From the Sidelines – December 2012

Sewage Retailer
Double Oak is in the retail sewage business.  Wow!  That sounds like we’re selling sewage.  I don’t think any of our town officials are salesman enough to make money at that.  It’s actually the service of removing sewage for a very few customers that makes up the town’s retail sewage business.

In Double Oak, all homes are built on at least an acre.  That acre supports the use of an individual sewage system; either a septic system or an aerobic system.  The town is not involved in that process at all unless the individual system fails or in the case of the aerobic systems, the required inspections and service is not performed.  So why be in the retail sewage business?

The northeast corner of Double Oak was zoned to accommodate small business.  The Crossroads Bible Church bought the entire property for their church and then sold off what they did not require for business use.  The church wanted sewage service and it made sense to provide it for them and future business users.

The Upper Trinity Regional Water District (UTRWD) provides wholesale sewage service in the area and specifically provided service to our neighbors in Highland Village.  They were able to extend their service via Highland Village and run pipes under FM 407 to an entry point in Double Oak.  They put a meter there and the rest was up to us.

The church paid to have the pipes run from the entry point to their connection.  That infrastructure became town property under an agreement that as other customers came online they would repay the church proportionally to their front footage of the property.  There are currently two more customers attached to the system, and like it or not, we are in the sewage business.  We pay UTRWD a fee based on usage (currently so small it’s difficult to measure) plus a monthly amount to amortize the costs of bringing the connection to Double Oak.  That part is the majority of the bill.  

Apparently municipalities typically take the wholesale cost and double it to become the retail cost to customers.  We didn’t think we could do that.  As you’ve heard from me at length, we don’t believe in high costs in government.  We even keep franchise fees paid by our utility providers low because those costs are passed on to our residents in their utility bills.  

The decision on how to retail sewage was to add 10% on to the cost as an administrative fee and let it go at that.  Looking back that might not have been the smartest decision the town ever made.  We pay our bills promptly but small businesses are sometimes late.  Collection costs have to be absorbed somehow.  What happens if the sewage infrastructure needs maintenance?  Where is the money for that?  Fortunately, the system is still new enough that we have had few problems but the town council will be addressing these issues in the near future.  I’m hoping that we can defer additional costs to our customers until we have a few more online to help absorb these unforeseen costs.

Flower Mound Town Manager
It’s been in the news recently that Flower Mound has found a replacement for my friend, Harlan Jefferson.   Jimmy Stathatos, the town manger from our neighbor Roanoke will be taking the reins in Flower Mound in January.  As I mentioned in last month’s column, Flower Mound does a superb job of tasks like this.  The skills and energy that built Roanoke should transfer well into Flower Mound.  Welcome, neighbor.



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