COPPERAS COVE — About a dozen residents of Road District 1, which includes properties on Kenney and Nathan drives in Sun Set Estates north of Cove, met with Coryell County commissioners Monday and agreed on a tax rate of 20 cents per $100 valuation to pave their pothole-pocked roads.

After years of unsuccessful efforts to get subdivision developer Melvin Hempel to pave the roads, residents voted last fall to create the county’s first road district to borrow $100,000 to lay 1.8 miles of pavement, then levy taxes on themselves to repay the loan.

All 40 voters who turned out approved the measure.

“I don’t think there is another example in Texas history where people voted 100 percent to give themselves a tax increase,” County Judge John Firth said.

The mood of the gathering at the Coppers Cove Economic Development Corporation office ranged from disgruntled to resigned as the neighbors reluctantly settled on a 20-cent tax rate to pay an estimated $100,000 for the paving project.

The neighborhood was forced to settle on a convoluted scheme to get the county to take over paving. When the developer would not fix the roads, the residents asked Coryell County to do it, but the county refused because the roads were not built to county standards.

The county will take over maintenance after the project debt is paid, and the group wrestled with a high rate for a quick payoff, or lower rate for a longer wait to turn over the roads.

Chief Tax Appraiser Mitch Fast estimated the net taxable property value, after exemptions, to be about $7.6 million.

Property values range widely within the district. The largest property owner in the district, ironically, is the Hempel family.

Commissioner Jack Wall told the group the project required a hydrology study to determine how to handle runoff from the road. He gave an engineer’s estimate of $14,100 for the study and design.

The construction work for the drainage would cost another $25,000 to $30,000, but some of that would be outside the district and would be paid by the county, Firth said.

All four of the county commissioners, who sit as the directors of the road district, attended Monday’s meeting.

Contact Tim Orwig at

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