The Willow Park City Council approved new solid waste fees in the city, retroactive to May 1, at its meeting Tuesday night, May 9. The city has not updated the solid waste fee schedule in almost a decade.
The new contract with Republic Waste Services of Texas, Inc. will have a monthly rate of $20.78 for the next year, which includes recycling and a 95-gallon cart. It will increase by 4% each of the next two years, beginning May 1, resulting in a fee of $21.48 per month in 2024 and $22.22 per month in 2025.
“Two thousand fifteen is the last time we went up. We’ve been absorbing increases internally,” City Manager Bryan Grimes said. “We just couldn’t offset those costs anymore. We tried to make it easier on our customers.”
At a meeting in early April, the council voted to amend the existing joint solid waste contract with Republic Waste Services to extend the contract through April 30, 2026. The amended contract also brought the city of Aledo onboard to join existing agreement members Willow Park, Hudson Oaks, Annetta North, Annetta South and the Town of Annetta.
The new collection fees are consistent throughout all six cities.
Beginning on May 1 of 2026, Republic’s garbage, trash, and recycling collections will all be done with an entirely new fleet of automated side loader trucks, doing away with the current system of workers manually emptying the trash and recycle into the back of the trucks. However, Republic may continue to utilize its existing fleet for brush and debris collection and disposal.
At that meeting it was noted that Republic officials promised no employees will lose their job as a result of the change in pickup and will be given other duties within the company.
Once the amended renewal expires, the new agreement begins May 1, 2026 for a five year initial term with a five year automatic renewal.
The city council approved a letter of support for House Bill 5406, backed by State Representative Glenn Rogers. The bill, currently before the 88th Texas Legislature, would create the Cross Timbers Regional Utility Authority (CTRUA).
The CTRUA as billed would provide the vital function of coordinating the water planning for the region, saving time and costs by eliminating duplications of effort, identifying synergies, and leveraging economies of scale.
The letter also states that bringing forward cooperative, coordinated plans which speak on a regional basis will give the CTRUA a stronger voice as it competes for funding on both the state and federal level.
Grimes said, if passed, the bill would create a regular coalition for communities that can’t do like Willow Park and Hudson Oaks and draw from Fort Worth water.
“They don’t have the power to unilaterally go out and do something on their own, like Willow Park or Hudson Oaks,” he said, adding of the CTRUA, “They’re very similar to what a MUD (municipal utilities district) would be, but this is more of a regional authority.”
Mayor Pro Tem Lea Young said, “We teamed with another city. This allows them (other communities) to team with another entity.”
Grimes also stressed that there is no obligation from Willow Park by simply offering a letter of support.
“We don’t need it, but it doesn’t hurt our city for others to have this,” Young said in support.
Grimes cited nearby Aledo as an example of perhaps being able to capitalize on the creation of a CTRUA.
“I know they’re looking for $26 million for a wastewater treatment plant,” he said.
In his appeal letter, Rogers noted that North Central Texas – especially counties like Parker, Palo Pinto, and Stephens – is one of the fastest growing regions in the country. He cited that families from across the United States and even the world are moving here to take advantage of what the state and region have to offer.
However, with two severe droughts over the past decade, he said the growth has begun to put a severe strain on the area’s water resources. He stressed that it is vital that this growing problem be addressed before it becomes an unmanageable crisis.
The letter from Willow Park city officials stated, "We ask that swift action be taken by the members of the 88th Texas Legislature to approve HB 5406 and implement the creation of the Cross Timbers Regional Utility Authority. Any delay will put further stress on the region's aging water systems and could see funding opportunities move to other areas of our state."
Rogers noted that several billion dollars in substantial surplus funds are likely going to be designated for Texas water infrastructure in the 88th legislative session. He said it has been proven across the state that regional authorities are much better positioned to acquire funds from the Texas Water Development Board and other sources.
He also said that regional, cooperating authorities are also better suited to assist struggling small water utilities with the technical and financial expertise needed to gain compliance and funding.
The bill is in draft form and is currently being polished and reviewed for legal conflicts by the Legislative Counsel office.
"Abundant, dependable, safe water is a legacy we owe to our children and grandchildren," Rogers wrote. "Establishing the Cross Timbers Regional Utility Authority is a responsible first-step in creating the plans and obtaining the funding to make sure future water supplies are available to meet future water demands."
The council approved an interlocal agreement with the City of Hudson Oaks for a water meter telemetry equipment on the City of Willow Park water tower for the purpose of reading water meters through wireless transmission for the City of Hudson Oaks.
Assistant City Manager Bill Funderburk told the council that after five years the city can terminate the agreement with Hudson Oaks, providing they give 365 days notice.
“We don’t know where technology will be in five years,” he said, explaining the reason for the clause.
Grimes announced that there will be a skeleton crew of staff at Willow Park City Hall Friday, May 12. That’s because most of the staff will be in Stephenville attending the graduation of Planning and Development Director Toni Fisher, who will receive her bachelor of science degree in business administration from Tarleton State University.
“I remember her saying when I hired her, ‘I’m going to get my degree. It’s important to me,’” Grimes recalled. “I think everybody has pitched in to make it happen.
“Toni Fisher is great for the city and one of the best hires I’ve ever made.”
Fisher is going on two years with the city. She said she was humbled by the support in her pursuit of her degree.
“More than I could have ever asked,” she said. “I never expected them to come to it (graduation), but I should have figured. They have been so supportive.”
Fisher is graduating with a 4.0 grade point average and is part of Beta Gamma Sigma, the international honor society for students in the top 10% of their class in business schools.
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