Weatherford City Council approved a resolution to authorize the filing of eminent domain proceedings of property that the city is trying to obtain for easements during its meeting Tuesday evening at city hall.
The purpose of obtaining the easements is for the “construction and maintenance of a reclaimed water pipeline across the property from the water reclamation facility to Lake Weatherford,” according to the agenda report.
The negotiations of the easement are still ongoing, so the resolution authorizes the city to proceed with eminent domain if needed, Weatherford Marketing and Communications Director Blake Rexroat said. Because the council discussed this matter in a closed session, Rexroat could not provide more details.
The pipeline project is to pump treated effluent water into Lake Weatherford, which would ultimately reduce the need to purchase water from Lake Benbrook and supplement Weatherford’s water supply, Weatherford Water Utilities Director Rick Shaffer said in a previous interview. The city has paid to pump water from Lake Benbrook before during droughts.
Council also heard from Parker County Judge Pat Deen regarding use of sales tax for economic development.
Deen said the county receives more than $7 million of sales tax revenue from county cities, which goes into the county’s maintenance and operations fund. Much of that revenue comes from the city of Weatherford.
“I am accountable to you as well as the court for those dollars that come to us, and that’s an education that I don’t think we quite understand as a commissioner’s court and we have not had that conversation, quite frankly,” Deen said. He continued to say that this is a conversation the court will have in the coming weeks.
Deen expressed a need for unity between the city and county.
“We’re in this together,” Deen said. “I want to use those dollars in the best way we can. We’re not always going to agree.”
Deen said not all of the sales tax revenue will be reinvested, but the county can be a partner to cities and regenerate more revenue for cities like Weatherford.
“I guess the key of this is those dollars that we are getting, it is my intent to reinvest,” Deen said. “I can’t say we’re going to reinvest it all, but I do want to continue with aggressive abatement programs where it makes sense, where you have high wage jobs, where you have good insurance, those types of companies that want to come in and change the dynamics of economic development, but just to be honest as well, I’m not willing to do a TIRZ [Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone] on a retail project yet that needs to be talked about more. There’s going to be some areas that we don’t agree on, of course, but when it comes to high wage job growth, I definitely want to participate in every way we can to work together with every city in this county.”
Council members and Mayor Paul Paschall thanked Deen for his work so far, and they asked some questions and made comments to Deen.
In response to a question from Paschall, Deen said he would return to the council with reinvestment data.
Council member Jeff Robinson addressed resident concerns about county and city taxes with Deen.
“Sometimes, I think residents of the city go, ‘Why are we paying county taxes on top of our city taxes?’ and vise versa,” Robinson said. “We would love to see [county commissioners] represent the people that live in the city limits as well as the people outside and spend the money both ways.”
County residents pay road and bridge dollars, and those dollars aren’t spent back to individual precincts but on roads where people drive, Deen said.
“We have an obligation, in my opinion, to if you’re spending those dollars on road and bridge, there’s an argument to be made, should they be spent in those respective areas that happen to also fall under the city under development program,” Deen said. “I would like to see that move toward that.”
Council also approved three final plats. The final plats were the 75-lot Silverstone at Pearson Ranch Phase 7 on White Settlement Road, 124-lot Lockwood Phase 4 addition on Causbie Road and 27-lot Moriah Farms Estates on Tin Top Road. Council approved waivers for a minor plat on North Main Street for connection to the city’s water system, wastewater collection and treatment system and improvement to substandard perimeter street.
The next council meeting is scheduled for Oct. 22, according to the city’s website.