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Willow Park

Council approves sale of certificates of obligation

Nearing closure for purchase of new home


The Willow Park City Council and staff moved a step closer to closing the deal on making 120 El Chico Trail their permanent home Tuesday, May 23, with the approval of the sale of bonds in two separate certificates of obligation totaling $8,670,000. 

One certificate was issued at $4,420,000 and the other for $4,250,000. The former is for tax exempt space to be used by the city and the latter is for space leased by other clients and is subject to federal investment taxes.

On April 3, 2023, the council authorized staff to proceed with issuing certificates of obligation to purchase the building. Currently, the city is leasing about 52% of the building for their own use. The remaining 48% is under private lease and the city will continue to honor those leases through their term once the building is purchased.

There are two other tenants in the building, Sylvan Learning Center and McKnight Title. Should they decide to stay for the remainder of their respective leases, one ends in July of 2026 and the other in December of 2026.

City Manager Bryan Grimes noted that once those tenants leave, the city can renegotiate that certificate payback agreement and perhaps even get a refund. Also, the property could then become tax exempt as they would not be leasing that portion to anyone going forward.

Grimes also stressed that the city is not paying the federal investment taxes. That responsibility falls to the folks who bought the bonds for the certificates of obligation. The city will pay the debt service.

"Mayor (Doyle) Moss called me today to say it's a historic day for the city of Willow Park," Grimes said. "It's a day I didn't think would  happen when I came here five years ago."

Moss was out of town and missed Tuesday's meeting, which was chaired by Mayor Pro Tem Lea Young.

"People are taking more pride in their space, but production is something I underestimated. The staff loves it here, and it's really been an asset to the staff," Grimes continued. "I want to say thanks to the taxpayers. We are very fortunate and blessed to be working in Willow Park."

The council and staff moved into the new facilities in mid-January and held the first city council meeting in mid-February. The square footage is 8,700, almost triple the space they had at their old location just down the road.

The Texas Attorney General still has to conduct a standard review of the agreement and sign off on it. Plans are to have everything final by June 21.

Narrowing down police chief search

The job posting for a new chief of police was closed on May 19. The city received 18 applications, including that of interim chief Daniel Franklin, who took over when Carrie Ellis retired from the position in late March.

At Tuesday's meeting, the council approved a hiring committee consisting of Mayor Moss, Councilman Eric Contreras, Councilman Chawn Gilliland, and Grimes. Human Resources Director Candy Scott will serve as staff support.

The committee will review all applications and make a recommendation to city council to be voted on at an upcoming meeting. Grimes said he hopes to have a permanent chief decided upon sometime in June.

"I'm glad we've got a good robust field of applicants," he said. "I'm looking forward to reviewing them and making the best fit for the City of Willow Park."

Swearing in

City Secretary Crystal Dozier conducted the swearing in ceremonies for re-elected Place 1 and Place 2 Council Members Eric Contreras and Chawn Gilliland at Tuesday's meeting. Both, along with Moss, ran unopposed in the early May election. Moss, who was out of town, was sworn in on Friday, May 19.

Young was once again voted in as mayor pro tem by the council and Place 5 Council Member Nathan Crummel was voted alternate mayor pro tem.

"Thank you very much," Young said, adding with a laugh, "Otherwise, you'd have to conduct the meeting yourself."


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