Council discusses lift station purchase, approves rodeo funds



Although no action was taken Monday, the Liberty Hill City Council heard a proposal by its engineering firm regarding a plan for the City to take ownership of lift stations and force mains of several municipal utility districts (MUDs) that the City is already servicing.

City Manager Greg Boatright explained that the City is currently in the wastewater “plant operation business, not in the lift station, main, transmission lines business. But, we currently maintain them.”

Boatright said he has become convinced after months of discussions and research by Steger Bizzell engineering firm that it would help the City to take over the facilities.

“By us having ownership, we can offer service to other landowners and we can use the easements to take our line to the east or wherever it needs to be,” Boatright said. “I’ve looked at it as to whether or not want we want to get into this business, because this is a new business for us. I’ve come to the conclusion that this is something that is good for our city. It lets us control our own destiny.”

Perry Steger told the Council that assets from MUD 12 (Rancho Sienna) and MUD 19 (Santa Rita Ranch) would be conveyed to the City under the proposal. He said the facilities would be easily expandable and would extend the city’s reach to the northeast and expand its practical service area.

He said the initial cost would be funded by a $1.4 million payment from the Morningstar development, which is buying 1,000 LUEs in MUD 12 lift station. Instead of paying MUD 12, the payment would go to the City.

“They are ready to pay that now, so there were be no out-of-pocket costs to the City,” Steger said. “After making the first $1 million investment with Morningstar money, you will have excess capacity in both lift stations, you will have money in the bank and be able to collect surcharge fees,” he added.

He projected it would be three to five years before the City would need to expand capacity or make improvements to the assets. By that time, the City would be collecting surcharges and fees from additional LUEs in those subdivisions as more homes are added to the system.

The discussion will continue at the Council’s next meeting Feb. 8 when members will see a final draft of an agreement between the City and the MUDs.

Also on Monday, the Council voted unanimously to authorize Boatright and city staff to enter negotiations with contractor Gilger Construction for the construction of the City’s new administration building on Loop 332 downtown.

The Council previously approved a Construction Manager at Risk system whereby the contractor would manage the subcontractors and keep costs below a cap of $750,000.

The Council also voted to award a contract for demolition of the existing building to Gilger for just under $30,000.

In other business, the Council voted 4-1 with Councilman Wendell McLeod voting no to allocate up to $15,000 from the City’s Economic Development fund to the Liberty Hill/Williamson County Annual Rodeo.

The event will be held at Williamson County Cowboy Church’s Harvest Arena April 8-10. The EDC Board approved the expense last Thursday.

“As part of the application, they will meet our requirements to expend funds,” said Boatright.

Assistant City Administrator Amber Lewis said the City prefers to pay vendors directly. Otherwise, a reimbursement request should be presented to the City for payment after the organization pays the vendor. She said it was the same process used to handle expenditures for the Christmas Festival.

With the City being the rodeo’s major investor, Councilman Ron Rhea requested that Mayor Connie Fuller be the person to award rodeo scholarships at the event. Additionally, he said the City of Liberty Hill logo should be on all marketing materials.

“We need to make it more of a city effort,” Rhea said.

Organizer Cory Ross, pastor of the Cowboy Church, agreed.

McLeod said he was voting no because “it was too much money.”

The Council approved another EDC recommendation to award a facade grant to Paul Davidson, owner of the building downtown that houses Liberty Hill Barber Shop.

The Council approved a $5,000 grant that will be used to reimburse the owner for painting the outside of the building, replace an awning, the front door and some windows.

The Council also approved a site plan for the American Storage development located at 13740 and 13750 W. SH 29. The business is adding three new storage buildings to its 1.4 acres and creating more parking.