Understanding Bartonville politics is as easy as 1, 2, 3, and 4—one Town Council, two open aldermanic seats, three major hot topics and four candidates.
The three controversial political topics which have generated heated debates during the past few years are: the expansion of the town police department; the lawsuit filed against the town by the Bartonville Water Supply Corp. (BWSC)—now re-named the Cross Timbers Water Supply Corp. (CTWSC)—over its incomplete water tower; and, financing roads.
The local CURE (Citizens United for a Rural Environment) group conducted a citizen survey several months ago. No information about how the recipients were selected or the manner in which the questions were worded has been revealed.
The group sent 200 questionnaires about the police department to selected residential households and reported that 68 (34-percent) questionnaires were returned. Of those 68 surveys: 35 answers favored not expanding the town police department and returning to coverage by the Denton County Sheriff Deputies and the Precinct 4 Constables; 18 people favored the current coverage of two shifts by the town police department; 9 answers support day-only town coverage; and 6 surveys selected town police coverage 24/7.
“Our mission is to inform and educate,” said CURE spokesman Del Knowler. “We haven’t endorsed any of the candidates running. We began about 15 years ago and then we became inactive until about six months ago, because we don’t like how things are being handled.”
Knowler said he volunteered to be the spokesman for an “inner circle” of about 20 people who wish to remain anonymous.
“We have about 300 households or e-mail contacts who receive our regular newsletters,” said Knowler. “That means we have about 600 people—or half the registered voters—who support us. If they didn’t, they’d ask to be removed from our list.”
The Town Council has contracted for a scientific, unbiased resident survey on a variety of town issues to be conducted by students at the University of Texas at Arlington. The survey and its results will be available for public viewing upon completion. It’s unfortunate for Bartonville voters that the results will not be available prior to the Nov. 5 election.
“The Bartonville residents need to decide what kind of law enforcement they feel is best for them,” said Precinct 4 Constable Tim Burch in a phone interview. “We’re all peace officers—the town police department, the Denton County Sheriff’s deputies, the Double Oak and Argyle Police Departments and our deputies—who would respond to a call for service. But, people need to ask what makes them feel safe. If a call comes in and I have a deputy in the area, there will be a short response time; but they can’t rely on that. And, as more people come to the area, there will be an increase in crime; it’s unfortunate, but that’s the reality.”
Burch added that in the past he hasn’t charged the town for service calls, but couldn’t speak for other law enforcement departments that cover Bartonville.
“I can’t predict if future budgets will change that, but now there’s no financial impact [on coverage by the constables],” said Burch. “The immediate impact is on safety and response time concerns.”
“The future retail-based growth over the next three to five years has already been determined,” said Mayor Ron Robertson. “The retail development has Kroger’s, gas stations, banks and restaurants with a total revenue of about $45 million per year, which currently generates some $120,000 in sales tax for the town. At build-out, the projected total for the town is $350 to $400,000 per year. That income for the town will be mostly from non-residents and that means the citizens of Bartonville need to prepare the town’s law enforcement needs to meet the level of safety needed.”
He added that voters should look at the candidate’s positions about the police department and whether they have a pre-determined agenda.
“Voters should support candidates who don’t already have their minds made-up,” he said. “They should vote for someone who’s willing to listen to facts and then vote their conscious.”
On the topic of the BWSC (now CTWSC) vs. the Town of Bartonville lawsuit, CURE released the following statement on Aug. 17: The high pressure pump system is not capable of sustaining the pressure needed for the extended period of time necessary to take the water tower out of service. The tower is well past the time frame for service. This is one of the reasons BWSC (Bartonville Water Supply Corp.) was expediting the building of the second water tower. Based on the cost of the lawsuit, and the information provided by BWSC, we suggest the council re-evaluate their previous decision to continue the lawsuit. The current single elevated tank does not have sufficient capacity for emergencies during peak use periods, primarily June through September. While BWSC has an ample supply of water, all of the water must go through an elevated tank for pressure (provided by gravity). The current tank has a maximum capacity of 500,000 gallons. The peak usage day in July 2013 was between 2.7 and 2.8 million gallons. The highest historical peak days have been over 4 million gallons. The current tank is being filled and drained constantly throughout the day. With the current drought expected to continue for up to ten more years, and an expanding population, peak days may be even higher. BWSC has had more new customers (new meters) during the first seven months of 2013 than it has had in any full year since 2007. These conditions could result in inadequate water supplies to serve an emergency that occurred during the peak usage months.
“Some of the citizens have said the town should just drop the lawsuit,” said Robertson. “Even if everyone on the council and staff voted to drop the lawsuit, the reality is … we don’t legally have that option. We didn’t file anything, so we have no control. We’re only defending ourselves. It’s in the court system and we just have to wait on that calendar for a decision on whether the Texas Supreme Court will hear the case and make a decision, or send it back down to a lower court; where we’ve had two decisions in our favor. The good news is that both sides of the suit are still talking and may reach an agreement before the legal system.”
The topic of roads and road repair is a less emotional issue. It’s a question of where the candidates place it on their financial priority lists—roads before personnel, or personnel requirements before road issues.
The final political number in Bartonville is 1,138; that’s the number of registered voters for the Nov. 5 special election. How many of those citizens vote– and who they support– will determine the future direction for the residents of Bartonville.