Council to consider raising impact fees

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By Mike Eddleman
Managing Editor
The Liberty Hill City Council will meet at 6:30 p.m. today for the first time in 2020 with a packed agenda.
The meeting will begin with a public hearing on potential rate increases for water and wastewater impact fees.
Currently the water service impact fee is $3,500, and the wastewater fee for commercial properties is $4,500 and new homes is $3,500.
The Council is set to consider raising the wastewater fee to $4,000 effective Feb. 1. The proposed water impact fee could go up to $5,500 Feb. 1, with subsequent hikes on Jan. 1 of the next two years to $6,500 in 2021 and $7,037 in 2022, the maximum allowed for the City.
The rate increases will help fund future infrastructure improvements for both systems.
In November, the 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.

Fowler Building use
The Council is expected to consider a proposed agreement between the City and Liberty Hill Chamber of Commerce for use of the Fowler Building downtown.
The agenda item does not detail the specific use being requested, but in January 2019, then Chamber of Commerce President Kim Sanders requested during the public comments portion of a Council meeting that the City consider a partnership with the Chamber of Commerce that would allow the organization to have office space and operate out of the fowler Building once the project was complete.
A number of Council members at the time spoke out against the idea, and the Council voted 4-0, including current Council member Liz Rundzieher, to deny use of the building to the Chamber.
“When we purchased the Fowler Building, we did that with the understanding we were going to use it as an art museum, then we had the Chamber come, and somebody intimated to them they could use the Fowler House as offices,” then Council member Ron Rhea said. “What we voted on was to use that as an art museum and an archive for the City of liberty Hill and when we have special events we could use that building. It is not to house the EDC or the Chamber or anybody else. I’d like to reaffirm what we originally voted on, regardless of promises that were made to the chamber from whomever.”
Mayor Rick Hall served as Chamber of Commerce President up until shortly after his announcement to run for Mayor in February 2018. Hall’s spouse, Jerri Hall, currently serves as the Chamber’s Director.

Community Center
The Council will also consider an architectural proposal for the new Community Center planned for downtown.
Hall first proposed the building a community center on property located near the northwest corner of Loop 332 and 1869 which was purchased from Williamson County late last year.
Originally the hope was to sec ure a grant for the project by creating an emergency shelter, but instead, Hall said the former county barn on the property will be refurbished for the project.
Once completed, the center will offer a new home to the Over the Hill Gang, and allow its current home behind Parker’s Grocery to be turned into downtown parking.
The 30-foot by 45-foot structure on the site now will be redone in the first phase of the project, with an expansion planned later. Hall said he expects the price tag of both phases together to be about $500,000.

Also on the agenda:
• Council will consider a contract addendum for bidding and construction phase services with Halff & Associates for the City Park Swim Center project. The proposed amount is not to exceed $72,200.
• Consideration of modification of the speed limit on Loop 332, as well as a request to Texas Department of Transportation to modify the speed limit on 1869 within the municipal boundaries of Liberty Hill.
• Consideration of the proposed model for new gateway signs for Liberty Hill.
• Approval of job descriptions for Mayor and City Council members.

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