Council approves MUD wastewater rates, adopts budget ordinance

By SHELLY WILKISON

The Liberty Hill City Council approved agreements Oct. 28 with two companies that will operate lift stations in multiple municipal utility districts that are now wastewater customers of the City. 

To facilitate a smooth transition, the Council approved a wastewater rate and fee schedule for MUDs 12, 13, 19 and 19A that mirror the rates currently paid by those customers.

The Council then extended short-term contracts to Severn Trent Services and Crossroads Utility Services to continue operating lift stations  in the MUDs.

Beginning in November, the City of Liberty Hill will become the retail wastewater service provider for the four MUDs — a service that is expected to generate about $60,000 in new revenue for the City. City Manager Greg Boatright has estimated it will cost about $12,000 per month for the City to take over the billing and operations.

Also Monday, the Council authorized the City Attorney to develop an agreement between the City and the Economic Development Corp. to pay for the extension of a water line under State Highway 29.

The six-inch water line will serve the south side of the highway meeting the immediate needs of Liberty Hill Dental, which is building a new facility at its current location. Boatright said the larger water line is needed to supply a fire hydrant at the location.

Last week, the EDC Board met with Dr. Thad Gillespie, owner of Liberty Hill Dental, to discuss his plans for business expansion. The Board unanimously approved funds for the construction of the line, which they say will also benefit other businesses along the south side of the highway.

“When he (Gillespie) finishes (construction), he will have $1.8 million worth of improvements and generate about $6,500 in property taxes for the City,” Boatright said.

Boatright estimated that construction costs for the water line will be about $35,000, which will be paid from EDC funds. The City will own the water line.

In other business this week, the Council adopted an ordinance setting the fiscal 2013 operating budget for the City. After months of often-heated discussion and disagreement on a city spending plan, the ordinance was adopted with little discussion by a 4-1 vote.

Councilmember Vicki Brewer cast the lone no vote, adding that “this budget is still out of balance.”

On Oct. 14, the Council adopted an amended budget that Mrs. Brewer claimed was $84,000 short of anticipated revenue. At that time, she said there were addition errors “and places where I don’t know where he got the numbers from.”

Boatright defended the version of the budget approved by the Council Oct. 14. It serves as the basis for the ordinance adopted this week, and projects revenues of $1.085 million and expenditures from the general operating fund at $1.078 million.

Also Monday, the Council voted 3-2 to approve a proposal for the development of a Comprehensive Master Plan, which will be funded by the EDC.

The Plan, which will be developed by K Friese & Associates at a cost of $20,023.

The Council rejected an attempt by Mrs. Brewer and Councilmember Liz Rundzieher to delay action on the plan until the Attorney had time to review it and incorporate approval by the EDC Board of Directors. The EDC has budgeted funds for the plan.

The Council also approved by a unanimous vote a new one-year contract for engineering services with Steger Bizzell of Georgetown. The agreement shows the hourly billing rate for most professionals in the firm increasing by $4 or $5 per hour.

Following a 30-minute closed session, the Council voted unanimously to re-assign City Secretary Tammy Kirk to the position of Municipal Court Clerk — a position that will carry her current pay rate of $16.42 per hour.

The Council also authorized Boatright to hire Patty Hyman  to serve as a part-time clerk at the rate of $25 per hour.