As mayor pro tem, HD-28 candidate let former client skip out on $100,000 water fee
Allegations have surfaced that when Tricia Krenek was mayor pro tem of Fulshear, TX she failed to collect $100,000 a former client owed the city for an extension of sewer and water service.
The accusations regard a development deal between the city of Fulshear and David Ginter, an auto dealer, to run sewer and water lines to a vacant piece of property Ginter owned.
Krenek allegedly helped Ginter avoid paying the city while Fulshear ran back-to-back deficits and raised residents’ property taxes.
The accusations detail a classic sweetheart deal centered around the development of the Texas Heritage Parkway, a north-south route to connect I-10 and the Westpark Tollway.
In 2011, Fulshear’s then-mayor Tommy Kuykendall was trying to jumpstart the development of the long-dormant roadway. Kuykendall figured that if he helped TxDOT secure a right of way for the proposed roadway the agency would put the Texas Heritage Parkway in the fast lane.
To help convince landowners to sell their property, Kuykendall offered to extend Fulshear’s water and sewer service to sites bordering the proposed throughway. The city would charge discounted rates for the extension.
It may not seem obvious, but where water and sewer lines go is one of the most important aspects of economic planning. In order to attract any form of commercial development, a piece of property must have municipal water and wastewater hookups. It boils down to the fact that Walmart doesn’t want to have to boil water.
When Kuykendall was making his pitch to landowners, he most likely assumed that extending water and sewer service would be a win-win for the city. Property owners would sell to TxDOT, which would get construction started, which would bring development, which would increase the tax base.
Kuykendall made agreements with a variety of local landowners to extend water and sewer service to their property. One of the property owners Kuykendahl approached was Ginter, who happened to be one of Krenek’s clients.
Kuykendall offered to run municipal water and sewer lines to Ginter’s property for approximately $280,000. Kuykendall then sweetened the deal by giving Ginter a three-year, interest and penalty-free payment schedule. Despite the generous terms, Ginter soon proved unable to make the payments and wound up defaulting.
Over the next two years, Ginter’s debt was largely forgotten by the city of Fulshear. In September 2013, Krenek — acting in her capacity as an attorney — attempted to square things between Ginter and the city. She offered the city of Fulshear a $180,000 settlement.
The payment was offered with a qualification: if the city deposited the check it waived any claim to the remaining balance. Not surprisingly, the city of Fulshear passed on Krenek’s deal.
In February 2014, Krenek sent the city another letter contradicting her first. Krenek’s second letter claimed that her initial offer was misunderstood and that Ginter acknowledged that he still owed $100,000 to the city.
Krenek was able to negotiate an agreement with the city that required Ginter to pay off the balance by July 2014. In June 2014, Krenek was elected to Fulshear’s city council.
Soon after, Ginter missed his payment deadline. After Krenek’s election, the city of Fulshear failed to make any efforts to collect from Ginter.
Although Krenek facilitated Ginter’s agreement with Fulshear, she didn’t declare her conflict of interest when she was elected to the city council. All told, it took Krenek three years to officially acknowledge her relationship with Ginter.
During those three years, Krenek was named Fulshear’s mayor pro tem — which made her the second most powerful elected official in the city. While on the city council, Krenek never actively pursued a settlement with Ginter.
As mayor pro tem, Krenek helped preside over Fulshear’s city council as it approved back-to-back deficits and raised property taxes two years in a row.
All while Krenek’s former client skated on a $100,000, no-interest payment plan.
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