North Texas Daily

City Council: more money for I-35, new fire station, possible tax freezes

City Council: more money for I-35, new fire station, possible tax freezes

January 19
09:46 2017

James Norman | Staff Writer

The Denton City Council met on Jan. 10 and approved an ordinance between UNT and Denton for funding the expansion of I-35, a new fire station and voted for a tax freeze on elderly and disabled citizens to appear on the ballot later this year.

The ordinance adopted between UNT and the city of Denton is an agreement in which UNT will provide a fixed contribution of $303,914 and Denton will provide $396,372 for “aesthetic upgrades to North Texas Boulevard to include bent cap logos, bridge identification logos, medallion signs, landscaping, decorative sidewalks, crosswalks and lighting.”

Another item on the agenda was the approval of funds for the construction of a new fire station at the corner of Sherman Drive and King’s Row for $4.8 million. Denton mayor Chris Watts was the lone opposing vote.

“We fought about $100,000 at the budget discussions,” Watts said. “And we’re not even wanting to see if we could save $750,000 or half a million or a million doing something different. It’s just ironic to me.”

City council member Kathleen Wazny of District 3, cited a report that shows the money Denton would spend on a fire station is on par with other cities building similar projects. Mayor Watts disagreed with the report, saying he believes there are other ways to save the tax payers’ money on this project.

The most time-consuming issue of the meeting was a petition about whether to provide tax freezes to elderly or disabled citizens. A public hearing was also held on the issue, where several citizens came out to vocalize their opinion on the issue.

A big issue some took with the petition was that it wasn’t needed, and it created a rather large issue only to benefit a small portion of the population. Some commented it would be an unnecessary tax giveaway to those who may not need that tax relief. 

One citizen argued for the petition, saying that Robson Ranch, a retirement community in Denton, was already paying “the lions-share” of the city’s budget, and that several elders were assisting their children and grandchildren with paying off student debt.

Dalton Gregory, city council member at large, said it came down to fairness, saying if taxes for this group of people are frozen, there is no answer for the deficit that would be created.

“I don’t consider [paying taxes] a burden. I consider it a privilege,” Gregory said.

Wazny argued that seniors aren’t asking for a free pass, saying most elders who are retired living with fixed incomes, their taxes continue to go up.

“Budgets are budgets,” Wazny said. “And when you are on a fixed income, a budget is paramount, knowing from month to month, the money going in and the money going out.”

Mayor Watt mentioned that there will be data on this issue on the Denton website for the public, urging citizens to read and interpret the data for themselves, no matter what side they are on.

The board voted unanimously to have the issue on the May 2017 ballot.

Featured image by Hannah Ridings

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North Texas Daily

North Texas Daily

The North Texas Daily is the official student newspaper of the University of North Texas, proudly serving UNT and the Denton community since 1916.

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