Athens Review, Athens, Texas

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January 23, 2014

Will AMWA be dissolved?

City of Athens approves sending question to voters

Athens — The Athens City Council voted at a special meeting on Tuesday to send the question of whether to dissolve the Athens Municipal Water Authority to the voters.

The council unamanously called for an election on May 10 for the citizens to choose whether to keep the Authority created in 1957, and to turn its functions over to the city.

The AMWA filed a civil suit on Dec. 10 in 173rd District Court, alleging that the city wrongfully submitted invoices to AMWA for certain services relating to a contract between Authority and the city to provide water to the citizens of Athens.

Before calling the election, the council affirmed the adequacy of a petition filed with the city in favor of keeping the AMWA. City Secretary Pam Watson said the number of valid signatures reached the 125 required to force the election. Watson did not state the number of valid signatures received, but attorney Martin Bennett, representing the AMWA, said 374 names were submitted.

The Texas Local Government Code states that immediately after the presentation of the petition, the governing body shall reconsider the ordinance. If the governing body does not repeal the ordinance, the governing body shall submit it to a popular vote at the next municipal election, or at a special election ordered for that purpose.

No one on the council made a motion to reconsider the ordinance, so no vote was taken on the question.

“I personally cannot make the motion to repeal this ordinance,” Vaught said. “I think this council has made absolutely the best decision for the citizens of Athens. I think dissolving AMWA was a good decision, and I think we should go forward with that.”

Vaught said city staff, through the years has maintained and overseen repairs of the Lake Athens Dam, reservoir, water treatment facility, and all other facilities to bring water to the citizens of Athens.

“I think if we have done that all of these years, we’re able to do it continually from now on,” Vaught said.

Vaught assured the citizens that the funds under the control of AMWA will not be transferred to the general fund.

“It will go into our water-utility fund, and will be designated for funds to continue to maintain our water treatment plan, the reservoir, the dam and everything it has always been there for,” Vaught said.

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