Funding for education was a topic brought to the attention of the Waxahachie City Council at its Monday night meeting.

Luke Legate with G. Fox Consulting asked for the council’s support in endorsing a letter of support to state Rep. Jim Pitts supporting use of the state’s rainy day fund to balance its budget shortfall.

“As you know, the state of Texas has a rainy day fund which has about $9.9 billion in it and 99 percent of it has been generated by oil and gas revenue. The letter just basically says thank you for using that money to continue to fund schools, first responders and all the things that we need to keep funding in this state,” Legate said.

“We want to send a message to Rep. Jim Pitts, who is the chairman of the Appropriations Committee that the rainy day fund is important and we are glad that you’re using part of it but we also want to remind him where that comes from which is oil and gas. As bad as it is this session it is going to be twice as bad the next unless you are to see some of our sales tax increase,” he said.

Legate said there is a proposal in Austin about removing a tax credit that works as an incentive for the natural gas industry. This tax credit was started in 1989 to encourage oil and gas development in the state. If removed, it risks not funding the rainy day fund in the future, he said.

Mayor Pro Tem John Wray said he was not in favor of endorsing the letter.

“I have to tell you I’m really not in favor of doing this and I’ll tell you why. I’m all for the oil and gas industry and I’m in favor of the tax incentive. The use of the balance of the budget with the rainy day fund is a politically charged issue and it is a hot button at the state political level that has a lot of different political groups that are fussing at each other,” Wray said.

“I don’t see why (I) as a Waxahachie city councilman should stick my neck out to jump into that debate. I think that is something for the Legislature to do. I don’t like the way this letter is worded. It’s basically saying that we agree that the rainy day fund should be used to balance the current budget. I don’t know if I agree with that and that is something that the state Legislature has to figure out,” he said.

Council members continued the item to the next meeting with the submission of a new letter to be looked at for approval. The new letter would remove the implied politics and only state facts.

In other business, the council approved a request from developer Ken Mitchell for a zoning amendment. The third phase of Mitchell’s Country Lane Seniors independent living development will add 80 apartments to the campus along with an indoor swimming pool. The development will be built on the corner of U.S. Highway 77 and Park Hills Drive.

The council continued a public hearing on an ordinance amendment relating to single family development, landscaping, accessory building and signs to its April 4 meeting. The council and the planning and zoning commission will have a joint workshop relating to the proposed amendment at 4:30 p.m. this Wednesday at City Hall.

• A request by John Ed Justice for a waiver of impact fees for water, wastewater and roadway was continued to the next meeting.

• A request for a street closure for the Education Foundation 5K run on Oct. 8 was approved.

• Prior to the regularly scheduled council meeting, a discussion of the street capital improvement program was heard during a workshop.

Contact Andrew at andrew.branca@wninews.com or 469-517-1458.