What You Need to Know About MUDs

Posted by Crystal Olenbush on Thursday, May 1st, 2008 at 7:06pm.

As a resident of Austin, it is important to know about Municipal Utility Districts in order to make certain you make informed decisions.  A Municipal Utility District, which is generally referred to simply as MUD, is a political subdivision in Texas.  This subdivision has been authorized by the Texas Water Code, or TWC, to provide residents with sewage, water, drainage, and other services that are within the designated MUD boundaries.

The History of MUDs in Austin

During the 1970s, legislation was proposed that would extend the water and sewage services offered by Austin to new subdivisions.  The residents of Austin voted against these bonds, however, which left residents in these subdivisions without water or a means of getting rid of waste.  In order to service these residents, MUDs were formed.  Without a MUD, the residents would have been forced to use septic systems and wells to get their water.

The Benefits of MUDs

MUDs make it possible for residents in areas subdivisions outside of the city of Austin to enjoy water and sanitation benefits without having to dig a septic and a well.  In addition, MUDs help to protect the environment because they adhere to environmental standards that are created by the Texas Water Development Board and by the city of Austin.

MUDs are actually advantageous over receiving services from the city because they provide residents with greater flexibility.  For example, members of a MUD District may choose to expand their services and they are able to join together in order to make decisions that are good for their particular neighborhood.

Forming a MUD

In order to form a MUD district, a group of property owners within a district need to form a petition.  This petition is then given to the Texas Water Commission, which then evaluates the petition and holds a public hearing in order to determine whether the petition should be granted or denied.

If the MUD is approved, the Texas Water Commission appoints give temporary members to form the Board of Directors for the MUD.  An election is held at a later date in order to elect a permanent Board.  The permanent Board confirms the creation of the MUD and then authorizes bonds as well as a taxing authority in order to work toward repaying the bonds.  The Board of Directors is responsible for managing and controlling the MUD, though the Board remains under the supervision of the Texas Water Commission.

Although it is possible that your taxes will go up when you become part of a MUD district many older districts actually have tax rates that are significantly lower than the rates paid in the city.  Ultimately, MUD rates go down over time as the cost is shared by an increasing number of homeowners.

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