RICHMOND/KATY FORT BEND COUNTY (Covering Fort Bend News) – Residents of the Westheimer Lakes, Creekside and Briscoe Falls subdivisions spent Thursday night learning about two bond issues they’ll be considering when early voting begins next week. There is a $79.5 million water, sewer and drainage bond, and a separate $7 million bond to build parks in the north Fort Bend County neighborhoods.
The facilities and parks would be built by Municipal Utility District 142 if voters approve bonds that would finance construction. Thursday night’s question and answer session was held at Bentley Elementary School in the Richmond area.
If approved, the water, sewer, and drainage bonds would fund the replacement of two temporary sewage treatment plants with one permanent facility located on the north side of the Creekside Ranch subdivision.
When the neighborhoods were initially constructed, MUD 142 contracted with a vendor to build what’s called “package plants,” or temporary plants to handle the sewer capacity until the neighborhoods became closer to being built-out. They currently have two temporary plants, the oldest one is nearing the end of its usefulness.
“The initial package plant is approximately 15 years old and it’s very close to the end of its service life,” said MUD 142 Engineer Bradley Jenkins.
The temporary plants are being rented by MUD 142.
“We really need to build the permanent plant so we can stop paying $780,000 a year for the temporary plants,” Jenkins said.
The 13,000 residents who are served by MUD 142 are being asked to authorize up to $79.5 million dollars in bonds over a 30-year period. The cost of the plant will be about $25 million. The remaining $54.5 million would be used by MUD 142 to maintain the plant over the next three decades.
“It’s a line of credit for 30 years of capital improvements,” said MUD 142 president Randy Carter.
MUD leaders say the community does not have to be concerned that all $79.5 million in bonds would be sold in a short period of time because the State of Texas won’t allow it.
“There are a lot of checks and balances at the state level with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality,” said spokesman Simon VanDyk. “They (the state) require the MUD to submit an application detailing the project, its cost, and current debt outstanding before they allow any new bonds to be sold,” he added.
The community served by MUD 142 is still growing and when it’s fully built out the value of the district is expected to be more than $1 billion. Financial analysts say that means tax rates should not have to increase to finance either of the two bonds on the ballot.
VanDyk says the measure to authorize parks and recreational bonds came after MUD 142 surveyed residents and found there was a great deal of interest in having parks and trails in Creekside, Westheimer Lakes, and Briscoe Falls.
Early voting starts Monday. Election day is Saturday, May 4.