STAFF WRITER JARED FIELDS
The difficulty of conducting city business during an ongoing legal battle loomed over Double Horn City Council members during their regular meeting June 13.
According to the city of Double Horn treasurer’s report, legal bills currently total $18,448.
Incorporated in December, and only having elected officials since February, the newly formed city has no sales or property tax revenues and has relied, thus far, on donations.
To date, those donations total just $17,694 with more than $4,000 as in-kind contributions.
Until the city receives revenues, planning for regular business such as elections and municipal facilities has challenged city leaders.
After a 424th District Court decision in April ruled in favor of the new city, the state of Texas filed an appeal with the 3rd Court of Appeals. The state’s appellate brief was filed June 7, and now the city’s brief is due June 27. The city anticipates another $18,000 in legal fees during the appeal phase of the lawsuit.
Legal fees have led some residents to form Double Horn Volunteers. The group set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for the city’s legal fund. As of June 14, $820 of the stated $32,000 goal had been raised.
The state’s original lawsuit, and the basis of its appeal, is that Double Horn subdivision residents incorporated illegally as a city.
In the state’s summary of the argument, the appeal claims Double Horn is not a village, town, or city.
“Double Horn is a subdivision of homes that pursued municipal incorporation for the purpose of regulating an adjacent landowner,” the state wrote in its appellate brief.
The “adjacent landowner” is Spicewood Crushed Stone, a rock quarry operation to the east of Double Horn.
Double Horn residents requested information from the Office of the Attorney General to know who brought the complaint against the city’s incorporation to the state.
In response, the state claimed the information is “excepted from disclosure” due to pending litigation.
This led City Council member Glenn Leisey to address a Spicewood Crushed Stone representative in attendance at the June 13 meeting.
“It appears your firm is the one that instigated this. We’d like for you to talk with them to stop,” Leisey said. “It’s hard to work with people who have done this.”
The representative did not identify himself and only replied he was in attendance to listen to the council’s concerns and report back to the company.
The city’s legal team will respond with its brief to the court by June 27. The state has requested oral arguments in the case, and any future date is yet to be determined.