Liberty Parke asks City to create PID for financing

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By SHELLY WILKISON

Although the issue did not require any action Monday, the City Council listened to a lengthy presentation by developers of Liberty Parke subdivision, who want the City to consider creating a Public Improvement District (PID) for their neighborhood.

State lawmakers adopted the Public Improvement District Assessment Act in 1987 giving cities and counties the ability to issue bonds to fund infrastructure improvements inside residential and commercial areas. The funds can be used for developing or expanding affordable housing, building water infrastructure, roads, sidewalks, parks and other amentities, as well as providing for public safety and recreation.

The Council approved a preliminary plat in July 2013 for Liberty Parke, which will be located on State Highway 29 across from Stonewall Ranch. The plan called for 300 single family homes.

Todd McCullough, an owner of the development who claimed family roots in Liberty Hill, said additional financing that would be made available through a PID “would help us make a nicer product at the front door of Liberty Hill.”

He said creation of a PID would allow developers to build an additional 200 homes, add green space that would include a dog park, walking trails and a swimming pool.

“This will be a nicer subdivision at an affordable price,” he said. “We’re trying to create a good starter product.”

Instrumental in the creation of more than 300 PIDs, Mark Curran told the Council that the City would control the financing vehicle that would be secured by properties within the subdivision.

He said homebuyers would be assessed a fee at closing that could be paid in one payment or spread out annually over 30 years.

A presentation during Monday’s meeting showed the typical bond size is one-third of the appraised value of the lot plus improvements.

The development will ask the City to consider a $7 million bond issuance. Based on that figure, property owners inside Liberty Parke would be assessed from $9,350 for a 45-foot lot to $12,466 for a 60-foot lot.

McCullough repeatedly stated that the City would not be responsible for payment of bond assessments. The PID debt is secured by a Special Assessment Lien on the subdivision land, and city, county and school district tax liens remain in first payment priority position. Bond proceeds would be held by a Trustee selected by the City.

McCullough said with the bond issuance, the development could expland from 310 homes to 522, which he said could be expected to generate an additional $22,968 in monthly water bills and $23,151 monthly for wastewater service compared to almost $14,000 with the reduced number of homes.

McCullough encouraged the Council to take action soon on the request.

“We just need to know. Are we moving forward or going with original plan?” he said.

Mayor Connie Fuller said city staff and council members have a number of issues to discuss before taking action. She appointed a two-member committee of Council members Wendell McLeod and Ron Rhea to meet with developers and bond counsel.

Rhea and Councilmember Liz Rundzieher were not present this week.

Also Monday, the Council approved an employment contract for Kirk Clennan, who was hired in April as the City’s Economic Development Corp. Executive Director. The one-year contract for $70,000 includes a monthly stipend of $50 for cell phone reimbursement. Use of toll roads for business purposes will be paid by the EDC, as well as membership in varsious EDC professional associations.

The Council also unanimously approved a $32,000 contract with K.C. Engineering, Inc. for engineering services in connection with the development of the site of the new City Hall on Loop 332.

In financial matters, City Manager Greg Boatright informed the Council that after examining the invoices from Severn Trent regarding water and wastewater services, the City settled with the company for $61,290.70.

The Council voted earlier this year to bring all of those services inhouse rather than contract with a third party. Now that City utility staff members are licensed to do the work, management believes it will save taxpapers money.

Boatright explained that Severn Trent gave the City a “true-up for services rendered outside the scope of the contract. Some of them (bills) were from as far back as 2012.

“Basically, the gateway for the city at that time if outside the realm of normal, pushed it back and wouldn’t deal with it. If it was something outside hte contract or a large sum of money, it didn’t get paid because they were not sure if the funds were there to pay,” Boatright said.

In other business, the panel:

– Voted unanimously to amend a resolution supporting Application to Texas Commission on Environmental Qualtiy for Acquisition of Road Powers by MUD No. 17. The resolution was previously approved, but it did not include language that the Council “consented” to the acquisition.

– Administered the Oath of Office to incumbent Councilmembers Troy Whitehead and Elizabeth Branigan.

– Tabled an item calling for the election of a Mayor Pro Tem until all council members are present.

– Heard a presentation by Williamson Museum Curator Ann Evans about the 1976 International Sculpture Symposium held in Liberty Hill. She brought photographs and items from a museum exhibit on the historical event.

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