Next month, 1,500 people in Bayou Vista and surrounding communities will be asked to vote on a $17 million bond that seeks new money to repair and improve local waste water systems.
The bond election was called by Municipal Utility District No. 12. The district provides water services to Bayou Vista and Omega Bay, a subdivision within La Marque’s city limits. It is the district’s first bond election in 22 years.
The last, and largest, previous bond election was in 1995, when voters approved $2.8 million in bond funds.
More money is needed now because the district has aging infrastructure that requires improvements, said Bill Alcorn, the president of the district’s five-member board.
“It is a lot of money,” Alcorn said. “It is by far the largest we have ever had.”
The largest part of the bond proposal is $6.2 million that would expand and improve the district’s 21-year-old wastewater treatment plant.
The project would increase the capacity of the plant, as well as make a significant sensory improvement, Alcorn said.
“It’s not a real crisis,” he said of the proposed repairs of the sewage plant. “If you like the way it smells, vote no. If you don’t like the way it smells, vote yes.”
The district can’t control odor coming from the plant right now because it’s “basically worn out,” he said.
Another large portion of the bond request, about $4.4 million, is for canal rehabilitation. The district is working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to try to get the federal agency to pay for that work through a cost-share program, but the bond asks for funding for that project anyway, in case the corps does not choose to do the work, Alcorn said.
The bonds are meant to pay for projects over the next 10 years, according to a summary of estimated costs provided by the district.
Despite the large request, Alcorn said voters approving the bond funds would not immediately affect tax rates in the district — unless the district has to pay for canal rehabilitation on its own.
“It’s estimated not to increase the tax rate at all,” Alcorn said. “If the Corps of Engineers signs on for canal rehabilitation, that will not increase the rate at all. If the Corps of Engineers does not, it will increase the tax rate about 5 cents per $100 of valuation.
“The estimated major improvements, 10 years, 12 years, 14 years down the road may increase the tax rate up to 10 cents,” he said. “We have no way of knowing when because you don’t know how long something is going to last.”
A report provided by the district does not say anything about the possible changes to the district’s tax rate.
Municipal utility districts are taxing entities separate from the governments of the cities or unincorporated areas in which they are located.
Election Day is May 6. Early voting begins on April 24.