News Release from the office of Senator Carlos Uresti

Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011
CONTACT: Mark Langford at 512-463-0119

Uresti files BexarMet dissolution bill

Sen. Carlos Uresti on Wednesday filed a bill that would allow BexarMet ratepayers to decide if the troubled water utility should be abolished.

"The BexarMet board has been given one chance after another to prove that it can effectively manage this agency, but it has failed at almost every turn," Uresti said. "The time has come for the people to decide its future."

Senate Bill 341, the first measure filed by Uresti since the 82nd Legislature convened on Tuesday, provides for an election on the first uniform election date 60 days after the bill is pre-cleared by the U.S. Justice Department.

Uresti said he is working to build a consensus for the legislation among the entire Bexar County delegation. The bill's primary sponsor in the House will be state Rep. Jose Menendez, D-San Antonio.

In calling for an election, Uresti cited a long history of problems at the water utility, including consumer complaints about bad service and mismanagement, particularly regarding its finances, record-keeping and a lowered bond rating.

Most recently, BexarMet General Manager Victor Mercado was indicated on corruption charges in Detroit, where he previously managed that city's water utility. Additionally, the BexarMet board has refused requests by a legislative oversight committee to seek a conservator to help manage its daily affairs.

"BexarMet has never made good on repeated promises to implement reforms," Uresti said. "Its customers should now be given the right to hold the utility accountable."

Uresti has already pre-filed a separate measure, Senate Bill 271, that would make sweeping changes for the board should voters decided to keep the utility, including term limits, strict campaign contribution and reporting requirements, a standard of ethics, management training and continued oversight by the Legislature and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

"If BexarMet does survive, the provisions in this governance bill will ensure accountability, efficiency and fairness," Uresti said. "BexarMet's leadership will no longer be able to hide behind shallow promises of 'we'll do better.'"

Senator Uresti represents Senate District 19, a 55,000 square mile area extending from the city of San Antonio in Bexar County to the Lower Valley of El Paso County and including approximately 750,000 people. It is the largest legislative district in the nation.