Some residents who live in the small Parker County community of Reno say it’s time to dissolve the city’s government and assets.
Former Mayor Eric Hunter, who led a petition drive to “disincorporate” the city, said he received the necessary number of signatures from registered voters to put the proposal on the ballot where voters will decide if the city should continue to exist.
He collected 496 signatures from registered voters, which is more than the number needed to hold an election, he said.
Hunter said he delivered the petitions to the Parker County Elections office and to the city of Reno last week.
“I wasn’t surprised by the amount of signatures,” he said. “There are a lot of reasons, not just one root cause.”
Hunter said he referred to Chapter 62 of the Local Government code on abolishing a municipality to craft the petition.
According to the code, Reno would have to hold an election to dissolve the city on the next uniform election date when the mayor is also on the ballot. That would be May 2023.
Reno Mayor Sam White said he doesn’t understand why a former mayor and council member would want to initiate efforts to abolish the city.
“It’s surprising that you have a mayor involved in city politics for 14 years that helped the city. Now, he wants to tear it down,” said White, who added that he doesn’t understand Hunter’s motives.
If residents vote to disincorporate the city, it means water rates would go up because the city would no longer own the water system, and it would also affect services such as fire and police, he said.
Reno is the largest contributor to the area’s volunteer fire department that also serves Pelican Bay, Sanctuary and Briar. The city contributes around $200,000 annually, White said.
Hunter said he and others in the community began talking about disincorporating the city last fall because of growing concerns about “mismanagement” in the police department and the need for water system improvements and a sewer system to encourage commercial development.
Hunter said there is a need for more commercial development to provide a larger tax base and to lessen the burden on property owners when paying for city services.
He is also concerned that the police department now has less experienced officers after former police chief Tony Simmons and other officers left about a year ago over disputes with the council over performance and salaries.
But White said the current police force has the necessary experience, and that response times would increase if the Parker County sheriff’s department took over patrolling the city.
Reno is also under Stage 5 water restrictions after city officials reported that the wells couldn’t keep up with the demand because of the ongoing drought and high temperatures.
Hunter said he is also concerned about a $1 million loan to repair roads. He said most of the work was done on roads leading to new developments while other roads are still dirt and gravel.
“I think we are in an unsustainable situation,” he said.
Joy Jenkins, who moved to Reno two years ago, said she is also unhappy with how the city is being managed and said she got better services when she lived in unincorporated Parker County.
She described how the sheriff’s department responded quickly to calls, and commissioners repaired roads quickly, but she said she hasn’t gotten the same service from Reno.
Jenkins said there was a good response from residents when they were asked to sign the petition.
“They’ve been incorporated for 55 years and have nothing to show for it,” she said.