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Ennis Daily News

Citizens address street repairs

Local citizens voiced their opinions at yesterday’s Ennis City Commission meeting concerning the Prospective Future Street Bond Program with Elm St. and N. Dallas St. residents requesting their roadways be moved to the top of the list to receive immediate repairs.
A representative for the Elm St. homeowners spoke first, asking that the street, which apparently is not very wide and lacks curbs and gutters, be one of the first streets to receive funding for repairs. The five Elm St. men in attendance all said they would prefer having curbed and guttered streets, despite the fact that the project would take away some property and easement due to widening the roadway.
Mayor Russell Thomas said the City had already received some information regarding Elm St. and would take the request into consideration when deciding the timeline of when certain streets would receive repairs.
Cliff Allen, who resides at Dallas St. and Latimer St., spoke to the commission and requested instead of just an overlay of N. Dallas St. that it receive concrete repairs. Allen justified this request with the fact that the area is part of the historical district and is a major thoroughfare for Ennis traffic.
City Manager Steve Howerton explained to the audience the procedure for selecting the order in which streets will receive funding. Howerton said prioritization consisted of seven criteria including cataloging the condition of prospective streets, a cost benefit analysis for each prospective street, the number of vacant lots along the roadway concerning the potential for development, connectivity to other roadways, the amount of daily traffic and others.
While Howerton and Thomas believe the process of dividing the money between the wards will be done through discussions and weighing all the factors, Commissioner Byron Walker said the process would be a “wrastlin’” match. Walker said the city has a plan and that was to use money from new industries coming to the area which would allow the City to proceed to the following phase of the street program, however, things could change the plan if unknown factors play a part.
“It’s going to be a political nightmare for me,” Walker said.
The program is currently in development for the next five to six months with 83 streets listed that would receive concrete or overlay repairs. The draft list of prospective streets total 21.4 miles of roadway and would cost an estimated $29.1 million.
“Funding for the Prospective Future Street Bond Program will be derived from the issuance of certificates of obligation over a 10-year period,” Howerton said. “The debt service for the certificates of obligation will come from existing Industrial Tax Abatement revenues that roll off during the next 10 to 15 years. Certificates of obligation will only be issued when sufficient Industrial Tax Abatement revenues exist to serve the debt. No tax rate increase should be required for an approved future street bond program.”
“Our intent is to do this from revenues coming into the city so the tax rate does not have to be increased,” Thomas said. “We think that is a fair way to do it.”
Howerton said the City would do as much as it can without disrupting the residents.
Thomas asked for residents to be patient and thanked everyone for their comments and input regarding the street program.
In new business, the Commission approved the Texas Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2007, as presented by Howerton.
Some of the financial highlights included:
The assets of the City exceeded its liabilities at the close of the most recent fiscal year by $51,921,357 (net assets). Of this amount, $8,530,317 (unrestricted net assets) may be used to meet the government’s ongoing obligations to citizens and creditors.
The City’s total net assets increased by $4,119,272.
As of the close of the current fiscal year, the City’s governmental funds reported combined ending fund balances of $7,993,675.
At the end of the current fiscal year, the unreserved fund balance for the general fund was $4,083,444, or 37 percent of the total general fund expenditures.
Howerton said the following facts reflect Ennis’ financial condition and economic outlook:
The Ennis industrial base is the largest and most diversified in Ellis County.
Since fiscal year 2000, commercial and industrial investment in Ennis has exceeded $413.6 million ($75.2 million during the year).
Since fiscal year 2000, industrial employment in Ennis has increased from 4,397 to 5,299 (an increase of 20.5 percent).
Ennis sales tax collections increased 3.9 percent during fiscal year 2007.
Total taxable value for all residential commercial and industrial property in the City of Ennis exceeded $1,099,136,471 for fiscal year 2007, a 9.6 percent increase from the previous year.
Residential, commercial and industrial building permit value exceeded $107.7 million for fiscal year 2007.
The Ennis Economic Development Corporation owns and is aggressively marketing approximately 380 acres of prime industrial property in the Ennis Industrial Park.
Ennis controls ample land for future development (13.2 square miles, or 50.3 percent, of the 26.2 square miles within the Ennis Corporate Limits is undeveloped and available for development).
For a more thorough look at the financial report visit www.ennis-texas.com/City%20Government/PDF%20Files/Audit.FY2006-07.pdf.
In other new business, the commissioners approved the demolition of the Fina Truck Stop on S. Kaufman St. that was destroyed by a fire in Nov. 2005.
The final new business item approved was a resolution by the Ennis Economic Development Corporation authorizing the sales tax revenue refunding bonds. Howerton said the corporation has deemed it advisable to refund the bonds to achieve a debt service savings of at least 4 percent. According to Howerton, the corporation could see savings of approximately $425,000 with the refunding of the bonds.
In first readings, the Commission approved a zoning amendment ordinance for an apartment complex. The zoning ordinance change is from “C-PD” Commercial –Planned Development District to “A-3-PD” Medium Density Multi-Family Dwelling – Planned Development District. The apartments are located on a tract of land 1.254 acres in size on the south side of the 1700-1800 blocks of W. Ennis Ave.
Howerton said nine notices were mailed concerning the market rate rental apartment complex and five were returned in favor of the zoning change.
The other first reading ordinance was a settlement agreement between the Atmos Cities Steering Committee and Atmos Energy Corp. The commissioners approved the ordinance, which Howerton said was a settlement of a rate increase to $10 million. Howerton stated the energy company submitted a rate increase of $52 million in September 2007 but with the joint efforts of 150 cities the increase was reduced by $42 million.
The City Commission meets every other Monday at 7 p.m. in the City Commission Chambers at City Hall. The meeting is open to the public.

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Posted by on Jan 23 2008. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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