Public hearing held for state offered funds

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On Jan 2, the Robertson County Commissioner’s Court met to discuss a new grant available from the State of Texas and funds that have been allocated to the County.
The grant, $711,317.00 is part of a statewide program handed down from the Texas Legislature during the past session. The need presented to the State was for road and bridge repair assistance to counties based on damage caused by the energy sector. In the case of Robertson County, that would be the oil and gas industry.
Development of several oil and gas well site throughout Robertson County has kept commissioner’s busy repairing the roads associated with these site due to higher traffic volumes as well as the weight of big rigs that ravel these roads.
In answer to relief help requested by the County Judges and Commissioners Association of Texas and the Texas Association of Counties, the state has allocated roughly 225 million dollars for 254 counties in Texas to be used for road and bridge repair in these high traffic areas of a county.
There is a catch.
Like most grants there are several requirements a county must meet to get these funds.
• 20% matching funds
• Meet filing deadlines set forth by TxDOT, which are strict, and in this case, in a rush.
• Create a re-investment zone
• Form advisory committee
20% matching funds
The county will add 20% in matching funds to the 711,317.00. The match is $142,263.40. The commissioner’s reserve account would supply the match with no additional tax needed or to be created. The funds are available; the taxpayer will not see any increase due to this grant program.
Meet Filing Deadlines
Mon., Dec. 30, 2013
Latest Date for Notice of Public Hearing
Mon., Jan. 6, 2014
Latest Date for Public Hearing
Wed., Feb. 5, 2014
Latest Date for Order Adopting CETRZ
Fri., Feb. 7, 2014
Deadline for filing TxDOT Application
Currently the Commissioner’s Court has met all deadline required to move forward with the grant up to the public hearing held on Jan. 2 which was required to be held by Jan. 6
Re-Investment Zone
A re-investment zone is a roadway that is designated as high use due to energy traffic. Only property that touches that designated road is included in the zone.
How it all works
The Commissioner’s would assign a “re-investment zone” within the county. The zone would be small and the commissioner’s are looking primarily at Dunn Fort Rd., which has the potential for gas & oil production growth with sites already located on both sides of Dunn Fort Rd. and OSR in Robertson County.
The County would then apply for and “receive” the grant. The County during the application process will ask for roughly 30% more than the $711,317.00 from the state. The total amount to be received would not be known until the state processes all approved applications. The State of Texas will spend all $225 million; the division is based on amount of applicants and the total amount of approved applicants.
Many counties in Texas will not meet the required deadlines or in some cases not have available the matching funds. This means more money for the counties that do meet the requirements.
Let’s say Robertson County gets approved for the money in the amount of $711,314.00 and then add the 20% of $142,263.40 for a total of $853,580.40.
According to the grant, these funds can be used anywhere in the county, however at least one project must be within the “zone.”
Each Commissioner would receive $213.395.10 for sole use on road and bridge. During the September budget, $450,000.00 was cut from road and bridge funds. This grant would more than replace the loss of those 2013-2014 funds and then some without costing the taxpayer any additional money. No tax increase whatsoever.
The property located within the “zone” will not increase or decrease or receive any additional benefits from being within the “zone.”
The value of the property at the time the “zone” is created is worth $10 million dollars and that is what the County Tax Accessors office assesses. The property tax for that property currently is collected and added to the County’s general fund. Under the re-investment, any increase in the “zone” property’s tax value, for the next ten years or the abolishment of the “zone” would go into a re-investment zone fund that could only be used for the “zone.”
“The initial funds from the state can be used in the county as well as the matching funds. We have the matching funds in our reserves now so that should not go against our current budget. It won’t be new taxes,” said Donald Threadgill, County Commissioner-pct. 2.
The initial funds are used throughout the county, any increased property tax generated by the “zone” after the creation could only be used in the “zone.”
The idea from the state of Texas’s perspective is to allow the high traffic area, like Dunns Fort Rd. to generate it’s own maintenance funds in the future.
An advisory committee would also need to be formed and consists of a resident from each of the four precincts as well as a member from the energy sector. This would only be an advisory committee to help the commissioner’s make informed decisions regarding the funds and re-investment zone.
With the final public hearing past the commissioner’s are moving forward with the grant. The next commissioner’s court meeting is Jan. 13 at 2:00 p.m.

Dennis Phillips \ Publisher \ Robertson County News

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