Good project, but a bad idea
May 30, 2013, 8:00 pm by Roy Bode
The Central Texas Groundwater District has an opportunity to stop a bad practice before it starts by rejecting the request of a Burnet County emergency service district for $20,000 to fund a project that, on the surface, seems very worthwhile.
But if the project is good, the idea for funding it with taxes collected from one end of Burnet County to the other by the Groundwater District is not.
People rightfully expect the taxes paid to Groundwater Districts to fund the key purpose of such agencies Ė regulating the rights and responsibilities of those pumping from the countyís underground aquifers.
If the Groundwater Districtís rules permit it to provide "conservation demonstrationĒ projects such as the one the Briggs-Oakalla District wants, they should give them to organizations that have scant cash reserves and canít levy their own taxes to satisfy critical needs.
That describes a Volunteer Fire Department in Spicewood that received far less from the Groundwater District than the Briggs-Oakalla District has asked. The Spicewood volunteers are still struggling to recover from the massive brush fires in their neighborhood, have little money in the bank and canít tax anyone.
But the ESD 8 directors have more than $100,000 in reserve and can raise their tax rate if necessary, a move that might annoy their neighbors but certainly could buy them the water tank they want.
So instead of asking another taxing authority to hand over money for a local project, they ought to use their own funds or their own taxing ability.
Groundwater Directors ought to tell Johnnie B. Rogers, an Austin lobbyist and ESD 8 Director who is soliciting the money, that this kind of shell game with our taxes might work with the Legislature but we're smarter here in the country.
Roy E. Bode
President & Publisher
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