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Oaks Fellowship wants Red Oak to pay for sewer

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JOEY DAUBEN
The Ellis County Press

RED OAK - Rev. Tom Wilson has had a change of plans.

Wilson, pastor at the now-Oak Cliff-based Oaks Fellowship, came before the city last year promising a free public school and athletic fields to local kids, fine restaurants and development around his new church, currently going up near Highway 77 at Interstate Highway 35, and an intent to not have city taxpayers pay for a water-sewer connection.

'Pro-rata reimbursement to the Oaks Fellowship would be acceptable,' Wilson said at the Red Oak City Council meeting Monday, May 12. 'The representatives have said the pro-rata [reimbursement] to the Oaks Fellowship would be a possibility.'

The church is nearly completed, and needs infrastructure to finish, Wilson said.

'The church built it backwards, and now they're pleading,' said Councilman Danny Douthit. 'I was very adamant to not use taxpayer's money for infrastructure at the church. I knew they wouldn't [pay for sewer].'

Wilson said before the church and on-site 'Life School' opens, a sewer connection must

be built before July 1; the school, according to Wilson, would be free to students in the Red Oak Independent School District.

'Basically, what I've heard is the church realizes a sewer connection must be made and they're willing to pay for that connection,' said Red Oak City Councilman Rick Ausmus.

Ausmus said the city needed a pro-rata contract before the church could be reimbursed.

'All along, we have been discussing that we would do a pro-rata collection of the amount of the cost, so that means we would be paying for the sewer; if you decline to pay the $58,000 then we would pay for it [sewer] and do a pro-rata as we have talked about for months,' Wilson said.

Councilwoman Kay Wiggs asked who Wilson was referring to as the 'city.' He replied discussions with Mayor Todd Little, City Manager Ken Pfeifer and Economic Development Coordinator Todd Fuller took place.

'Mayor Little has been involved in that, also,' Wilson said. 'We have talked about this for months.'

Initially, Wilson and a team of consultants, engineers and church staff presented a plan where the Oaks Fellowship would build an on-site septic system using an eight-inch sewer line while the connection to the city's sewer and water stations was being completed.

A $100,000 escrow account set up by Wilson would not go far, according to Little.

'We thought you'd have [sewer connections] when you opened up for business,' he said. '$100,000 won't go far for a project that costs $365,000 or more.'

The city council voted unanimously to deny Wilson's request for the eight-inch sewer line, so now it's a race to beat the clock to get infrastructure connections, or face having to stop the construction altogether.

'I think you will remember that I said we would prefer participation in cash to finish this project,' Wilson said. 'So we can [build] it. I'm not saying we can't, because we will have to arrange other resources, but the time crunch is really due to the opening of the school.'


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