MIDLOTHIAN – With one council member, Hud Hartson, not in attendance, the city council heard public comments from two residents. The first citizen asked questions about the upcoming MUD development in Ellis County at FM 663 and FM 875. The community now known by locals as Hi View Ranch will be called Heirloom. It will be on 3,300 acres valued at $22.3 million. The development sits on 800 acres belonging to the city of Midlothian and the extraterritorial jurisdictions of Midlothian and Waxahachie.
The resident was directed to speak with a city employee who could answer his questions. Still, he commented, “We moved here for a rural life, we have eight acres that are now surrounded on two sides by multiple houses, and we are driving Midlothian away from its rural nature.”
A second resident, Lisa Healy, spoke about the city’s budget, citing information from this past Friday’s budget meeting. It was noted that the budget increase for compensating the city council, which was cited as a 200% increase, seemed “huge.” She stated council members knew what was involved when they ran for their seats.
She added, “In this economic environment, to make the taxpayers cover this increase is shameful, and I am so disappointed you don’t see an issue with it. And proposing a tax rate that is the same as last year with an increase in revenue you are receiving regardless of us receiving the homestead, there should be additional tax relief to the taxpayers.”
Midlothian City Council August 8, 2023 Agenda Items Recap
All consent agenda items passed except for one item pulled for separate discussion.
The item was a resolution amending the Bylaws for the Midlothian Community Development Corporation (2023-304) per the recommendation of the MCDC Board of Directors. It was explained that the Midlothian Community Development Corporation believed it was time to redo its bylaws and noted they also now have an employee as well.
The bylaws were written when the city population was under 20,000. Councilmember Place 5 Ed Gardner had an issue with one redlined item to release council oversight from the amount spent of $10,000 to $50,000. He said he was concerned due to “turbulence on the board.” Gardner made a motion to raise the amount to $20,000, and that item passed with the appropriate change noted unanimously.
The Public Hearing to pass an ordinance to amending the zoning of a planned development allowing for a daycare and community retail type use located on FM 663, south of Brandi Ridge Drive, was denied unanimously. The request was for the Children’s Lighthouse Early Learning School proposed to be constructed on 1.29 acres consisting of an 11,237 square foot building, including an outdoor play area for children ages two to 12 years old and operating Monday to Friday.
Place 2 council member Mike Rodgers reminded the applicant council had initially been assured there would only be low-impact offices in this location. Rodgers said, “This is a peak-use business at the time of school entry and exit. It is not a good idea at this location.”
Regular agenda items passed, including a resolution authorizing an expenditure in the amount of $1,275,000 by the Midlothian Community Development Corporation for the purchase of property located at 450 Mt. Zion Road. That item passed 5 – 1, with Gardner voting no.
A resolution approving a request for a waiver in the “Utilities” Code of Ordinances passed; Midlothian Mayor Justin Coffman recused himself on this item, which passed 5 – 0. It was a special exception to be made to connect to the sanity sewer system to allow for an alternative paving standard, same as that of the standard for the access roads as approved in a Specific Use Permit on land for the O&M building site.
Gardner was the lone no in a 5 – 1 vote for a bid award to Circle H Contractors, L.P. for the Mt. Zion Road Realignment Roadway Improvement Project at the S. 14th Street intersection in the amount of $2,070,899, plus contingency in the amount of $50,000.
An item to provide for a $70,000 residential homestead exemption for all disabled persons on their ad valorem taxes levied in 2023 passed unanimously. It was pointed out this is different than a Disabled Veterans Disability, and this particular exemption will affect 229 residents who fall into this category for a total of $104,195 in tax revenue decrease to the city.
A record vote was taken and passed 4 – 2, with Gardner and City Council Place 1 Allen Moorman voting against the establishment of a maximum ad valorem tax rate of $0.650000 with a public hearing for the proposed ad valorem tax rate set for September 5.
It was another unanimous vote, with Moorman recusing himself regarding the creation and appointment of members to an ad hoc committee to review the Midlothian Basketball League. Coffman said he was putting together this task force to make recommendations for the Midlothian Basketball League to provide a path forward for the City of Midlothian’s involvement in supporting the sustainability and longevity of that league, specifically regarding facility needs to grant requests.
Mayor Coffman put forth names for the ad hoc committee, including three council members asking Gardner to chair, Councilmember Place 3, Anna Hammonds to vice chair, and Rodgers to be on the committee. also adding three 4B members to the committee and two non-voting members.
While the item passed, several council members determined this committee could also have a conversation regarding all the leagues using city facilities using taxpayer support in the future.
An Interlocal Agreement also passed unanimously between the Midlothian Independent School District and the City of Midlothian for the assignment of one police commander, one police sergeant, and up to 16 police officers to MISD for the 2023-24 school year.
Midlothian City Council will hold a budget workshop at City Hall on Friday, August 11, 2023, at 8:30 am.