The Brazos River Authority’s budget is the cornerstone of its fiscal responsibility. With major projects on the horizon, fiscal responsibility is key to those project’s success. At their quarterly meeting, the BRA Board of Directors unanimously approved the fiscal year 2020 budget.
“BRA employees take a tremendous amount of pride in compiling the budget," said BRA General Manager/CEO David Collinsworth. “The BRA owes it to everyone within the basin to work efficiently and productively."
The approved budget represents $69.7 million in total anticipated revenue and $69 million in operating expenses, said BRA Chief Financial Officer David Thompson. The budget also includes $47.1 million in capital improvement projects, of which, $30 million is dedicated for the proposed Allens Creek Reservoirs’ planned for construction near the city of Wallis in Austin County. The reservoir project is pending after the city of Houston filed suit against the state of Texas and the BRA following the Texas Legislature’s approval of a bill requiring the city of Houston to sell its stake in the proposed off-channel reservoir to the BRA. The Board approved up to $500,000 for legal counsel to defend against claims asserted by the city of Houston.
Other capital expense projects include improvements to the piers that support the spillway gates at Possum Kingdom Lake’s Morris Sheppard Dam, pump testing for the Trinity groundwater well, and a complete gate replacement for Lake Limestone’s Sterling C. Robertson Dam. Preliminary engineering has kicked off on the “Bell-House” Pipeline project, which will link Lake Belton to Lake Stillhouse Hollow via a pipeline and pump system, making additional water available to residents of Bell and Williamson County. Improvements are also being made at the Central Office building and to the roads at BRA-owned parks at Lake Granbury.
The budget includes the anticipated 3.3% increase for the System Water and Interruptible Water Rates paid by BRA contract holders, an increase from $76.5 per acre-foot to $79 per acre-foot. The plan also includes a 3.3% increase, or $53.55 per acre-foot to $55.30 per acre-foot, for the Agricultural Water Rate.
Also at the quarterly meeting, the Board:
- adopted the Strategic Plan, which includes the mission statement, guiding principles, goals, objectives and strategies. The BRA knows the next sources of water will be much more expensive than any have experienced in the past, making it incumbent to seek the most efficient use of resources, said Jim Forte, BRA planning and development manager. Forte said the BRA is also being continually asked by other entities within the Brazos basin as to whether the BRA is interested in operating and maintaining their water and wastewater treatment plant. He said that speaks to the BRA’s reputation of customer appreciation for the plants currently operated for municipalities.
- authorized executing an amendment to the Regional Water Planning Agreement with the Texas Water Development Board for $333,501 in additional funding to complete the Fifth Cycle of Regional Water Planning; and to execute an amendment to the professional services agreement with HDR Engineering, Inc., for $333,501 in additional funding to complete tasks identified in the Regional Water Planning Agreement Scope of Work.
- adopted revised standard water contract forms: the System Water Availability Agreement form for long-term water; the Interruptible Water Availability Agreement form for interruptible water; and the System Water Availability Agreement form and Interruptible Water Availability Agreement form for agricultural water. The BRA contracts for long-term, interruptible, and agricultural water on standard form contracts to maintain conformity among its customers, said BRA staff counsel Kenny Jenkins. The current water contract forms have not been revised since 2010. Prior to contracting to sell the newly available water derived from the System Operation Permit, staff determined that updating the water contract forms was necessary to reflect changes in statutory language, BRA operations, state water conditions, actions by state regulatory bodies and the issuance of the System Operation Permit.
- authorized the issuance of up to $16.3 million of revenue bonds in one or more series by the BRA to refund about $14.9 million Texas Water Development Board debt, to realize savings and to pay the costs of issuance of the new debt.
The BRA operates the Williamson County Raw Water Line, a 26-mile long, 48-inch diameter transmission pipeline that transfers water from Lake Stillhouse Hollow to Lake Georgetown. This pipeline is vital for maintaining adequate water supply in Lake Georgetown for the customers. The pipeline was partially funded by a Texas Water Development Board loan. The refunding of the bonds provides an estimated 20% savings for BRA customers.
- authorized the BRA to dispose of surplus personal property.
- authorized the BRA to enter into an interlocal agreement with the city of Georgetown to jointly study and fund an Aquifer Storage and Recovery Feasibility Study in Williamson County in an amount not to exceed $165,000. BRA’s portion would be half the total. The area is experiencing high growth numbers and facing an expected water shortage by 2040, said Brad Brunett, BRA Central and Lower Basin Regional Manager. Aquifer Storage and Recovery could capture water that otherwise enters the Gulf, providing more water resources to the area, Brunett said.
- approved a $700,000 contract with Gannett Fleming Inc. to perform engineering, construction oversight and consultant services of Lake Granbury’s DeCordova Bend Dam low flow facilities.
The next board meeting will be Oct. 28. To see a full list of board actions, go here.
To view the Fiscal Year 2020 Budget, click here.