By AMANDA KIMBLE
STEPHENVILLE (October 31, 2016) – The location of Lone Star Arena, outside Stephenville’s extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ), halted recent discussions about a recent request for funding assistance. But, city officials and area business leaders aren’t ready to turn their backs on the facility.
“Our community needs a rodeo events center, and it’s critical for us to find a way for that to happen,” Weldon said. “I can’t speak highly enough of the cooperation and combined effort of the city, SEDA (Stephenville Economic Development Authority), STEDCO (Stephenville Economic Development Corporation) and Chamber of Commerce to seek solutions. It’s encouraging to see everyone come together and work toward solution. We don’t know at this time what the solution is, but we won’t stop until find something to help our community.”
Discussions about the fate of the arena are expected to continue in executive session at the monthly meeting of the Stephenville City Council on Tuesday. The meeting begins at 5:30 p.m.
John Hubbard, SEDA executive director, recently released a statement from the authority’s board of directors. It said due to location of the facility, just outside of the ETJ, the authority cannot provide funding assistance as requested by prospective buyer Cody Johnson. The statement also the board remains focused on the importance of the arena and the industry it serves.
“The importance of rodeo to Stephenville’s heritage, culture and financial vitality is undeniable and the conversation will be ongoing about how to best provide facilities that protect and grow our stature as the Cowboy Capital of the World,” the statement said.
SEDA was asked to consider supporting a loan of up to $1.2 million to assist with facility infrastructure improvements at Lone Star Arena. Its location halted that discussion, but officials agree the impact of the facility, which serves as rodeo, events and convention center for Stephenville, is big.
“The impact to Stephenville is significant,” Hubbard said. “It is estimated the recent four-day Cowboy Capital of the World Rodeo event contributed over $2.5 million in economic impact to Stephenville, including spending on items such as food, hotel rooms, souvenirs, clothing, jewelry, saddles, tack, and other items from local merchants. Additionally, it is estimated that local sales taxes and hotel occupancy taxes collected during the event was $50,791 for the City of Stephenville and $14,613 for Erath County.”
While options related to the privately own business will be discussed, the council will also consider public works related issues with an impact of their own.
The council will consider an ordinance authorizing the issuance and sale of the combination tax and revenue certificates of obligation in the amount of $2.04 million for improvements to the city’s sanitary sewer system.
“We are going to take out a loan to pay for the project,” Weldon said, referencing a low-interest loan available under the current rate structure that will allow the city to pay back the over a period of time while preserving equity.
Weldon said ongoing growth and construction at Tarleton State University, coupled with aging infrastructure – crumbling clay sewer pipes – has made the infrastructure improvements necessary.
Meanwhile, other items expected to be discussed in executive session include the deputy city administrator position for which the council recently approved the job description. The council is expected approve the appointment of an existing departmental director – most likely Jeremy Allen – to function in the dual role, maintaining current duties and also serving as assistant city administrator.
The council is also expected to have attorney consultations related to pending or contemplated litigation in two cases – Hunewell and the Upper Leon River Municipal Water District.
In other items of business, the council will:
- Hear the delinquent tax collection report and consider additional penalties for certain past due taxpayers
- Consider approval of a preliminary plat for a little less than 10 acres located in the 100 to 700 blocks of Forest Lane and 2800 block of Northwest Loop
- Hear reports from Hubbard and Finance Director Walker Wood
- Consider issues related to a recent meeting of the council’s Public Health and Safety Committee, including amending the parking ordinance, expenditure of forfeiture funds, a grant match for the purchase of body cameras, equipment for multi-agency response team, the municipal court technology fund, an interlocal agreement between the city and Tarleton for parking enforcement and the firefighter equipment program
For more information, visit the city website, where you will find the meeting agenda and an associated packet of details.