County court approves Ennis TIRZ

Tax measure will boost infrastructure in Bardwell Lake area

Bill Spinks
Waxahachie Daily Light

An agreement with the city of Ennis to enter into a tax increment reinvestment zone, or TIRZ, in the area of U.S. Highway 287 and Bardwell Lake drew discussion before being approved during Tuesday’s meeting of the Ellis County Commissioners’ Court.

Commissioners unanimously OK’d the agreement to join into the TIRZ pact between the county and Ennis. The newest TIRZ is the third for the city.

A TIRZ is a method of funding development in undeveloped areas under Texas state law. Funds from property taxes are set aside to develop infrastructure in the defined area within the zone.

Ennis city manager Marty Nelson proposed a 75-25 split, in which Ellis County would keep a quarter of the tax receipts and the remainder would go into a TIRZ fund. Nelson said his city has entered into a similar agreement. Nelson said the city has been working on a plan for creating this newest TIRZ for about a year.

Nelson said a TIRZ arrangement differs from a tax abatement in that the property owners would pay the full rate, but that a portion of the receipts — 75 percent, in this case — would go into a special fund that is administrated by an appointed board that will be chaired by Ennis mayor Angie Juenemann.

“It is amazing to live in a community and be a part of a community where while we may not all agree on everything, we are all growing in the same way,” Juenemann told commissioners. “I think that is what Ellis County is. Our cities are all different, but I think what this community brings and …  the ability to work together and work through things is what makes us so powerful and why we are all on the map.”

Precinct 2 Commissioner Lane Grayson, whose precinct includes Ennis, praised the city for its foresight and said the newest TIRZ will be a positive growth tool for the city.

Other items

• Commissioners also agreed to the implementation of additional social distancing guidelines regarding common areas in the Ellis County Historic Courthouse, including posting notification signs at the entrance to each shared breakroom and modifying furniture to encourage compliance. Precinct 3 Commissioner Paul Perry said encouraging common-sense precautions in the courthouse through policy made sense. County Judge Todd Little said that the other county courts building has been hit hard by COVID-19, as well as the sheriff’s office and county detention facility.

• Among approved consent agenda items were a $250 bulk data download fee added to the county clerk fee schedule; the acceptance of eight benches donated by the Waxahachie Rotary Club for the courthouse lawn; acceptance of reports and previous minutes; and budgetary line item adjustments.

• Two plats were accepted: a 4.397-acre property at the northeast corner of Shaw Road and Cooke Road in the extraterritorial jurisdiction of Ennis, and an 8.42-acre property east of the intersection of Sutton Road and Hunsucker Road in Red Oak’s ETJ.

• Commissioners approved the purchase of furniture from Oak Cliff Office Products for the 378th District Court, in relation to the County Court at Lew No. 3 project. The total cost of the furniture and installation is $82,006.24. Also approved was an addendum to an agreement with Ford Audio-Video for County Court at Law No. 3 for relocation of wires in the amount of $1,161.

• The November purchase of an Etnyre 7,000-gallon emulsion tank for Road and Bridge Precinct 2 was rescinded at the request of Commissioner Grayson, and the court approved the purchase of two 2020 Mack MP-8 dump trucks for Road and Bridge Precinct 2 from Grande Truck Center in an amount of $290,857.72.

• Commissioners declared a number of vehicles, equipment and various items as surplus for Road and Bridge Precinct 1. These items will be auctioned off.

• Concurrent construction on two flood control structures on Chambers Creek was approved. The county’s cost is $175,000 for each dam, which will be matched by federal funds.

• A public hearing was scheduled for a proposed change of speed limit on Bluestem Way.

• A total of 19 members of the Ellis County Historical Commission were re-appointed to two-year terms beginning Jan. 1, with one new member appointed to a two-year term. Additionally, 19 members of the Emergency Services District Board were re-appointed to two-year terms, three new members were appointed and three resignations were accepted.

• Interlocal cooperation agreements were approved with the cities of Pecan Hill and Garrett for the 2021 calendar year.

• The court agreed to enter into the Texas Volkswagen Environmental Mitigation Program for a grant not to exceed $378,882.

• A contract with Everbridge was amended to add automatic notifications to the county’s mass notification system. The added feature will cost $1,794.35 per year, bringing the total cost to $13,756.85 annually. County emergency management coordinator Samantha Pickett said the new feature will reduce lag time in notifying the public.

• Following an executive session, the court voted to table a pair of agenda items to rescind a contract with Dunbar Armored Services and to solicit bids for armored services. The court also took no action on a real estate matter that was discussed during the executive session.