Water district board votes 4-3 to lower pump, transport fees
Post Oak Savannah Water Conservation District (POSGCD) board of directors had a split vote to lower production and transport fees after hearing from a Burleson County man involved in a lawsuit with a water firm.
Terry Ausley addressed the board during a public hearing, telling the board he didn’t think it should do business with someone “violating state law.” Ausley, the brother of board chairman Nathan Ausley who has a lease with Blue Water Corp., owns 75 acres in Burleson County that Cross County Water Supply Corp. sought to cross with its plans to ship water to the Manor area. Ausley said Cross County WSC, a non-profit, was formed to fraudulently provide a way to condemn land of uncooperative owners.
He said Cross County WSC board member Ross Cummings helped form the non-profit in Sept. 2007 to be able to more easily use imminent domain. Cross County WSC sued Ausley in court, and Ausley countersued.
Blue Water’s attorney said Ausley never showed at a public hearing when Blue Water asked for an additional 40,000 acre-feet of pumping rights. He said Ausley asked for $15 million in damages from the water company.
But the issue came up again when directors voted to lower pumping and transport fees, from 2 and 6 cents, respectively, to 1 and 4 cents per 1,000 gallons.
“I don’t think I was put on this board to contribute to Blue Water’s bottom line, and that’s what we’re doing,” said Burleson County rancher Roy Alford. Director Dwayne Jekel countered that lowering fees also helps area water supplies get water to their customers.
Member Jay Wilder felt the need to boost conservation programs instead of lower fees. Jekel said the board was “not here to subsidize systems that aren’t taking care of business.”
The board reviews and can adjust fees annually.
Board member Robert Ware motioned to lower fees, with he, Jay Tumlinson, Carroll Glaser and Kerry Starnes voting to lower fees. Wilder, Alford and Andy Hrovak voted against the measure. With Nathan Ausley abstaining and Jekel not voting, the measure passed 4-3.
Directors also okayed a $1,786,200 budget for 2010, down from $2,704,461 in 2009.