Tempers flare over utility deposit at Nixon City Council


NIXON — Item four caused the most uproar at the Nixon city council meeting April 8. The item was to feature a statement from Nixon resident Paula Kennedy regarding changing the name on a utility bill without having to pay the utility deposit. Kennedy did not attend the meeting, but context was provided by City Administrator Harold Rice.

“They were remodeling their house and had their water turned off months ago,” Rice said. “She wanted to turn the water on in her name, so she came in was told she had to have a $200 deposit.”

Kennedy’s utility bill was under her mother’s name, who died in 2014. Although the account was active after her mother’s passing without the deposit, according to Rice, to reactivate under the name Paula Kennedy a $200 deposit was required.

“I said we treat everybody the same here,” Rice said. “Everybody pays a deposit.”

That claim caused pause from some members of the council.

“That’s not what I was told,” alderperson Mary Ann Fatheree said.

“That’s true, because I had my mother’s (account) changed to my name and I didn’t do the deposit,” alderperson Maggie Gayten said.

From there, the conversation shifted into asking why deceased members of the community still had active accounts.

“She passes away, they keep the water on. They run up a $400 water bill. We don’t turn it off, we’re try to be nice and who do we go against? We can’t say we’re going against you – ‘well no, it’s in my mom’s name and her estate has $0’ and we get zero,” alderman Joseph Bjorgaard said, speaking hypothetically. “We’re setting a precedence for everybody from here till eternity now.”

Following some brief verbal sparring between Fatheree and Rice over whether or not the deposit ordinance was properly being followed, Mayor Dorothy Riojas suggested to take the item to executive session. No action was taken on the item during executive session.

Other news from the meeting:

  • Council awarded the city-owned 56-acre tract of land grazing lease to Bud Box
  • Fire Chief Mark Mendez asked the city to “go half” on a proposed renovation of the fire station. No action was permitted, item to be discussed next meeting.
  • Anthony Flores from Seguin will open a practice in Nixon beginning around May 1.
  • Council opted to suspend the proposed gas reliability infrastructure program interim rate adjustment of Texas Gas Service. The suspension gives Texas Gas Service 45 days to research if a rate adjustment is an appropriate action.