The City of Wichita Falls could be taking on some more responsibility when it comes to maintaining area highways, and it could cost you more in taxes. The proposed tax hike would be very small, and would allow the city to hire additional help to maintain highways in the falls.
Both Mayor Glenn Barham and Assistant City Manager Jim Dockery noted that as they try and enforce a city ordinance on the height of people's grass, it would be good if they did the same.
Barham said, "Wichita Falls has an ordinance that requires our citizens to not let their yards grown above 9 inches. So folks are now saying well if you enforce it on us why don't you enforce it on the state? Well unfortunately we can't write the state a ticket."
When you're not in control of mowing the grass, enforcing that ordinance becomes difficult. Right now, the responsibility of mowing grassy highway medians lies with TXDOT. But, a new proposal from the City Manager's Office is looking into taking on the responsibility of maintaining city highways.
Assistant City Manager Jim Dockery said, "It's something that we'd like to see done on a more regular basis. The only way to do that now is for he state legislature to grant more money to TXDOT for them to do more mowing and we don't think that's going to happen."
Right now TXDOT only mows 3 times a year inside city limits. But there is already some precedent for the city to step in with highway landscaping. Currently, if the city has planted trees or bushes on the highway median, it then becomes responsible for maintaining the plants and the grass around them.
TXDOT spokeswoman Adele Lewis said, "We have an inter agency agreement that is already in place and so they're already mowing parts of Kell Freeway, Loop 11 and they're taking care of the landscaping as well so that's already in place. That's not going to change."
City officials did say the proposed plan could come with a tax increase. Mayor Barham said, "For us to take that on we have to hire additional staff and purchase additional equipment to take care of that endeavor. It would probably entail a half cent tax increase to do that."
It will still be several months before the city votes on this plan and the Mayor is encouraging anyone with an opinion to voice it at one of their meetings.