Council deals with tax abatements, water issues

A. Lee Graham

Fort Worth water restrictions are only weeks away as the city feels the effects of a low water supply and rising customer demand. “We’ve been informed by the Tarrant Regional Water District that we’ll hit the trigger for Stage 1 in early June,” said city Water Director Frank Crumb, explaining the situation at the pre-council portion of this week’s City Council meeting. By “trigger,” Crumb referred to when the district’s water capacity drops to 75 percent. The level as of Tuesday May 21 was 76 percent. Beginning Monday June 3, Fort Worth residents must follow Stage 1 water rules, which limit outdoor watering with an irrigation system or hose-end sprinkler to a maximum of two assigned days per week for all customers. For residential customers whose addresses end in odd numbers, lawn and landscape watering is only allowed on Sundays and Thursdays. Those whose addresses end in even numbers are restricted to watering on Saturdays and Wednesdays only. Businesses and other non-residential customers may water on Tuesdays and Fridays only. Outdoor watering with automated sprinklers will continue to be prohibited between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., a conservation measure in place before the newly announced Stage 1 restrictions. While those restrictions are in effect, customers must follow other practices, as well. Those include vehicle washing only using hand-held buckets and hoses with positive shutoff valves and no hosing of buildings or other structures for reasons other than fire protection. Customers are encouraged to avoid hosing off sidewalks, driveways, parking lots and other paved areas, with hotels, restaurants and bars encouraged to serve water only upon request. All 225,000 Fort Worth retail customer accounts – including those outside city limits – must follow the restrictions. They also apply to wholesale customers, which purchase treated water and resell it. Among wholesale customers that regularly purchase water are Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Grand Prairie, Haltom City, Hurst, Keller, North Richland Hills, Richland Hills, Southlake, Trophy Club Municipal Utility District, Westover Hills, Westworth Village and White Settlement.

Tax abatements approved In other business, the council approved tax breaks for OBIM Fresh-Cut Fruit Co. LLC and Nation’s Best Sports. OBIM plans to expand the modernize its 180,000-square-foot warehouse and manufacturing center just east of the Fort Worth Convention Center at 715 E. Ninth St. The company secured a $25,000 loan from the city that will be forgiven if it invests $250,000 in improving the property, with the greater of 50 percent, or $125,000, to be completed using Fort Worth companies and the greater of 25 percent, or $62,500, with Fort Worth minority- and women-owned businesses. The deal requires the company to create 75 full-time equivalent jobs by Dec. 31, 2013, with at least 90 percent filled by Fort Worth residents and at least 30 percent filled by central city residents. OBIM, purchased by Ready Pac Foods Inc. before going out of business in early 2011, was later bought back by UNPJ Holding Co. limited partnership, its current owner. It competes against Dole, Chiquita and Del Monte and supplies fresh fruit for Albertson’s, Costco and United Supermarket locations. Meanwhile, Nation’s Best Sports will save up to 50 percent of its city property taxes over 10 years under its newly approved agreement. It plans to move its Haltom City headquarters into a 60,000-square-foot facility in Fossil Creek Business Park in Northeast Fort Worth. The company is expected to save up to $126,925 during the abatement term, with the city receiving $254,150. To secure those savings, the company must invest at least $3.5 million in property improvements by December 2014 and have up to 35 full-time equivalent employees by Dec. 31, 2015.


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