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Mexia creates 'drainage utility' to address flooding

Posted at 8:47 PM, Apr 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-17 23:21:19-04

MEXIA, TX — The Mexia City Council voted to establish a separately-funded drainage system to help the city's flood-prone neighborhoods, without affecting the city budget.

But, not everybody likes the idea of paying for the work separately.

"This backs up a lot and goes into people's houses," said Judy Freeman Chambers, whose phone starts to ring every time it rains in Mexia.

"One neighbor said that she has found snakes in her house when the water rises.... rattlesnakes," said Chambers.

Like lots of Texas cities, Mexia has a drainage system that needs a little work.

It has relatively small problems, like overgrown culverts, to large ones, like a sinking underground drainage canal that has caused a man's garage to sink into the ground halfway.

That's why Mexia leaders want to establish what Texas calls a "Municipal Drainage Utility System" to revamp and move storm water from the city's low spots.

Not only does the city want to collect the storm water, it knows where it wants to put it.

For example, the city intends to build a retention pond on a vacant lot. But it won't come free.

Homeowners would pay a dollar a month, and a little more for businesses to a fund that would collect as much as $35,000 a year, for projects small and large.

"But what we can do, is build that fund up, to the point where we're able to borrow against it for these larger projects," said Mexia City Manger Eric Garretty.

Mexia will hold a public hearing on the fees in June. If the council approves the fees, the drainage utility ordinance will remain in effect for five years.

But not everyone likes the idea. Sonny Adams sees the fee, as just another tax.

"Any government entity, if they have projects, they ought to work within their budget and not come up with alternative funding such as a fee proposal," Adams said.

But other water-logged residents say they need help, and now.

"I'm hoping we get a fair shot on this end of town, to get all of this cleaned up which should have been done years ago,” said Chambers,

Because she says the city's future depends on staying high and dry.