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Another long night ahead: Denton City Council decides fate of gas plants, tax increase, and a new budget

Another long night ahead: Denton City Council decides fate of gas plants, tax increase, and a new budget

Another long night ahead: Denton City Council decides fate of gas plants, tax increase, and a new budget
September 21
08:11 2016

Denton City Council members finished discussion and voted this week on final plans for the proposed gas plants, the $3.42 tax increase, and the new city budget.

The slight tax increase, of $0.68 per $100 of value, is to help provide revenues for payment of current municipal maintenance and operation expenses and for payment of interest and principal on outstanding City of Denton debt, said the meeting agenda.

“I am not in favor of raising taxes,” Denton resident Jodi Ismert said. “Everything is getting more expensive, and we feel it.”

The item passed 6-1, with councilmember Sara Bagheri being the only one to vote against.

A few of the items on the new city budget include a search for a new city manager and a new city auditor.

“The search for both is with earnest,” Councilmember Kathleen Wazny said. “It isn’t taking as long as we thought. It will be an interesting 2016-2017.”

The adoption of the Fiscal Year 2016-2017 Annual Program of Services (the budget) was passed with another 6-1 vote, and Bagheri again to be the only one voting no.

The hotter topic of the evening, regarding the Renewable Denton Plan, caused more reaction from residents and after being postponed multiple times, has come to a conclusion.

At the previous city council meeting, councilmember Keely Briggs asked to postpone the vote towards the new gas plants due to speculations of poor ethics. This week, every person who spoke for the agenda item thanked her.

“There is a slow release of relevant information,” Denton resident Ken Gold said. “This goes immediately to an ethics ordinance. Seek a neutral third party review [of the plan]. This failure of complete disclosure is keeping this behind, and a reasonable person would have doubts. I need every fact to back the Renewable Denton Plan.”

When Denton resident Dan Minshew went up to speak, he read off a letter another resident posted on the “Denton Matters” Facebook page.

“I am here because of what this person said on the group page,” Minshew said. “They [gas plants] generate money, but please be on the side of the citizens.”

Money aside, others are concerned about the effects the plants will have concerning the already F-rated air quality, per the American Lung Association.

Multiple residents mentioned global warming, and how that is something council has yet to put into consideration and have not talked about.

“This is more ideological than money,” Denton resident Marshall Smith said. “Global warming will take us all out. These gas fired generators encourage more gas production.”

In the Renewable Denton Plan, there could be one gas plant with 12 engines in it, which Denton resident Cindy Spoon said she is against.

“This is the worst proposal,” Spoon said. “12 engines on one site is the worst. For air quality, this is the worst one. I am asking council to restore trust in this process.”

Bagheri, who has said in the past she “wouldn’t go near this with a 100 foot pole” and is openly against the gas plants, said she is uncomfortable with the pricing. She, along with Briggs and Mayor Chris Watts, voted against.

The motion to purchase the $11.5 million, 340 acre land for the plant and the 12 engines carried, 4-3.

Featured Image: Sara Bagheri votes against the tax increase and explains her disagreement with the Renewable Denton Plan Tuesday at town hall in Denton. Tomas Gonzalez

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Julia Falcon

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