EDC approves Foundation budget for sculpture move


By Lauren Jette

Several of the world-renowned sculptures located on the campus of Liberty Hill Intermediate School will soon be moved to Lions Foundation Park following the Economic Development Corporation’s approval of funds for this project during a meeting Dec. 17.

Larry Floyd, who serves as the secretary of the Liberty Hill Development Foundation, which oversees the care of the sculptures, presented a budget to EDC members, which covered all costs associated with relocating 13 sculptures to two acres behind the fire station. The budget for the move was $93,500, excluding the cost of an appraisal.

The budget included consulting and landscaping costs, concrete work, relocation, extension of a walking trail around sculptures and a sculpture garden advocate, who would “speak to the art that is there,” Floyd said.

EDC Board member Eric Van Natter commented that he thought the sculptures were going to be moved to city property, not foundation property.

City Manager Greg Boatright explained that the foundation, the city and Liberty Hill Independent School District came to an agreement that “completes role for everyone involved.”

“I think it’s a win for our community and it helps the (foundation) board stay engaged,” Boatright added.
A walking trail near where the sculptures will be moved to will be extended and incorporated around the sculptures, the city manager said.

The EDC Board voted to pay for actual expenses up to, but not to exceed $100,000.

In a related agenda item, the Board agreed to pay the appraisal bill of $8,105, although that total came in higher than the Board expected. Board member Lance Dean asked Floyd to please let them know when a project was nearing the budget limit next time before incurring any more costs.

Board members also approved $6,000 for a Freeport tax exemption study conducted by Moak, Casey and Associates.
EDC Executive Director Kirk Clennan said the study will be a “detailed examination of Freeport exemption through a determination of both the current and alternative measurements of the potential level of exempt value.”

Section 11.251 of the Tax Code provides for a freeport tax exemption applying to goods (other than oil, gas and petroleum products) if they leave Texas within 175 days from the date they are brought into or acquired in the state.

The study will consist of three phases—Impact Assessment, Impact Projection Modeling and Technical Assistance.

“The first phase of the study will assess the actual and potential impact on current taxable property values for the district,” Clennan said.

“The second phase of the study will incorporate the results of the first phase into a comprehensive model of local revenue for LHISD. The third phase of the study will supplement the statistical analysis with information related to the implementation in other school districts.”

“I think getting the Freeport exemption is imperative and this is the best way to do this,” said board member Johnny Johnston.
“This is the best company you’re going to find, the most recognized (company),” said board member John Clark.

“(It’s) a massive win for everyone if we get this done,” Clark said.

An incentive application put in by Genc Krasniqi for Liberty Hill Beer Market for assistance amounting to $60,000 was discussed.

Johnston welcomed Krasniqi to Liberty Hill, but told board members he didn’t feel that the EDC should give these incentives outside unexpected startup costs for new businesses. Johnston, owner of Dahlia Cafe, chose to abstain from voting on the application due to possible conflict of interest as a fellow restaurant owner in Liberty Hill.

After some discussion, Van Natter made a motion to reject the application, which was seconded and passed.

Clennan presented some information about an LHISD Youth Career Fair next September. He said that the school district had already applied for a grant through Workforce Solutions to help with the costs of holding the fair.

Clennan said it had been 11 years since a career fair had been held in Liberty Hill, and that he would follow up with the board during the February meeting, as the district was still waiting to hear back about the grant.

During the public comments at the beginning of the meeting, Fred Fiero, owner of Liberty Hill Barber Shop read from a letter, citing that his “dealings with city employees have been less than stellar” in association with a water bill issue and the safety of sidewalks for handicapped individuals in front of his business downtown. Fiero was cut off after three minutes. Board members were not able to discuss the matter as it was not part of the regular agenda.

Before the meeting, EDC members and Clennan met for a workshop, where members set out some goals for the coming year.
Goals included Freeport tax exemption, infrastructure, hotel/higher education/healthcare, relationships, transportation and better editorial.

Clennan talked about how data could better help him sell Liberty Hill to businesses, but that he didn’t have direct access or means to collect the data, so board members asked him to propose data collection resources and costs at the next meeting.

As a means of possibly accomplishing the goals laid out, members discussed the possibility of forming subcommittees.

The board agreed that another workshop would be beneficial to help wrap up ideas and discussions. A date for that workshop has not been set.