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Surface rights issue delays Falls City ISD land deal
FALLS CITY -- The Eagle Ford shale continues to be a blessing and a curse for the Falls City Independent School District (ISD). A spike in property-tax revenue has thrust the district into Chapter 41 “Robin Hood” status, and now potential future growth could be hampered, due to energy companies being reluctant to relinquish surface rights.
The Falls City ISD board of trustees, on Jan. 2 and 9, held special meetings -- much of which were in closed session -- to discuss the district’s ongoing effort to purchase additional property.
Following the Jan. 9 meeting, Superintendent Tylor Chaplin said the district still has not finalized a transaction to buy a property near the corner of U.S. 181 and C.R. 212. This is because EOG Resources owns the mineral and surface rights. Falls City ISD would be unable to build if the firm does not wish to let go of the surface rights.
Both parties view the property, which has an elevation high enough to prevent flooding from the nearby San Antonio River, as prime real estate and talks have been ongoing. Chaplin said, however, that EOG will be unable to make a decision in a time frame that will suit Falls City ISD. The board of trustees must vote by Feb. 18 to order a bond election if the matter is to appear on the ballot in May.
“We’re running out of time in the amount of time we have to call a bond election for May,” Chaplin said.
Because of this, Chaplin said the board sought an alternative site, which includes three contiguous properties located across the street from its current North Nelson Street campus. But surface and mineral rights for this approximately 42-acre tract are owned by Mantacore Oil & Gas. The firm remains open to discussion, Chaplin said.
The board voted after reconvening in open session Jan. 9 to allow Chaplin to enter into contracts with the three landowners pending purchase of the surface rights from Mantacore.
Chaplin said the district’s architect recommended buying 30-35 acres to allow for anticipated growth and for parking. A 16-member bond steering committee will recommend next month whether Falls City ISD should renovate its current facility, build an entirely new building elsewhere, or build a new school while using various elements of the current one.
The bond steering committee held its first meeting Jan. 8, and is set to meet again Wednesday, Jan. 22.
The board of trustees is set to meet again Jan. 15. View the agenda at wilsoncountynews.com.
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