(Orange, Texas)

March 5, 2014

County creates Energy Transportation Reinvestment Zone

Dawn Burleigh
The Orange Leader

ORANGE — With the deadline just 3 days away, Orange County Commissioners Court selected the members for the Orange County Energy Transportation Reinvestment Zone Advisory Board members, created the Orange County Energy Transportation Reinvestment Zone and adopted the roadway priority project list.

Holy Petrie, Ira Graham, and Chad Cassell have been selected as the board members. The board will bring recommendations to the court for approval. The committee is required a minimum of three and a maximum of five persons, 2 citizens of the county, and at least one person in the gas and oil related industry.

The creation of a County Energy Transportation Reinvestment Zone (CERTZ) for the SB 1747 Grant.

The $226 million is dedicated to the grant through Texas Transportation and is equally divided between all the counties in the state. As counties opt to not participate or otherwise disqualified, the funds can increase for the qualifying counties. Currently, Orange County qualifies for $400,000.

“Originally, the county was looking as $408,000, but now it could be closer to the $2.6 million range,” Commissioner Pct. 4 Jody Crump said during the Tuesday meeting. “There is only 1 time for this allocation. We think we are in line for receiving the grant.”

The court selected Trainer Road for the zone and top priority on the project list.

“We selected it because it meets all the state requirements,” Crump said. “It will give us a base line for the tax rate of the area and for starting the account.”

Crump also said it would be easier to track the funds from the area as he anticipates the CERTZ will only be needed for 2-3 years.

The CERTZ can be in existence for up to 10 years.

“Once the projects are completed the zone can be shutdown,” Crump said. “Once the state accepts it, the list cannot be amended.”

The funds from taxes within the CERTZ would be used for  road work on the designated 13 streets listed in the grant application.

An energy zone is required to qualify for the grant, however the growth in taxes in the zone would be used for the program without affecting the tax base.

The grant has a 20% match. The matching funds would cost the county $80,000 if qualified for $400,000. However, as other counties are disqualified from the grant, the amount the county could receive rises.

Crump said County Engineer Clark Slacum was instrumental in establishing the Zone.

“Clark has had to cross a lot of T’s and dot a lot of I’s to make this happen, “ Crump said. “This could possible be $3 million for roads not out of our budget.”