In a recent article by local blogger Denise Bell titled “Forney Residents Set Up to Pay for High Point Water Infrastructure”, Rick Wilson is quoted as saying,
“There is $1.5 million dollars for water infrastructure that’s been diverted to High Point Water district. So you are paying $1.5 million dollars, if we reimburse that money for High Point which is outside the city limits.”
Wilson is referring to expenses that are part of the TIRZ (tax increment reinvestment zone, see note below) audit that Petro-Hunt, LLC (developers of the Gateway area) had submitted as part of their agreement with the City of Forney.
Per the agreement, Petro-Hunt will submit invoices to the City for their review. Once the City has reviewed them, representatives of Petro-Hunt and representatives from the City of Forney will “sit down” and discuss them and make adjustments agreeable to both parties. Also, Petro-Hunt was instructed by former city manager Brain Brooks to include all invoices that “could” be reimbursable items. And if any of those items were deemed to be “not reimbursable” items then they would be removed.
I recently became aware of an email that Petro-Hunt representative Alan Bain sent to Forney city manager James Fisher. I received a copy of the email via a Public Information Request.
In the email Mr. Bain confirms their understanding of the TIRZ agreement, and any invoices they have sent are simply part of the “first step” of the reimbursement process. Mr. Bain continues that a TIRZ reimbursable item is somewhat vague and like any other agreement can be interpreted differently by various readers. That is why this has always been a multistep process. Mr. Bain also writes that the process requires communication, analysis and most importantly cooperation. He furthers writes that Petro-Hunt wants to get reimbursed what they are due per the agreement, “not a penny more or less“. (emphasis added)
Having become aware of Rick Wilson’s statement Mr. Bain writes,
“It has been indicated to us there are City officials making accusations that we are trying to do something wrong – that we are trying to get TIRZ reimbursements that we do not deserve and trying to send TIRZ money to one of the water companies wrongfully.”
“I realize you cannot control these unfair accusations but I would ask that you please get your review completed so we can sit down and go over these invoices and make a final determination on which ones are to be reimbursed. I hope once this is done and the City agrees on the amount to be reimbursed these rumors and accusations will stop and we can all move ahead. We do not want to get involved in politics or mudslinging, we just want to continue to do fair business in Forney and hopefully make it a better place to live.”
The documents that are awaiting review have been sitting on James Fishers desk for quite some time. This delay of the city manager and some members of the Forney City council to review them and get back with the developer is holding up progress on the Gateway development.
This negative rhetoric must stop and our city officials including the city manager, mayor, and council members must come together to make commercial developers feel welcome in our community. Until this happens, commercial growth will continue to be non existent in FORNEY and developers will look elsewhere to do business.
Note – Tax Increment Reinvestment Zones (TIRZs) are special zones created by a municipality or county in Texas to attract new investment in an area. TIRZs help finance costs of redevelopment and encourage development in areas that would otherwise not attract sufficient market development in a timely manner. Taxes attributable to new improvements (tax increments) are set-aside in a fund to finance public improvements within the boundaries of the zone.