Meeting early because of the New Year holiday, Grayson County commissioners held a public hearing Monday about creating an Energy Transportation Reinvestment Zone in order to get some extra state funds for county road projects.
Commissioner Jeff Whitmire explained the idea: “In the past legislature House Bill 1027 and Senate Bill 1727 provided for some funds that counties could get for repairing damage done by energy-related industries and that’s primarily oil and gas drilling. They allotted $225 million across the state that counties have access to. Grayson County, its estimated, is eligible for $439,000 of that. In order to receive our share of that funding, we are required to create a County Energy Transportation Reinvestment Zone. That zone becomes a tax increment financing type of deal where we have to identify the properties, establish an existing base rate of ad valorem taxes, and then, over the next ten years, any increase in that appraisal value, primarily due to oil and gas increases, would be dedicated to road and bridge funding.”
Whitmire said the grant of $439,000, or possibly more, does not ever have to be repaid. “We just have to pass this,” he said of the zone. In identifying where to put the zone, Whitmire said, the county looked at areas where there is currently “a significant amount of drilling activities going on.” He said they also looked for places where there is not likely to be a great deal of residential or commercial real estate development. “This is primarily agriculture and the drilling,” he said. Whitmire added that the Grayson Central Appraisal District will be working with the County to identify all of the mineral rights holders in the area designated as the ETRZ. He said the county has 30 days to pick a spot for the ETRZ.
“We have to have at least one road project within the zone,” Whitmire explained. He said most of the property currently being considered for the zone is in Commissioner Bart Lawrence’s precinct, though some part of it is is also in Commissioner Phyllis James’ precinct. He said those commissioners will work to with the rest of the Court to pick a road to be repaired.
Not all of the money must be spent on that one project though, Whitmire noted. Left over money could be used on any road in the county. Whitmire said, the Texas Department of Transportation, “in managing this, has indicated that we should present a project list for more than the allocated amount because they anticipate there will be counties that do not pursue the funding because of this process, and so we may get more than the $439,000. … We don’t know.”
In addition to holding the public meeting, the Court also approved a road bore on Bennett Lane in Precinct 4 and approved additional work to be done on preserving vital records held in the Grayson County Clerk’s Office. Commissioner also approved a request to renew the county’s property and casualty insurance. Tuesday’s meeting was the last meeting the Court will hold in 2013.