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Annexed land spurs infrastructure problems for Kilgore

By Glenn Evans
Aug. 7, 2012 at 11 p.m.

A fourth annexation in less than 18 months was too much for two Kilgore city councilmen who want to stretch the city limit but worry about writing infrastructure checks their budget can't cash.

The council annexed 301 acres along Stone Road in June 2011. Another 261 acres in the historical Fredonia Community on Kilgore's northeastern edge was added in December.

Land at the old drive-in on the city's southern tip, where Kilgore ISD is building new middle and intermediate campuses, was added through negotiations with the family who owned it.

All were on unanimous votes, even though the Fredonia and Stone Road annexations came over objections of petition-wielding landowners.

But on July 24, two councilmen voted against a fourth annexation of 1,003 acres along Interstate 20, citing the potential financial burden of getting water, wastewater and other infrastructure to the area.

Mayor Pro Tem Harvey McClendon and Councilman Bobby Hale said that night before the council approved the annexation that they were all for it - later.

"I feel like we've got all these projects lined up," Hale said Tuesday. "And I wanted to make sure we have the funding for all these projects."

McClendon, who was not available for comment Tuesday, said the same after the July vote. Like Hale, he stressed his support for the annexation itself, but not its timing while juggling infrastructure promises elsewhere.

The Kilgore City Council, like other city commissions, is writing its budget for fiscal 2012-13. City Manager Scott Sellers and his staff also are making use of a residents' survey and a 20/20 Vision Committee to coordinate this with future budgets.

A master plan for the water system was drawn up in 2010, and needs of the newly acquired land will be dovetailed into that, Sellers and Mayor Ronnie Spradlin said. Sellers also said a master plan is being drawn up for the sewer system.

"We project we will be able to fund the existing services to those areas within the next five to eight years," Sellers said, after hearing the history of Spring Hill, which went years without infrastructure that was promised when Longview annexed that community.

"We will avoid that (delay) through a Capital Improvements Plan. And the Capital Improvement Plan takes on infrastructure requirements in the city as identified in the water master plan and the wastewater master plan."

Joe Merkley, who spoke against the I-20 annexation at a July 10 public hearing, remained skeptical Tuesday.

"I don't see how they are going to so what they say they're going to do," said Merkley, who lives on a 10-acre tract on Post Oak Road.

"They are not going to give us any more protection from the fire department, because we're going to keep the Liberty City Fire Department which does not have fire hydrants. So (Kilgore) is still going to have to truck water in."

Lines serving the local water supply corporation are too small to provide adequate pressure for fire hydrants, so those are not a city option.

"When are we going to get sewer lines out here?" he asked.

Merkley lives south of I-20, but the new city limits stretches well north of the interstate.

"They are going to have to cross I-20, and that's going to be 'one cheap little deal.' " he said. "Kilgore has already done some annexations. I don't understand why they are so gung-ho about annexing this area."

Sellers said the city has been approached by commercial, nonresidential developers regarding the new area.

"If we find that an opportunity arises between now and when we (write a) plan, we'll take the opportunity," he said. "Maybe there will be an economic development prospect that will be willing to pay for the extension."



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