Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Rockwall buys utility rights to Lake Rockwall Estates to cut consumer costs
Aqua Texas previously held the utility rights to the community.
ROCKWALL Lake Rockwall Estates homeowners will soon pay much less for water and sewer services after Rockwall City Council members unanimously agreed Feb. 18 to approve the city’s $3.5 million contract to purchase the utility services from Aqua Texas, which had been charging homeowners up to three times more than what other city residents pay.
Lake Rockwall Estates, located east of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, is home to appoximately 2,800 residents, according to city documents. The city annexed the subdivision in 2009. Upon annexation, the city began discussions with Aqua Texas regarding the purchase of the utility system so it could provide utility services to these residents at the same rates other city residents pay for the same service. But Aqua Services refused to sell.
The city even proposed two bills in the State legislature in 2011 to address the issue and try to take over the services but they did not pass.
But when the city and Rockwall lawyer David Smith started working directly with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to de-certify Aqua Texas as a provider, the company decided to reopen direct negotiations with the city instead and sell. Council member David White, who lives in the subdivision, was also involved in the negotiations.
Mayor David Sweet told The Rockwall News that he was very pleased that the city is finally going to be able to provide water to residents at an affordable rate.
“The residents of Lake Rockwall Estates have suffered with higher rates for water for a long time,” he said. “I am glad the Council and staff were committed and stayed committed to completing this process.”
The negotiations to lower water and sewer rates actually began in 2006. The six surviving Council members who were involved in the negotiations also attended Monday night’s meeting: Bill Cecil, Bob Cotti, Tim McCallum, Margo Nielsen, Matt Scott, and Stephen Straughan.
Nielsen told The Rockwall News that she was thrilled that the purchase was finally completed.
“Voting to annex the subdivision was one of the best votes I cast as a council member,” she said. “All six surviving members of that 2005 Council were present for the vote last night because it was so important to all of us.”
“As the Executive Director of Helping Hands, I’ve known how high the water rates rose after the system was purchased by Aqua Texas – three times what city residents paid. What I didn’t know was how hard it was going to be to obtain the ‘right to serve’ from them. I congratulate the current Council and others like local attorney, David Smith, for completing that chore.”
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