Georgetown City Council postpones creation of transportation zone

City Council voted Oct. 28 to postponeapproval of aninterlocal cooperation agreement for the Lone Star Rail District's proposed passenger rail system and thecreation of a transportation infrastructure zone, or TIZ.

City Council cited a need for the Georgetown Transportation and General Government and Finance advisory boards tomeet to discuss the proposal.

The TIZ could help fund a portion of the maintenance and operation costs of a rail system that would stretch from Georgetown to San Antonio.

My view is, I like it, Councilman Steve Fought said referring to the agreements and how they are structured.

Fought motioned for the postponement in order to get the opinions of the advisory board members.

We can all be on the railroad together to make a decision, he said.

Georgetown Transportation Services Director Ed Polasek said within the TIZ, the city would collect incremental growth in property taxes above 2014 property valuations to help fund transportation infrastructure and rail operating costs.

If approved50 percent of property tax revenue increases in the TIZ would be placed in an escrowed, city-controlled fund that would only be paid to the rail district if specific obligations were met. The city would also paya halfcent of the city'ssales tax generated within the TIZinto the fund.

In order to receive the funding, the rail district mustcompletelocal funding agreements with the cities of Austin and San Marcos as well as Travis and Hays counties by May 2017 and have an agreement and a completed financial plan to pay for construction of Union Pacifics relocated freight line by January 2021.

Failure to meet those measures would release the funds from escrow and would dissolve the TIZ, said Chris Foster, the citys manger of resource planning and integration.

According to the proposed agreement, the remaining 50 percent ofincreased property tax revenue not placed into the escrowed fundwill be used to fund local projects, such as internal roadways and maintenance of the station. The city would also be required to pay$49,500 in annual membership dues to LSRD.

Polasek said if approved the agreement would guarantee a station in Georgetown and a seat on the LSRD board of directors.

Several residents spoke at the meeting against the agreement and the creation of the TIZ.

I would like to point out that youve had the prospect of a rail station on the property for several years now, and its been kind of a kiss of death for people who are interested in doing deals on the property, said William Snead, president of Texas Crushed Stone.

City Council could consider theagreement and TIZ creation at its Nov. 11 meeting.