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First public hearing held on possible PA annexation

The public spoke.

The Port Arthur City Council held its first required public hearing to possibly annex industrial property at their regular meeting on Monday night at city hall and they drew some comments from the audience. The second required public hearing will be at 9 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 21 at city hall.

Resident Warren Field spoke first and said the annexation is a great thing and he was all for it if it will work.

“Are we capable of rendering the services needed for these folks?” he asked.

Mayor Derrick Freeman said at the executive session prior to the regular meeting all of the department heads gave presentations and said it could be done.

“It was a very productive meeting,” Freeman said. “We would love, however, to find a balance (with industry so there wouldn’t have to be an annexation).”

The annexation of the areas are in Port Arthur’s Extra Territorial Jurisdiction and would pertain to:

  • BASF Total Petrochemicals LLC
  • Total Petrochemicals & Refining USA, Inc.
  • BASF (old Sandoz)
  • Chevron Phillips Chemical Company, LP
  • Chevron USA
  • Flint Hills Resources Port Arthur, LLC
  • Oxbow Calcining, LLC
  • Praxair, Inc. (located on the property of Valero Refinery)
  • Praxair, Inc. (located on the property of the Motiva Refinery)
  • Total Petrochemicals & Refining USA and Total Par, LLC
  • Veolia ES Technical Solutions, LLC

Freeman said the possible annexation pertains to Industrial District Agreements (IDAs) that are used between the city and industry as an exchange, such as providing Port Arthur residents with jobs, in return for them not being annexed.

“We haven’t come to an agreement yet. This is just like Valero two years ago (where the annexation process was started but both parties reached an agreement,” Freeman said. “If annexed, they’re required to pay 100 percent of taxes. This can be used to fix streets and other things in the city.”

City Attorney Val Tizeno said the IDAs expire on Dec. 31, 2016. That would also be the effective date for annexation. The annexation process would start on Dec. 13.

Two required advertisements announcing the possible annexation were printed in The Port Arthur News and letters were sent out to all entities involved in the process.

City services to be provided to industry would include police protection, fire protection, solid waste services, water and wastewater services and streets.

Freeman said if the annexation goes through, the city would have no access to industries’ revenues until 2018.

“Hopefully we can work something out,” he said.

Resident Geraldine Hunt also spoke at the public hearing.

She said she was concerned about the number of pipeline corridors running through the city. She added that she thinks the city can still benefit with additional taxes on the pipeline companies.

“I’m not necessarily in favor of annexation. I think it could be a lot of trouble,” she said. “It will cost a lot of money to provide these services when the city has trouble providing services to the citizens now.”

Hunt suggested one possible remedy could be to ask the plants and refineries to help pay for a veterans diagnostic center or the pipeline companies could pay for a respiratory facility at Christus St. Mary’s Hospital on Ninth Avenue.

“I know we can collect more money from the pipeline companies and I hope we hire more competent attorneys to help.”

David Ball: 409-721-2427