Port O'Connor Improvement District Photo

PORT O’CONNOR — A municipal utility district is expected to finally authorize the sale of $6 million in bonds after its customers boiled water and mopped up sewage that backed up into their homes for days.

The bond passed in 2016, but the board took no action on it until recently.

If the board doesn’t take action by Jan. 19, it will have to make a new bond proposal, said Andrew Keese, a spokesman for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

So far, the board got TCEQ to agree to change what the money raised from the bond sale could be used for.

Almost $1 million previously allocated to wastewater vacuum station improvements will go toward smart meters instead.

In an April letter to the TCEQ, the board wrote that meters kept the spirit of the bond and are necessary to identify and monitor water loss.

About 12 percent of the water the district gets from the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority was lost in 2017, leading to a $118,159.51 loss of revenue.

The board has also met four times about the bond in the past month as well as published a notice in the Port Lavaca Wave that the bond sale would take place on Wednesday.

That concerned Danny McGuire, who, along with Mike Clifton, was elected on Tuesday to fill places on the board being vacated by Leon Brown and Marshall Bradford. McGuire said he was worried the board was circumventing the will of the voters.

“I personally think that the use of smart meters is a great thing if it weren’t for the fact that we had residents go for three weeks without sewer. There are much more important things to be fixed first,” he added.

The remaining three board members were appointed in the past year under Brown, who serves as president of the board.

But during another board meeting Wednesday, attorneys advised the board to delay the bond sale until Dec. 13, partly to give McGuire and Clifton a chance to authorize it.

But Ernest “Erny” McDonough, who was appointed to the board in August, did not appear to like that idea and asked whether it would increase the interest rate the district could get on the bond.

The attorneys said they expected the interest rate would be 4.5 percent.

“I just hope it doesn’t come back and bite us,” McDonough said.

The results of Tuesday’s election can be canvassed as early as Nov. 13, the attorneys said, but the board decided not to swear in McGuire and Clifton until it’s next meeting at 1 p.m. Nov. 15.

Jessica Priest reports on the environment and Calhoun County for the Victoria Advocate. She may be reached at jpriest@vicad.com or 361-580-6521.

Environment/Investigations Reporter

Jessica Priest has done a little bit of everything since moving to Victoria in 2012. She was a regular fixture in the Crossroads’ historic courthouses, but now slathers on the sunscreen to report on the environment.

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