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DeKalb seeks $500,000 from Bowie County to help fix water system that will need adjusting for highway widening project

by Greg Bischof | January 24, 2022 at 10:00 p.m.

NEW BOSTON, Texas -- Continued widening of U.S. Highway 82 through DeKalb, Texas, is affecting that city's water supply -- as well as causing the city to request financial aid from Bowie County.

DeKalb Mayor Lowell Walker asked the Bowie County Commissioners Court during their Monday meeting for $500,000 from the county's American Rescue Act Fund to help supplement the $1.2 million the city already has for relocating some of the city's water lines and other infrastructure.

"Right now, our city's medium household income is $35,804 while it's $50,164 in the rest of Bowie County," Walker said. " I can't afford to raise taxes any more on our city's residents -- especially with many them needing medicine and other forms of health care."

DeKalb is about 35 miles west of Texarkana. It has a population of about 1,700.

Walker said that he has spoken to the Texas Water Development Board because the Texas Department of Transportation's U.S. 82 widening project through the city is in the process of eliminating eight business locations which is causing further loss of sales and property tax.

"We are losing property taxes and sales taxes, so you are our last hope for getting this money," Walker told commissioners.

Besides some of the city's water system having to be removed to make room for the highway widening project, Dan Boyles, DeKalb's municipal engineer, said much of the system is "extremely old" and will need every bit of the possible $1.7 million it can get.

"The widening of U.S. 82 will benefit the rest of the county, but for DeKalb, we need our water system," he said.

Bowie County Judge Bobby Howell said the county could potentially help DeKalb, if the city could supply all the documentation needed to justify the requested $500,000 amount.

Bowie County Precinct 2 Commissioner Tom Whitten asked if the Texas Department of Transportation could pay for the water line re-location, but Boyles said no, since the water lines belong to the city.

"We are going to have to pay our portion of the city's part of this widening project, whether we want to or not," Boyles said.

Following some additional discussion, commissioners agreed to table action on the request until the court finds out if the county can legally use federal grant funds for municipal water line relocation.

"I have no problem helping the city, but we just need to find out if it's legal to do so," said Precinct 3 Commissioner James Strain. "We want to help, but we are looking for clarity."

Boyles said the city will have to have portions of it water system moved by July of 2023 in order to accommodate the highway widening project.

In other business, commissioners agreed to re-table action on the Oak Grove Water Supply Corporation's Dec. 27 request for a $99,239 grant from the county's American Rescue Plan fund that would be used to help replace 22,000 linear feet of an old water pipeline.

This water pipeline replacement project will need the $99,239 to be combined with the $227,250 grant funds, which the corporation has already secured. The combined amount would be aimed at supplying water to at least 80 residents living on three nearby county roads, as well as along a portion of U.S. Highway 82 in the DeKalb area.

On Dec. 27, commissioners tabled the corporation's request for more time to study. On Monday, however, they agreed to hold a special meeting if needed in order to approve granting the $99,239 to the corporation before the corporation's initial $227,250 grant offer expires Feb. 18.

Efforts to start work on this pipeline began in 2018.

If approved, the money will help pay an overall project cost slated to be $326,489.

Also in other business, court members approved the sale of $19,500 worth of tax delinquent properties currently being held by the Bowie Central Appraisal District.

Presently, the county has been slated to receive $18.5 million in American Rescue Act funds, said the Bowie County Judge Administrative Assistant Miranda Smith. It received half of those funds in May of 2021 and will likely receive the second half by the spring of this year, she said.

Print Headline: DeKalb seeks $500,000 from Bowie County to help fix water system that will need adjusting for highway widening project

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