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Stories Added - August 2009
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Livingston begins annexation efforts
Polk County Enterprise - August 2009
BY CHARLES K. FRANKLIN
LIVINGSTON – City Council has cleared the way for public debate to begin on a proposal to annex the 72-acre parcel of land where the new high school is to be built. Livingston Independent School District (LISD) Superintendent Dr. Darrell Myers has submitted a signed petition requesting annexation into the city and public debate about the matter is set to begin in September. “The City of Livingston is not a unilateral annexation city,” City Manager Marilyn Sutton said. “People must petition to come into the city. The school district has petitioned the city and the request has been signed by Dr. Myers.”
Council members must weigh the cost to provide water and sewer to the site. The school would be the only customer but there is some talk about possibly making provisions for First United Methodist Church. “We don’t provide sewer unless we provide water too,” City Attorney Gaffney Phillips said. “I can see us getting overextended and I would urge caution.” Public debate will begin Sept. 8 at City Hall. This is the first of three mandatory public hearings before council members can vote on the matter. A special session will be held just for this proposal.
The second public hearing will be held Sept. 15 and the third debate will come during the regularly scheduled October meeting. The land is located near the intersection of Hwy. 190 and FM 350 South. City utilities do not reach that far west, but if approved, two borings will be made under FM 350 South to the campus site to create a loop for the school. Tempe Water Supply covers the area where the school is to be built and it has indicated to council members that it would be willing to allow the annexation process to proceed.
“We will need to request clearance from the Justice Department,” Sutton said. “Because voting is always affected.” City budget for 2010 Sutton told council members that staff will continue to monitor and review city finances for the next 30 days while finalizing the 2010 budget. So many things are “in flux” Sutton said this budget has been one of the most difficult to prepare. Among the difficulties are uncertain economic trends, decreasing sales tax (compared to the steady 10 percent or more annual increases Texas has been seeing), continuing interest from developers, and major infrastructure needs in water and sewer facilities. Sales tax represents 19 percent of the city’s revenue, Sutton said.
To boost city income, the electric department will raise electric rates 7 mil (one mil equals one-tenth of a cent) per kilowatt hour. “This is a difficult time to announce a rate increase,” Sutton said. “Since we do not have an ad valorem tax, funds we receive from utilities subsidize other programs. The cost of operations is spread across everyone, but with electric usage, the user can control costs.”
Livingston Business Plaza is given green light
Council members approved phase one of a master plan for a proposed business complex to be built on the west side of the Hwy. 59 bypass across from the VF Factory Outlet. The entrance to the site will be just north of J.C. Smith and Sons Sand and Gravel and the plaza itself will be about 800 feet from the highway on a 1.83 acre site. The developers have said Comfort Inn has expressed an interest in possibly locating a hotel there. There is an additional 29.7 acres of undeveloped land reserved for phase two.
Livingston Youth Soccer requests fencing at Pedigo Park
Chris Ingram, president of the Livingston Youth Soccer League, has asked the city to fence in the soccer fields at Pedigo Park. He said the league is unable to keep the fields maintained properly because of heavy use by nonleague members. Ingram admitted the complex is in urgent need of restroom facilities for the large number of people who show up for games and practices throughout the week, but he feels fencing is the higher priority. “We have four port-o-potties for the 800-plus people who attend games and practices,” Ingram said. “They are being well used.” Ingram believes fencing would allow the league to keep the fields in good shape and would allow them to begin hosting tournaments and to charge fees for fans and for adults who use the fields during off days. The revenue could then be used to repay the city and to eventually build restroom facilities.
City officials said they will consider the matter. The economic downturn is forcing council members keep the purse strings pulled tight. “We regret that we are unable to participate this year due to budget restraints,” Sutton said. The Livingston Youth Soccer League is a program for kids from ages 4 to 18. The league runs a fall and a spring program. The cost per child for the fall league is $60 and registration will begin on the first Tuesday and Thursday after school starts at 5:30 p.m. at Pedigo Park. “Youth soccer is really growing as a sport in this town,” Ingram said. “We have enough interest for a youth traveling team. These are the kids who go on to play soccer in high school and some have even gone on to play in college.”