As a part of ongoing budget discussions, city leaders outlined early plans Monday night to pursue sewer improvement projects in Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone no. 2, which encompasses much of downtown Sherman.


The city of Sherman plans to invest $500,000 in modernizing and updating century-old infrastructure in the city’s core.


City officials said the need for extensive work in the district is spurred by the age of downtown infrastructure combined with incomplete records of all the utilities and connections in downtown.


"The utilities in downtown are among the oldest in any part of Sherman," Sherman Community and Support Services Manager Nate Strauch said. "You are looking at pipes that could be more than 100 years old in some cases. In fact, you look at the sewer map of downtown Sherman, it reflects the haphazard nature of 150 years of development."


"There are some lines there that are so old that we don’t have records of where they are."


The condition of downtown infrastructure has been a recurring concern for many downtown residents and business owners, Strauch said. With recent increased interest in downtown redevelopment, including the opening of Old Iron Post, the concerns have only increase.


While many of the utilities in the area are aging, Strauch said the focus of the concerns has been on the sewer side of services. Among the concerns was a smell of sewage in many downtown buildings.


In past years, the city has conducted several studies to determine the cause of the issues, but results have been inconclusive. During Monday’s meeting, City Manager Robby Hefton indicated that some studies and mapping could be a part of the work, but did not go into specifics.


The $500,000 of work will be financed through funds collected through the TIRZ. The zone is a tool which the city has used to reserve funds specifically for use on improvements within the zone.


At the time the zone is created, a base increment and value is set. As values within the district increase, the excess sales tax revenue over the base value is set aside in a specific fund for use within the district.


"Because property values across Grayson County have risen dramatically over the course of the last few years, and the fact that there has been significant private investment in downtown, the TIRZ has doubled the amount of money it has churned out in a given year," Strauch said. "That isn’t good for downtown business owners because costs go up, but it is good for the projects these funds will support."


Michael Hutchins is the local government reporter for the Herald Democrat. He can be reached at mhutchins@heralddemocrat.com.