Marble Falls developers propose public improvement district

CONNIE SWINNEY • PICAYUNE STAFF

MARBLE FALLS — Officials with two large developments in the southern end of the city have approached the Marble Falls City Council with a public improvement district (PID) proposal to try to jumpstart their projects.

A PID is a funding mechanism that allows developers to seek bond investments at a lower rate to help pay for roads, water and wastewater infrastructure as well as other public amenities in the development and to set up a system to re-coup costs in the form of fees from property owners in that development.

Flatrock Springs, in the northwest corner of the Texas 71 and U.S. 281 intersection, is comprised of a 1,000-acre proposed residential development.

Gregg Ranch, several hundred acres in the southwest corner of the intersection, is in the process of voluntary annexation by the city of Marble Falls.

Representatives with those developments approached the city April 7 to introduce council members to the PID concept and potentially seek approval for the creation of one in which the council would oversee.

“Use of a public improvement district allows a city to facilitate the construction of public improvement as part of a development project without any cost or risk to the city,” said Rick Rosenberg, managing principle for Development Planning and Financing Group Inc. “It allows the developer to more efficiently finance their development, which, in turn, allows for the project to move forward quicker and more successfully.”

The district would operate utilizing bonds to fund infrastructure and then collect fees from property owners.

“The use of PID allows us to finance those (bonds) through a lower cost of debt than would be available in the private market,” Rosenberg added. “The city agrees to levy an assessment on the property. It’s similar to an additional property tax except that it’s a fixed number as opposed to a number that varies with the value of the property.”

A city would need to consider the potential for care of public amenities planned by the developer.

“There’s a balancing act as far as obligations, of what public facilities we would take over, as the development is built,” said Development Services Director Caleb Kraenzel. “As the development comes on-line, you require new public facilities, whether they are water and sewer lines, park and streets. In the instance of it being a public park, the city would take over the maintenance of any public facilities that are dedicated to the city. You also get the ad valerom development of homes. You get utility customers connected. You get revenue gains also.”

To consider the financing tool and review details of the developments’ master plans, the developers are expected to present the request in more detail at an upcoming meeting.

LaVentana, located just south of the Lake Marble Falls bridge, is the sole PID within the city limits.

Various developments that utilize PIDs coordinated by the DPFG group include three in Austin and others in Galveston, Lago Vista, Leander and Waxahachie.

“If the project is able to move forward quicker, then the tax base that is generated will occur quicker and the city will generate more tax revenue from the project,” Rosenberg said.

connie@thepicayune.com

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