$60M Water Tower Called Joe Pool

Sometime in the 70s the city of Cedar Hill went in debt to the tune of $22M to purchase a portion of the water rights to Joe Pool Lake.  Other cities around Joe Pool Lake did the same.  This was water rights and not water.  So, it is like having a giant water tower with someone else’s water in it that if you want to have any you have to pay for it and then have to process it.  

As time went by at some point the Corp of Engineers began charging the city interest.  At some point a few years ago the debt had ballooned to $80M.  Yes, that is 80 with six zeroes.  Over the years the city had put citizen’s taxes in a fund called the Joe Pool Lake fund at the rate of about $1.5M.  Yes, that is your tax money going into a pot.  The city had collected $60M, yes, $60,000,000 of tax citizen tax money, but the debt had grown to $80M and so the city was in a kind of panic.  

Well, in steps two saviors along with the head of the Trinity River Authority to speak for the city in Washington.  As a part of a federal water bill the city, with the help of then Congressman Joe Barton, later having to resign in disgrace, and  Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson, the interest rate on the note was reduced retroactively and the city wound up with a $40M debt.  

Now the city was awash with taxpayer money.  It had $19.5M of citizen’s tax money in its piggy bank essentially burning a hole in it.  So, what to do with the money?  As usual the city went out and got some individuals to go on a committee to “brainstorm” what to do with the money.  Well, the staff had ideas of their own as is always the case.

What came out of this “committee” was what is now called the Joe Pool Lake Nature Corridor Permanent Fund.  The use of the money is unclear but it is likely the city is going to spend it on land and as seen below 

Here is a quote from

BRIEFING MINUTES CITY COUNCIL MEETING MARCH 26, 2019

3. Review proposed Joe Pool Lake Fund structure and policies.

Assistant City Manager Melissa Valadez-Cummings provided the City Council with background information on the analysis used to create structures and policies for the Joe Pool Lake.

Utility Services Manager Joe Komisarz reviewed the proposed ordinance on the Joe Pool Lake Fund with the City Council.

Communications Director Alison Ream briefed the City Council on the long-term branding and marketing efforts for the Joe Pool Lake Nature Corridor stating that it would be a collaboration with the various entities located throughout that area.

On April 9, 2019 the city council of Cedar Hill “considered” and adopted this:

8. Regular Agenda:     

c. Consider adoption of Ordinance No. 2019-671 establishing the Joe Pool Lake Nature Corridor Permanent Fund and the Joe Pool Lake Nature Corridor Opportunity Fund.

However, there is a higher calling for the money and that is for a new senior citizen’s center.  The current one is decades old and too small.   There is nothing associating the original purpose of a fund called the Joe Pool Lake fund to pay off a water storage debt with a “nature corridor” fund except both have Joe Pool Lake in their name. 

The city might just as well rename a fund the Joe Pool Lake Senior Citizen’s fund.

So far, the city appears to be traveling down a path to spend the money on land that will benefit all in Dallas county instead of spending it on senior citizens of the city of Cedar Hill.  The city seems always to be trying to make a name for itself in the county at the expense of its own citizens and their tax money.