Weatherford Democrat

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December 3, 2012

Water users want annexation, representation

PARKER COUNTY — If one group of Parker County residents have their way, the town of Annetta would soon double in population.

Some Deer Creek water system users are again organizing to try to have some say in the control of their water and sewer system — this time through annexation.  

“I think everything would be hunky dory if water users had some input on who’s on city council,” said Dennis Thompson, chairman of the board appointed to advise the town council on the water system who is also a Deer Creek system user living in unincorporated Parker County.

Some Annetta council members say they feel the council is adequately representing the water users and that there may be some overreaction based on Deer Creek’s history.    

 

Water system history

According to the numbers Thompson obtained from the city, 241 households in Annetta are not on the water system, while 243 households in Annetta are on the Deer Creek system.

A total of 482 Deer Creek meters, or 66 percent of the system, are located outside city limits. A majority of those homes are located in Annetta South’s ETJ.

However, because Annetta owns the system, the council is the group that decides who operates the system and how the system’s money is spent.

And that’s become the rub for some unincorporated area residents who believe some city leaders are looking at using the water system, which has a significantly larger budget, as a funding source for other city goals without listening to concerns of their customers.

All or nearly all council members are on private wells, a fact not lost on some critics of recent council proposals, who say recent meetings in Annetta bring to mind previous contention with Willow Park during recent litigation. Willow Park purchased the system and was sued by the group of affected homeowners and the other East Parker County cities before eventually selling it to Annetta in 2010. During the contentious years, the Willow Park council imposed rate hikes and customers complained about the quality of system management but had no say in Willow Park elections, said Steve Barron, a Deer Creek customer who lives outside Annetta city limits and was involved in the fight with Willow Park at the time.

“Our concern is how many ways are you going to split the pie,” Barron said, adding that there was talk about obligating money to hire a city administrator at a recent Annetta meeting.

Comments from council members about where funds for a new city building will come from have also fueled the controversy.

“Here we are coming back again, and we have no representation because we live in the ETJ of Annetta South,” Barron said.

Despite a group of people that recommended a previous council candidate and current Deer Creek user to fill a recently vacated position, the city council appointed someone else without discussion, Barron said.

After the meeting, statements by one council member regarding the number of non-residents who spoke led them to believe that they are second-class citizens, Barron said. “That means our opinion is the equivalent of no opinion.”

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