Residential and business construction continue to flourish in Hewitt as city leaders brace for hard conversations about big-ticket purchases and increasing expenses.
Hewitt City Manager Adam Miles addressed area leaders Thursday at the Greater Hewitt Chamber of Commerce’s annual State of the City address.
Several construction projects are in progress throughout the city, Miles said.
A new subdivision, called Moonlight Park, is under review by the city’s planning and zoning committee and features 253 lots toward the southern end of the city, Miles said. The project at Hewitt Drive and Old Temple Road will have 88 lots in the first phase and 165 in the second, he said.
John Houston Custom Homes is also building a new neighborhood called Sunflower Ridge with 72 lots. That subdivision will have the first house in the history of Hewitt worth $499,000, Miles said. The average home value in Hewitt is $170,000, he said.
“I understand lots are selling for $55,000 for a lot. That’s crazy,” Miles said.
Miles joked with the audience that they “may have noticed the development across the street” from City Hall. Structures taking shape for the 264-unit The Icon at Hewitt are filling up formerly vacant land across from City Hall.
“This didn’t even exist six weeks ago,” Miles said. “It changes every day.”
The Reserve at Dry Creek, a three-story apartment complex for people age 62 or older, is also under construction on Old Temple Road.
“We don’t always know who is coming to town,” Miles said. “We’ve heard there is a group interested in doing a small strip center in front of Walmart.”
Miles touched on news that Cracker Barrel Old Country Store is considering a second location next to the new Walmart at Interstate 35 and Sun Valley Boulevard. The owners have delayed their decision because the company is dealing with Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts in Houston, he said.
Meanwhile, the city council recently adopted a slim budget for fiscal year 2018, which starts Oct. 1. No city employee received a raise, and some will see a reduction in take-home pay because health insurance costs continue to rise, Miles said.
Miles said there’s no lack of momentum in the city, and the difficult budget year was caused by certain expenses skyrocketing.
The city saw an 18 percent increase in health insurance costs, and its workers compensation insurance jumped 50 percent, he said.
“Our bills are going up over $200,000 for those two items alone,” he said.
The city council will also soon need to make a decision about replacing its 1993 fire truck, which would cost about $1.3 million, Miles said.
Hewitt is one of only a handful of cities in the state that offers a 20 percent homestead exemption, he said.
The average homeowner in Hewitt pays $64 per month in taxes to the city, he said.
“My phone costs me more per month than my taxes to the city of Hewitt,” Miles said. “I pay more to Grande (Communications) than I do to the city of Hewitt.”