Eagle Ford shale counties seeking planning help

Local economist offers advice for Eagle County commissioners

Author: David Sears, Reporter, dsears@ksat.com
Published On: Jan 08 2013 04:54:51 PM CST   Updated On: Jan 08 2013 04:56:48 PM CST
EAGLE COUNTY, Texas -

As the Eagle Ford shale play continues to produce oil and natural gas, communities in its area are growing -- and experiencing a few problems as well. 

The Eagle Ford shale's impact will be felt for years -- some predict decades -- to come, and since the boom came on so fast, it caught communities off guard.

As a result, Frio County commissioners have sought advice from Dr. Thomas Tunstall, research director for University of San Antonio’s Institute for Economic Development. He has also authored several studies.

“The Eagle Ford shale has taken off (and) the impact is considerable and it continues to surprise us to the upside,” Tunstall said.

Those surprises, officials said, are the reason Frio County called.

“The population increase because of the Eagle Ford and all the people coming in ... caught us off guard," said Carlos Garcia, Frio County judge.

Tunstall’s presentation was designed to make the commissioners aware of what to expect in the future and how to prepare when it comes to infrastructure, housing, roads, education and economic growth.

“With the information he provided, we are ready to go forth,” Garcia said.

One thing the county will be doing is heading to Austin during the current legislative session to pursue severance tax money the county is giving to the state.

"Counties are the producers of the oil and we would like to see that money come back to our communities,” Garcia said.

The biggest piece of advice for the commissioners is to engage in fiscal discipline, Tunstall said.

"(They need to) make sure they are thinking about the medium- and long-term with regard to quality of life," he said.

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