Council revisits discussion on event sponsorships



During a special meeting Monday, the City Council revisited a discussion from the previous week regarding the City’s role in sponsoring community events.

Council member Ron Rhea proposed an ordinance that would limit the contribution the City could make to a community event to $10,000 per event.

“This is in line with what we talked about earlier, and applies to events whether inside or outside the city,” Rhea said. “This caps any event at $10,000 so we don’t show favoritism to anyone.”

The ordinance defined expectations of event organizers in accounting for the city contribution. Those events that failed to comply would forfeit access to city funding for two years.

After some discussion, it was determined that the ordinance drafted by the City Attorney didn’t reflect Rhea’s intent. Instead, the language restricted General Fund contributions to $10,000 per event, but allowed the Economic Development Corp. to also make a contribution of up to $10,000 for the same event.

“We need to table this because this was not my intent,” Rhea said.

On Aug. 22, Rhea proposed that sponsorships be limited to events hosted within the city limits. But that motion failed when some council members disagreed with the idea of limiting the EDC Board’s ability to decide how it wanted to expend sponsorship funds.

In the proposed budget for fiscal 2016, the EDC has $40,000 set aside for event sponsorships.

Lewis told The Independent this week that $75,000 is available in the proposed city budget for sponsorships. In addition to the $40,000 from the EDC, $25,000 is available in the General Fund and $10,000 was added Monday to the new Parks Board budget.

The Council voted 3-2, with Wendell McLeod and Liz Rundzieher opposed, to allow the creation of a $10,000 line item for sponsorships in the Parks Board budget. Of those funds, $2,000 was donated to the upcoming 40th anniversary celebration of the Liberty Hill International Sculpture Park.

Last week, the Council approved $5,000 for a sponsorship of that event. At the time, City Administrator Greg Boatright encouraged other boards and organizations to also support the event. The celebration, which is organized by volunteers, is scheduled Oct. 14-15 at Lions Foundation Park and features demonstrations by sculptors, an artisan market, food and entertainment.

“The Parks Board wanted to do their part to answer the challenge we made that night,” said Boatright. “The wanted the flexibility to help by adding this into their budget.”

“They don’t have the money of their own, so the city is just giving $7,000 instead of $5,000,” said McLeod.

McLeod first made a motion to deny the request, but it failed for lack of a second.

Rhea then made a motion to approve the request, which passed 3-2.

When organizers of the sculpture celebration went to the EDC Board Aug. 18 to request a sponsorship, the request was denied. Board members said they wanted to see a budget for the event, which organizers say has since been created.

In other matters Monday, the Council approved a resolution setting dates for public hearings on the proposed voluntary annexation of the commercial property on US Highway 183 where Smokey Mo’s BBQ is located.

The parcel is 1.851 acres. Senior Planner Sally McFeron said the commercial center owners are looking to connect to city wastewater services.

Also, the Council voted to approve:
– Final Plat for Caughfield Ranch subdivision, Phase 1. The first plat is 176 lots, but over the next nine years, there will be 1,513 homes built in the subdivision’s 608 acres.
– Plat for MorningStar Ranch subdivision, Phase 1 Section 4A. The development located at Ronald Reagan Blvd. and SH 29 is 530 acres that will be built in three phases. Phase 1 is 675 lots.
– Plat for MorningStar Ranch subdivision, Phase 1 Amenities Center. This will include a clubhouse, swimming pool and gym for residents.
– Final Plat for Central Park subdivision in Liberty Hill city limits. The development includes 18 single family homes with .6 acres of dedicated parkland.

In other business Monday, the Council held two public hearings — one on the proposed ad valorem tax rate of $0.50000 per $100 property value, and the other on the proposed fiscal 2016 operation budget. No one was present to speak. The Council is scheduled to give final approval to a proposed budget and set the tax rate on Sept. 12.

Following a brief executive session, the Council voted unanimously to place $604,900 into a city investment fund. The monies were owed to the City by Lennar Buffington Stonewall Ranch, LLP, which filed bankruptcy earlier this year. The company had an agreement with the Lower Colorado River Authority, which was inherited by the City with the City’s purchase of the wastewater treatment plant, that it would pay $39,000 per month on raw land in the subdivision to reserve space in the wastewater system.

Assistant City Administrator Amber Lewis told The Independent following the meeting that the new owners of the Stonewall Ranch subdivision will be responsible for negotiating a new agreement with the City.