Hometown News For Orange County, Texas

Orangefield Water Supply looking at changes

People living in the Orangefield area may be deciding whether to keep the non-profit Orangefield Water Supply Corporation or become a state water district. A town hall meeting was held Tuesday evening for discussion and a presentation on the differences.

Water districts in the county are operated in West Orange, the Vidor area, and Mauriceville. Some rural areas are serviced by private water companies or individual wells.

The state of Texas has separate rules and regulations for a water district compared to a non-profit. One of the main differences is in leadership.

Board members of the non-profit are selected by corporation members who belong by paying a membership fee. That fee entitles them to get water and sewer service for the set prices. In addition, the fee lets them have a vote at the board's annual meeting to selection directors.

A water district is an official government entity, though a water district does not charge property taxes. Board of directors for a water district are elected during regular election dates and every eligible voter residing in the district may cast a ballot.

Water districts must also follow the Texas Open Meetings Law and will have the option to participate in the Texas Municipal League. That entity provides statewide services for cities and water districts, including special property insurance rates, group health insurance rates for employees, plus pension services for employees.

Water districts under state law are required to follow state bidding and purchasing regulations. However, they may also buy items through state purchasing cooperatives with the state or regions taking bids on a variety items including vehicles.

In addition, water districts are able to issue tax-exempt bonds which can make financing big projects cheaper by offering lower interest rates than the non-profit issuing loan bonds. A water district is allowed to provide water and sewer services outside of its boundaries, while a non-profit is limited in its range. Under any example, a customer outside of the normal service area will pay the fees set by the board.

Jared Banken is currently president of the Orangefield Water Supply Corporation board of directors. Ronnie Hutchison is vice president, with Mary Nixon as secretary and Delana Huebel assistant secretary. Other board members are Rene Naquin, Jessie Freemont, and Don McLemore.


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