Despite low voter turnout in the Somervell County Water District’s election, voters overwhelmingly approved its proposed $40 million bond election.
The proposition, which passed with nearly 73 percent of voters’ support and will not increase taxes, will allow the local water district to proceed with plans to construct a water treatment facility and expand its distribution system.
On Saturday, the unofficial results were posted which showed bond election passing by a margin of 142 “for” and 53 “against.”
Also on the SCWD’s ballots were four seats for the district’s board of directors, which resulted in the re-election of three directors and the addition of a newcomer. All four seats on the board were unopposed after the Place 7 director Tod Sandlin opted to not seek re-election.
In Place 1, James E. Teague was re-elected with 147 votes; in Place 3, Margaret Drake garnered 128 votes; and in Place 4, Lee Magee will return to the board after receiving 133 votes.
Nemo Britton, who received 127 votes, will join the board of directors in Place 7 for a four-year term.
A total of 200 voters cast their ballots in this year’s SCWD election, including 117 on Election Day and 83 during the Early Voting period, resulting in a low 3.5 percent turnout of eligible voters.
Kathy Brown, of the SCWD, reported that the district has 5,699 eligible voters within its boundaries.
Despite the low turnout during this year’s election, Kevin Taylor, general manager of the SCWD, says he’s pleased with the number of voters who cast ballots.
“It’s probably 50 percent more than what we’ve had in our past elections,” said Taylor. “It does sound low but we’re pleased with the turnout compared to what we’ve had in the past.”
Taylor said the ratio of nearly 73 percent voter approval is pleasing, but “we wish we would have had more voters.”
“Historically, we only get 130 to 140 voters in our elections,” said Taylor, “even when our offices were located in town.”
Now that voters have given the green light for the $40 million bond package, Taylor says the SCWD can now move forward with the next phase of its expansion plans.
“We’ll be able to carry forward immediately instead of pay as we go, which is what we’ve been doing,” said Taylor.
The SCWD’s board of directors will submit their application for funding with the Texas Water Development Board by July 1, Taylor said, which hopefully will receive approval within weeks.
“Right now, our engineers with Freese and Nichols are working on the design of the treatment plant and distribution system,” said Taylor. “The plans should be ready in four to six months and we’ll begin construction soon after.”
Taylor said the SCWD plans to start construction on both the 1.5 million gallon treatment plant and pipeline at the same time so that the distribution system will be largely completed by the time the water treatment plant is put into service.
According to a pamphlet distributed prior to the election by the SCWD asking for voters’ support of the bond package, plans call for “water to be available to almost 60 percent of county residents by 2010, with service available to over 75 percent of the county’s water customers by 2020.”
The SCWD plans to provide water service to the city of Glen Rose, the Luminant power plant and rural customers north of Glen Rose. Water service would also be extended south of the city along Texas Hwy. 144, east of Glen Rose along US Hwy. 67 and southeast of the city along Hwy. 67.
Following the completion of the proposed expansion and initial facilities, the SCWD would extend service throughout the county.
Currently, the SCWD tax rate is 12.66 cents per $1,000 valuation. Taylor said the $40 million bond issuance will be repaid over a 20-year period and provided from the district’s current tax rate with no increase in taxes.
The bond includes approximately $6 million for the water treatment plant and high-pressure pump station’s construction. The additional $24 million would allow for the construction of approximately 176,000 linear feet, or 33.5 miles, of water lines.
On Tuesday, the board of directors met to canvass the results of Saturday’s election and officially record the numbers. The board also administered the oath of office to those elected as a SCWD director.