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Liberty council holds final hearing on annexation

The Liberty City Council met Tuesday night and held the last public hearing on the final phase in the city’s long series of property annexations of land to the south and east along the Trinity River. Two years ago, Liberty Council announced their ultimate goal was to bring a large portion of the Moss Bluff Gas Storage Facility. After all that time, the ownership of the gas storage facility’s attorneys finally made contact with the city of Liberty’s annexation attorney Art Pirtile on Monday.  As reported Phase 9 when finished, is the annexation of .71 square miles which according to Liberty City Manager Gary Broz, will take in about three quarters of the Moss Bluff gas facility. What Attorney Art Pirtile presented to council Tuesday are proposals from Moss Bluff Hub Partners and the Moss Bluff Development Corporation. Those companies own most of the land the city of Liberty is planning to annex. Those proposals take the form of what are called Industrial Development Agreements, payment in lieu of taxes contracts in which, according to Mr. Pirtile the gas storage companies pay the city of Liberty not to annex them. The city’s annexation attorney said these types of agreements are not uncommon and in most cases, the energy company subject to annexation will pay the municipality 70% of whatever the companies’ property tax bill would be for that year. The company remains in the city’s extra territorial jurisdiction or ETJ but the city does not provide any services- not fire, not water, not police- none of the municipal services cities are required to provide if they annex. Art Pirtile told Liberty Council members, the Industrial Development Agreement, simply put, means the gas storage companies pay a large portion of the taxes they would pay if annexed, so the city will leave them alone. A rough estimate of that annual payment in lieu of the current property tax rate is more than $500,000. Nothing is final yet. Negotiations between the city of Liberty’s attorney and the Moss Bluff Gas Storage facility attorneys are ongoing. In other action, Liberty City Council honored the State Champion Liberty Lady Panther Softball Team with a proclamation. We will have more on that in future newscast.

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