At the 53rd Annual General Assembly of the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG), the Cities of Kennedale and Arlington were presented with the 'Regional Cooperation Award' for their recent contracts under which the City of Kennedale now not only will begin purchasing water from Arlington but also contracts with the larger jurisdiction for the operation and maintenance of its water and sewer utility systems.
This annual meeting — held Friday, June 14, at the Hurst Conference Center — brought together elected officials, government professionals, and legislators from the region and across the state, and featured several awards and recognitions. The Regional Cooperation Award honors local governments that promote coordination and cooperation to solve regional problems, do not allow jurisdictional boundaries to be barriers to solutions, and demonstrate that joint projects can provide better use of resources as well as quality service.
“This is a very competitive award with Kennedale competing with many other cities and counties,” said Mayor Brian Johnson. “Many thanks to City Manager George Campbell, Former Finance Director Brady Olsen, and the City of Arlington for making this happen.”
The development of this collaboration between the two Cities began in 2017; and in March of 2019, the Cities entered into two separate contracts — one for the purchase of water and the other which provides for the City of Arlington to operate and maintain the Kennedale water and sewer utility systems.
While purchasing water from a neighboring jurisdiction is rather common, an agreement for the larger city to assume the operation and maintenance of the system of a smaller jurisdiction is not. The two contracts were negotiated to achieve maximum efficiency and benefit for both Cities while carefully maintaining the ownership control of the utility systems by the original jurisdictions.
Kennedale benefits from the acquisition of water at a cost lower than that of its current supply. The City of Arlington benefits by acquiring a large number of new customers, which will help them maintain lower rates as they amortize the cost of their two water treatment plants. There are also long-term environmental benefits of Kennedale eventually being able to phase out the use of its wells, slowing the depletion of groundwater.
Finally, the operation and maintenance agreement allows Kennedale to benefit from the greater knowledge and economies of scale that allow Arlington to operate the Kennedale water distribution and sewer collection systems at a lower cost than the smaller jurisdiction could on its own. These lower costs will have a positive impact on Kennedale’s annual budget.
“These two contracts and the cooperative spirit of both cities will go a long way in keeping water and sewer rates as low as possible for both; will make the most efficient use of fiscal, capital, and human resources and recognize that such can be accomplished irrespective of City boundary lines,” said City Manager George Campbell. “We also hope that Kennedale residents will see efficiencies and service level improvements.”
While the details of the two contracts were complex, the willingness of both cities – including the affected staff members and elected officials – clearly demonstrates the spirit of regionalism epitomized by the NCTCOG. Both contracts were approved by both City Councils and became effective on March 29, 2019.