Gainesville council proves several water, sewer projects; rate hikes approved | Local News


The Gainesville City Council approved a slew of water and sewer projects Tuesday.

The council approved a $2.7 million deal with Greater Texoma Utility Authority (GTUA) to work with the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) to replace 4,580 feet of water line between Foundry Road and I-35.

“We’re pursuing funds for a water line replacement project for the city, with the Texas Water Development Board state funding agency; they have what they call the SWIFT program, the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas,” said Drew White, a representative from GTUA. “You get to take advantage of the state’s triple A bond rating, and then in addition to that, they buy down 25% of whatever that interest rate is. So we’re talking about a 20 year note here. So if, say, the interest rate is 4%, you do a 3% note for the 20 years of the issuance.”

This plan will replace an 80-year-old cast iron line with a 16 inch PVC line that should last for another 80 years and will be more compatible with modern standard water lines.

City Manager Barry Sullivan was authorized to sign a $950,000 contract with Kimley-Horn to design, bid and review construction of the Southern Sewer Line, the Elkins Lift Station, and a portion of the Wheeler Creek Sewer Line. This line will allow additional development in the east and central portions of the City.

“We’re looking at going from our sewer lift station, heading east to the Elkins lift station, and then from there… coming up and doing part of the Wheeler Creek… and then we’re looking at doing about a million dollars from Elkins all the way back up Wheeler Creek so we can have expanded sewer service,” explained City Manager Barry Sullivan. “This is needed for two reasons: one, we’re having growth; we’re looking at an 850 lot subdivision coming over near Chalmers; we also have 760 apartments looking like they’re going to move over on the east side of town, so this will provide for both of those… This will also impact all the sewer from our central part of town because it goes all the way down Pecan Creek, which is where one of our biggest lines are. That also meets up with this line at the bottom, so most of the sewer in the city will be going through this sewer main that we’re looking to work on.”

The plan is to use specialty grants to cover the expenses, including a possible grant with the Texas Water Development Board that would have the state pay some of the expenses for us. However, this is not a guarantee, as we are competing against other cities to get these funds. If needed, we will have it backed up with tax revenue, which will make the interest rate lower.

Kimley-Horn was also hired to design, bid and review construction of the I-35 Utility Relocation for TXDOT. The project will include the installation of approximately 20,700 linear feet of waterline and 11,560 linear feet of sanitary sewer. TXDOT will reimburse the $886,000 cost once plans are approved.

“TxDOT has asked the city to move necessary utility lines that are in conflict with this next phase of the highway project,” explained Chris Igo, a representative of TxDOT. “Because it is a federal TxDOT highway project, that means that any any engineering that the city encumbers or any construction that the city has to take on is fully, 100% reimbursable, and so this contract will will allow us to identify exactly what is in conflict, come up with the relocation plan to move those utilities, and then try and develop an agreement with the city and TxDOT, so that you can enter into an agreement for reimbursement.”

The price is looking to be anywhere from $10-11 million; however, a majority of that will be paid back to Gainesville. The wide range of pricing is due to the uncertainty of how much these projects will cost. There is also a difference in what needs to be updated for Gainesville’s infrastructure.

“With TxDOT, a 12-inch sewer line gets replaced with a 12-inch sewer line, and that is fully reimbursed as part of the recent wastewater master plan and water master plan,” explained Igo. “We evaluated those master plans and saw that if we move this whole venture… it actually needs to be a 24 inch for some additional capacities for some development. TxDOT is not just going to pay that extra cost. They’re going to ask for the cost difference between a 24 inch sewer and a 12 inch sewer, and so part of the analysis is to look at the cost difference between those two pipes … That’s the variability in some of the costs. TxDOT, again, will pay for all the engineering to determine all of these things. What they don’t cover is the construction cost difference between the two pipe sizes.”

Water, sewer bills

The council approved the annual fee schedule for the City of Gainesville Services. The adopted rates are effective Oct. 1 and the new fee schedule will be posted on the City website www.gainesville.tx.us under the link to Fee Schedule.

“We had fees throughout the schedule stay the same, maybe go up slightly like with our airport, to running our facilities at our parks and running our facilities at the Civic Center. Our biggest increase that’s going to impact the most people are for our water fees, which is going to increase 4%, and our sewer fees are going to increase by about 10%,” said Sullivan. “The reason for these increasing is we have over $23 million worth the capital project coming up this next year in water and sewer projects, we’re going to be not only putting in that line that Drew was talking about, we’re going to increase the size of our southern line… we’re also going to have to have cash up front to pay for about a million dollars in engineering on I-35… With a growing city, we have to provide more space in the system . As we grow and you have to grow, build a little bit more than you need right now so you can keep moving forward.”

New tax rates

The tax rate for the City of Gainesville was approved at $0.6239 per $100, with $0.4666 for the General Fund and $0.1573 for the Interest and Sinking Fund.

“That is a decrease in the actual rate by almost five, although we will still bring in additional more money than we brought in this last year,” said Sullivan. “The median household homestead exempted property went up around $11,000, and their bill on average will go up about $38 a year… With having 8% plus inflation over the last year and for cities, it’s been much higher; that’s your average inflation. When you talk about asphalt concrete pipe, a lot of our construction materials that we spend a very high percentage of our monies on, that’s been much higher, so to be able to keep it that low, I think was a very positive thing. And we are lower than the voter approved rate, although we’re higher than the no new rate. So overall, I think we did a good job this year, and will continue to be able to improve the city over the next year with this tax rate.

Other Business

An Ordinance was passed designating a certain area as a Reinvestment Zone for Commercial-Industrial Tax Abatement; assigning the name “Reinvestment Zone Number 23 of the City of Gainesville, Texas.” This area is around the outlet mall on I-35 on the north side of Gainesville.

“This area was declared a reinvestment zone back in July 2017, so it just recently went out of being a reinvestment zone,” said Sullivan. “This would allow us to provide tax abatement on that property for new development that’s looking at the area.”

The council also approved the purchase of a 2023 Mack TE64 chassis from Volvo & Mack Trucks of Waco in the amount of $177,900.00 and a Wittke Starlight Commercial Automated Front Load Body from Reliance Truck & Equipment in the amount of $157,500.00 for the Solid Waste Division to replace a seven-year-old Commercial Solid Waste Truck. The combined total purchase amount will be $335,400.00.

“The first day we shut the transfer station, this truck was totaled out. It was coming back from the landfill and lost all power,” explained Polly Boone, the Solid Waste Department General Services Manager. “We’re needing to purchase this truck to replace the one that was totaled. It will be a frontline truck, and the oldest will become a backup truck.”

“We did receive $143,000 from TML for insurance on that,” added Sullivan. “We do really try to change our trucks out every seven to 10 years, so this was getting to that seven-year mark. Polly does have 385 days of reserve and so she has plenty of cash to make up the difference.”

• A proclamation was given by Mayor Pro Tem Ken Keeler declaring the week of Sept. 16-22 to be Constitution Week in honor of the drafting of the Constitution of the United States in 1787.

• The budgets were approved for both the Cooke County Appraisal District and for the City of Gainesville for the Fiscal Year 2022-2023. The adopted City budget document is available on the City of Gainesville website at https://www.gainesville.tx.us/637/Financial-Transparency.

• A five-year capital improvement plan and a five-year budget model were both approved. These do not commit any funds for any project, and are rather to be used as a planning guide to help determine financial consequences for decisions in the future.

• A resolution authorizing an agreement with each of the agencies receiving hotel/motel occupancy tax was approved. This allows the city manager to move forward in getting annual tourism and promotion contracts signed for each of the agencies to receive anticipated Hotel/Motel Occupancy Tax revenues in the FY 2022-2023 Budget. The agencies are Butterfield Stage Players, Cooke County Arts Council, Cooke County Heritage Society/Morton Museum, Cooke County Heritage Society/Santa Fe Depot Museum, and Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce.

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