Article by Lauren Svatek
Currently, MUDs are not required to own and operate their own websites. According to Monica Garza, FBMUD47’s legal counsel, “MUDs are required to post certain information about the District on an available website. As these requirements have gone into effect, many MUDs have opted to create a district website. However, other districts choose to post required information on their tax assessor/collector’s website, operator’s website, or other similar MUD information website databases.”
Since 2018, FBMUD47 has chosen to have a dedicated website to provide a broad spectrum of information to residents in the District.
FBMUD47 voluntarily participates in two programs: AWBD’s Water Smart and the Texas Comptroller’s Transparency Stars, which each go above and beyond standard website requirements. Participation in these programs allow the District to be transparent about the financial status of the District as well as work toward the Board’s objective to conserve water both inside and outside our homes.
The Association of Water Board Directors (AWBD) of Texas “created the WaterSmart Partners Program to acknowledge members that have instituted water smart practices in their Districts.”
The Water Smart Mission Statement states that it is a “public awareness campaign for water conservation sponsored by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and the Texas Water Development Board. Its primary message is to promote the idea that wise water use applies to all citizens, no matter what age or where they live.”
The Water Smart Program has the following campaign objectives:
- Increase awareness during a drought and year-round to conserve water
- Avoid or defer mandatory water rationing in dry areas when possible
- Enable the public to participate in water conservation inside and outside
- Influence current local water conservation efforts
- Connect local water utilities to coordinate public information on water conservation and water supply issues
Participation in the Water Smart Program requires an annual application. Each district must meet several prerequisites in order to be recognized, such as having a drought contingency plan, community involvement by directors, communications with consumers, and communication using the Water Smart Logo. Municipal District Services, the District’s Operator, oversees application and implementation of Water Smart programs. More information is available at https://awbd.org/get-involved/water-smart/.
TRANSPARENCY STARS PROGRAM
The Transparency Stars Program is a recognition program by The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts for local governments who exceed basic standards of transparency. Applicants can earn recognition, or “stars”, in five different areas: Traditional Finances, Contracts and Procurement, Economic Development, Public Pensions and Debt Obligations. The District has earned the Traditional Finances star which must be continuously maintained by providing certain financial information on a dedicated webpage of its website.
MUDs are not required to participate in the Transparency Stars Program. Several years ago, the FBMUD47 Board desired to be as transparent as possible to the public and decided to apply to the Transparency Stars Program. The District was awarded the Traditional Finances star in early 2020 and has maintained this distinction since then.
Some of the requirements to achieve this recognition include:
- Dedicated webpage or section of website regarding the District’s finances
- Traditional finance summary
- Visualizations of revenues and expenditures per capita and property tax for 5 years
- Budgets for last five years
- Downloadable data of budget for current fiscal year and check register for the last 3 fiscal years
- General contact information for the District’s Board and open records request instructions and contact information
For additional information: https://comptroller.texas.gov/transparency/local/stars/.
FBCMUD47 strives to offer the public all pertinent information and be informative in regards to water, conservation, wildlife, weather, and emergency alerts. Participation in these programs are ways that the Board strives to serve our community to the best of our ability.