POSGCD: Fee-based boards are appointed

‘Change to elected directors would require legislation’
Reporter Editor

The move to change the governing board of the Post Oak Savannah Groundwater Conservation District from appointed to elected would require a change in legislation, according to its general manager.

Gary Westbrook told The Reporter that fee-based groundwater districts, like POSGCD, have appointed boards by design to make it less likely large water companies could “pack” elected boards with their hand-picked representatives.

Westbrook came to Rockdale’s city council meeting Monday to defend the current status POSGCD board after three persons asked the council last month for a resolution changing its status from appointed to elected.

The request was on Monday’s agenda but the council meeting was canceled for lack of a quorum.

ELECTED—In the wake of POSGCD’s granting of drilling and additional pumping permits at Alcoa’s Rockdale Operations, there has been a movement to change the district’s 10-member board to an elected status.

At the November council session, Curtis Chubb, Joy Graham and Donald Schuerman asked the council for a resolution supporting the change.

Dr. Chubb told the council 75 percent of the water boards in Texas are elected.

He said the current board has a policy of approving all requests, such as Alcoa’s, and that other Texas water district boards don’t have such policies.

FEE-BASED—Westbrook didn’t dispute those figures, but said fee-based districts, like POSGCD, generally have appointed boards while the water districts with elected boards are tax-based.

He said the enabling legislation which empowered POSGCD, and four other boards in the Central Carrizo-Wilcox—introduced in 2001 by State Sen. Steve Ogden (R-Bryan)—specifies that the boards will be appointed by county commissioners.

In two-county POSGCD’s case, that’s five members each appointed by commissioners courts in Milam and Burleson counties.

“Reasoning behind creating districts with appointed directors is to avoid a situation where the big water export companies, with their huge resources, might spend a large amount of money and get a board elected which might be more disposed to do whatever they want,” Westbrook said.

“In fact, every board in GMA- 12 (Groundwater Management Area), of which we are a member, is appointed,” he said.

POSGCD HISTORY—The Post Oak Savannah Groundwater Conservation District was formally created in the November, 2002, general election.

Pr ior to the election the appointed status of directors was one of the questions asked to the district’s temporary directors in a Reporter question-and-answer article to provide voter information. The answer:

“POSGCD is a fee-based district and in fee-based districts directors are appointed. In order to change to an elected board, new legislation would have to be introduced, passed and signed (by the governor),” Westbrook said.

In 2002, creation of the POSGCD passedinMilamCounty 3,368 to 1,473 and in Burleson County 2,571 to 1,230.

RE-HEARING—Opponents of the Alcoa permit decision have also asked the POSGCD for a re-hearing on the matter, citing what they say are irregularities in the board’s procedure.

Westbrook said the request has been forwarded to board president Nathan Ausley. “He has the authority to rule on it,” Westbrook said. “The request could also end up as an agenda item at a board meeting.”

The POSGCD is not meeting in December. Tuesday (Dec. 11) would have been the date.

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