The executive director and other representatives of the Teche-Vermilion Fresh Water District answered questions from the Lafayette City-Parish Council Tuesday night regarding the agency’s operations and financials. The discussion came at the behest of District 9 Councilman William Theriot.
The T-VFWD operates a pumping station on the Atchafalaya River north of Krotz Springs as well as weirs on Bayou Teche at its confluence with two waterways leading to the Vermilion River for the purpose of maintaining a flow of fresh water to the Teche and the Vermilion. The district is an outgrowth of the 1966 federal Flood Control Act and is funded by a 10-year 1.5 mills property tax that was first levied in 1970 and has been renewed by voters in the district, which comprises the parishes of Iberia, Lafayette, St. Martin and Vermilion, in 1980, ’90 and 2000.
“When the U.S. government built the project and turned it over to the district, certain agreements were signed," explained Executive Director Donald Segrera. “One agreement was that the district must have the funding source to operate the project, and that the district accept the responsibility and have the capability for future repairs and replacements of all features of the project.”
That agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers requires the district to have $25 million in cash reserves by 2012 for maintenance and replacement of equipment. The district is currently sitting on just over $20 million in cash; the property tax, which will come up for renewal in March, generates roughly $3.2 million annually. Segrera told the council there are no plans for equipment purchases in the district’s 2010 budget.
“Money from the tax has been sufficient to operate the project and to satisfy the amount required by our agreement with the federal government for major repair and replacements,” Segrera added. Don Kelly, the district's accountant, added that once the dictrict reaches its required $25 million cash reserve, the millage will be adjusted downward to cover only annual operating expenses of the district.