A provision in a bill aiming to expand a regional water district’s boundaries and elected leadership would allow for developers to seek a seat on the board of directors.
The legislation — state Rep. Hugh Shine’s House Bill 2105 — was filed on Wednesday. The measure proposes to increase the Bell County Water Control and Improvement District No. 1’s boundaries to all of its served areas and increase the number of elected board members to seven from five.
Typically, the Texas Water Code — a set of laws that govern water supply corporations — bars developers from serving on a district’s board of directors. HB 2105 states that section of the water code would not apply to people seeking a seat on the WCID No. 1’s board of directors.
It is likely the language in the bill will change, Shine said Friday.
“You want people on the board who do not have a self interest in making sure that there’s wholesale water provided to a particular development that they’re doing,” the four-term legislator said.
Board President John Blankenship is a developer for the Bella Charca community in Nolanville. The Herald on Feb. 14 asked Bell County Attorney Jim Nichols whether Blankenship is in violation of the current water code or would be when Nolanville area voters would be allowed to vote.
Nichols said he would research the matter. His assistant Elizabeth Coleman said Friday afternoon, he was researching it and would call. He hadn’t be 7 p.m. Friday.
The proposed bill was drafted by the Texas Legislative Council — a nonpartisan legislative agency that helps lawmakers draft and analyze proposed legislation.
Shine, a Temple Republican, said the drafted version of the bill did not entirely capture the bill correctly.
“I’m sure we will probably need a substitute,” he said, referring to the practice of a complete, new bill recommended by a committee instead of the original measure. “They indicated they needed to get it out, and said whatever needed to be corrected we would correct it with a substitute.”
If this bill becomes law, the boundaries of WCID No. 1 will expand to cover the seven entities to which it sells water. The cities of Belton, Killeen, Nolanville, Harker Heights, Copperas Cove as well as Fort Hood and the 439 Water Supply Corp. near Belton purchase water from the district.
Shine’s measure would require every current WCID No. 1 board member to run again in November 2020. The new board will have seven elected members, serving staggered terms.
The new board would be composed of three members from Killeen and four single-member districts, representing an equal number of voters from the areas outside the Killeen city limits.
The district boundaries and board elections currently are limited to just a small portion of Killeen.
Herald staff contributed to this report.