Tuesday, September 21, 2010
"I'm opening a lot of the old doors," McCullough said, "(including a possible deal for sewage service through Aqua Texas), but that's such an incendiary name . . ."
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By Bob Ochoa
The City of Wimberley's wastewater treatment project application pending before the Texas Water Development Board may be in deep doo-doo if the city, and its partner, the Guadalupe Blanco River Authority, can't come up with a viable plan to back an $8.5 million loan from the state for the project's construction.
City officials will be in Austin Thursday for a meeting to discuss their application with the TWDB's Finance Committee, according to the city's website. The meeting will take place at the Stephen F. Austin Building, 1700 N. Congress Ave. in Austin, Rm 170, beginning at 9:30 a.m.
Two pledges made by the city and the GBRA to the Water Development Board apparently are not cutting the mustard with the Board, not enough anyway to approve the loan conditionally without further inspection. The city had pledged to have at least 60 percent of the wastewater system's projected customer base (of 300) signed up within 60 days of the loan's approval – at a cost of $10,000 per customer (paid over 5 years). The GBRA staff had pledged to go before its board to seek approval of a loan guarantee, also within 60 days after a conditional approval of the TWDB's loan.
"The original plan was to go to the (TWDB) Board itself and consider (approval of the loan)," said City Administrator Don Ferguson. "They thought it would be more appropriate to take it to the Finance Committee first . . . it's just another step." Ferguson said the city's/GBRA's loan application could go before the full Board at its October meeting, depending on the outcome of Thursday's meeting with the Finance Committee.
City Councilman Mac McCullough, fresh off his re-election in Saturday's special election, said he plans to refocus his attention on the wastewater project. McCullough said the re-election campaign and the lawsuit brought by his opponent, Gary "Catfish" Pigg, caused a "two month setback" in his efforts to promote the benefits of the wastewater project. (Mr. Pigg takes a dim view of the project, questioning if it isn't special interest driven.)
"We're not closing the door on any prospects of getting adequate sewer service to the community," said McCullough. "We've got several possibilities. If GBRA will step up and guarantee the loan then certainly (the TWDB) will not have a problem with it." The process, McCullough explained, "took a big setback because I couldn't promote it to the council and citizens."
Outside of whatever the city and council might be thinking, McCullough said he has always had a concern about the cost of the project. The current proposed plan before the TWDB would greatly expand the small wastewater treatment plant that sits on city property adjacent to the Deer Creek Nursing Center. McCullough believes a new plant will save Cypress Creek from further pollution coming from failing septic systems on the Square and other locations.
"I'm opening a lot of the old doors," McCullough said, "(including a possible deal for sewage service through Aqua Texas), but that's such an incendiary name . . . this is just preliminary thinking, not something we're ready to act on; maybe put it out for bid and see what kind of offer we get back."
Posted by RoundUp Editor at 1:35 PM