Weatherford Democrat

February 4, 2014

Public hearing on CETRZ projects slated


Weatherford Democrat

By JUDY SHERIDAN

Parker County commissioners will hold a public hearing at 10 a.m. today at the historic Parker County Courthouse, on the creation of one or more County Energy Transportation Reinvestment Zones to promote transportation projects funded by the CETRZ.

The boundaries and requirements of the zone(s) will also be a topic.

According to TxDOT information online, a County Energy TRZ can be established in any county impacted by oil and gas production.

It surrounds a planned transportation project — even a state highway, if TxDOT agrees — and acts to capture the property tax increment generated by the project. It also allows for sales tax increment capture.

To create a CETRZ — which lasts 10 years — commissioners must determine that a proposed area has been affected by oil and gas activities and would benefit from a Transportation Infrastructure Fund grant.

Grant eligibility hinges on not only creating the CETRZ, but on appointing an advisory board, establishing a special tax increment account and pledging all the increase in appraised value of real property in the CETRZ to the proposed road or bridge project.

 Counties will compete for $225 million in grant funds in fiscal year 2014, submitting applications to TxDOT between Feb. 7 and Feb. 14.

   According to Roads for Texas Energy, the funds will be distributed based on a formula that considers weight tolerance permits, oil and gas production taxes, the number of well completions submitted to the Railroad Commission and the volume of oil and gas produced by the county.

Counties must submit road condition reports, a list and scope of projects and matching funds equal to 20 percent of the grant to be considered.

In December, Parker County commissioners agreed to pay Allison, Bass and Associates, LLP, an Austin firm, $5,000 to apply for a grant on the county’s behalf to improve the county’s chances. 

The county could be eligible for up to $1 million, County Judge Mark Riley told the court, based on conversations with the firm.

Last week, Riley asked commissioners to decide which roads to include in the grant application. 

“They’ve recommended coming up with about $3 million worth of roads; that’s no problem,” he said. “It’s a 20 percent match, so if we were to get $1 million, we would put in $200,000.”

The county will announce the roads selected at the public hearing, Riley said.