Texarkana, Ark Board of Directors considers purchase of additional water rights

JD Phillips, Interim Director of Texarkana Water Utilities addresses the board at Tuesday's meeting.
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Texarkana, Arkansas board of directors met on Tuesday evening to discuss different issues concerning the city of Texarkana, Arkansas, among which included; water rights and putting in place an anti-discrimination ordinance.

Texarkana Ark. Board of Directors examined the option of raising residential water rates 2.79 percent per household in order to be able to purchase additional Millwoood Lake Water rights.

The Board of Directors listened and took into consideration public opinion, as they each expressed different concerns regarding the possible raising of residential water rates.

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Mayor Penney-Bell clarified multiple concerns; she explained that the purchase of this water would only increase a residents water bill by 2.79 percent per household and not 10 percent as headlines stated in previous Texarkana Gazette articles.

Penney-Bell also explicates that this raise would only be on the water and would not affect the sewer fee.

According to Mayor Penney-Bell, making this deal is extremely important for the city of Texarkana, Arkansas, not only short-term but long-term as well. She explained that it is absolutely essential for the city to “control [its] own destiny.”

Furthermore, the purchase of these water rights will only aid in the furthering of Texarkana, Arkansas by expanding economic growth and development of the city as a whole. Travis Odom, Ward 4 Director went on to say, “we must take advantage of this and do this before someone else steps in and we lose it.”

According to interim director of Texarkana Water Utilities, this minor raise in each person’s bill would enable the city to purchase 94.8 million gallons of untreated water per day.

The Board of Directors will continue to allow contract negotiations until taking the final vote at the end of February.

Additionally, at this Tuesday meeting, the Board agreed to put in order an anti-discrimination ordinance which will go into effect thirty days from Tuesday, January 19.

The adoption of this ordinance will ensure the city does not discriminate in the hiring of individuals to work for the city based on a persons race, color, religion, sex, national origin, political affiliation, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, disability and genetic information, age, membership in an employee organization, or other non-merit factor.

The ordinance was brought forth by Ward 3 Director Tim Johnson who explained the importance of this ordinance. Johnson stated the significance in continuing to look forward and said “we need to have this in place for our future leaders,” he added that this should not go into effect because it is the day after MLK day, but rather because it is the right thing to do.

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