The Tarrant Regional Water District’s board of directors is reviewing changes to policies affecting purchasing, procurement, board compensation and naming of district-owned facilities.
The four proposed moves will bring the agency’s policies in line with changes to state law, Stephen Tatum, the water district’s general counsel, said during a Nov. 14 meeting.
Two bills passed by the Texas Legislature earlier this year raised the minimum amount required for water districts to advertise contracts for construction, repair and renovation from $75,000 to $150,000. Now, contracts costing the district $150,000 or less can move forward without a board vote, as long as general manager Dan Buhman gives his approval.
The same change applies when the total costs of contracts change after they are initially approved. Previously, the board could delegate the authority to Buhman to make changes to contracts below $75,000. Under the new policy, any increase below $150,000 could be approved without going before the board.
Despite the higher threshold, all contracts will still be posted to the water district’s website, Tatum said.
“All we’re doing is changing the dollar amount,” Tatum said.
The water district also is seeking to add a policy on the sale of the district’s property. State law allows any personal property or land worth more than $300 to be sold under the direction of the board at a fair market price.
The water district expanded on the state law to give Buhman the authority to designate any property valued at $10,000 or below as surplus. All other properties have to be designated as surplus by the board. The new policy would allow the general manager to sell any surplus personal property valued over $300.
Land owned by the water district is not included under the new policy.
“That’s important to note, this is not real estate,” Tatum said.
State law requires a water district to advertise its intent to sell land in a newspaper for two weeks before the sale. The board also is allowed to restrict development and use of the land after it is sold.
Another change in state law allows the board to set compensation for board members for each day that they are participating in committee meetings or other activities involving district business, according to proposed policies.
Previously state law allowed directors to earn $150 per day in their role. Now, they are leaving it up to the board to pay their compensation by resolution. The compensation cannot exceed $221, which is how much the Texas Ethics Commission allows members of the Legislature to be paid while in session.
The final proposed change creates a process to name water district buildings, structures, installations or pieces of equipment. The policy requires that the requested name change is submitted to the board of directors for approval.
If the proposed name change honors a person, living or dead, the recommendation should be based on the individual’s extraordinary contributions for the betterment of the water district, the policy states.
The proposed changes can be viewed on the district’s website. Board members will consider the policies at their next meeting, set for Dec. 12.
This isn’t the first time board members have considered policy changes this year. In March, the board gave Buhman the power to renew government lobbying, public relations and insurance contracts of $75,000 or more without a board vote. While some residents said the move could reduce transparency, Buhman said all of the water district’s financial information is available for public review.
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