Second budget workshop tackles major infrastructure needs, utility rates proposed

It was a rather subdued City of Bowie budget workshop Monday night as the council went through the major utility budgets and were confronted with long-needed infrastructure repairs, especially in the water distribution and collection system.
As the needs and requests unfolded it was clear Bowie is far behind in upkeep and maintenance of its systems. With major line replacement topping the priority list the idea of borrowing money to finance the expensive repairs was broached.
City Manager Bert Cunningham also proposed rate changes to bring the sewer and water departments closer to paying their own way, along with a tax rate/electric rate increase/reduction offset.
Along with the budget workshop the council went into a half hour executive session to discuss the sale of the property located at Farm-to-Market 1125 and U.S. 287.
Back in open session the council gave Mayor Gaylynn Burris authority to negotiate with the realtor on a potential offer for the land.
The city purchased the 9.59 acres in the summer of 2014 for $178,840. There had been discussion of using the land for a future city office complex, but that plan fell by the wayside due to budget constraints and public outcry.
Rate proposals
Cunningham, working on his first budget as city manager, offered the council some preliminary proposals for rate changes. He said it “horrible” to operate a utility at a deficit because it provides no money for upkeep and it should operate shooting for a 10 percent profit to allow for maintenance.
Looking back a little more than two years ago when new water and sewer rates were proposed, Cunningham said those increases were 25 percent in water and 45 in sewer. In comparison he said his proposal of three percent in water and 15 percent in sewer are minor.

Read the full story in the mid-week News.