BANGS— Bangs residents see an increase in their water bills in order to cover the cost of an extensive rehabilitation to the city water system.
Following the Bangs City Council’s approval of issuing $1,760,000 in bonds, Bangs Mayor Eric Bishop says residents will see a base increase in their water bills but that increase is necessary to insure residents have safe drinking water.
“This is necessary, furthermore, it should have been done 30 years ago, if not 40 years ago,” Bishop said. “We probably should be doing it again. In other words, we probably should have done it twice in the same time we have done it once. I don’t like to use the term emergency, but this is to avoid an emergency.”
In May, then Bangs City Administrator/Public Works Director Scott Perry said rehabilitating the city water system was necessary to accommodate incoming developers with plans for constructing additional homes and apartment complexes. While speaking with The Bulletin in May, Perry estimated some waterlines dated back to 1928 and were in great need of replacing. Bishop said the rehabilitation project would replace dilapidated lines and create a more direct path from the city water tower to its water storage tanks.
“They are way past their useful life. Every time we dig something up, it’s a wonder there aren’t more leaks and breaches in the system at their age,” Bishop said. “This was something that I see as a priority related to public health and safety. Being able to trust your drinking water is at the top of the list. Around 10 years ago the city of Bangs was buying drinking water and providing it to certain parts of town because the water coming out of the tap. I don’t know if it was tested to be not fit for drinking, but there were issues where they had to provide drinking water. We had project a few years back.”
Bishop said the city and its administrators are well aware of Bangs’ potential water issues, but lacked the funding to begin a major rehabilitation. By creating bonds through the Texas Water Development Board, the city can sell tax-free bonds and burrow at a subsidized interest rates. With that also comes the prospect of a base increase in water bills. Being this early in the process Bishop could not give a hard estimate on how much water bills would increase.
“We’ve been looking for means to get this done, but $2 million is a lot of money and going to the bank and borrowing it at market rates for a city our size and what we have for potential revenue streams was more of a dream than anything,” Bishop said. “Fortunately, our engineer with Jacob Martin in Abilene turned us on to the water development board where we can get a subsidized interest rates because of the nature of the project … It’s a 30-year certificate of obligation, but the interest rate in the beginning is 1.17 percent. That really enabled us to get a lot of money for a town our size to really be able to stretch this project out. Parts of the project, our city personnel will be able to contribute in labor and that will stretch further.”