Weatherford Democrat

Local News

October 20, 2013

WP councilman accuses city officials of trying to hide TCEQ sewage treatment fines

By CHRISTIN COYNE

WILLOW PARK – A recent Texas Commission on Environmental Quality enforcement order against the City of Willow Park took center stage last week as one council member accused top city leaders of hiding the issue from city council members.

However, the city administrator says, the order, which lays out more than $44,000 in fines to be paid over three years, was not finalized until Sept. 25 and required no city council action.

The council at its next meeting is expected to consider a contract finalizing a lift station replacement project that would help address ongoing issues at the city’s wastewater treatment plant that have incurred enforcement from TCEQ in the past, according to city administrator Matt Shaffstall.

After mentions of TCEQ enforcement action against the city during two recent city council budget discussions, including on Sept. 24 when council member Bernard Suchocki said he learned about the TCEQ fines, Suchocki accused Shaffstall Tuesday night of attempting to hide the issue from council members.

The council and public was notified of the fines in the budget, according to Shaffstall, who said he and the mayor were notified in May of the penalties and spent months attempting to appeal and to get into a program that would allow the city to use the fines for the plant.

During a presentation Tuesday night by Public Works Superintendent Bill Osborn on how the wastewater treatment plant operates, Suchocki began questioning Osborn about the recent TCEQ order.

“What is it you know about these violations?” Suchocki asked.

“I was asked not to talk about that,” Osborn said.

Shaffstall told Suchocki that there was another item on the agenda regarding the violations and he would be glad to go through those issues at that time.

“When did these violations occur?” Suchocki asked Osborn, continuing to question the city employee about when the violations occurred and who was notified.

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