Brushy Creek Municipal Utility District (the District) Brushy Bend Waterline Replacement Project Community Meeting February 6, 2014

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1 Brushy Creek Municipal Utility District (the District) Brushy Bend Waterline Replacement Project Community Meeting February 6, 2014 Recap of Question & Answer Session Sorted by topic not necessarily in order asked; includes subsequent questions Construction and Restoration Question / Comment: If irrigation systems are impacted by construction, will they be restored? Answer Yes, irrigation systems will be restored. See power point presentation on website to see list of what will be restored and not restored. Question / Comment: What will be done to reduce spread of Oak Wilt with construction? What are decontamination procedures for the equipment? Answer: Construction guidelines follow those established by City of Austin and City of Round Rock which includes steps to mitigate the spread of Oak Wilt. Question / Comment: Will there be an estimate or map of the number of trees and their location that will need to be cut down? The engineers are currently surveying the area. Once the survey is complete, the location and design will be completed and residents notified. Question / Comment: When will construction be finished? Answer: 6 months. History Brushy Creek Municipal Utility District purchased Brushy Bend Park water system in approximately 2001 from a private water supplier that was experiencing financial problems. The private water supplier had been purchasing water wholesale from the District and then selling it to the residents of Brushy Bend. Question / Comment: How many residents requested the District buy out the private water supplier? Answer: Brushy Bend water system was similar to Aqua Source. The system was installed by the developer and maintained by a private vendor who was buying wholesale water from Brushy Creek MUD (the District) and then selling it retail to residents. When the vendor stopped paying the District filed suit. The District paid a large amount of money to the previous vendor and ended up owning the CCN. The District s concern at that time was the provider was going out of business leaving the residents without a water source and the District was the only option. The District did not consider it a business opportunity; but that the residents were at risk and had no other options for providing water. There is no record of any other entity having an interest in buying the system and providing water. 1

2 Question / Comment: Was the District aware that the water system purchased would need repairs? Answer: Records indicate that soon after the purchase of the system, the District was aware that the Brushy Bend Park system was poorly designed and installed. The District has been providing notice to residents that the system would eventually have to be replaced. The 2011 drought and subsequent damage to the system expedited the need to replace the water lines. Question / Comment: Didn t City of Round Rock take over providing water? Answer: No. The District purchased water wholesale from the City of Round Rock until 2006 when the District opened its own water treatment facility. Question / Comment: Did Brushy Bend have source water through a local well water source it was buying water from before the District owned it? Answer: No. Prior to being purchased by the District, the water system belonged to the private water system operator, not the HOA. Brushy Bend residents were paying the private water system operator for water it purchased wholesale from the District. This included water the District purchased from the City of Round Rock and water from wells the District owns. The previous owner of the Brushy Bend water system owned easements that ran from the District s well site to the Brushy Bend system. When the District purchased the water system, the easements were included in the purchase. Question / Comment: Prior to purchase by the District, Brushy Bend Park had a water source and delivery system. Those two were split off and have now become a significant source for District. Answer: The District did not purchase the system from residents or HOA, but from a private water operator. Neither the HOA nor the residents owned any part of the system purchased by the District. Question / Comment: Following the lawsuit and the District s purchasing the system, why didn t Brushy Bend Park become part of or annexed to Brushy Creek MUD? The HOA decided permanent taxes were too expensive and looked at water rates, etc. and elected not to be annexed. Answer: The question of annexation starts at the resident level. To start a conversation on annexation, a minimum of 50 residents must request the District to consider it. Question / Comment: Why didn t someone bring up risks related to improper operation of the system? Answer: The system has not been operated improperly. The type and size of water lines originally installed were not adequate. Installation of the lines was not adequate. Deterioration has nothing to do with how the system was operated. It s a 40 year old system; the District has been talking to the residents at the last 3 annual HOA meetings about necessary improvements. Question / Comment: Lines installed incorrectly were they installed to standards in existence at that time? Answer: The District cannot answer as to what the standards were in the 1970 s. The standard today is to lay lines in a combination of sand and gravel to reduce damage when the ground shifts. Question / Comment: When the previous water operator sold the system to the District its residents decided not to pay the property taxes associated with annexation. Brushy Bend also needed consulting it did not receive. Question / Comment: How did we go about using our facility without having any sinking fund resulting in using up facilities and requiring us to start from scratch and come up with monies all at once? Answer: For the District we set aside reserves for future capital projects, e.g. Brushy Creek North project. When the District purchased the Brushy Bend system its residents were paying the same rates as District residents. Brushy Bend was not paying for full cost of systems because District residents were paying property taxes. The 2008 rate study increased base rates for Brushy Bend. That rate study indicated that the base rate should be $37 2

3 and consumption rates should have been around $5 per 1000 gallons. The District chose not to increase the consumption rate at that time. Improvements to the System Question / Comment: Can you provide the report of the study prepared before the District decided to replace water lines? Answer: The Halff Engineers report is on the District s website at this link: Question / Comment: My plumber tested my water pressure at 85 pounds. I have no pressure issues. Answer: There are a number of houses with good pressure in Brushy Bend Park. Some homes have pressure in excess of 110 pounds. The District installed a second Pressure Reducing Valve two years ago to improve some of the pressure problems. Question / Comment: The District is planning to do all four projects identified in the engineer s report. Are any of these projects included in the Brushy Creek North waterline replacement project? Answer: The waterline replacement project in the Brushy Creek North neighborhood is a separate project. The Brushy Bend project is separate and related costs will be tracked separately and bid separately. Question / Comment: Homes by the creek have much higher pressure issues. Some pressure causing damage to facilities. Will the new lines cause higher pressure? Answer: The improvements will improve pressure issues throughout the system, increasing it in areas that need it and decreasing pressure in areas that have higher pressure zones. Question / Comment: Will the service lines that are separated at a Y that come (Walsh Drive) across to East or NE side be replaced? Answer: Service lines between the meter and the house are not being replaced. Most of the homes in our system are on these Ys so there will be double meter boxes. Lines from the main to the meter box will be replaced. However, simply replacing those lines from the meter to the main line will not fix pressure issues. The entire system must be replaced. Question / Comment: Is there any opportunity to relocate a meter closer to the house, maybe 100 but still within the ROW? Answer: There may be some opportunities to move meter boxes further down the ROW but the homeowner would be responsible for moving the service line from the meter box to the home. Question / Comment: Insurance issues with fire hydrant not being located within 100 yards of property. Answer: Brushy Bend Park has three fire hydrants; however, there is no fire flow within the system. Therefore, the hydrants are not capable of providing water for fire protection. The improvements being made to the system will add fire flow. Question / Comment: Is adding fire flow creating a Cadillac system? What is the cost and is it optional? Answer: Construction standard for water mains is to use an 8 line. The District s original intention for this project was not to create fire flow capacity but it has turned out to be a positive outcome. The District intends to construct the lines to current standards but we will ask the bidders to price the smaller lines as a comparison. Question / Comment: From my experience as a firefighter I urge you to have hydrants. Cost of hydrant is approximately $2,500 each. 3

4 Question / Comment: Are old water lines going to be removed? Answer: Some will be and some will be abandoned in place. The engineer s final plan will indicate which lines will be removed. Question / Comment: What is life expectancy of the new system? Answer: At least 50 years. Suppliers are indicating 100 years. Question / Comment: What is water loss in Brushy Bend Park and what is annual cost? Answer: when there are no leaks in the system, water loss can be as low as 2 3%. Some months it has gone as high as 8 10%. If we do not identify and repair leaks, it has spiked beyond that amount. Because we have a master meter on the water going into Brushy Bend, we know when there is a leak(s). Value of the water lost is anywhere from $10 $15,000. The bigger cost is on labor repairing lines and addressing pressure issues and service of the lines. The dollar amount of Brushy Bend water billing is about $160,000 a year. Question / Comment: What is the condition of our water system? The engineer's report does not address how bad our system is and how long we can continue before it collapses. How much did the District spend repairing water lines in 2012 and 2013? That would seem to be a good basis to determine if we need a new system. Answer: This project is proceeding for a number of reasons not just due to water leaks. The Brushy Bend Park system continues to suffer from pressure issues. The system is also only fed by one line which puts the water delivery system at risk. Making improvements to the main line feeding the Brushy Bend Park system and adding a second feed line in the south is expected to increase the number of issues to the internal water lines if they were not also replaced. Due to the timeline required to complete this project, waiting until the lines deteriorate more is not an option. Question / Comment: Residents pay $37 fee per month now. We are paying $91,000 a year. How much did the District pay in 2012 and 2013 for repairing our water system? Answer: Utility rates are to cover the cost of not only repairs and maintenance but also the cost of raw water, the cost to treat the raw water and distribute it, the debt cost associated with purchasing and building the facilities to treat and distribute the water. Repairs and maintenance are a small percentage of that total. Cost of the Improvements to the System Brushy Bend Park water system is outside of the Brushy Creek Municipal Utility District. Residents of Brushy Bend Park do not pay property taxes to Brushy Creek MUD and therefore, the system and related improvements are paid for through utility revenues only. Any capital improvements to the system must be paid by the residents of Brushy Bend Park. The District is conducting a rate study to update the system rate and identify the rate for the capital improvement project. Question / Comment: Will the rate study include the supply of water to a new neighborhood and/or are the costs of supplying a new subdivision somehow being offset so Brushy Bend does not bear the entire project cost? Answer: This project will not serve any other neighborhood or development. There are two churches on Sam Bass that connect to the water system and they will be sharing in the cost of this project. Question / Comment: About what would be the monthly cost per resident? Answer: There are a number of variables to determine what the final cost to the customers will be for this project. The project will be competitively bid which will provide the overall construction costs. The type of financing and the current interest rates will also impact the final cost. Question / Comment: We are on fixed income and concerned about additional expenses such as water fees. The estimated cost of $2.5M less 30% grant equates to a loan of 1.75M over 25 years. If this loan is paid by 205 4

5 families at 3% interest, the monthly payment per family is $ Why is the District charging $69 per family, a difference of extra 66%? Answer: The dollar amounts used at the presentation were estimations. The charge has not been determined. Once the project is bid and we know the cost of the project, cost of the debt issue, then the fee will be set. Question / Comment: Is the rate study public? Answer: Yes. The rate study will be a public document. The 2008 rate study is public and is posted on the District s website. Rate studies look at 2 previous years experience and projected experience. Question / Comment: What is average tax levy for District residents? Question / Comment: What is the percentage of water bill for water/sewer/waste pick up for residents? Answer: District s current tax rate is $.50 per $100 of assessed value. In 2013, the average assessed value in the District was $212,888 so the average tax bill would be $1,064. District residents pay base water rate of $14 per month for a 5/8 meter. Brushy Bend base rate for the same sized meter is $ District residents pay a separate fee for wastewater ($6 base) and solid waste services ($20 base). Question / Comment: Are we going to be paying a little over $100 in surcharges? Answer: We cannot determine what the final capital charge will be for this project until it is bid and the financing is complete. In our presentation, we were using $65 as an example. The 2008 rate study indicated that the Brushy Bend Park base fee could be as high as $120 to recover the cost of the capital improvements. Question / Comment: Once the new water system is installed there should be fewer leaks. Can we assume that translates to lowered costs to District for maintenance of the Brushy Bend system? Will there be a rate reduction to help offset the costs? If the system will have fewer repairs and less maintenance will that be reflected in base fee paid now? Answer: Every few years the District conducts a rate study. The rate study takes into account costs of repairs and maintenance, costs of raw water and production. The last rate study for Brushy Bend Park (Non District Water Rates) was in Although the costs of repairs and maintenance should decrease following the capital improvements, overall operating costs are expected to increase. Question / Comment: I feel that the District is forcing on us a burden of this monumental cost. Brushy Creek North is getting a new system and by combining these two projects it seems the District is trying to reduce overall cost. Answer: The District is considering a water line replacement project in Brushy Creek North. The engineers anticipate that there will be different contractors for these projects although it is conceivable that one contractor could be awarded both contracts. The projects will be bid and managed separately. Question / Comment: Brushy Bend Park currently pays a base fee of $37.42 then pays for water consumption. When project is completed there will be a capital fee? Do all of Brushy Creek customers pay the same fees? Answer: No. Our residents pay property taxes of which a portion pays for debt. The Rate Study and Consultants consider all debt and reviews what part pays for facilities. There is a clear distinction between what our residents are paying through property taxes through the water system as opposed to non taxpayers. Question / Comment: Do Brushy Bend Park residents pay taxes to Brushy Creek and will this project affect property taxes? Answer: Brushy Bend Park residents do not pay property taxes to Brushy Creek. I do not know if this project will impact property values and therefore impact the property taxes you pay to other entities. Question / Comment: What opportunity do we have to protest utility rates? Answer: The Public Utility Commission hears rate protests. 5

6 Question / Comment: Why are we paying for this project over 25 years if improvements are expected to last 50 years? Answer: The cost of the project will be charged to residents over the same period of time that the financing for the project is expected to last. The District is considering a revenue bond from the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) for this project. The TWDB typically issues debt from 20 to 25 years. Question / Comment: We know in the future we ll have problems again. Question / Comment: At end of 25 years are we going to continue to pay a fee for future expenses? Answer: I cannot answer for how rates may be set in 25 years. Question / Comment: Why is it the responsibility of Brushy Bend Park customers to pay and not the residents of Brushy Creek? Answer: Brushy Creek residents pay taxes and water rates for their system. The Brushy Bend Park system is an independent system that the District owns and operates. The customers of that system are responsible for its maintenance and capital improvements. Your utility rates are what pays for the system and is the only source of revenues since you are not taxed by the District. Question / Comment: How is ongoing maintenance differentiated from capital improvements? Answer: For purposes of the rate study, ongoing maintenance and operating expenses are those costs that are included in the annual operating budget and funded by annual revenues. Question / Comment: Could the cost of this project go way over budget? Answer: The pre planning, including surveying, is to mitigate unknown costs. However, it is difficult to predict what unknown costs may be found when the majority of the project is for work below the surface where caves and/or endangered species have been known to exist. Question / Comment: How much in additional fees are Brushy Creek North residents paying for their line replacement? Answer: Brushy Creek North is a neighborhood within the District. The District is also developing plans to replace these water lines. Brushy Creek North residents pay property taxes in addition to water rates and will therefore not be paying an additional fee for the line replacement. Question / Comment: Can we extend the Brushy Bend Park system another 8 years and pay a capital fee to build a deposit toward future work? Answer: The system repairs need to be made sooner than later. Any benefit from charging a capital fee now for a future project would be lost due to the increasing cost of construction. Question / Comment: If District customers are paying a $14 base water fee why are Brushy Bend Park residents paying higher amount? Answer: District residents pay property taxes in addition to water rates. Brushy Bend Park residents do not pay property taxes to Brushy Creek. Question / Comment: Since we pay water fees, can we get a discount on Community Center membership and other facilities? Answer: The costs of the District s recreation programs are not included in the cost assumptions when developing the utility rates for Brushy Bend Park. 6

7 Expanded Capacity The District engaged Halff Engineering to provide an analysis of the Brushy Bend Park water system. Part of this evaluation included a review of potential increase in the number of connections in Brushy Bend and the impact of these connections on the system. Question / Comment: How did the District arrive at the estimated number of possible new connections to the system? Answer: The engineers evaluated all the lots in Brushy Bend Park and estimated how many could subdivide based on the size and location of the lot. Their assumptions can be found on the District s website. Question / Comment: By providing water to subdivided lots District is breaking HOA rules barring subdivision. Answer: By law, if someone wants water service within the CCN, the District has to provide it. The District has no authority to enforce HOA rules. Question / Comment: In the design for future growth, will there be an impact fee for property owners that subdivide their lots? Is the new rate being designed to take into account future expansion? Question / Comment: Are those people subdividing before we hit 250 charged the cost to them? Question / Comment: Can people who are subdividing be charged more than existing residents? Answer: The design of the Brushy Bend Park system is capable of serving the current number of connections and based on the engineers report, capable of serving additional connections. The only limitation is that the TCEQ requires 8 lines to serve 250 or more connections. The current improvements are not designed to add capacity, but additional capacity may be a by product of these improvements. The District will evaluate whether or not connections beyond the 250 can be required to pay an additional fee. The District cannot charge more to a new connection for repair and replacement of the system. Question / Comment: Why is the project not considered a repair? Answer: The system improvements are considered a replacement. As indicated in the 2008 rate study, the cost of this replacement was not considered in the rates calculated for Brushy Bend Park. Question / Comment: The system will have to be replaced again in 50 years. Does MUD have ability to charge a capital fee for future improvements? Answer: A rate study would need to be completed sometime in the future to determine if a fee could be included in utility rates to fund a capital replacement account for future improvements. Question / Comment: The District has a Water CRF (Capital Recovery Fee), why do new connections in Brushy Bend Park not pay a CRF? Answer: The District submitted an application to the TCEQ in 2002 for approval to charge a CRF for facilities that were being upsized to accommodate new service connections. Brushy Bend Park was not included in this application. Question / Comment: The District prepared material to submit to the TCEQ and it was approved for use by the District in charging new customers as a Buy In charge for new lots wanting to use the District s Water and Wastewater systems. Is the District s Capital Recovery Fee (CRF) based on improvements that would have to be built or based on things that were built and are being paid for by existing customers? Brushy Bend does not have a CRF because its CCN does not have approval from the TCEQ to implement one on new customers. Is that because we have not asked the TCEQ for permission to implement a CRF even though we have similar arguments for a CRF, i.e., the water plant and infrastructure that we are paying for in the rate structure. 7

8 Answer: The District s impact fee (CRF) was approved by TCEQ to recover cost of capital improvements made to upsize facilities for future growth. For example, the water facility that was built in 2006 was not built to only serve the capacity of the then District s customer base but of the District s needs based on future growth. The customers from that future growth must pay the impact fee for this upsized project. When calculating rates, for both internal and external water customers, the revenues from the impact fees are taken into consideration and ultimately reduce those rates. Brushy Bend does not need an impact fee for these upsized facilities because the revenue the District collects from our impact fees already reduces your rates. Question / Comment: Currently, a 6 line doesn t come in through the entire system. The upgrade will be done to serve more than 250 homes. Answer: The District is replacing all main lines within the Brushy Bend Park system with 8 lines because the construction standard for main lines calls for 8 lines. The capacity for new connections and fire flow are just by products of 8 lines. Question / Comment: District irresponsible by allowing subdivision of lots and ignoring destruction of lines caused by increase in connections to the system. Question / Comment: How do we know that the reason for the project isn t just because of drought and issues with breakages but could be from the addition of units and therefore might allow us to somehow access financial support from an impact fee? Answer: Part of the engineering study by Halff evaluated the impact of new connections on the system. This report can be found on the District s website. The District cannot charge impact fees to new connections for repair and replacement. The District is evaluating how we can charge impact fees for any connections that exceed 250. There are currently 204 connections. Question / Comment: If someone has a new connection 5 years from now and they have not paid for the project in the past 5 years can there be some level of recovery for that? Answer: The District cannot charge fees to new connections equivalent to the fees that have been paid prior to the date of the connection. Question / Comment: Regarding the replacement of remaining lines, from an engineering standpoint, what is the problem with leaving them intact for now and putting in pressure regulating valves? Answer: Installation of PRVs would not solve pressure issues and would lead to further breakdown of the water lines. Question / Comment: Can we get a grant to offset cost of adding fire hydrants? Answer: The District is researching to determine if there are grants or other funds available for extending fire protection to the neighborhood. Question / Comment: Can I choose to get my water from a ground well instead of purchasing water from Brushy Creek? Answer: The District does not prohibit Brushy Bend Park residents from choosing to get water from a ground well. We would urge anyone considering ground water to check with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality as to the requirements, to test the quality of the ground water and also to check with the HOA to make sure the HOA by laws permit it. Question / Comment: If Brushy Bend Park residents requested and were granted annexation would we be treated like other District customers? Answer: Any area that is annexed by the District would pay the same utility and tax rates as other District residents. 8

9 Question / Comment: If Brushy Bend Park residents ask the District not to pursue the project, will it happen anyway? Answer: The people charged with the responsibility of delivering safe, quality water to customers will make decisions about improvements. The Brushy Creek Board of Directors has approved this project due to the concern about the longevity of the current water distribution system in Brushy Bend Park. Question / Comment: If Sam Bass Road is going to be expanded and the line replaced or relocated at that time, can t that project wait? Answer: The Sam Bass Road project was not included in the road bonds passed by County voters in the fall of This project will not be considered for funding until well into the future. 9

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