Civic-minded residents may need to plan ahead on Election Day now that a public hearing on Denton’s first likely public improvement district — with $65 million in new bonding and taxing authority — has been scheduled that evening.
The City Council scheduled the Nov. 6 hearing during its regular meeting last week.
RED Development, the retail developers of Rayzor Ranch, asked the city earlier this year for the special district to help finance public infrastructure needed on the south side of University Drive, between Interstate 35 and Bonnie Brae Street.
According to city documents, the list of items the special taxing district could help pay for is long and includes such things as grading and drainage work, streets and sidewalks, water and sewer lines, and street lights and traffic signals. The district would also fund work along the freeway frontage road. The developer’s plans for the south side include an open-air shopping mall, a park, apartments and single-family homes on about 200 acres.
Property owners inside the public improvement district would pay an assessment in addition to city, school and county taxes. The assessments would be calculated based on the parcels and tracts and would be used to repay up to $65 million in bonds.
Collecting the assessments would be the city’s responsibility, as the city would have the power to foreclose in order to collect.
Rayzor Ranch encompasses about 410 acres, and its original developer negotiated economic incentives with the city for the project. That agreement provided for the developer and the city to split sales tax collected at Rayzor Ranch, reimbursing the developer up to $62 million for public infrastructure.
With the opening of stores in Rayzor Ranch Marketplace on the north side, about $20 million in reimbursements have begun under the original, sales-tax sharing agreement. Another $42 million remains available under the original agreement for the south side.
The city’s economic development partnership was the first to hear a presentation from the developer on the public improvement district and the $65 million needed. The City Council heard a presentation in August. At that time, council members agreed in principle to the district, provided that the city amends its original, sales-tax sharing agreement so that district-funded projects would not be eligible for reimbursement.
Council member Chris Watts said in an interview Thursday that he followed the August discussion with an e-mail to the city staff to make sure the council’s intent was understood.
“There seemed to be agreement in the room, and I wanted to make sure that was memorialized,” Watts said.
He expects the City Council to amend the original sales-tax sharing agreement at the same time it authorizes the district, which could come as soon as December.
“Then it’s clear 10 years from now, 20 years from now, what the intentions were, and there is less room for interpretation,” Watts said.
Although the agenda has not yet been published, the City Council’s regular meeting is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 6.
PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.