June 24, 2008

Southport Back for Water Supply

By Loyd Cook, Corsicana Daily Sun, Texas

Jun. 24--Seven years after a failed attempt at forming a Municipal Utility District, Southport Marina is trying for its own water supply capabilities again.

And, again, the district it wishes to form would give some governmental powers to the business.

County commissioners voted Monday to table the item after holding a public hearing on the creation of a Southport Fresh Water Supply District.

Local resident Grover Pearson urged commissioners to take care on whatever decision they made, saying he didn't think they should create a situation that would "open the floodgates" for similar situations.

Bruce Howard, president of the 287 Fire and Rescue Department, said he "supports this 100 percent," noting the business wants to put in high-quality condominiums at its Richland Chambers Reservoir location. He also said they had worked with his department on fire protection needs for the time when that project completes.

Vicki Stoecklein, head of the county's Office of Planning and Development, said the Texas Government Code grants powers to a fresh water supply district typically seen for a governmental entity.

"They'll have the ability to tax and eminent domain powers," Stoecklein said.

After Monday's meetings, she said while the present ownership might be willing to give up the eminent domain power, such an agreement -- under the law -- wouldn't be binding on the board of directors that would be created to administer the fresh water supply district.

Under Chapter 53 of the water code, a fresh water district is a governmental agency; a body politic and corporate; and a defined district under the Texas Constitution (53.088).

Also, "a district has the powers of government and the authority to exercise the rights, privileges, and functions given to it," according to 53.103.

In 2001, Southport Marina came close to creating a Municipal Utility District. Then state Rep. Clyde Alexander (D-Athens) sponsored the bill required for such a district and it was passed by the House.

But a Daily Sun article listing the extensive governmental powers attached to the creation of a MUD resulted in the bill being pulled from consideration in a Senate committee before it ever reached the Senate floor for a vote. The MUD never came to fruition.

The fresh water supply district is on the agenda for the Navarro County Lake Planning and Zoning Commission's July 2 meeting.

HIDTA contracts get approval

Commissioners approved three service contracts for the North Texas High Interdiction Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA). A contract with Webex for web hosting, video conferencing and other such services was one of the three. Another is a contract with Neopost, while the final contract is with Lexus-Nexus, a search engine service. The Navarro County Auditor's Office acts as a "flow through" department for federal funds that support the task force, earning the county payment for the auditor's office's accounting services.

Treasurer's report

County Treasurer Ruby Coker presented the financial report for the month ending May 31 during Monday's meeting. She said the county has $1.2 million in cash on hand; other assets in the amount of $9.7 million being held by her office, and total interest earned by all county accounts for May was $20,782.12. The reports Coker presented also listed total disbursements for the month at $2.6 million.


Loyd Cook may be reached via e-mail at [email protected]


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