TBCD Increases Minimum Payment $5/Month

Needs $300K for W/S to Break Even by 9/31/2022

By Gloria Roemer

The Trinity Bay Conservation District Board of Directors have extremely difficult financial decisions to make to offset a $300,000 deficit in its water/sewer department. General Manager Jerry Shadden told the Board that they need to figure out how to come up with $300,000 before the end of its fiscal year which is September 30, 2022. At its regular meeting, which was held last Wednesday evening July 13th, Shadden presented the financials that showed a “fund balance” of about $8,500,000.00. When presenting this amount, Shadden does not mention that the entire $8,500,000.00 is earmarked for expenses/payroll/equipment purchases, etc. The drainage department should be in good fiscal shape due to the increases in property evaluations (drainage is financed by a tax on land). Water/sewer is financed by user fees (water and sewer customers). The water/sewer fund has been balanced in past years by management transferring money from the drainage department to the water/sewer department. Over $5,000,000 was transferred from drainage to water/sewer in the mid 2010’s which created an issue among the populace as that money was to be used for drainage projects and flood mitigation instead of “floating” water/sewer. The misuse of funds became apparent by the flood damage caused by Hurricane Harvey and Tropical Storm Imelda. The $5,000,000.00 should have been used to provide some flood mitigation that could have eased the pain of the historic flooding.

Now, several years later, with the same management that allowed the water/sewer fund to go $5,000,000.00 in the hole without recourse, is finally admitting that the water/sewer fund is again in financial trouble. But, this time, management is doing what it should have done years ago, is bringing the issue to the Board, and let the Board determine how to deal with the $300,000 deficit.

For a quick fix, Shadden suggested a $5/month “fuel service” charge for its 5,000 customers. TBCD’s attorney Kate Leverett suggested that calling it a “fuel service” charge was misleading and to add the $5 charge as part of the “minimum” charge for being a customer of TBCD.

New board member Victor Carraway stated that before TBCD considers passing new charges on to its customers, TBCD needs to study its expenses and figure out how to cut its budget to make up for the deficit. “Our fiscal year ends in six weeks,” said Carraway. “During our budget hearings next month, we need to consider cutting expenses in the budget to make up the $300,000 deficit. After we determine what to cut and how much, then we talk about adding another $5 charge to our customers, if need be, but we need to study the budget first.” The Board ignored Carraway’s idea and voted to pass the $5/month charge. Board directors Scott Kahla, Les Hankamer, and Ric Nicely voted for the $5 charge, Carraway voted against, and Greg Turner was absent. Shadden said the $5 charge will take effect next month. With the months of August and September bringing in the new $25,000/month, that only accounts for $50,000 of the $300,000. So how will you make up for the remaining $250,000. Shadden pointing to the Board and said, “That’s up to them.”

Posted in LatestNews.