Texas Gov. Rick Perry has signed legislation that would prevent water agencies from gouging RV parks with exorbitant fees.

The legislation, sponsored by the Texas Association of Campground Owners (TACO), requires water agencies to bill RV parks for the amount of water they actually consume instead of using formulas that jack up water rates by applying residential rate structures to each RV site, according to a TACO news release.

Park operators attending TACO’s Spring Convention at Guadalupe RV River Park in Kerrville received the good news Sunday (May 1) during a legislative briefing by Ron Hinkle, the association’s lobbyist.

“Until Gov. Perry signed this legislation, some water agencies had been billing RV parks using a per-site allocation method with residential rates, which had the effect of tripling water costs for RV parks in some jurisdictions,” said Brian Schaeffer, TACO’s executive director and CEO.

Other TACO legislative successes include obtaining approval on an amendment to an omnibus funding bill that would require the Texas Department of Transportation to use a bidding process for tourism related highway signage and to ensure that new tourism related signage is installed within 60 days.

Schaeffer said the amendment would result in lower fees and faster installation times for highway signage park operators purchase to direct travelers to their parks.

TACO is also continuing its efforts to suppress the introduction of new bills designed to extend the school year further into summer. TACO secured passage of legislation two years ago that requires school districts to start their school years no earlier than the fourth Monday of August in an effort to preserve the summer camping and travel season.

Schaeffer said statistical evidence proves that tourism businesses suffer from early school start dates, while school districts wind up paying for much higher air conditioning costs.

In addition to receiving a legislative update, the first day of TACO’s Spring Convention included a roundtable discussion for first-time park operators. The roundtable covered do’s and don’ts involving buying, building and marketing a campground or RV park.

The marketing session included discussions on the merits of Groupon discount coupons, e-newsletters as well as using Craigslist to market cabins and rental accommodations. The session also included a discussion about the merits of having a liquor license.

Convention attendees finished the day with a Hawaiian-themed dinner and “Casino Night,” sponsored by Rowley Insurance. Bruce Manakas of Golden Eagle RV Park in Eagles Nest, N.M., received TACO’s “High Roller” Award. Manakas received a plaque and a certificate from Outback Steak House after finishing Casino Night with half a million chips.

TACO’s Spring Convention and Trade Show includes the association’s annual business meeting tradeshow today (Monday), while Tuesday’s activities include educational seminars and an awards luncheon.