Council considers change on Parks Board

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By MIKE EDDLEMAN

The Liberty Hill City Council was set to consider reappointments to the Parks Board as recommended by the Parks Board, but Mayor Rick Hall said he would like to see a change in policy.

The issue was tabled, but is expected to be brought back at the next meeting.

On the agenda was to consider the reappointment of Mosby Hamilton and Liz Branigan. Hall suggested removing Branigan.

“Just like with all our other boards we have expiring terms that come up,” Hall said. “One of the things that the previous Council and this Council has done, too, is we are placing Council members on different boards to have that liaison between the City Council and those boards.

“I’d like for the Council to consider doing the same thing we did for the EDC and P&Z and choose a Council member in (Liz Branigan’s) place so we have that continuity we have with our other boards.”

To further that end, Hall said he wanted to see a resolution for the Council to consider creating a policy that says there will always be a council member on each of the boards.

“We can just state it as once that council person is no longer in office that person will be replaced by another person on the council at that time instead of waiting until their term expires,” Hall said.

Council member Liz Rundzieher made a motion to reappoint Hamilton but remove Branigan and replace her with Council member Steve McIntosh.

Before the vote could be taken Council member Tony DeYoung raised concerns and asked for more time on the issue.

“I’d like to table this. I might be interested in Parks and Rec because it’s something I maybe want to do and I’d like to get more information from them and see what their suggestion is,” DeYoung said. “Yes Liz (Branigan) was a Council member before, but she’s got experience with it and is passionate about it. Why can’t she still serve the town and can we add a Council member as well?”

With McIntosh absent from the meeting, the initial vote was split with Rundzieher and Council member Kathy Canady favoring the original motion and DeYoung and Council member Gram Lankford opposing. That left the deciding vote up to Hall.

Hall chose to vote to oppose the motion and the issue was tabled until the next meeting.

No members of the Parks Board were present at Tuesday’s meeting. The Board voted unanimously at its last meeting in October to recommend reappointment of Mosby and Branigan.

CIP Plan
The City Council unanimously approved the 10-year capital improvement plan for its water and wastewater services, a critical step in determining if and when impact fees should be changed.

The Impact Fee Committee proposed $61 million in water infrastructure improvements and just under $76 million in wastewater infrastructure improvements.

Projections show the annual growth rate in water customers is 10.2 percent, reaching 1,958 connections by 2028, while wastewater service is expected to expand from 4,413 customers currently to 13,089 by 2028.

Projects include the current and another future expansion of the current wastewater plant, as well as a new Northfork Wastewater Plant. On the wastewater side there are a number of lift station improvements and capacity upgrades planned.

On the water side there are many capacity upgrades for increased population as well as fire suppression, but the high-dollar items include a drinking water reservoir, raw water intake and pump station and a direct reuse drinking water plant.

The improvements would be paid for in part through impact fees.

“Those are really impactful for the City whenever it comes to expansion of the plant, and our water and wastewater, so in order for us to set the fee we have to get a timeline and something laid out for approval of what we need to use that money for so we can work backwards from that,” Hall said. “In order for us to set that fee we have to have this approval.”

The next step in the process rests on the rate consultant, before the Council will ultimately determine what the new rate should be.

“The rate consultant will take this information and put it into their models to develop what the maximum impact fee can be established at based on state law and then they will bring that back to the Council for implementation,” said Curtis Steger of Steger Bizzell Engineering. “This effects new development, the fees homebuilders pay when they come to the City to get a water meter or to get a wastewater service tap.”

Hall mentioned that Liberty Hill’s impact fees were considerably less than surrounding cities, with Steger citing the $10,000 fee in Georgetown compared to Liberty Hill’s current $7,000 fee.

The Council also approved a proposed future land use map, also required as part of the process for determining rates.

“In order for us to figure out where we need to take water and wastewater service to we have to have some kind of rough estimate of where development is going to be,” Hall said. “This is not going to be the permanent land use map and I think the words permanent and land use map should never go hand in hand because it should always be a working document. This is a start for us so we can have this to coincide with the impact fee study. We will continue this piece of it as a separate piece down the road as a true land use map for the layout of the City.”

Gateway signs
The Council began discussing the possibility of designing and installing new City gateway entry signs during the summer, and Tuesday it approved spending up to $14,650 with HALFF Associates to help develop a concept for new signs, and final concept development.

The plan to have new signs built and installed includes moving the current entry signs to new locations, but until the concept has been determined there is no estimate for the cost of the new signs.

“This is something we need to take a lot of time and effort on because it’s not going to be cheap,” Hall said. “But I think if we do it right the first time it will last for years to come.”

New hire
The Council approved the hiring of David Stallworth to fill the new certified planner position created in the budget passed in September.

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