By AMANDA KIMBLE
ERATH COUNTY (May 4, 2017) – A question related to residency requirements for appointed officials was discussed by Stephenville City Council on Tuesday. Specifically, city officials discussed the city’s representative on the Erath County Appraisal District (ECAD) board of directors.
The city has a single representative on the ECAD board, and according to City Administrator Allen Barnes, Andrew Hansen, Jr., currently holds the position.
Hansen, who has managing interests with Trafalgar Homes, is one of five appraisal district board members, according to Erath County Tax Assessor/Collector Jennifer Carey, a fellow board member representing the county.
The ECAD board also includes Dannah Procter, representing small school districts and special districts like Middle Trinity Groundwater Conservation District and Hico EMS; Mac McKinnon, who represents the city of Dublin and Dublin ISD; and Ken Stokes, representing Stephenville ISD.
Albeit a brief conversation, Tuesday’s council discussion focused on the potential adoption of residency requirements. The council ultimately made no decision on the issue, voting to forward it to the nominations committee for further discussion.
Barnes said questions about residency requirements arose when an elected official was asked about Hansen’s current residence and why he was still acting on behalf of city property owners.
“While Mr. Hansen owns property in the Stephenville, he no longer resides here,” Barnes said, adding Hansen lives in Morgan Mill.
Trafalgar Homes has several million dollars in property across the county. The corporation developed the Elk Ridge Estates, Alexander Ridge and River Hills Ranch subdivisions, and Trafalgar Rentals has a number of multi-family housing units in Stephenville, including The Summit, Graham Street Townhomes, Riverside Townhomes, Creekside Townhomes and Elm Street Townhomes, as well as several single-family dwellings.
While at least a few city residents are purportedly concerned about ECAD representatives’ residency, Carey said Hansen is not the only ECAD board member who doesn’t reside within the taxing jurisdiction they represent. Stokes resides in Morgan Mill and also serve on the school board there.
The city of Stephenville was previously represented on the ECAD board by local real estate professional and resident Bill Bailey. Stephenville ISD was previously served by Les Gandy and Neal Guthrie, who resided within the school district.
The other three current ECAD board members reside in the jurisdictions which they represent, and all of the board member lives within the bounds of the appraisal district as required by state law.
Meanwhile, Barnes explained law doesn’t require ECAD board members to reside within the jurisdictions they represent, but the council could vote to adopt a resolution making city residency a requirement.
“It is up to the city council to decide if the city’s representative needs to be a resident,” Barnes said.
Following a question by council member Alan Nix, Barnes said he reviewed legal requirements, but hadn’t inquired with other cities about their practices.
It’s expected that following review and recommendation of the council’s nominations committee, the full city council will again consider ECAD representative residency requirements at it July meeting.