Breckenridge Texan

City Commissioners vote to add $5 fee to monthly water bills, approve summer plans for swimming pool

City Commissioners vote to add $5 fee to monthly water bills, approve summer plans for swimming pool
April 18
21:36 2023

By Carla McKeown/Breckenridge Texan

After discussing the topic at three recent meetings, the Breckenridge City Commission voted unanimously at last week’s meeting to add a $5 fee onto monthly water bills in order to pay for the costs of maintaining residential sewer lines.

According to City Manager Cynthia Northrop, about half of the homes in Breckenridge do not have cleanout valves. At a special City Commission meeting held on March 28 in conjunction with the City’s strategic planning session, the commissioners approved an ordinance that clarifies that it is the responsibility of property owners to install and maintain the lateral service lines connected to the City’s sewer system, including installing a cleanout on the line. The cost of having a cleanout installed will be the responsibility of the property owner.

The commissioners had discussed the situation at the March 7 meeting but decided to table the issue until Northrop gathered information from some area towns about how they handle similar situations. At the April 11 meeting, Northrop reported that she had talked to City officials in Eastland, Cisco, Iowa Park and Graham.

“All of them, except for Graham, are doing it exactly like our staff is proposing,” she said. “Graham used to do it that way, but they changed to go to where they were basically absorbing that cost from the clean out to the main.”

Northrop estimates that troubleshooting plumbing problems costs the City $97,000 to $121,000 each year, including the costs for City staff as well as outsourcing to local plumbers. In the past seven months, the City has dealt with 60 sewer stoppages at a cost of $30,000, an average of $500 per incident. However, she mentioned three specific situations that cost $2,600, $2,700 and $5,000.

She presented to the commissioners three options for dealing with sewer issues in the future: continue to have the City absorb the costs at the expense of other things the City needs to spend money on, such as street repairs; require property owners to pay for the costs, which could be as much as $5,000; or, add a $5 monthly surcharge to everyone’s City water/sewer services bill.

After an extended discussion, they voted unanimously to add $5 to the water bills. The $5 surcharge will be added to all City of Breckenridge water/sewer bills, regardless of whether or not a property already has a cleanout valve in place, and will generate about $132,000 for the City annually.

Although approved by the City Commissioners, the surcharge will not be considered formally adopted until it has been been presented as an official ordinance and is approved with two readings. At the City Commission meeting in May, the City staff will bring back an ordinance specific to the $5 sewer surcharge, which will be the first reading of the ordinance. The second reading will be at the June meeting. The sewer surcharge will go into effect on the first billing cycle following the second reading, which will be June 10.

If a property owner has a sewer stoppage, their first step should be to call a plumber, Northrop said in an email on April 19. “(T)he plumber may call the city if they have cleared to the clean-out/main, then the city will come out and clear the sewer main and/or from clean out to sewer main,” she said. “The owner is responsible for plumber costs on their service main.”

For homes that do not have a cleanout valve, the city will ensure the sewer main is clear, Northrop said. “If the sewer main is clear, then the stoppage is on the service line, which is the responsibility of the owner.”

Swimming Pool Plans

The commissioners also approved the proposed Aquatic Center plan for Summer 2023.

City Secretary Jessica Sutter said the plan is to have the swimming pool open from May 30 through Aug. 6. However, she said, the plan is contingent on the City being able to hire pool managers and lifeguards for the summer.

The pool will be closed on Mondays and will be open the following hours the rest of the week:

  • Tuesday: Noon to 6 p.m.
  • Tuesday Night: Family Swim 6:30-8:30 p.m. $1 per person
  • Wednesday – Thursday: Noon to 6 p.m.
  • Friday-Saturday: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
  • Adults Only: Tuesday – Friday: 8:30–9:30 a.m. $2 (water aerobics for $2 per person per session)

Swimming lessons will be offered from 10 a.m. to noon Tuesdays through Thursdays. Prices will be announced later.

Entrance fees will be $3 per person per session for regular swim times for everyone over the age of 3; those age 3 and younger will be admitted for free. Anyone under 10 years of age must be accompanied/supervised by a responsible adult.

Additionally, the Aquatic Center will be available for rental on Fridays and Saturdays from 4:30 to 9 p.m. and on Sundays from 12:30 to 7:30 p.m. at a rental rate of $200 for 2 hours (minimum). Rentals will be on a first-come-first-served basis.

Complete pool rules will be posted on the City’s website.

Animal Control Report

City of Breckenridge Animal Control Officer Nicole Dooley gave a report to the commissioners.

“Since January of this year, I have adopted out eight dogs from the shelter. I’ve been able to send 17 dogs to rescues…and returned to owners 22 dogs,” Dooley said. “We took 14 dogs last week from a man, one guy. He didn’t have control of the dogs. They’re pretty aggressive. We’ve already seized 10 from him. So, total, it is 24. I was able to adopt out two of the puppies, and I’ve still got most of them in the shelter.”

Additionally, according to information in the meeting’s agenda packet, the City’s Animal Control Division will discontinue servicing life-capture traps. Click here to read the City’s explanation for the change.

Other Business

In other business, the commissioners:

  • Heard and approved a semi-annual report on the Breckenridge Economic Development Corp.
  • Approved a request by the BEDC to purchase the property at 705 Industrial Loop for $450,000. The BEDC is working with Jonell on the possibility of expanding their manufacturing operation and is attempting to enter a purchase contract with the intent to lease or sell the property to Jonell.
  • Approved the first reading of the resolution authorizing the BEDC’s amended project/lease with RGN.
  • Approved an interlocal with Young County for the funding a bond supervision officer.
  • Approved the Breckenridge Chamber of Commerce’s plans Frontier Days 2023.
  • Approved an interlocal agreement with Stephens County and their application for CDBG grant funds for City of Breckenridge street repairs.
  • Approved the final project acceptance and release of retainage funds for the Prison Lift Station.
  • Approved Ordinance 2023-05 repealing and replacing Ordinance 2023-01 establishing a general fee schedule for the City of Breckenridge. (Second Reading)


Cutline, top photo: City of Breckenridge Animal Control Officer Nicole Dooley gives a report to the City Commission at the April 11 meeting. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)


Editor’s Note: This article was updated at 11:30 a.m. April 19, 2023, to include additional information from the City of Breckenridge regarding the surcharge that will be added to the water/sewer service bills.


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