• October 22, 2019

Early voting to start for water, education amendments - Odessa American: Wire

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Early voting to start for water, education amendments

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Posted: Saturday, October 22, 2011 12:00 am

A slight drop in temperatures and some scattered rain showers have relieved the Permian Basin of the unrelenting heat during the summer, but much of Texas is still in a drought.


What: Early Voting for the Constitution Amendment Election.

When: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays from Monday through Nov. 2 and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Nov. 3 through Nov. 4.

Where: Ector County Courthouse Annex, 1010 E. Eighth St.

Call: 432-498-4030.

Many water officials are looking toward the future and are hoping that with the upcoming Constitutional Amendment Election on Nov. 4, Texas voters will pass an amendment that could fund new water infrastructure projects. Early voting begins Monday through Nov. 4.

Proposition 2 would authorize the Texas Water Development Board, or TWDB, to issue additional bonds not exceeding $6 billion to fund future water infrastructure projects. Those projects include pipelines and towers, wells, wastewater collection, treatment and disposal, flood-control and pollution projects.

Odessa Development Corp. members already approved a resolution declaring their support for the amendment during their meeting Oct. 13. Colorado River Municipal Water District general manager John Grant said the water district also supports the amendment.

“We’ve been in (a drought) a little longer than most folks have, but it’s serious all through the state,” Grant said. “I think the water development board needs a little bit more flexibility for being able to fund water projects here in the state of Texas.”

The TWDB was authorized to issue $4.23 billion in bonds in increments from 1957 to 2001. As of Aug. 31, TWDB communications director Merry Klonower said $3.3 billion has been issued and, because the bonds are “consumptive,” or not self supporting, the TWDB will not have the authority to reissue more loans.

 “When we hit the $4 billion mark, we’re done,” Klonower said.

With Proposition 2, the TWDB would be able to dole out more loans with the bonding cap increased to $6 billion. The loans are also self-supporting, meaning that once an entity pays back their debt, the TWDB would be able to reissue the loan money, Klonower said.

If the proposition is passed, TWDB executive administrator Melanie Callahan said Texas taxpayers would not have to pay a statewide tax for any bonds issued. However, taxpayers may see an increase in water rates or may see a tax rate increase locally, Callahan said.

“It is a local decision. It’s not something that would be forced on them,” Callahan said.

Even if the decision is local to have bond money fund water infrastructure projects, some taxpayers may still not be happy.

In August, the Odessa City Council members approved of a 20 percent base rate-increase to residential water bills, much to the ire of many Odessa residents. The rate increase was to fund the construction of additional pipeline from the Ward County water fields.

Grant said the CRMWD did use bond money from the TWDB for the $140 million to construct additional pipeline and water well drilling in Ward County and the $13 million to build its Big Spring water reclamation plant. Both projects are expected to be completed by December 2012.

Grant said in the future, residents should get accustomed to the rising cost of water as the drought continues.

“You have to go a long way to get water. There are no local water sources,” Grant said. “And unfortunately, our water is used in the Odessa, Midland and Big Spring area. If it doesn’t rain, and we don’t build these projects, there won’t be any water. It’s that simple.”

If the TWDB is authorized to issue more bonds, Grant said there is a possibility that he will try to get more money to fund future CRMWD projects. But there are no new projects on the table currently, Grant said.

Voters will also have their say on state education funds.

After the Texas Legislature cut more than $4 billion from public school spending from their 2011-2012 budget, voters will be able to decide on additional school funding for the Permanent School Fund.

If passed, Proposition 6 would allow the General Land Office, or GLO, to distribute limited revenue from permanent school fund land to the Permanent School Fund. The funding limit would allow the GLO to reinvest a portion of their revenue in new land purchases instead of spending all of their earnings in one fund.

Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson initially opposed the amendment but dropped his opposition once the spending limit was stipulated.

“Our job is to put money into that fund and keep it growing. You can’t invest any if you spend it all,” GLO spokesman Jim Suydam said. “The concern was that policy decisions would be made on the needs of today rather than the needs of tomorrow.”

Suydam said though Patterson dropped his opposition, the GLO is “neither for nor against” Proposition 6.

“The reason we have this fund in the first place is to set some money aside,” Suydam said. “You can’t invest any if you spend it all.”



Propositions as they would appear on the ballot

Proposition 1: “The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to provide for an exemption from ad valorem taxation of all or part of the market value of the residence homestead of the surviving spouse of a 100 percent or totally disabled veteran.”

Proposition 2: “The constitutional amendment providing for the issuance of additional general obligation bonds by the Texas Water Development Board in an amount not to exceed $6 billion at any time outstanding.”

Proposition 3: “The constitutional amendment providing for the issuance of general obligation bonds of the State of Texas to finance educational loans to students.”

Proposition 4: “The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to permit a county to issue bonds or notes to finance the development or redevelopment of an unproductive, underdeveloped or blighted area and to pledge for repayment of the bonds or notes increases in ad valorem taxes imposed by the county or property in the area. The amendment does not provide authority for increasing ad valorem tax rates.”

Proposition 5: “The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to allow cities or counties to enter into interlocal contracts with other cities or counties without the imposition of a tax or the provision of a sinking fund.”

Proposition 6: “The constitutional amendment clarifying references to the permanent school fund, allowing the General Land Office to distribute revenue from permanent school fund land or other properties to the available school fund to provide additional funding for public education, and providing for an increase in the market value of the permanent school fund for the purpose of allowing increased distributions from the available school fund.”

Proposition 7: “The constitutional amendment authorizing the legislature to permit conservation and reclamation districts in El Paso to issue bonds supported by ad valorem taxes to fund the development and maintenance of parks and recreational facilities.”

Proposition 8: “The constitutional amendment providing for the appraisal for ad valorem tax purposes of open-space land devoted to water-stewardship purposes on the basis of its productive capacity.”

Proposition 9: “The constitutional amendment authorizing the governor to grant a pardon to a person who successfully completes a term of deferred adjudication community supervision.”

Proposition 10: “The constitutional amendment to change the length of the unexpired term that causes the automatic resignation of certain elected county or district officeholders if they become candidates for another office.”

Source: votexas.org

© 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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