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Sulphur Springs City Council Has Busy Night Ahead With Workshop Followed By Regular Meeting

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Sulphur Springs City Council has a busy night ahead with a workshop scheduled at 5:30 p.m., followed by the regular monthly meeting at 7 tonight (Aug. 2, 2022).

The workshop focus will be on a proposed budget for fiscal year 2022-2023. City staff are continually updating and working on finances. They will present their first proposal for discussion during the 5:30 p.m. work session, which will then be revised based on discussions and continued work and be presented for official consideration during a future City Council meeting.

When the City Council reconvenes in regular session at 7 p.m. Aug. 2, 2022, in the Council Chambers at Sulphur Springs Municipal Building (City Hall), the elected officials will be asked to consider three new proposed ordinances and on second reading two additional ordinances, as well as a resolution, a contract and large equipment purchase.

Ordinance No. 2806 — Reinvestment Zone

Presented for second and, if approved, final reading is Ordinance No. 2806, which would create a reinvestment zone for D6 Inc. The City Council approved the reinvestment zone for the plastics recycler and advanced design-to-shelf packaging manufacturer during the regular July 5 city meeting.

The business began operations at the end of 2020 after purchasing the property known locally as the old Coca-Cola plant, after being granted a Chapter 380 economic development agreement from the City of Sulphur Springs, another tax incentive from Hopkins County and a tax abatement from Hopkins County Hospital District. The business had projected adding 25 jobs to the local economy but, thus far, has added over 70 jobs, according to Sulphur Springs-Hopkins County Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Roger Feagley.

Now, the business is not only planning two further expansions, but will be relocating it’s corporate headquarters from Portland, Oregon to Sulphur Springs, Texas. In October of 2021, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced a $1,432,200 Texas Enterprise Fund grant and a $6,000 Veteran Created Job Bonus for D6 to help move its corporate headquarters from Portland, Oregon to Sulphur Springs, Texas.

When the pandemic began, D6 Inc. shifted to making face shields and masks. The latest project will expand the business’ manufacturing presence in the state, building the first fully closed-loop recycling site for single-use PET clamshells in Sulphur Springs.

Overall, the business is expected to expand the current operation by 300,000-square feet, with a 180,000-square-foot building to be constructed as soon as the business can get everything in line and another 120,000-square-foot building expansion in three years. The new buildings will be located on the Saputo (old We Pack) property just across from the current facility, on the 10 acres the EDC has near the railroad tracks, EDC officials reported in 2021.

Ordinance No. 2807 — Rezoning Request

The City Council too will be asked to consider approving on second and, if approved, final reading a request from Andrea and Malachi Sandoval to rezone property at 1659 Arbala Road. The request would be for 0.93-acre at the northwest corner of an 11-acre parcel of land the Sandovals own on Arbala Road, just off Wildcat Way be rezoned from single family to light commercial.

Sulphur Springs Assistant City Manager/Community Development Director Tory Niewiadomski earlier this summer reported that it is his understanding that the change would allow the applicants to construct a coffee shop on that corner, but at present there are no structures on it. Mini self storage is planned behind the 0.93-acre parcel, according to city officials and the sign posted on the property.

The land use plan along Wildcat Way identifies it as a future commercial corridor. The property in the area is zoned mostly commercial in all directions except to the west, which is single family, and most of the land is vacant, with the exception of a single family home to the east that is currently zoned heavy commercial, according to Niewiadomski

The P&Z Commission approved the measure June 20 as meeting zoning requirements, but added one stipulation at the recommendation of city staff: the applicant must subdivide the lots according to the rezoning request. That was forwarded to the City Council, who after discussions gave approval on first reading of the proposed Ordinance No. 2807. If approved tonight, it will become final.

Ordinance No. 2808 — Texas Enterpriser Zone Recommendation

The City Council too is asked to consider on first reading amending Ordinance No. 2395 relating to the city’s participation in Texas Enterprise Zone Program, to expand the list of local incentives offered and nominate Ashoka Steel Mills, LLC, to the Office of the Governor’s Economic Development And Tourism through the economic development bank as an enterprise project.

Ashoka Steel Mill is considering two locations on which to locate a new branch of the business, and Sulphur Springs is one of the two. Ashoka officials anticipate asking for incentives from Hopkins County, the City of Sulphur Springs, Sulphur Springs ISD and Hopkins County Hospital District as well, which Ashoka indicated would be determining factors in whether or not the business will open a sizeable facility in Sulphur Springs — which could be among two of the company’s first manufacturing facility in the US. Tulsa, Oklahoma is also in the running to for a new Ashoka facility.

Ashoka has already submitted an application to SSISD asking for an agreement for a tax incentive. SSISD’s attorneys have reviewed the documents and submitted them to the Texas Comptroller’s office. If approved by the Comptroller, then SSISD could consider approving the application from Ashoka Steel Mills LLC. for appraised value limitation on qualified property.

In June 2022, the City Council approved on second reading Ordinance No. 2805, creating a reinvestment zone for Ashoka Steel Mills so the business can apply to Hopkins County Hospital District for a tax abatement.

The company is looking to make a $265 million investment, which would create over 300 jobs, would be a boost to the local economy, the school board was told April 11, 2022. Talent would be mostly local, with a few experts in from Italy and Germany to help during the construction period and potentially with training of technicians and engineers.

The Ashoka Steel Mill would be located in the center of the City of Sulphur Springs’ property which previously housed a coal mine. It would initially occupy about 250 acres, with a 150 acre expansion later, out of the total 4,857-acre former Thermo/Luminant mine property, officials were told Monday.

The proposed electric arc furnace steel mill would produce 350,000 tons of rebar annually. The facility, according to documentation in the application, would use an electric arc to heat metals instead of a blast furnace. The mill estimates 402,500 tons of scrap metal from local areas would be used to produce the rebar; the steel recycling, according to the application, would reduce carbon emissions. The scrap metal would be brought in mainly by rail, amounting to an estimated 8,000 railcars a year, and about 40 trucks.

The business received first approval earlier in the summer and second approval on July 5, 2022, to establish a reinvestment zone for a period of 5 years, renewable for an additional 5 years.

The City Council at the Aug. 2 meeting will be asked to consider approving Ordinance No. 2808, which would recommend the business for additional incentives at the state level if Ashoka does indeed opt to build in Sulphur Springs.

Fire Department Agenda Items

Two items on the Tuesday evening agenda could impact Sulphur Springs Fire Department.

First, the City Council is asked to consider approving on first reading Ordinance No. 2809, which would establish and implement a program to charge mitigation rates for costs incurred during the deployment of emergency and non-emergency services, equipment, and first responders by SSFD, which were provided to non-residents of Sulphur Springs, Hopkins County. Second, the City Council will be asked to consider approving for purchase a Sutphen Rescue Pumper for SSFD.

Additional Agenda Items

City staff are expected to present for City Council consideration proposals for employee health insurance, then make a recommendation of a contract for reinsurance of the city employee health insurance program.

The proposed Ordinance 2810 would amend Ordinance No. 889, approved in 1982, and redefine and authorize locations for video gaming facilities, premises, and devices within the City of Sulphur Springs.

Resolution No. 1308 asks the City Council to appoint directors and a chairman to the Board of Directors of the City of Sulphur Springs Tax Increment Financing Reinvestment Zone #1 and provide an effective date for them.

The City Manager is slated to give his monthly report of capital improvements, municipal operations, accidents and claims for the month of July, and Assistant City Manager Lesa Smith may provide a review of expenditures and revenues.

The consent agenda submitted for approval under one motion unless a Council member requests otherwise includes the minutes from the July 5 City Council meeting and June 27 EDC meeting, as well as a 380 agreement for 327 Magnolia Street.

Visitors may be recognized and city residents or business people who sign up in advance may address the City Council during the public forum portion of the regular Aug. 2, 2022, City Council meeting.

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Author: Faith Huffman

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