School district refuses to pay water bill in full

City Hall in La Villa

Parents in La Villa are not sure if school will be back in session next week - after the city turned off the school district's water just before Christmas.

Now the district is refusing to pay an increased surcharge.

Thousands of dollars in the hole, the city says the water won't turn it back on until their bill is paid in full.

It's not that the district hasn't been paying it all; they're just not paying the amount the city is asking for.

Now that the amount has added up to nearly $50,000 over the course of a year, the city is demanding the bill be paid.

In front of nearly every door on La Villa ISD campuses hangs a sign that reads, All La Villa ISD buildings and offices are closed until further notice.

At the beginning of December 2013, the city of La Villa sent a notice to the school district warning, if it did not pay its water bill in full, it would be shut off.

"They haven't come in to make any arrangements; they haven't come in and paid, La Villa city manager Wilfredo Mata said. So we came to the consensus that the water should be shut off.

In addition to the regular utility charge, the school district is also billed a surcharge for every student, because of the district TMs heavy demand on the system.

In December 2011 the city and school district agreed upon a $6 surcharge, when the rate was raised to $14 at the beginning of 2013, the district refused to pay the $8 difference.

Twelve months later, that difference has grown to $50,000 but district Superintendent Narciso Garcia says the district won't be paying it.

"We've paid on what we've agreed and the city wants to shut us down because we don TMt want to pay at 14, Garcia said.

A year ago, the Texas Commission of Water Equality ordered the city to make a million dollars worth of repairs to bring the sewer and water in compliance.

"We have state mandates that need to be adhered to, we are being required to fix our sewer and water plant, Mata said.

To pay for it Mata says rates were increased for all their customers.

"It TMs the same thing we do with residential and commercial accounts. We have allowed them 12 months to pay but we are at the point where we can't operate in that manner anymore," Mata said.

But Garcia claims the city mismanaged its funds and the district won't be the one footing the bill.

"Education is the greatest equalizer, to our kids succeeding in the future and to make our community better. If that is so much their interest, then they will rule in favor of opening that water system so water can come back into our school district, Garcia said.

The city of La Villa will hold a meeting on Wednesday at 6:30 pm to discuss the matter.

The La Villa ISD school board has also scheduled a board meeting on Saturday at 10 am to discuss a contingency plan for if the water is not turned back on before students are scheduled to return to classes Monday.