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Commissioners support Mansfield proposal

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Diana Buckley
Ellis County Communications
WAXAHACHIE - Representatives from the City of Mansfield approached the Ellis County Commissioners' Court during a regular meeting on Monday, Nov. 27 to discuss a proposed Tax Increment Finance Reinvestment Zone designed to spur quality development.

'We have named this area The Reserve at Mansfield,' said Felix Wong, Director of Planning for the City of Mansfield.

'It is a city within a city.'

Wong said the city has been working on plans for the area for some two years.

'We have put two years effort into it, using our existing land use plan, looking at future land uses, economic development strategies and design standards to get where we are tonight,' he said.

'It's been a long road, but we've got a little way to go before we can get home.'

Wong said a recent survey of residents who have moved to Mansfield within the last 5-10 years indicates most were commuting as much as an hour each way.

'They are college educated, high income,' he said.

'They spend (so much time) commuting that they have very little free time except on weekends. So the best way to increase revenue and to improve the quality of life is to provide a meaningful place of employment - jobs that match their skills, education level, and salary requirements.'

According to Wong, one hospital is scheduled to open in the area defined for the TIF in the next few weeks and two other hospitals have already purchased property.

'We feel we have an excellent opportunity to create a medical district,' he concluded.

'We need good, strong architectural and design standards, and we need infrastructure.'

The TIF would fund approximately $147 million in public infrastructure improvements, including roadways, sanitary sewer, water, drainage, underground electric service, parks, gateways and bridge enhancements, a fire station, a recreation center, a library and a mass transit facility.

Only about 120 acres of the proposed TIF zone lies in Ellis County, so Ellis County's contribution to the financing plan will be the smallest at approximately $11.9 million. The funds are garnered through a contribution of 30% of the county's real property tax rate over a 25-year period.

'This won't affect the tax income that the County is getting now,' said Larry Cline, a financial expert with Schrader and Cline, LLC.

'You will continue to receive that tax on existing value.

'This takes into consideration only real property taxes and only on the increase in value above the base, so it is not affecting what you are getting today.'

City officials are scheduled to speak to Commissioners' Court in Johnson County and Tarrant County early in December.

The resignation of Ellis County Constable Perry Curry, effective Dec. 8, 2006, was formally accepted by the court during the meeting.

'Constable Curry is well-known and well-respected and has done a lot for that office,' said County Judge Chad Adams.

'We wish him the best in the future. It is my understanding that he accepted a job in Tarrant County.'

Adams told commissioners the next step would be to make plans to appoint another constable to fulfill Curry's unexpired term.

In other business, commissioners:

• Authorized Captain John Knight of the Ellis County Sheriff's Office to negotiate prices for the radio maintenance contract for all of the County-owned repeaters, satellite receivers, consoles, control stations, etc, with the Qualified Information Systems Vendors list provided by the State;

• Adopted an order to abandon a former county right of way near Andrews Road;

• Raised the mileage reimbursement rate from $.44/mile to match the IRS reimbursement rate of $.48 ½ /mile, effective January 1, 2007;

• Accepted a proposal and entered into a contract with Strategic Perception Films to use the Ellis County Courthouse and/or the 1929 Jail to film a commercial on December 9 and 10 at a compensation rate of $600/day.

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