Tuesday, May 25, 2010 ~ Updated 2:39 PM
CARROLL COUNTY — The quorum court passed an ordinance to establish a public facilities board to bring water to rural parts of the county.
The ordinance will still need to be read and approved at two subsequent meetings, but the last county in the state without some form of rural water system took a major step at Friday’s meeting of the quorum court.
The ordinance, originally introduced in March, was tabled twice because of major objections. A committee met April 29 to add specific language preventing condemnation of private wells or forced participation in the rural water system. The committee also suggested allowing users of the water system to vote on replacement board members, rather than having them selected by the quorum court.
During Friday’s meeting, the ordinance was further amended to remove any references to the Carroll Rural Water Association. The CRWA was formed two years ago, with Jimmy Jones at its head. The CRWA had not proceeded with any concrete steps toward providing rural water.
Justice of the Peace Frank Renner cited sources which he said gave a public facilities board the power of eminent domain. Although the ordinance under consideration includes explicit language preventing the exercise of eminent domain, Renner said state laws regarding public facilities boards would override a local ordinance.
Renner also claimed a public facilities board would have the power to levy taxes, and he suggested forming an agency under full county control.
JP Larry Swofford said the county could never incur any debts from an independent board, nor could the county be sued because of anything done by the board. “We can’t keep control over the board and then say we don’t want to take any responsibility for that,” he said.
Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Devon Closser said she did not think a public facilities board could levy taxes, but she promised to check further before the June meeting.
“I don’t see where this can harm the county,” Swofford said. “Everyone who owns land in rural areas will profit because their property values will go up.”
JP Ron Flake cautioned that a public facilities board will operate under state law, and any changes to those laws will take effect without any input from the quorum court, but he joined the remaining JPs in passing the ordinance on its first reading.
Renner cast the only negative vote.
Oak Ridge Park