Like so many people from other parts of the country, Max Miller had no knowledge about fresh water supply districts when he first moved to Lantana in 2002. And even though she lived in Flower Mound for many years, Donna Robichaux didn’t know much about them either. But since 2006, they have learned plenty as members of the District 6 board of directors that represents half of Lantana.
Both were re-elected on May 7 to serve their fifth terms since becoming the first residents on the board after replacing two non-residents originally named by Lantana’s developer when the district was created in 2000.
“Over the years, Donna and I have learned a lot about how this unique form of government works,” Miller said.
“During the first four years I realized we were making a difference,” said Robichaux, a long-time realtor with Ebby Halliday.
Both Miller and Robichaux initially were reluctant candidates who didn’t come with specific agendas.
“Our agenda is to keep Lantana as awesome as it is,” Miller said.
“My life agenda, and Miss Ebby (Halliday) said it and I say it every day, is do something for someone every day. My job is to leave this world a little better than I found it,” Robichaux said.
The two first met in 2002. As a member of the official Lantana Welcoming Committee, Robichaux delivered a homemade apple pie to Miller’s family as the first residents of the Laurel neighborhood after moving from Indianapolis. A year earlier, Robichaux became one of Lantana’s first 10 homeowners in the Sandlin subdivision.
“I was a realtor and I saw all the growth taking place and in my mind, I needed to make a move,” said Robichaux, explaining her move to Lantana. “I was in a smaller house and the neighborhood was going in a little different direction than when I first lived there. I figured it was a good time to get out there and market my real estate business and it worked. Since then I’ve sold hundreds of homesin Lantana.”
Curious about what was happening where he lived, Miller started a website called LantanaLinks.com in 2003. Three years later, he bought The Cross Timbers Gazette newspaper which he still owns today.
“I got involved after starting my website. I started attending the board meetings in 2005 and discovered that no residents served on the board,” Miller said. “I was told it was because nobody files to run and I said, ‘that’s because nobody knows about it.’ So I shined some light on that through my website.”
On the last day to file for the May 2006 board election, one of Miller’s neighbors handed him a candidate packet and told him to run. Robichaux was convinced to file for a seat by Teresa Grawe, vice president of marketing for Lantana’s original developer.
“She saw I was a workaholic,” Robichaux said. “She said, ‘would you be interested.’ I said ‘why?’ She said, ‘because you have a good head on your shoulders and you’ve lived here longer than almost anyone else.’ I said ‘okay.’”
Fresh water supply districts serve two primary purposes – set property tax rates to pay off bonds that reimburse developers for building the community’s infrastructure, maintain roads, water and sewer systems, and negotiate the trash contract with Republic Services.
Miller said when they were elected, board meetings were held at the developer’s office in Dallas. They moved them closer to home in 2008, first to Lantana Golf Club and later to the new District office in Bartonville Town Center.
During their tenure, the water board also made the community safer by adding school zones on Lantana Trail near E.P. Rayzor Elementary and Stacee Lane as well as hiring crossing guards. They also improved transparency by rolling out a district website and worked with fellow board member Jim VanVickle to introduce an annual Earth Day event.
However, fiscal responsibility is their main focus.
“Since Donna and I were elected, our tax rate went from $1.00 per $100 of valuation to 78 cents,” Miller said. “We’re paying back the bonds by aggressively refinancing at lower interest rates. We’ve retired about $26 million in debt since 2006.”