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Commissioners To Decide On New Water Improvement District For Lake McQueeney

The main drag that runs through McQueeney, Texas.
Brian Kirkpatrick | Texas Public Radio
The main drag that runs through McQueeney, Texas.

Guadalupe County commissioners will hold a public hearing Tuesday morning on the creation of a water control improvement district for residents who live near Lake McQueeney.

The hearing begins around 10 a.m. at the county courthouse, according to a commissioners agenda.

Residents around the lake have petitioned the commissioners court to approve the creation of the district.  It would have taxing powers to raise revenue to repair and maintain the dam spill gates on the lake.

The commissioners have to approve of the creation of such districts before voters consider it.

Precinct 1 County Commissioner Greg Seidenberger said the district will likely be approved because it meets state requirements, it is feasible and it furthers the public welfare.

“The people are willing to run the district,” he said. “They’re willing to have the elections. They’re willing to tax themselves for the greater good of that area, so I think it’s going to find favor. That’s my prediction; it’s going to find favor in commissioners court.”

Many local residents and businesses rely on lake property owners and visitors for their jobs, and local school districts rely on the revenue from property tax revenues from lake front properties, said local economic experts.

Residents around the lake would have to vote to tax themselves before the district could be created. Seidenberger said such a vote would happen in March if commissioners approve the petition from residents on Tuesday.

Lakefront property owners want to take over maintenance. The Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority has balked at spending millions of dollars to repair the 90-year-old spill gates but has shown a willingness to work with partners to find solutions to the repair the aging spill gates.

Spill gates on two other GBRA lakes, Gonzales and Dunlap, have failed and left them drained.

The authority and Dunlap property owners, represented by the Preserve Lake Dunlap Association, have reached a $24 million cost sharing agreement on repairs. The GBRA will raise money for the repairs through bonds, make the repairs and use gross revenue from the newly reconstructed dam’s hydroelectric production to help pay for the costs.

Earlier this fall, association board member Dr. Larry Johnson said good progress had been made to ask for the creation of a water control improvement district on the May 2 ballot. The district would tax lake property owners to raise revenue to pay for repairs, too.

Johnson said it will take 30 years to pay for the repairs from the hydroelectric revenue and from revenue generated by the water control improvement district.  

He said the formula for how much will come from each funding source is still being worked out, including what the property tax rate would be, but it should become clear by the time a town hall meeting of lake property owners planned for March.

Johnson also said there might be adjustments along the way because river flows vary with the weather and so does revenue from hydroelectric production.

If the water district creation question is allowed on the May ballot and it passes, weather permitting, construction could begin as early as the summer of 2020, according to Association President J. Harmon.

The GBRA is already working with an engineering firm to design the replacement spill gate at Lake Dunlap, Harmon said.

Brian Kirkpatrick can be reached at Brian@TPR.org and on Twitter at @TPRBrian.