1. What is the MUD?
Montgomery County Municipal Utility District No. 89 (the “MUD”) is a political subdivision of the State of Texas, similar to the City of Houston (the “City”) and Montgomery County. It has limited governmental functions, including those related to the provision of water, wastewater, drainage services, and solid waste collection. The MUD is not within the city limits of any city, but it is in the extraterritorial jurisdiction of Houston. The MUD includes the entirety of the Legends Ranch development. The day to day operations of the MUD, including services and billing, are provided by its contractor, Municipal Operating Consultants, Inc. (“MOC”).
2. How was it created?
The MUD was created by order of the State agency known as the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (the “TCEQ”) in 2002. The City consented to the creation of the MUD, and has not been involved in the governance of the MUD. The TCEQ continues to exercise oversight regarding the MUD’s water and wastewater services, and MUD facilities must be designed to City standards.
3. How is the MUD governed?
The MUD is governed by a five-member Board of Directors that serves staggered four-year terms. The MUD holds an election for either two or three of its positions in May of each even-numbered year. To serve, a person must be eligible to vote in Texas (e.g., a US citizen), and either reside in the MUD or own real property in the MUD. All five MUD directors are residents and taxpayers of the MUD.
4. What does the MUD do, and not do?
The MUD provides retail water and wastewater services within its boundaries. The MUD’s water supply and wastewater treatment are provided by plants owned and operated by the MUD, although the MUD shares ownership of some water facilities with neighboring Montgomery County Municipal Utility District No. 88 and Spring Creek Utility District. The MUD also provides for the storm water drainage of the MUD, within the boundaries of the MUD. The MUD contracts for garbage pickup for single family residences within the MUD, and does not charge separately for that service. The MUD does not maintain the roads or landscaping.
5. How does the MUD pay its way?
The MUD charges users for water and wastewater services, pursuant to a Rate Order adopted by the Board and amended from time to time. The MUD also levies a debt service tax to pay its bonded indebtedness, and a maintenance tax to help with operations. The MUD is responsible for contracting for solid waste collection, but does not charge a separate fee for that service, which is paid for out of other revenues of the MUD.
6. What is the MUD’s tax rate?
The MUD levies a property tax on all taxable property in the MUD, which may change from year to year. Taxes are currently $0.82 per $100 of taxable value. The tax consists of $0.58 for debt service, and $0.24 for maintenance. This rate has declined from $1.39 in 2003, the first year that the MUD levied a tax.
In addition, on April 2, 2018, the MUD adopted a Resolution Concerning Exemptions from Taxation, which provides for the exemption from ad valorem taxation of $20,000 of the appraised value of residence homesteads of individuals who are disabled or are sixty-five years of age or older and 5% of the appraised value (but not less than $5,000) of the residence homesteads of married or unmarried adults, including ones living alone, but rejects any exemptions for travel trailers, which may change from year to year.
7. What is the MUD’s bonded indebtedness?
The MUD owes $25,065,000 in bonded indebtedness. The MUD continues to pay down this debt, and has taken advantage of lower interest rates when possible to refinance the debt from time to time. Outstanding bonds will be retired in 2034. The bonds were approved at an election held at the inception of the MUD. Additional bonds are authorized to be issued, but the Board has no current plans to sell more bonds.
8. Why is my water bill increasing?
The MUD’s water and wastewater rates have remained steady for several years, except for an ever-increasing regulatory charge imposed on the MUD and its users by the San Jacinto River Authority (“SJRA”). The reasons for this charge are too complex to be described fully here, but put briefly, because of groundwater conservation regulations, the MUD is required to pay SJRA a “pumpage fee” for every 1,000 gallons of water the MUD pumps from its well, and that fee, imbedded in the overall MUD water rate, is the reason the MUD water rates have had to increase. Currently, the pumpage fee is $2.64 per 1,000 gallons. To compare, the MUD itself charges only $1.75 per 1,000 for usage under 20,000 gallons per month. The pumpage fee was initially much lower, and the MUD expects it to increase over time, as SJRA builds and finances more surface water improvements.
9. What is the MUD’s relationship with the City of Houston?
The MUD is entirely separate from the City of Houston, and Montgomery County. The City could annex and dissolve the MUD at any time, but would have to assume all the MUD debt, so annexation any time soon is very unlikely.
10. Does the MUD maintain the roads?
The MUD does not have the power or funds to maintain the roads in the MUD. Occasionally, the MUD will repair or maintain the drainage system that is within the right of way, on a limited basis. The private roads within the community are the responsibility of the homeowners’ association.
11. How can I contact the MUD?
If you have questions about your bill or service related issues, call the MUD’s operator, MOC, at (281) 367-5511. Any other questions, including inquiries relating to the Board of Directors, can be directed to the MUD’s attorney, Allen Boone Humphries Robinson LLP, at (713) 800-8469. Please take a moment to visit the District’s website at http://www.mcmud89.com.