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Saturday, July 13, 2024 at 4:20 AM

HIPPO BITES

Little bits of big news

City fights gas rate increase

HUTTO — City council signed off on a resolution that suspends a proposed rate increase by Texas Gas Service Company. The utility provider filed a statement of intent to increase its revenues by $25.8 million, an increase of 9.83% including gas costs.

“The resolution suspends the July 8, 2024 effective date of the company’s rate increase for the maximum period permitted by law [90 days] to allow the city, working in conjunction with other similarly situated cities with original jurisdiction served by TGS, to evaluate the filing, to determine whether the filing complies with the law, and if lawful, to determine what further strategy, including settlement, to pursue,” according to city documents.

Hutto has joined with a coalition of cities and hired Lloyd Gosselink Rochelle & Townsend, P.C. to represent them in arguing against TGS’s application to increase its rates. If successful, the resolution also requires the company to reimburse the cities for reasonable legal expenses.

City forgives EDC debt

City Council and the Hutto Economic Development Corp. held a special joint meeting June 20 to discuss expenses the EDC owes the city in relation to land acquisition and agree upon a repayment priority and schedule.

On its side of the ledger, EDC owes $15 million plus an additional $1.7 million in interest on an Alliance Bank loan associated

with Cottonwood Property acquisition.

City expenses acquired on behalf of EDC development projects totaled almost $40.7 million, with Spine Road-associated costs being the largest portion of it.

After almost an hour of discussion, Mayor Mike Snyder suggested the city not require EDC to repay existing debts, allowing it to start fresh with nothing owed to the city.

“In my opinion the EDC and the city have the same goals as far as economic development for the city of Hutto,” Snyder said.

The group agreed, with the added details of requiring quarterly meetings between EDC and City Council, and EDC working with the developer of Cottonwood Properties to provide land for some municipal purposes such as a water tower, police station and/or library building.

“I want to be fair to the city because this is a give and take relationship. And, so I don’t want to gouge the city because we help the city out and the city helps us out,” said Don Carlson in regard to the city’s request for municipal land usage.

“Why worry about who owes who what, let’s just move forward as a team,” said Mayor Pro Tem Peter Gordon. “I think if we’re going to truly work together we need to show a common front to the citizens and we need to show we are going to work together if we have disagreements.”

City departments score awards The Hutto Police Department and the finance department have recently been recognized for their commitment to excellence.

Hutto PD earned its accreditation from the Texas Police Chiefs Association, a recognition of adherence to the highest standards in the industry.

“The Law Enforcement Accreditation Program is a voluntary initiative that allows police agencies in Texas to demonstrate their compliance with 170 Texas Law Enforcement Best Practices. These Best Practices were meticulously developed by Texas law enforcement professionals to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of service delivery, reduce risk, and protect individual rights,” according to a statement from the city.

'It is clear that the standards and expectations set by TPCA are such that once achieved, there is a newfound level of department pride because the standard of TPCA accreditation was earned and not given,” said Police Chief Jeffrey Yarbrough.

Meanwhile, the Government Finance Officers Association gave Hutto the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award for the fiscal year 20232024 budget.

“The award... reflects the commitment of the governing body and staff to meeting the highest principles of governmental budgeting,” said a city press release. “In order to receive the budget award, the (city) has to satisfy nationally recognized guidelines for effective budget presentation.”


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