Council weighs infrastructure needs and tax rates

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Manvel City Council received a report from the city’s bond council regarding the financing options for a regional wastewater treatment plant as discussed at a previous meeting. Council agreed at that time to promote the construction of a plant in conjunction with the Lakeland developers and MUD 61 which provides services to the Lakeland development. The total cost to the city is estimated at little more than $2 million. The financing of the project is contemplated by the issuance of certificates of obligation that do not require voter approval. The additional $2 million plus of debt would increase the city’s debt portion of its budget from approximately seven cents to approximately fifteen cents. While the debt portion of the budget is far smaller than the operations and maintenance component the increased obligation would likely require an increase in next year’s property tax rate.

Council remains loathe to increase the tax rate on citizens but the bond council explained that Manvel would remain at a “very low level of debt” and expressed his belief that a growing city should “go forward and do the things that are best for the city and the future and the people yet to come.”

The option under consideration would provide capacity of 550,000 gallons per day at a regional site and would provide for the immediate needs of the Lakeland development while also providing a larger capacity for the city to make available to new customers. The overall capacity from the city would increase to 800,000 gallons per day. That translates to 1200 additional connections the city could provide new users. The cost per connection would be $2200. Construction time would be just under one year.

Ultimately council authorized staff to determine more concrete numbers on the tax rate effect before taking action on the item. The need for an expansion of the city’s wastewater capacity is clear. And the need is immediate. Residential development will continue to increase and all on council favor the potential of commercial/retail development in the city. Alternatives to taking on debt to provide the needed infrastructure are essentially non-existent. Council members will be called on to look forward in consideration of the best interest of the city’s future.

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