The Commerce Journal

December 13, 2012

Hunt County leaders speak out on Dewhurst proposal

By Joseph Hamrick
The Commerce Journal

COMMERCE — Recently, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst proposed dipping into $1 billion of the now more than $8 billion rainy day fund to use as low interest loans for cities and counties to build much needed water infrastructure.

Hunt County officials shared their thoughts on the subject.

“We’re always interested in getting funds for projects,” Mike Jump, city manager for Caddo Mills said. “I will use every tool I can.”

Jump said he would be able to use the funds to comply with the more strict EPA regulations the state is placing in cities.

“The EPA standards are getting ever harder, ever longer and ever more expensive,” he said. “And it’s getting hard for smaller cities to comply with these standards. If funds come available, we will use them.”

Massoud Ebrahim, public works director for Greenville, said although many strings will probably be attached, Greenville is in need of upgrades to its water infrastructure and would be supportive of the idea.

“That’s a good idea because Greenville and other cities in Texas need improvements in water utility infrastructure,” he said. “It is going to have a lot of strings attached.”

City Manager of Commerce Marc Clayton said he would be in favor of it, but would first need to do more research into how it would be divied out.

“We would definitely be interested,” he said. “But we don’t know if it is going to be for loans or grants.”

Although he questions having to pay back in low interest loans money that has already been collected by the state in taxes, Hunt County Judge John Horn said he would be willing to work to improve the safety of roads in Hunt County.

“There are tremendous infrastructure needs in rural counties,” he said. “If we have to borrow money to save lives, then we will. We will do anything if it helps keep our people safe.”

Horn said he hoped the state is looking out for the welfare of its citizens.

“Are we fixing the real problem we face?” he said. “Our needs for infrastructure repair is extraordinary. I hope they are embracing the problems and needs of the citizens.”

Dewhurst said steps such as these need to be taken in order to meet the needs of the growing population of Texas.