Riley Mountain Lease

Dear Editor,
Llano residents and businesses struggling with high utility bills should be aware their bills can soon go dramatically higher. The city council met in a special meeting February 23 and approved a groundwater lease on Riley Mountain. This meeting was held behind closed doors without benefit of stakeholder input or public comment. The mayor seems to have forgotten his promise of transparency made at the town hall meeting. The water rights lease calls for a minimum of $630,000 of city money to be paid directly to the landowner. In addition to this generosity, the Leverett ranch can also acquire ownership of the completed well drilled at city expense.
The lease specifies the drilling of one municipal well, which professional city engineers have estimated will cost $480,000. Including the pipeline system, the same engineers have estimated the total cost of the project at $3,635,900. These expenses amount to over $2,500 per utility customer plus debt service. You can then add radium removal and the necessary transmission easements, which will add substantially to the cost. City residents and business owners will pay for these large expenses for many years in their monthly utility bills. If the project is completed, the water will be unnecessary. Except for a token amount to keep the lease in effect, there would be no need to pump and treat water from Riley Mountain because supplies are available from the river.
In addition, needed improvements to the wastewater system will add additional charges to your utility bills. If you are concerned about your high utility bills, attend city council meetings and ask your local elected officials why they insist on pushing your bill higher and higher. Whose pockets are getting lined at your expense? Can your family still afford to live in Llano?
John Gray
Llano, Texas

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