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Bill’s language concerns city officials

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Additions to Water Control Improvement District law leave local authorities out

City of Boerne officials are concerned that a new bill signed into law contains language that doesn’t require local municipalities to have a seat at the table concerning the formation of Water Control Improvement Districts.

The city issued a press release on Wednesday stating that newly signed House Bill 2590 will allow for the formation of the WCIDs without consent of local authorities.

According to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, a water district is a local, governmental entity that provides services to customers and residents.

Two years ago, state legislation was passed allowing for the specific formation of WCID No. 3 in Kendall County as basis for a large subdivision on Boerne’s southern boundary. However, the 2017 legislation mandated that the city of Boerne must issue its approval to the water district’s formation.

In a twist that seems to have caught everyone off guard, HB 2590 apparently removes that barrier.

The bill, as originally authored by District 73 Rep. Kyle Biederman, applied only to Municipal Utility Districts, known as MUDs.

“This change to HB 2590 was not discovered by the city until June 6,” the city press release sent by Communications Specialist Garrett Robertson stated. “Representative Biedermann and Senator Brandon Creighton’s HB 2590 originally only addressed Municipal Utility Districts, but was revised on May 6 to add language regarding WCIDs.”

The press release issued on Wednesday traced the passage of the bill through the legislative process, and noted that at some point, still unclear, WICDs also were added to the bill.

In other words, the 2017 “‘City consent’ provision ... appears to have been circumvented by the last-minute change to HB 2590,” the press release stated, adding that the impact to Boerne could be enormous.

“The proposed 1,012-acre WCID No. 3 has been divided into two tracts with the developer of the 332-acre tract proposing to build 1,100 homes.”

The bill signed by Gov. Greg Abbott becomes law on Sept. 1.

Information stated that the city is working with county officials to gather information as to how this occurred without notification to the city and county from Biedermann’s office and how the new law could impact the ongoing development agreement negotiations regarding WCID No.3.

Information from Biedermann’s policy analyst, Larry Bailey, sent to The Boerne Star from the representative’s office, stated, “We proposed language on this subject but it was not accepted. This occurred after we were informed that the bill would not get out of committee if county officials had a veto vote on density development.”

The information also stated the house bill was further amended after Rep. Cecil Bell submitted substantive changes regarding the MUDs in his district in order to get committee approval.

After the bill was passed on to the Senate, the information stated, the bill underwent further changes by Creighton. His district, like Bell’s, also covers portions of an area in and around the Houston metroplex, information stated.

“While these changes made major modifications to our original bill, they did not change the existing statute on the creation of MUDs,” Bailey’s information read.

“As we have openly stated, we believe that county officials should have a place at the table and a vote in negotiations involving the creation and location of special water districts,” it stated. “We are scheduling meetings with many diverse groups on this subject throughout 2019 to obtain their ideas and recommendations.”