North Texas Daily

City Council votes to request legislation from Texas Legislature for special taxing districts

City Council votes to request legislation from Texas Legislature for special taxing districts

City Council votes to request legislation from Texas Legislature for special taxing districts
February 28
00:50 2019

In a special meeting held last week, the Denton City Council agreed to request legislation from the Texas State Legislature in a split 4-3 vote, which would authorize the creation of special taxing districts to help cover the cost of the infrastructure for two large residential and commercial developments.

The legislation was proposed by two private developers who plan on building a large residential and commercial development on the southwest side of Denton. 

According to the Denton Record Chronicle, the two projects, Cole Ranch and Hunter Ranch, cover 6,000 acres along Interstate 35W. The planned communities would create about 15,000 new homes as well as many commercial buildings.

Council members Gerard Hudspeth, John Ryan and Don Duff, as well as Denton Mayor Chris Watts, voted “yes” to endorse the proposal, but did not return comment to the Daily by publication date.

Council member John Ryan voted to endorse the bill to allow negotiations to continue.

“We need to see the numbers, but without this [authorizing legislation], we can’t move forward,” Ryan told the Record Chronicle.

Deb Armintor, Paul Meltzer and Keely Briggs were the council members to vote “nay” on the proposal.

Armintor, At Large Place 6 city councilwoman and UNT professor, was an outspoken opponent of the bill because she believes it would give the developers too much power.

I voted against it because I think only actual governments should have the power to tax people,” Armintor said. “That’s the biggest, number one reason. I think it should be illegal. In addition to that, I think it is incredibly fiscally irresponsible to request this legislation.”

Armintor said she worries the developers will “cash in their chips and go” once they get their desired profits, leaving future city taxpayers to foot the bill.

“I refused to grant them the power to tax,” Armintor said. “It’s the taxpayers citywide who will be paying for the upkeep once they collect their profits and leave. They have no incentive to build for the long term.”

Mathematics freshman Chad Yeager said he sees the possible benefits of the new housing projects, but he does not believe the special taxing district should be authorized.

“I think it could cause problems for future Denton taxpayers,” Yeager said. “I don’t think anybody but the government should be able to make people pay taxes.”

If the Texas Legislature decides to authorize the creation of the special taxing districts, the legislation will be sent back to the Denton City Council so they can then negotiate the terms and vote again.

The legislation may not be returned to city council before the May 4 elections, which could change who is on the Denton City Council and who would be a part of the final decision in regards to the special taxing district.  

Featured Image: Pilot Knob Hill, the highest point in Denton, is part of Hunter Ranch. Developers of Hunter Ranch and Cole Ranch, which is immediately to the north, are scheduled to go before the Denton City Council on Tuesday to ask for the city’s support in creating a special taxing district for the area. The master-planned communities would cover 6,000 acres on the city’s west side. Courtesy DRC//Jake King.

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Kiara St. Clair

Kiara St. Clair

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