KEENE — Discussions of sewer line expansion to annexed areas filled the bulk of Thursday’s Keene City Council meeting.

The city annexed the area encompassing the Vonhof Addition, on the north side of town, last fall and the Lockey Creek area, which includes Fun Time RV and skirts U.S. 67, about two years ago. State law requires cities to provide services to annexed areas within a reasonable time.

Cost estimates for both projects originally totaled about $550,000 each. But City Administrator James Minor and City Engineer Mark Owens told council members that the Vonhof project, which will start after the Lockey Creek project, should cost less, however.

Minor said the project, which will lay a feeder line to the subdivision and a line back out to the main lift station, should instead cost about $220,000 without the cost of city crews and equipment figured in. Although Minor did not have final figures on those costs, he said they should be below the original $550,000 estimate.

Council members voted to move ahead on both projects. The city will acquire a revolving credit loan so it can borrow as needed to fund both projects. Minor said ad valorem taxes from the annexed areas will cover funding for a bond package to repay the loan.

He said survey workers are wrapping up work on the Lockey Creek project and Owens will advertise for bids on a lift station, which pumps water or wastewater from a low to a high elevation area, soon after.

Council members consider the Lockey Creek area a prime location for commercial expansion, which could lead to additional future property-tax revenue for the city.

Council members agreed on the necessity of both projects but expressed concerns over the rate of interest First State Bank Texas in Keene agreed to charge on the loans and the fact that a portion the Fun Time RV property crosses into Cleburne city limits.

“That’s a lot of money to spend running line out there in hopes of collecting sales and ad valorem taxes to recoup our costs, and then they could simply move their office to the Cleburne side,” Mayor Gary Heinrich said.

Councilman David Patterson asked what steps the process required to ensure that doesn’t happen and inquired about possible annexation of the affected portions of Fun Time RV’s land.

“That’s really between Cleburne and Keene — not [Fun Time RV’s] choice,” City Attorney Rita Papajohn said. “And Cleburne may not want to relinquish that land.”

Council members asked Minor to investigate both matters.

Council members also voted to deny Atmos Energy Corp.’s request to increase gas utility rates and authorized the Atmos Cities Steering Committee — a group of attorneys representing cities in dealing with Atmos — to intervene in any proceedings before administrative or judicial bodies.

The council’s vote also called for a reduction of gas utility rates and reimbursement of any legal costs incurred.

Heinrich opened the meeting by proclaiming June 18-24 as Johnson County Master Gardener Association Week in Keene.



Matt Smith can be reached at 817-645-2441,

ext. 2339, or msmith@trcle.com.

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