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City to Partner with Citizens for Water Committee

Leader Photo by Rodney Williams  New alderman Robert Jaska, at right, gets sworn in Tuesday night by Van Alstyne Mayor Teddie Ann Salmon.Buy Photo
Leader Photo by Rodney Williams New alderman Robert Jaska, at right, gets sworn in Tuesday night by Van Alstyne Mayor Teddie Ann Salmon.

An administrative snafu meant that Tuesday night’s special called Van Alstyne City Council meeting never happened and that the workshop that followed happened but had no action. Get all that?

As it turned out, the address for the Christ of Church building on the agendas for the two meetings as posted by the city were wrong; therefore, legally, the city could not hold the council meeting but could hold the planned water workshop as long as it took no action during the meeting. As Mayor Teddie Ann Salmon explained to those in attendance, Grayson County District Attorney Joe Brown stated that as long as they took no action “there would be no criminal charges filed.”

“It will be very informal and not like a regular council meeting,” Salmon told the audience at the start.

Some business did get accomplished, however, as newly-appointed alderman Robert Jaska was sworn in by Salmon.

What followed then was pure discussion between the mayor, city manager, city engineer, public works director and several audience members. While it was largely unfocused there were several salient points hit upon, including the ongoing debate regarding a water refund and revised water billing rates. Suffice it to say in this newspaper space there is still further discussion to be had. City Manager Frank Baker said that if a refund was issued that it would take months to get done since the city has just one utility billing clerk and it would have to be done by hand as the software would not support the action. Councilwoman Kaaren Teuber suggested hiring a college student proficient in Excel or other contract labor to help facilitate the refunds.

Much of the night’s discussion centered around the CGMA water line that the city currently pays for but has yet to use. There was lively back and forth with former council members Jack Flannery and Pat Patterson with city engineer Len McManus regarding what it would take to get the water line operational for the Georgetown subdivision.

McManus made a presentation to those in attendance supporting the CGMA line as a viable solution for the future of city water. Of the city’s six wells only five are functional and one at an extremely low level. Another of the wells, number five, produces the majority of the water for the town. If that well should go down, warned McManus, the city’s water supply would go with it. McManus said that with the CGMA line would pay for itself, though Councilman Jim Smith took exception with that statement. In the course of this discussion it came out that Baker had received a plat for 165 new homes in the southern part of the Georgetown subdivision, which, if true, would help greatly in paying the nearly $3.8 million tab for getting the line fully functional.

After three hours of discussion Salmon stated she had a solution: to form a committee of community volunteers knowledgeable in the area of water rates, water tables and the like to come up with a few ideas to present to Council for approval. During the many hours of workshop discussion over the past seven days a few key voices had been heard with some air of authority, among them Kirk Bramer, James Flannery and Darin Clum and they volunteered to serve on the committee. Also throwing their names into the ring were Shannon Jackson, Michael Upchurch, Mark Bramer and Pat Patterson. Additionally, Baker, Public Works Director Steve White, McManus and council members Teuber and Jaska will serve on the committee.

Meeting Notes: Salmon announced that a deal had been worked out with Grayson College regarding the prior time limits and that Council meetings for the near future will be held at the college.

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