Tyler, Smith County sign joint resolution supporting creation of new municipal utility district

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The City of Tyler and Smith County Commissioners Court signed a joint resolution that supports a bill to create a municipal utility district between Tyler and Bullard.

The joint resolution of support for what would be known as the Rose City Municipal District, or MUD, was signed Wednesday at the Tyler City Council’s meeting.

A draft of the resolution was signed Tuesday as part of the Smith County’s Commissioners court.

The bill, introduced by State Rep. Matt Schaefer at this 86th Texas legislative session, contains a 21,118 acre parcel of land located south-southwest of Tyler that is predominately serviced by private utility companies. The proposed district would have the authority to issue bonds, impose fees, and provide sewer and wastewater services without a certificate of convenience and necessity, and contract with the City to operate and maintain the district’s sewer and wastewater facilities. 

“This bill would allow the City of Tyler to partner with the county and state to be of better service to our neighbors within and outside of Tyler’s city limits,” said Mayor Martin Heines.  “It would give us the opportunity to share our professional staff and infrastructure expertise with everyone- ensuring better outcomes for all.”  

The legislation also provides a mechanism for the Public Utility Commission to decertify an existing retail public utility certificate holder located inside the district, provided that adequate compensation is paid to the existing certificate holder in an amount determined by the Public Utility Commission.

“This legislation intends to put service provision into the hands of local governments and- by that extension- back into the hands of the rate payers,” said Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran.

According to the proposed bill, the district would be overseen by a board of five directors appointed by the local governing bodies and the state representative whose legislative district encompasses the majority of the area.

The passage of the resolution and the filing of the bill are first steps on a long road within and outside of the legislature. Though there will be no immediate changes for rate payers within the area, the bill is a starting point from which the citizens may one day see better sewer and wastewater services at lower costs.

“Customers of Liberty Utilities are stuck with a government-created monopoly owned by a large for-profit corporation without a single elected official to hold accountable. They need a bold solution. In the short term nothing will change for the customers, but in the long term we have an option to restore accountability and provide reasonable sewer service,” Rep. Matt Schaefer said.

For more information or questions, please contact either (1) Casey Murphy, PIO for Smith County, at (903) 352-9896 or cmurphy@smith-county.com or (2) Julie Goodgame, Director of Marketing and Communications for the City of Tyler at (903) 531-1272 or jgoodgame@tylertexas.com

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