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Six days after Willow Park Mayor Ken Hawkins officially proposed to the public that the six cities of East Parker County merge and become one, three area mayors have confirmed that they want their cities removed from discussions.
“The issue here, with regard to the merger of six cities, does not have the support of the community,” Hudson Oaks Mayor Pat Deen said. “It think it’s important that we be very realistic here, that there is absolutely no way, based on the feedback that the citizens have provided, and the process of how this would go...which I doubt there would be one person sign that would vote themselves a tax.”
Deen e-mailed Hawkins, the area mayors, and the media July 22 to officially back the City of Hudson Oaks out of any discussions of merging Aledo, Hudson Oaks, the Annettas and Willow Park together as one large city.
“The primary reason is the concern for the impact of property taxes, when we already have exceptional services provided to our residents without the need for property taxes,” Deen told Hawkins in his e-mail. “After looking at the overall proposal to merge the six cities together, and based on an overwhelming negative response from Hudson Oaks residents, I am not going to support taking this forward at this time.”
In an exclusive interview with The Community News before his e-mail was sent, Deen said that phone calls to himself and city hall have been “very expressive.”
“What is the values to the citizens and the cities to do this on such a large scale,” Deen said. I support opportunities to work together, but I don’t see the value or benefit in pursuing this and taking this forward.
“I am not supportive in pursuing any further discussions on a six-city merger with taxing entities.”
In response to Deen’s e-mail, Hawkins said he expected and anticipated caution towards his proposal, but will not back down.
“I’m still going to advocate and lobby for this position,” Hawkins said
But Hudson Oaks isn’t the only city Hawkins will be proceeding without.
Just hours after Deen sent his e-mail, the Aledo City Council discussed Hawkins’ United Cities Proposal and do not support the idea.
“It’s kinda black and white,” Aledo City Councilman Matt Casey said. “It doesn’t really matter how good your bulet points are, if you don’t present it correctly, it’s not going to be taken correctly.”
Staying away from any comments regarding the Willow Park Mayor’s plan, Aledo Mayor Kit Marshall made it clear that all decisions need to be made for the betterment of the citizens.
“It is what it is,” Marshall said. “To me it’s whatever our residents want and what do the residents of our surrounding cities want.
“It doesn’t really matter what I as mayor think or say on this topic, and really even the Council, because it’s all about our residents. People move to different cities for different reasons because they don’t want to pay city taxes.”
When discussion concluded, Marshall said that she too will no longer partake in regional meetings with area mayors if the subject surrounds merging the six cities.
Joining Aledo and Hudson Oaks is Annetta North.
City Mayor Rob Watson that more time is needed to discuss the matter since he and his council were not aware that Hawkins was establishing this proposal, it caught Watson and several of his citizens off guard.
“Mainly they approach it with uncertainty,” Watson said. “We haven’t received any calls from residents that are for it.”