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County debates tire dump

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Posted: Friday, August 30, 2019 12:00 am

Down two Commissioners Court members to a panel of three on Monday, Aug. 26, County Judge Robert Kelly and Commissioners Jonathan Letz and Don Harris caught and derailed a “problem-in-the-making” regarding storage of and uses for scrap tires.

Kelly said, a few years ago, a new business was set up near Center Point to handle old, large, heavy-duty equipment tires, and create livestock water troughs out of them. That business failed, and tires are now stacked up at the site, abandoned.

On Monday’s agenda, an item read, “Consider, discuss and take appropriate action to authorize the County Judge to submit a response letter to Texas Commission Environmental Quality, following notice from Reichhamm, LLC for a scrap tire storage site located at 5445 State Highway 27, Center Point 78010.”

This generated unhappy discussion Monday with company representatives including a local engineer hired to aid the “new” business - which county officials discovered about two weeks ago is not a new business, just a different and equally unwanted request to bury the tire pieces in local quarries near the Guadalupe River as “filler” layers.

Kelly said, about two weeks ago, Reagan Givens of the Kerr County Environmental Health Department attended an Alamo Area Council of Governments meeting in San Antonio and sat in on a grant-request session. He heard a “new company” representative, who he recognized from previous contacts, asking for a grant for their “new idea.” And that man told AACOG officials that Kerr County had already approved their idea.

They have not; and Givens tried to tell AACOG officials that.

Back home, Givens and Kelly “powwowed” with other Kerr County officials, Kelly said, after learning Kerr County had an Aug. 28 deadline to respond to the TCEQ, and that Reichhamm LLC was on an AACOG agenda the same day. Kerr officials notified TCEQ and AACOG that no action has been taken to remedy the abandoned scrap tire site, which was permitted for 50 tires but now has at least 100.

Kelly said Kerr County now has a Thursday, Aug. 29 deadline to respond to AACOG; and an AACOG official called him to say she was pulling the Reichhamm grant request off the Aug. 28 docket.

Locally, Ray Buck from Upper Guadalupe River Authority spoke in opposition to the proposed use of tires as landfill, citing “alluvial aquifer” areas that filter water into the river; and said he’s concerned about “leaching” because tires don’t decompose.

Kelly said Monday, “We caught them, and called them out about their deception and dishonesty;” and the visiting company representatives were not in the courtroom when Kelly and others wanted to question them.

Public hearing,

new county budget

With Commissioners Harley Belew and Tom Moser absent Monday, Kelly and Commissioners Letz and Harris passed over an agenda item to approve “general provisions for FY 2019-20.” But they voted 3-0 to set a public hearing on consideration and adoption of the FY20 budget at 9:45 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 23.

In a related item, they voted 3-0 to have the Kerr County clerk publish notice of the public hearing on consideration and adoption of the new county budget, also scheduled for 9:45 a.m. on Sept. 23.

Donation of sand, county parks

Commissioners happily voted unanimously to accept the donation from Martin Marietta Materials company of “bedrock sand” to be used as ground covering under new playground equipment being installed in two county parks.

Work started last week on the new playground set to be erected in Flat Rock Park; and a second one was to be installed in Lions Park in Center Point.

The sand will be spread under both sets of playground equipment, as an alternative to mulch which the committee and volunteers agreed might wash away easier in river rises.

Requested 381 abatement,

MacDonald housing site

Commissioners got a formal request from Thompson Drive Partners LLC and the MacDonald Company for the county to consider approving a “381 Economic Development Agreement” which would set up a tax-abatement process as the developers are poised to begin work on “The Landing” on acreage between Thompson Drive and the Guadalupe River.

The development is planned to include apartments and other housing, plus restaurants and other office and retail sites, plus riverfront green space.

Representatives of the development company also asked City of Kerrville’s Economic Improvement Corporation for a similar “380 agreement.”

“The Landing” will be a mixed-use development on 60 acres along Thompson Drive. The first phase is planned to include a 120-unit, market-rate apartment community; and future phases will include added apartments, townhouses, and the other businesses.

Stephen B. Schulte from the company made the presentation to commissioners, and estimated over five years that for tax revenue, the total land and improvements would start at $9.6 million and rise to $42.7 million by 2025.

Ad valorem tax revenue is estimated to grow from $62.8 million to $219.8 million.

The “agreement effect on taxes” would be $591,550.96, Schulte said.

When citizen George Baroody questioned the timing of this request under tax abatement rules/scheduling, saying they already broke ground and started work, the company owner responded that the city is extending utility lines to the property’s edge, but not onto the future construction site.

Commissioners voted 3-0 to enter into the requested agreement.

Kelly said this kind of project allows the area to attract new people and businesses here, and that he was in favor of encouraging the company to improve their site first, and then having the county tax it with its “improvements.”

“They develop and build; we tax and collect,” Kelly said after the meeting, noting the recent announcement of Kerrville State Hospital to expand and add new jobs means more employees and families will need more affordable housing.

Crossing Street, Center Point

Commissioners voted 3-0 to authorize a construction contract for placement of reinforced concrete pavement and drainage on Crossing Street in Center Point, and the closure of that low-water crossing below the dam from Skyview to Center Point River Road starting this week and through Sept. 30.

The county is contributing $6,000 for concrete.

Interlocal agreement,

local mental health services

The court voted 3-0 to approve an interlocal agreement for mental health and psychoactive medication hearings at the Kerrville State Hospital and the Hill Country Crisis Stabilization Unit.

Judge Kelly presides over mental health hearings for a multi-county area, as KSH services are located in Kerr County. County Attorney Heather Stebbins will send copies of this agreement to commissioners’ courts in contracting counties. This agreement dates from 2009 and needed updating.

Public hearing, Kerr County,

Lateral Roads tax rate

Commissioners offered a public hearing on the proposed Kerr County and Lateral Roads 2019 Tax Rate; and no one asked to speak.

The proposed tax rate for Kerr County for 2019-20 is $0.515000 per $100 valuation. This is the same tax rate for the county as was set for 1018-19.

A second hearing on this is scheduled for Sept. 9 at 9 a.m. at the Kerr County Commissioners’ regular meeting at the courthouse.

Committee, Long-range

Construction Needs

Commissioners and Kelly discussed formation of a “long range construction needs” committee; and recently agreed that Kelly and Letz would be co-chairmen, and Kelly and each of the four commissioners would nominate a committee member, for a total of seven members.

In light of outgrowing office space at the downtown courthouse, and related questions, Kelly said they hope for a citizens’ committee of members with development and construction planning experience.

The court plans to make appointments to this committee at their regular meeting Sept. 9.

MOU, disaster response

Commissioners voted 3-0 to approve a “Memorandum of Understanding" between the American Red Cross and Kerr County Emergency Management, to provide “mass care services” in the event of a disaster in Kerr County.

Kerr Emergency Management Director William “Dub” Thomas spoke to the court on this, and commissioners approved this five-year renewal of the agreement.

Domestic Awareness Month

Kim Olden from the Hill Country Crisis Council appeared before the court to request that the HCCC be allowed to diaqplay purple lights at the courthouse during the month of October as a reminder to the public of “Domestic Violence Awareness Month.” The court voted 3-0 to approve the HCCC’s request.

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