Connecting Our Heritage To Tomorrow
City of Gunter Incorporated: 1901 2 Message from the Mayor 3 History 4 About Gunter 6 Core Values 9 Strategic Focus Areas 10 Executive Leadership Team 12 Preparing For Growth 14 Achievements 16 Looking to the Future 22 Contents
It has been my honor to serve the City of Gunter for seven terms as Mayor. I graduated from Gunter High School in 1970, and have lived here for more than 54 years. I have also been privileged to volunteer for the fire department for the last 36 years.
I care deeply about Gunter, and so do our citizens. We are proud of our excellent schools and small-town culture. Yet, change is coming our way. We recognize that we are in the path of growth surging north, and we have carefully crafted our Vision, Mission, and Core Values to embody the spirit and heart of the citizens of Gunter and provide direction for our city government as we grow.
Growth and change are inevitable; however, city staff, Council, and I hope those changes enhance Gunter’s current characteristics and improve life here. I am committed to the hard work it will take to welcome new opportunities. The City Council and I strive to proactively respond to address the community’s needs while holding fast to Gunter’s Vision and Mission.
Thank you for your continued participation and support as we strive to grow wisely and keep Gunter a place where people want to live, work, play, and raise a family.
Mark Millar | Mayor
Message from the Mayor 3
The history of Gunter sounds a bit like a western novel, but these are the events that made Gunter what it is today.
Up the Shawnee Trail
The first Texas settlers left “Gone to Texas (GTT)” signs at their homes in the eastern and northern U.S. They headed out on the Shawnee Trail, one of the earliest trails drovers took to transport longhorn cattle from Texas to the northern railheads. The trail ran along the path of today’s Preston Road and Highway 289.
Some say the Shawnee Trail’s name came from a Shawnee village on the Texas side of the Red River or from the Shawnee Hills. Cattle drovers called it “The Cattle Trail,” The Texas Road, The Sedalia Trail, The Kansas Trail, or just “The Trail.”
In 1869, newlyweds Jot Gunter and his wife Roxanne arrived in Texas and settled in Sherman with $65 to their names. They soon had a daughter and named her Eula.
Jot was a lawyer who practiced law in Sherman until 1878 when he partnered with William Benjamin (Ben) Munson, the founder of the city of Denison. The two young lawyers surveyed land in the Texas Panhandle and earned certificates of land script they could exchange for property anywhere in Texas.
The partners turned their script into 25,000 acres of land in southwest Grayson County, calling it Gunter Ranch. In the early 1880s, the ranch was a staging area for shorthorn cattle on their way to the partners’ ranch in the panhandle. Gunter Ranch was sometimes
called the “Seven-Mile Ranch” and used the T-Anchor brand. At that time, the ranch had 5,000 - 6,000 head of cattle and 500 - 600 horses.
In 1883, Gunter and Munson dissolved their partnership, and Gunter became the sole owner of the Grayson County property.
A Town Out of Tragedy
In 1896, an F-4 tornado, traveling from southwest Grayson County toward Sherman, blew through Gunter Ranch. To the east of the ranch house, across Little Elm Creek, the twister swept clean a large area of the prairie. Jot would later choose the site to establish a new town. The tornado traveled on, devastating the countryside and killing dozens of people in Sherman.
In January 1901, Jot proposed a new rail line from Sherman to Carrollton, with right-of-way through his ranch. The branch would be called the Red River, Texas, and Southern Railway. Starting in September, the railroad laid two miles of track a day.
The first freight shipped out from the new Gunter Ranch depot in October. In March 1902, the first excursion train ran from Sherman to Fort Worth.
Growing a Town
On October 21, 1901, Jot deeded 328.5 acres of land to the Gunter Townsite Company. The land the tornado cleared in 1896 became the new townsite, and street platting began. Over the next three to four years, several residential lots sold, and the number of residents grew. The town incorporated in 1914 with a reported population of 800 people and 36 businesses.
With the inception of train service and completion of the depot in 1902, businesses slowly opened in the downtown area, and the First National Bank opened its doors. Jot and Roxanne planned to build a large mansion in the area.
A Change of Direction
The Gunters reconsidered their plans when their daughter, Eula, died in 1901, just five days before Jot deeded the land to Gunter Townsite Company, Instead of building a mansion in Gunter, Jot and Roxanne moved with their grandchildren to San Antonio, and Jot opened a real estate business in the city. Gunter left his mark on San Antonio. His name distinguished two buildings – the Gunter Hotel, which still exists as a Sheraton property, and the Gunter Office Building. He died in San Antonio on July 19, 1907, and is buried there. \
The City of Gunter is organized under a Council-Manager form of government. A Council is elected to adopt legislation and set policy, and a City Manager is hired to carry out those policies. The Manager oversees day-today operations of the local government.
Gunter is a unique community, exemplified by a commitment to preserving its history, a high quality of life, a vibrant business community, and environmental sensitivity.
We are a city steeped in a rich historical past through which we have emerged as a vital community committed to excellence, innovation, and sound fiscal policies. Our neighborhoods are safe, healthy, and as unique as their inhabitants.
We believe the City’s greatest asset is our people and we welcome the involvement of all those who live and work in the City of Gunter to partner with us in making this community one of excellence.
We are committed to preserving the unique character, historical and rural fabric, and environmental beauty that defines Gunter to its residents. We will accomplish this through the Values of service, fiscally responsible municipal services, integrity, positive solutions, and cooperation. \
Larry Peters Place 1
Jason White Place 2
Spencer Marks Place 3
Mayor Pro Tem
Cheryl Cohagan Place 4
Connie Eubanks Place 5
Geographic Area: 20 Square Miles
Integrity in Government
We believe in honest and open government. We are dedicated to the highest ideals of integrity, openness and fairness in dealing with our citizens and employees.
Passion for our City
We are passionate about our responsibilities in representing the citizens of Gunter. We believe in listening to our citizens and being responsive to their needs.
We whole-heartedly want to give attention to our citizens and their needs. Our primary focus is the well-being of the city.
The employees of the city are one of its most important resources. Through them, our vision and mission will be accomplished.
Quality of Life
We believe that we must strive to maintain and enhance the quality of life currently enjoyed by the citizens of Gunter even though changing economics and demographics may present challenges.
Commitment to Professionalism
We are dedicated to making the most of our strengths and acknowledging our missteps. We continue to educate ourselves along with maintaining a network of like-minded professionals.
Protect Gunter History
We believe in preserving Gunter’s history, and strive to continue the legacy laid out before us. The Downtown Master Plan ensures that downtown resumes its place in Gunter’s history. \
Organizational Development: Servant Leadership in Action
Organizational development is the foundation for a vibrant city. It ensures that the organization, its leadership and culture, structure, systems, and processes are aligned practically and philosophically with the city’s vision, mission and values. The city will embrace a servant leadership culture that permeates every aspect of our actions that serve our citizens.
Downtown Gunter: Creating a Destination
From its beginnings in 1901, Gunter’s downtown has been the center of commerce for the city. Building on its history, downtown Gunter will ultimately resume its rightful role as the community center. It will be a destination for Gunter citizens and a draw for visitors from surrounding cities for its modern, comfortable small-town atmosphere.
Vision Mission Values
Community and Economic Development: Building Community
Building community requires creating a sense of place and a sense of home, bridging the gap between our historical beginnings and small town feel while accommodating our inevitable growth. We ensure Gunter’s future vision through the daily implementation of codes, ordinances, community design and adequate infrastructure.
Community Engagement: Join the Conversation
Gunter is growing far beyond anything our founders could have imagined. As we grow, we intend to keep the small-town sense of connection and friendliness residents have enjoyed since the city’s beginnings.
We are dedicated to serving all citizens from a servant’s heart, operating transparently, supporting amicable community conversations, and keeping our citizens informed.
Strategic Focus Areas
Executive Leadership Team
Director of Administration
• 25 years in law enforcement, six as Chief of Police in Bedford
• Bachelor of Arts and Science
• International Law Enforcement Administration Management College
• Bill Blackwood Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas
• Master Peace Office License
• Texas Advanced Instructor Certification
• ICMA High Performance Leadership Academy Graduate
• Texas Municipal Court Certification (Candidate)
• Court Administrator
• Officer, Gunter Volunteer Fire and Rescue
• EMT Certification
Assistant to the City Manager
• Joined the City of Gunter in 2020
• Former Research Analyst at NCTCOG
• Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology
• ICMA High Performance Leadership Academy Graduate
Jeff Gibson Chief of Police Interim City Manager
Director of Community and Economic Development Services
• Over 20 years in municipal planning and community development
• Bachelor of Science in Urban Planning
• Master of Business Administration
• Graduate - National Fire Academy Executive Planning Program
• Expertise in master-planned communities
Director of Parks & Public Services
• 23 years of municipal experience in parks and public improvement
• 14 years with the City of Trophy Club, Texas
• Nine years with the City of Plano, Texas
• Implemented public improvement projects such as baseball fields, playgrounds, a dog park, trail systems, and street projects
Director of Human Resources
• Over 40 years of municipal human resources experience
• Master’s degree in Management and Human Relations
• Director of Human Resources for the City of Carrollton for 21 years
• Served in leadership positions in multiple professional organizations
Director of Finance
• Deputy Chief Financial Officer of Round Rock for eight years
• 23 years of government accounting experience
• Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting
• Certified Government Finance Officer
• Member and board member of the Government Finance Officer Association
• ICMA High Performance Leadership Academy Graduate
Preparing For Growth
In preparation for our impending growth, the staff has adopted a Strategic Plan that will provide guidance for the future. The basis for developing the Strategic Plan is the city’s Vision, Mission, Core Values and Strategic Focus Areas.
The City Council has charged the City Manager and staff leadership team with the responsibility of efficiently and cost-effectively implementing the Strategic Plan in the best interest of Gunter’s citizens.
We have made significant progress over the last few years. Even so, the city must contend with challenges and determine their solutions. As a growing city, we are challenged with enhancing and maintaining the existing infrastructure and preparing for new development. While the private marketplace dictates the pace of development, the city has adopted and will embrace strategies, policies and standards that strive to ensure quality development that maintains our small town culture. \
The Bridges TIRZ Agreement Renegotiated A Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) is a type of special district created to attract new investment to areas needing revitalization through Tax Increment Financing (TIF). TIF is a type of financing local governments can use to pay for improvements to help bring investment into an area by redirecting some of the ad valorem tax from the property within the TIRZ to pay for improvements. The city projects a $20 million increase in revenue to serve our residents over the next 25 years as a result of the TIRZ renegotiation.
In 2012, The Bridges development was facing bankruptcy and was purchased by the Centurion American Development Group.
The city and Centurion American (CA) reached an agreement; property taxes from any new development in The Bridges would be used to provide water and sewer and to reimburse CA for their investment, up to $13.2 million. This agreement saved The Bridges and enabled it to be the thriving community it is today.
In October 2022, the city renegotiated The Bridges Agreement with Centurion American.
In the old agreement, 100% of the taxes on new development in The Bridges went to pay for water and sewer provided to The Bridges and not the city. Under the new agreement, the city will receive 50% of the property taxes over the next 25 years.
TIRZ Taxes (Over 25 Years)
0 10,000,000 20,000,000 30,000,000 40,000,000 50,000,000 $ 60,000,000 City Property Tax Revenue Non-city revenue Renegotiated Agreement in 2022 Original Agreement from 2012 16 Achievements
Sale Of Utilities
In October 2022, the city entered into an agreement with Mustang Special Utility District (SUD) to sell the city’s water and sewer system. This sale ensures that the City of Gunter will have sustainable water and sewer services for its citizens.
The city owned three water wells and two small sewer processing plants. These facilities served the city well in the past, but were not sustainable for the future.
The utility infrastructure cost and scale were not sufficient for the city to continue owning the system.
Considerations for the sale:
• The city’s water service area is about three square miles. The Mustang SUD water service area exceeds 200 square miles.
• The city has approximately 850 water connections. Mustang SUD has approximately 33,000 connections.
• Three city employees spent 60% of their time maintaining the water and sewer system. Mustang SUD has 100 employees whose job is solely water and sewer.
• Mustang SUD has the technical capability, longterm management and fiscal resources to best provide water and sewer services to our current and future residents.
• Gunter’s water and sewer rates are the same as the rest of Mustang SUD customers. The cost for water and sewer capital improvements in the City of Gunter will be shared by all of Mustang SUD customers and not just City of Gunter residents, thus the benefit of economies of scale.
• Mustang SUD will assume ownership of the entire water and sewer system, including all debt associated with existing facilities.
• This allows the city to devote its already limited resources to other functions such as roads and parks.
Street Improvement Program
Over the past several years, the city spent approximately $40,000 per year for street maintenance. This year, the city will have spent more than $1.4 million on street improvements, which is more than the last 35 years combined.
Street Maintenance Costs 0 300,000 600,000 900,000 1,200,000 $ 1,500,000 *2023 2022 2021 2020 2019 *Projected
Community begins with the ability to live a safe and productive life. Investing in public safety is crucial to the quality of life in Gunter. City Council has demonstrated their support through the 136% Fire and the 71% Police budget increases since 2019, a new law enforcement center, plus new police vehicles with new fleet graphics.
19 0 200,000 400,000 600,000 800,000 $ 1,000,000 FY 2023 FY 2022 FY 2021 FY 2020 FY 2019 Police Budget 0 50,000 100,000 150,000 200,000 250,000 300,000 350,000 $ 400,000 FY 2023 FY 2022 FY 2021 FY 2020 FY 2019
We’ve made great progress on our city park this year. We are working collaboratively with the City of Gunter Park Board, the Gunter Youth Association, the Gunter Park Foundation and other community organizations to maintain and enhance our city park. There are several projects in the works with an emphasis on future park infrastructure.
Property Tax Decrease
Council voted in October 2022 to reduce the property tax rate by 13.3 cents (a 21.65% reduction) to $0.483214.
The city has experienced a significant paradigm shift. Long-range planning is not optional – it is fundamental to prepare for the future. Great cities are intentional; they create a plan and execute it. They are not made by accident but with purpose.
The city has created the following:
• Strategic Plan
• Downtown Master Plan
• Parks Master Plan (underway)
• Thoroughfare Master Plan (underway)
• Residential Landscape Standards
• EMS Strategic Plan (underway)
• Transitioned to Council-Manager form of government
• Opened City of Gunter Law Enforcement Center
• Began staff training and education
• Implemented Servant Leadership Philosophy
• Hired qualified staff Executive Team Experience
164 Total Years of Municipal and Public Safety Experience
88% Executive Team Members who hold Bachelor’s or Master’s Degrees
0.00 0.10 0.20 0.30 0.40 0.50 0.60 0.70 $ 0.80 FY 2023 FY 2022 FY 2021 FY 2020 FY 2019 21
Property tax rates
The City of Gunter has made significant progress in preparing Gunter for the future. While much has been accomplished, there is more to be done.
The city has ensured that Gunter will have sustainable water and sewer by selling the system to Mustang SUD. We have renegotiated The Bridges Agreement that provides the City a projected additional $20 million in revenue. We have embraced best financial practices to ensure economic sustainability. We have begun or completed numerous long range plans, including: Downtown Master Plan, Gunter Thoroughfare Master Plan for Roads, and City-Wide Parks Master Plan. The City has also completed a Strategic Plan and implemented an aggressive Street Improvement Program.
The city is redefining its organizational culture to one based on Servant Leadership. Our job is to serve our citizens.
Many people have invested their time and energy to make Gunter a city of choice. Those who came before us have laid a solid foundation. Our responsibility is to refine it and build upon it.
As a small city, recruiting and retaining qualified employees is challenging. We are proud to have the leadership and employees we have working for the City of Gunter. Every employee is here for a greater purpose: to be a part of something bigger than themselves. Their goal is to do their part in building a community based on the Vision, Mission, and Values of our city. \
Looking to the Future
Contact Us: Gunter City Hall 105 N. 4th Street P.O. Box 349 Gunter, Texas 75058
Hours of Operation:
MONDAY – THURSDAY: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
FRIDAY: 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
AFTER HOURS: 940-440-9561
(Calls will be forwarded to the appropriate party.)