KILLEEN — A bill that allows area communities to vote for representatives on the board controlling their water supply is likely to become law, the regional manager said Wednesday.
At a meeting Wednesday of the Bell County Water Control and Improvement District No. 1 board of directors in Killeen, board members discussed a legislative bill that aims to expand the boundaries of the district.
The bill has passed through the Texas House and the Senate and now sits on Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk. The bill will become law, unless the governor vetoes it within 10 days of receiving it.
“I think it’s awesome. It’s been a work in progress, and I think it’s probably long overdue but I’m excited about it,” Ricky Garrett, WCID-1 general manager, said. “We have been operating on behalf of all those wholesale customers for all these years. I just think it’s time that was acknowledged, and they get a seat at the table.”
When WCID-1 had an election in May 2018, it was the first one the district had conducted in 24 years. Because the district hadn’t expanded its boundaries in that time, only residents living within Killeen’s 1984 city limits were eligible to vote.
With the expansion of the boundaries, individuals from Belton, Fort Hood, Copperas Cove, Harker Heights and all of Killeen will be able to run for election to the WCID-1 board, which meets monthly and makes policy decisions for the district.
Garrett said all of the board seats will be open at one time when the election comes around, and it could be a very different board than the current one.
John Blankenship is a developer who currently sits on the board of directors, a violation of the Texas Water Code, which prevents anyone who develops property within the boundaries of a water district, or anyone who has ties to a developer, from serving on local water boards. According to Garrett, Blankenship has between now and Sept. 1 to relinquish his seat.
At the meeting, the board also discussed health care plans for WCID-1 employees and approved a plan from Baylor Scott & White Health Plan, with MetLife covering ancillary benefits.
Also discussed was the upgrading of the water system revenue bonds for WCID-1 from “A2” to “A1.”
According to Moody’s Investors Service, the rating is reflective of the district’s strong liquidity, which has increased over the last five years, and healthy debt service coverage.
Garrett said it will help the district get a better interest rate on bonds and make investors want to refinance if that becomes necessary.