City Council tables rodeo sponsorship

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By SHELLY WILKISON

The Liberty Hill City Council on Monday tabled a request to provide $10,000 to support the Liberty Hill Fair & Rodeo until it could revisit an ordinance from 2016 that includes guidelines for event sponsorships.

Rodeo organizers are asking for $10,000 from the City of Liberty Hill and $5,000 from its Economic Development Corp. to sponsor the event scheduled April 18-21 at Harvest Ranch Rodeo Arena at the Williamson County Cowboy Church. The church and arena are located about six miles from downtown Liberty Hill on RR 1869.

John Clark, a former member of the EDC Board of Directors, addressed the Council Monday on behalf of the rodeo.

He estimated the event’s economic impact on the City was $60,000. He said that number is based on 300 trucks with 45-gallon gas tanks pulling trailers and filling up for gas and buying two Subway sandwiches, and soft drinks on their way out of Liberty Hill.

“That’s roughly $60,000 worth of revenue, very conservatively,” Clark said.

Clark estimated that in 2018, attendance over the four-day event, which includes a carnival, ranged from 5,000-7,500 people.

“The last time we did this (sponsored the rodeo), we had an agreement,” said Councilman Ron Rhea. “Everything we had in that agreement was violated. It’s the citizens’ money. I want assurance those things are not going to be violated.”

Clark said all of the benefits of sponsorship are “spelled out” in the proposal he submitted to the City requesting the funds.

“I was at that one (2016 rodeo) and thought virtually everything (in the agreement) was met, but that’s okay,” Clark said, adding that this year will be different.

“Liberty Hill is giving the biggest chunk of change and we should have had top billing, but we didn’t. We had a footnote,” Rhea said.

Rhea said the Council adopted a resolution in 2016 that limited city sponsorships for events that are held outside a certain radius of the city limits.

“Harvest Ranch is outside that,” he said.

An ordinance adopted by the Council Sept. 26, 2016, which was provided to The Independent Wednesday, limited the amount of a non-city hosted event sponsorship to $10,000, but did not contain language excluding those outside the city limits. For months prior to adoption of the 2016 ordinance, there was much discussion about event sponsorships. On Aug. 22, 2016, Rhea proposed a city limit restriction, but Council meeting minutes show members were opposed to the limitation.

Rhea clarified Monday that he believes the rodeo is a great event, “but I got a bad taste in my mouth last time. I want to make sure that if we have a re-vote to extend this that those violations don’t happen again.”

“I don’t want that to happen again, and no one at the rodeo wants it to happen again,” Clark responded.

“I’m talking about honoring what’s in the agreement,” Rhea said.

He made a motion to table the matter until the Council can review the existing resolution and consider a possible extension of the border.

Representatives of the Liberty Hill Fair & Rodeo have not requested funding from the City since 2016.

Clark said overall rodeo expenses have increased this year by about 10 percent, and the additional funds from the City and EDC would be used for advertising, adding two more scholarships for vocational and military, adding a faculty campus challenge and more educational opportunities.

On Jan. 31, Clark appeared before the EDC Board and requested a $5,000 contribution. After some discussion, the Board agreed to table the request and defer the decision to the City Council.

In other business Monday, the Council voted unanimously to amend an ordinance to ban temporary real estate signs.

Senior Planner Sally McFeron said an agreement between the City and National Sign Plaza, which owns the kiosks around Liberty Hill that advertise and point to subdivisions and builders, was intended to eliminate the “builder bandit signs” placed in the right of way. She said the Planning & Zoning Commission approved the kiosks, but didn’t restrict bandit signs.

“The reasoning was that the small builders may not be able to afford to be on the signs (kiosks),” she said. “We really don’t have too many smaller builders in Liberty Hill anymore. These (bandit) signs are in our right of way advertising for subdivisions that are not even in our ETJ, but out in the county.”

“That was my understanding when we voted in the kiosks, that there would be no more bandit signs,” said Council Member Liz Rundzieher.
LHISD Police Department

A draft of an interlocal agreement between the City of Liberty Hill and the Liberty Hill ISD to provide city funding for a school district police department was placed on Monday’s agenda, but action was tabled pending action by the LHISD Board of Trustees.

School trustees in January agreed to accept $150,000 from the City to go toward the creation of its police department. Once the Board approves the draft, Boatright said he will bring it back to Council for final approval.

Boatright added that district administrators had requested the assistance of Liberty Hill Police Chief Maverick Campbell as they begin the process of creating a department.

Development
The Council voted this week to approve a final plat for Highland Terrace Phase 2, known as the Grayson subdivision. Phase 2 is 14 acres and contains 88 lots with the majority being 40-feet.

In other development action, the Council approved an amendment to the development agreement for the Estates of Liberty Hill, a mobile home community located on the north side of US Hwy 183 just north of State Highway 29.

The agreement was amended to add 15 acres to the development bringing the total acreage to 52 and the total mobile home sites to 289. The development has applied for annexation into the city limits of Liberty Hill.

Boatright said the community’s investment of almost $400,000 allows the city to get a major wastewater line extended to the north.

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