Count us out
If you’re worried that Nueces County might create a drainage district that would require a new tax on Port Aransans, here’s some news that might make you rest a
Count us out little easier.
While Nueces County Judge Loyd Neal said he wants to see a county-wide (or almost-county-wide) drainage district created, he said in a recent interview that he wouldn’t be against excluding Port
out Aransas from such an entity. Echoing
that sentiment was Chuck Cazalas, commissioner of Nueces County Precinct 1, which includes Port Aransas.
After rains earlier this month inundated flood-prone parts of western Nueces County, commissioners were quoted in press reports as saying that those kinds of problems could be solved if a county drainage master plan was created. A new tax district would have to be created to pay for such a plan, and that would require action by the Legislature.
A new large drainage district would involve leveling a tax on a variety of entities around the county.
Port Aransas Mayor Keith McMullin opposes the idea of including Port Aransas in such a drainage district.
“The proposed drainage district would amount to more tax dollars leaving the island for the mainland,” McMullin wrote in an e-mail he sent to the South Jetty. “This is a non-starter for taxpayers from Port A. to North Padre (Island).
“We want to be good neighbors with inland communities, and we greatly appreciate what the county does for the island, but we feel like we go above and beyond the call of duty with property taxes,” the mayor wrote.
McMullin sent a letter to the commissioners’ court on Monday, July 19, reminding the panel that the Port Aransas City Council in 2009 passed a resolution stating the city’s opposition to being included in a county-wide drainage district.
“We feel that the proposed drainage district favors one region of the county over others, while discounting the fact that most citizens and taxpayers live in urbanized areas such as Corpus Christi and Port Aransas,” McMullin wrote in the letter.
“The City of Port Aransas as well as other entities in Nueces County have addressed or are addressing drainage problems on our own,” McMullin wrote. “We feel it is unfair of Nueces County to expect urban dwelling citizens to pay taxes and fees for areas where development has occurred or will occur in unincorporated areas.”
Neal, in an interview with the South Jetty, said a drainage district would require a buy-in from the City of Corpus Christi, but Port Aransas wouldn’t have to be involved.
Port Aransas is “not in an area that would be affected by any master drainage plan, so it makes sense to me that if you’re going to exclude anywhere, you would exclude Port Aransas, because they’re sort of a different world,” Neal said.
Port Aransas is “pretty well moving to solve” its own drainage problems, Neal said.
Cazalas said a drainage district “could be carved out to accommodate the needs of the greater county, but it doesn’t have to include Port Aransas. As far as I’m concerned, that’s up to the people of Port Aransas.”
The county would not only need legislative action but also voter approval to create a drainage district, Neal said.
The county so far hasn’t been able to find a Coastal Bend legislator willing to sponsor this kind of legislation, the county judge said.
County officials a year ago held town hall meetings in efforts to get support for a drainage master plan that would combine two small drainage districts in the county. That would be a step toward creation of a countywide district to take care of flooding problems.
County officials ran into a great deal of opposition to their talk of creating a drainage district. The county might have to concede that a district won’t be created, at least not any time soon, Neal said.
“It may very well be that the commissioners and I look at this and say, OK, this isn’t going to work, so, forget it,” Neal said. “I’m not going to drag this out. This is not something I’m going to fall on my sword over. I’ve got plenty of other issues to work on.”