The intention of this letter is state that the Hidalgo County Farm Bureau’s board of directors is opposed to SB 2185, relating to the dissolution of Hidalgo County Water Improvement District No. 3, for the reasons stated below.
The original purpose of the creation of the District was to supply the local farmers with irrigation water from the Rio Grande, which it still does to this day.
The farmers and landowners paid for the construction of, and improvements to the District through bonds and flat rate taxes.
SB 2185 transfers all assets, including water rights, from one entity to another entity by legislative fiat, without consent or approval from stakeholders or landowners. We also believe that the transfer of water rights as spelled out in SB 2185 is direct violation of the statutes listed in the Texas Water Code.
Currently, landowners are allowed direct representation and supervision of the District is managed, by electing members to their Board of Directors. SB 2185 does away with the current Board of District No. 3 and replaces the supervision of the District with the City Commission of the City of McAllen.
Because McAllen has city commission districts, the most any current landowner could vote for would be one board member, but, more likely, the landowner would not be able to vote at all because of living outside the city limits.
Promises are made in SB 2185 to continue to deliver agricultural water to the farmers, but there are no stipulations or penalties for failure to live up to such promises as laid out.
It is our belief that the City Commission of the largest city in Hidalgo County would place its own citizens as its highest priority when meeting water needs, effectively disregarding the farmers and landowners who actually built the District.
Furthermore, it is our belief that the current, duly elected Board of Directors of District No. 3 are the entity best suited to oversee fulfilling the needs of the farmers and landowners.
This is not the first time the City of McAllen has tried to use the state legislature to take ownership of HCWID No. 3. While SB 2185 is specific in its intention of going after only one certain water district, it definitely sets a precedent for other municipalities in the Rio Grande Valley to carve out “needs:” and dissolve other water districts, effectively doing away with the Conversion statute and acquiring water rights and district assets for no cost.
Thank you for your time and attention.
Hidalgo County Farm Bureau
Editor’s Note: The above testimony was given in written form to the Texas Senate Committee on Local Government by Brian Jones, president of Hidalgo County Farm Bureau, in opposition to Senate Bill 2185, authored by state Sen. Juan Hinojosa. SB 2185 would would dissolve Hidalgo County Water Improvement District No. 3 and transfer its assets and liabilities to the City of McAllen.
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