastewater discharge ponds. Unfortunately, that work will cost $390,000 more than the amount of the grant and we will have to move forward with that work or face TCEQ daily fines of up to $10,000.”

The Mayor continued, “We also need to put a filtration system on our water and update some sewer lines. This work will have to be financed by bonds. The sad part is, if we don’t do what the TCEQ asks us, they can come in and take over our City.”

As the City Council considers a bond issue, the minimum amount needed for the sewer and water projects to meet the 10 year TCEQ plan could total $1.4 million. Before the Council actually moves on the bond issue, they would hold public hearings concerning the bond. Whether the City Council goes forward with the bond issue or not, city customers will most likely see their water rates increase.

Mayor Willrich outlined other projects the City needs to address, all of which are very costly. He writes in his column today, “LCRA recently did a survey in Lexington and made recommendations regarding our electric system. That survey identified a number of utility poles that will need to be replaced in order for us to avoid possible outage issues and potential liabilities.”

“Some of the other issues we are currently giving priority to are making more street repairs, and obtaining a more dependable water supply. We have budgeted for street work, but, if the weather damage continues at the recent pace, it may be necessary to find more funds for the streets.”

“ In addition, we need to determine and reach an agreement on the most cost-effective option available for the City to assure an adequate water supply in the near future. The most dependable and least expensive option, compared to the high cost of a new well, may be to purchase water from the company that is extending waterlines through the City.”

The Mayor said, “We have work to do and decisions to make that cannot wait.”

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