Water export tax proposed by commissioner visitor

Revenue for county to help offset economic loss

CAMERON—With the anticipated large-scale pumping of Milam County’s underground water anticipated in the near future, county commissioners heard a proposal Monday for at least the county government to recoup some lost revenue.

Rockdale businessman Collier Perry appeared before the court to propose a “severance tax,” to be imposed on water pumped in Milam County which then leaves Milam for other destinations.

Meeting in regular session in the courthouse, commissioners also heard County Judge Dave Barkemeyer report a refinancing plan on debt incurred to construct the new county jail could save the county more than $600,000.

WATER TAX—Perry, who is also a member of the Rockdale Municipal Development District (MDD) board, told commissioners he was speaking only for himself in proposing the water export tax.

“This would not affect anyone who is pumping water and using it in Milam County,” he said. “It would only apply to water that is pumped and then leaves the county.”

Alcoa has applied for 24 new water wells and to repurpose (increase production) on 32 existing wells.

The aluminum company is in the process of selling land, and those water rights, to the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) which says it is expanding its capacity to provide water to Texas’ thirsty cities in the future.

“I see this as a way for the county to recapture some of the economic value of the water which would be leaving,” Perry said.

He said such a proposal would require legislation. “But I think that’s feasible,” he said.

Commissioners weren’t able to take any action on Perry’s request since the item was not on their agenda for Monday.

“No water is being shipped out of the county now,” Perry said. “But it’s going to be.”

REFINANCING—Barkemeyer reported on a bid opening to refinance certificates of obligation incurred in building the new Milam County Law Enforcement center in 2004.

He said the top bid would save $763,835.88, compared to the current payout, over the remaining life of the certificates.

AWARD—Precinct 3 Commissioner Dale Jaecks of Rockdale was recognized for receiving the prestigious Walter Dunk Award at the exas Conference on Regionalism in Houston.

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2012-09-27 digital edition

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