Council action on water rate petition expected soon

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Monday night at the Kennedale City Council regular monthly meeting, a statement was made at the beginning of the meeting indicating that an announcement would be made soon in regards to the water rate rollback petition that was presented to the City Secretary earlier this month. {{more:[Read More]}}

Council member Dr. Mike Walker told the crowd who came in anticipation of action on the petition that the review process was still ongoing.

Walker made the following statement.

“Contrary to what some might have heard, there will be no action taken on the petition this evening.”
 
“To explain the process, most of you know but some of you may not, since [the time] the petition was turn in, the City Secretary has twenty days to certify the signatures on the petition and the validity of the petition. She is in the process of doing that at this time.”
 
“At that point [when the 20 days are up] then a referral will be made to the council along with recommendations as far she can to validate the signature and petition. Then it will be up to the Council to take action at the next available council meeting.”
 
“So that is the process that we are going through, in case there were some that were interested in knowing where are in that process. For those of you who are interested, you might want to keep your eyes open ? when the Mayor returns, I think there will be an initiative, that he will be presenting, that will probably be reported on in the Kennedale News in the next week or so.”
 
Visitor/Citizens Forum …
 
There were five residents who spoke during the Visitor/Citizen Forum at the council meeting. All spoke against the water rate hike but two also spoke in support of the police.

Jan Joplin, 204 Hilltop Drive.

First all my thoughts and

prayers go out to our neighboring police department and their families and prayers go

to the officers that serve us daily and a special thank you to our local

Kennedale police officers. With these

tragedies happening in our world, it puts our water increase problem in

perspective. It shouldn?t be that

difficult to resolve. We aren?t recreating the wheel. We aren?t the first city

to have aging water pipes and water towers. We aren?t the first city to need to increase

water rates. We aren?t the first city with financial needs. We aren?t the first

city that needs to communicate with its citizens accordingly. The root of this problem seems to be money.

And, if we don?t get to the root of the problem and make the needed changes the

problem will continue surface. Here we are in a

painful financial mess, painful for the citizens and caused by the financial pain

from the city. Again, fortunately for us, we are not creating the wheel. Our hope is that you quickly recall the recent

water increase and wisely get to the roots of the problem, come up with a new

plan that covers our current and future financial needs. Put a new plan in

place and roll it out effectively. Yesterday,

I read a headline [Kennedale News] that says ?Little city has to find ways to

deal with big problems?. It was in

reference to the quality of our water at Village Creek and I really like Mr. Hart [City Manager] what you said about solving water quality issues without spending large

amounts of money to obtain expert advice.

I liked a lot of the other thoughts that went into this particular problem. My hope that the same thoughts would stay in

place for the water increase problem. I

am thankful that you have heard us and are working on a new plan along with

some immediate hardships solutions. I

recently printed off your city core values and I believe that using those core

values of integrity, accountability, teamwork, innovation and commitment, you

will come up with a new plan for the citizens.

Gail Uranga, 904 Bell Oak.

Mayor and City Council Members, I

am here to ask you to listen to the citizens that signed the petition to repeal

this ordinance before we incur another month of greatly increased and

unaffordable water bills. The people of Kennedale have spoken loud and clear

with twice as many verified signatures gathered within a five day period as are

required to repeal an ordinance. According to the city charter there are two

options available as I understand it.

One, to repeal the ordinance with the required signatures obtained or

schedule it for a vote of the citizens. It appears that you have already

collected more than a half of a million dollars in the four months since this

ordinance has been enacted. If that is

not right, then I apologize, I am not a financial person. I came up with this

figure using 2,450 households according to the demographics at an average of

$50 per household (and $50 is low considering that many household experienced

increases much more that that) but that would be not quite $500,000. If it goes

to 5 month of collection it would be $613,250. This is getting close to the

$700,000 in the emergency funds that you had to expend last year. This amount

does not include any business accounts, that would raise significantly based on

information that I spoke about in the last meeting. So my point is if the repairs made last year

have already been recovered or will be recovered in the first five months where

is the remainder of the money going to go? I don?t know what happen to the

average $35 dollar increase, which personally believe is too large for most

households in Kennedale. But most households experience increases larger than

$35 with very little water usage during this rainy season several months ago. I

recently was at an event in Arlington and when we were introduced as being from

Kennedale, the comment was made, ?Gee how would you afford to live over there.

We hear the water rates are outrageous.?

Another person said, ?We were considering that as a location to build a

home but we will not consider this because we will want to water our grass and

not pay $400 in water bills.? Another

related issue is the company that does our billing, Fanthom, I have been trying

to find out our daily usage on line since last summer when had a bill of $349. The

daily information is still not out there on line. I have heard from numerous

other residents of about that and other issues that they have had with this

company. Is this the kind of reputation that we really want for our community? I don?t think so. I have got to know some of

you guys and I like and respect you. We

are just asking you to do what is right for the citizens of Kennedale.

Rockie Gilley, 220 S. Dick Price Road.

First up I would like

to start with something rather more important than utility, and that is our police

department. You have my gratitude and

support for laying your lives on the line to enforce the law to protect our

safety and property from the forces of anarchy that are performing murderous ambushes

on police officers and egging on cop killers and propagating lies and damaging

reputations and ability to perform your duties.

Now about the utility rates. To paraphrase the only Verison commercial,

Can you hear us now? You have the opportunity to correct this mistake. You have

the opportunity to straighten up the mismanagement and the empire building that

is occurring. You have the ability to represent the citizens of Kennedale as a

whole. Don?t thumb your nose at us. Don?t placate us with bureaucratic chicanery

and faint concern. Plan in the light of day. Budget outlays for your plans.

Collect the revenue in a thoughtful and conservative manner. Entertain new

ideas. What are these new ideas? Bonds,

increasing impact fees, ditching the recycling program and redirecting those

revenues perhaps to utilities. And what you have always done or what you are

doing, isn?t going to cut anymore. You have the power of public office and professional

legal advice, and you know a thousand ways to outsmart us. But we have the

numbers and, I believe, that we have the numbers to overcome all of that. Don?t

make us do that.

Kathy Brown, 808 Shady Bend Drive.

She spoke in opposition to the rate increase. She emphasis the need of effective

communication because she said that in the absence of that, perception becomes

reality. She went on to ask what constitutes an undue burden. She said that in

Clint, Michigan the water bill was about 7% of the average household

income. She said that the United Nations

defines an undue burden is anything 3% or more.

In Kennedale that would cover about half the population if you consider the

last available statistics on income in this area. She noted that she felt that it is the responsibility

of the Council to consider what was an undue burden placed on the citizens of

Kennedale. She went on to say according to the Texas Municipal League, Kennedale?s

water is the 9th most expensive of the 83 cities of our size in the

Texas. Adding that one of the least expensive

is Everman. She asked the question, can we learn from them? She considers the

recent rate increase as sort of a reactive sort of crisis management. It seemed

like we were saying ?Ol my gawd, we are out of money, we got 21 million of

expenditures and we got to refund our water fund.? The City needs to be proactive as oppose to reactive

in our planning process. Part of that

process is identifying our capital expenditures as oppose to operating

expenditures. If we are talking about

repairs that are extending the life of a pipeline or water structure 10 years or

more then we can float a bond on that instead of placing an undue burden on our

citizens. That is part of considering

all options. She had exhibits that

demonstrated alternate funding sources, capital vs operating expenditures. She pointed out that a very good study was

done by Freese and Nichols for Kennedale in 2014 that identified 21 million in capital

expenditures and recommended that the city come up with capital improvement

plan. She said that she had not found

where the city developed that plan. She

thought that was a very good starting point.

Again she said critical to this process was a good communication plan

and she had an exhibit. She encouraged the use of one page fact sheets that the

city has used in the past to communicate to the citizens saying that the

quicker you address an issue the better.

She also cited alternate funding sources such as bond rates which are

very low and revenue bonds rates when tied to water and sewer are ?almost non-existent.?

She encouraged the council to look at

all options and if there are no other valid options then communicate that and explain

why. We put our trust in you guys to make

this decisions and to communicate to us.

Barbara Flemming, 900 Shady Bend Drive.

I want to thank you for putting in recycling but

it made me think that maybe one of the things that we could do that might

provide more funds for the water issue is reduce the number of the days that we

pick up our garbage to one day. I know

that 2/3rds of my garbage goes into recycling and I don?t feel the need for two

day pick-up anymore. I am not sure how much that would help but that is just a

suggestion.

 

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