As the two resident incumbents running for a second term on the Lantana Fresh Water Supply District #6 Board of Directors, we felt that we owed it to our fellow residents to factually respond to misleading and inaccurate information being disseminated by candidate Beka Weaver.
Flow of Information
Ms. Weaver accused the board of keeping information secret and not giving enough notice about upcoming meetings. We want to assure the community that board members in no way “hold” information and decisions from the public.
The district posts meeting agendas nearly a week in advance of a board meeting – typically on the Friday afternoon before the following Thursday night meeting. The law states that governmental bodies must post a notice at least 72 hours before a meeting, but we go way above and beyond to make sure that everyone can plan ahead as much as possible to attend the meetings if they wish.
Ms. Weaver’s accusation that meeting minutes are “delayed for weeks to months” is also a misstatement of the facts.
As with any governmental body, meeting minutes must be approved by board members at the following meeting. We usually only meet once per month. Upon approval, the minutes become public record and can be accessed by anyone who requests them. As a courtesy to the district, the Lantana Community Association posts them on their website at www.LantanaLive.com so the district does not have to spend your money on website hosting and a webmaster.
Exhibits, which are given to board members during the meeting to explain certain agenda items, are available to the public at meetings and by requesting a copy from our legal council’s office. In addition, going forward, we will keep a copy of the exhibits in our district office in Bartonville Town Center so people who cannot attend the meetings can stop by anytime and take a look.
As with any governmental body, meeting minutes are written in an abbreviated form – not every word of a three hour meeting is included. The public is welcome to attend the meetings if they wish to hear everything stated.
Bond Interest Rate
In response to Ms. Weaver’s comments regarding the 5.3% interest rate for the bond sale, it is actually a good rate in today’s financial environment.
Whenever the district issues bonds, we have a sealed competitive bidding process. The Board then looks at the top three bids and has to accept the bid with the lowest interest rate.
The entire process of issuing bonds to reimburse the developer after they build out the infrastructure in each of our subdivisions is highly regulated by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Texas Attorney General.
Our two FWSD’s are in very sound financial shape and have one of the highest bond ratings that a municipality of our type can receive. Thus, we have less risk and can get lower interest rates on our bonds. Rich Harned, our district controller, can give you much more information about this subject at 940-728-5050.
Property Tax Rate
Regarding Ms. Weaver’s comment about our property tax rate of $1.00 per hundred (not “thousand” as she incorrectly states) of assessed value; Ms. Weaver herself said that although she would not vote for higher taxes, she would also not be able to lower them. So what is her position on this?
We work on a balanced budget! The district runs very efficiently, as 87 cents out of the $1.00 tax rate is used to pay off the bonds. Only 13 cents is allocated to the daily operations of the district.
We are also curious about her plan to add more parks and greenbelt areas without raising taxes. This sounds like the typical politician promise: “I will give you more without the means to pay for it”.
In addition, one of our board members, Ross Ferguson, has proposed partnering with the school district to find an affordable way to provide more options for recreation areas and it has been on our agenda and discussed in the last five board meetings.
Over 65 Tax Exemption
Cities with a substantial commercial tax base typically offer homeowners 65 and over a special property tax exemption. Since a majority of our revenue comes from residential taxpayers, the two Lantana FWSD’s currently do not offer this exemption. In fact, only four out of 34 special taxing districts in Denton County grant the exemption.
However, each February, both Boards investigate and discuss with staff whether to grant the exemption. In our four years on the board, not one resident has come before the board during those meetings to request the exemption.
Senior citizens in Lantana do, however, qualify for an exemption on the Denton County and Denton ISD portion of their taxes.
Penalty for Late Tax Payment
Ms. Weaver states that the board has “increased penalties for late tax payment”. What the board actually did last month was approve a fee to cover the cost that Denton County is charging the district to collect overdue property taxes so that you the taxpayer don’t take the hit when your neighbor fails to pay their taxes on time.
We’re not sure why Ms. Weaver would oppose of the district recouping its own money for collecting tax revenue that should have been paid on time to begin with.
Pre-Meeting and Meals
Since the inception of the two Lantana districts, the board meetings are usually scheduled around lunchtime (FWSD #7) or dinner (FWSD #6) and a very informal meal is typically provided during the pre-meeting. Many board members come straight from their place of work to attend the meeting and do not have the opportunity to eat prior to the meeting.
The pre-meeting before the formal meeting is in compliance with the open meetings act and anyone from the public can attend if they so desire.
During the pre-meeting, board members discuss some of the agenda items and ask questions of the staff in order to better familiarize themselves about the decisions that they will need to make during the regular meeting. Despite this preparation, there is plenty of discussion on many items during the regular board meetings.
Anyone who attends the meeting regularly (and Ms. Weaver has only been to two FWSD #6 Board meetings) would certainly know that we ask a lot of questions during the meetings and do not always agree on all of the issues.
The public comment portions of the meeting are similar to any other municipality and school board meeting. Citizens have two opportunities to address the board; at the beginning of the meeting, when the President calls the meeting to order, and at the end of each meeting.
As with any governmental body, the public is asked not to interject or discuss issues directly with the board during the meeting with the exception of these public comment opportunities. We admit that we have not always adhered to these guidelines, as we try to keep the meeting as informal as possible so that our fellow residents get timely answers to their questions.
Lantana Educational Foundation
We think that Ms. Weaver’s promise to “pursue advertisement on use of Lantana’s special school fund” has to do with the Lantana Education/Charitable Foundation.
This foundation was established by Lantana’s developer for charitable, religious, scientific, literary or educational purposes and the FWSD has absolutely no authority over the use of its funds. However, a majority of the monies are donated to the three public schools in Lantana. We’re not sure why Ms. Weaver has an issue with this.
Legal Council’s Office Location
Finally, Ms. Weaver’s concern about the district’s paperwork being handled though a law office in Houston is really a stretch.
The counsel we contr
act with lives in Dallas and has offices in Dallas and Houston. A majority of companies in the U.S. have a home office in one city and many other offices in other areas.
The FWSD’s attorney, Clay Crawford, has 30 years experience working with fresh water districts. In fact, his firm handles over 50 other such districts in Texas. Certain administrative duties handled by his staff in their Houston office are both common and efficient for the district.
On another note, Ms. Weaver commented on how Crawford “seems to run the meetings”. As President, board member Max Miller runs the meetings. Crawford’s role is to help explain some of the agenda items to the board and answer questions from the board members, our staff and the public. We have found Clay to be quite a resource to the district, given his experience with our unique form of government.
In summary, Ms. Weaver has chosen not to communicate her qualifications as a candidate and potential board member and instead is attempting to create “issues” and discredit us in order to get herself elected at any cost (we are especially disappointed in her labeling us as the “Lantana Cartel”).
Ms. Weaver has only attended two FWSD #6 meetings – AFTER she filed to run for office. If she had spent more time becoming involved and attending meetings in order to understand the procedures, she would be much more qualified to discuss real issues instead of spouting misstatements and untruths. Her negative campaigning seems to be typical of the new political approach these days, which is unfortunate in such a great community as Lantana.
As longtime residents of Lantana, we both pledge to continue our commitment to the community in an open and professional manner. We will gather the facts, ask the questions necessary and vote responsibly. We will not distort information and we will continue to be available to anyone with questions or concerns. We both take our positions seriously and plan to continue to work in an honorable manner. Please call us with any questions or concerns and thank you for your support.
President, FWSD #6
Vice-President, FWSD #6