On March 28, West Lake Hills City Council gave Mayor Dave Claunch the authority to submit an offer to the Lower Colorado River Authority of about $16 million to purchase its wastewater system.

The LCRA has been divesting many of its wastewater systems in the Western Travis County. It signed an agreement with West Travis County Public Utility Agency on March 19 and is selling Rollingwood's wastewater system to Rollingwood, dependent on a successful election to approve issuing bonds for the purchase.

While Rollingwood is holding an election to issue bonds, Claunch said this is not a viable option for West Lake Hills, since only one-third of the city's residents are on the wastewater system.

"It wouldn't be fair for the other residents' property taxes to go up for these people," he said.

West Lake Hills is looking into dipping into its reserves of $7.2 million as part of the sale. In that scenario, the city would use $2 million from its general fund with the intention of saving about $3.3 million by not having to borrow that amount from a bank.

"It's the same idea as, why take out a bigger loan on a house when you've got money in the bank to go towards a home?" Claunch said.

The city made its first purchase offer with LCRA on June 25, 2009. The reasoning for purchasing now, Claunch said, is that there is the possibility of LCRA selling the system to Corix Infrastructure Inc., a Canadian company that builds and manages utility infrastructures in North America.

"[Buying the system] is not going to result in lower water bill rates today or tomorrow, but it could further down the road," Claunch said.

Only one resident spoke on the matter.

"I'm not categorically opposed to making an offer, but I think $16 million is too much," resident Jane Noble said. "The only reason I've been given for this amount is that this is the amount the LCRA is asking for."

West Lake Hills is expecting the LCRA to make decision on its offer at the LCRA board meeting April 18. The city has spent $160,000 since January 2011 on the wastewater system issue.