On July 26, Center Point citizens vented at length again about their worries and dissatisfaction with the plans for the Center Point Village housing development near State Highway 27 East off Willow Bend.
Their complaints began with the increase in the small town’s population to change it dramatically, whether there is enough water for current plus future residents, and if Center Point ISD can handle that many two-plus children families who will move into what the developer billed as “affordable housing.”
Commissioners said Aqua Texas must prove water availability, and has done so, discussed in two previous Town Hall meetings.
Commissioner Tom Moser was quoted in an email obtained under Freedom of Information requests as volunteering to help Eden Farms developer Brandon Namkin (who wasn’t present Monday) promote his project, as opposed to providing “information” to the public.
Other speakers cited decreasing water well levels over recent years, in and out of drought; ongoing problems with stormwater runoff that will worsen with the new development, the stress on the school system, and traffic problems at the one connecting intersection.
One man asked the court if they knew Namkin previously tried something similar in Gruene and Buda, and filed for bankruptcy three times. When he went to court, the man said, the judge ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and said Namkin was guilty of fraud, embezzlement, forgery, theft and misapplication of funds, and told him to pay $1.1 million. Commissioners said that was news to them.
The man said Namkin was operating under a new company within a month.
Another man said the new development will be “a blemish” with no respect for the beauty of the community; and was applauded by the others.
One woman said Aqua Texas isn’t servicing Center Point adequately now; and she’s against the new project.
Another citizen asked commissioners for their personal opinions on Namkin’s plans, and Letz said personally he doesn’t like the subdivision, that it has too many home sites and he dislikes RVs.
But he and other commissioners had already quoted to citizens what the court can and cannot do, as long as required plats are submitted and the state checks off adherence to water and wastewater requirements.
And “concept plans” with floodplain details are required.
Once a plat is submitted, the court has 30 days to respond. And if the county doesn’t decide in that time, the law says the plat is approved.
They said the developer already has his water availability letter from HGCD; and the property is on the new wastewater system.
They did admit there are differences between their “Model Subdivision Rules” and some points in their overall subdivision rules.
Overall nobody went home happy; and this was near the start of a four-plus-hour meeting.
New advisory committee,
aggregate production ops
Commissioners discussed who to recruit or appoint to a new “Advisory Committee for Aggregate Production Operations,” with County Judge Robert Kelly volunteering to be chairman.
Other slots were discussed as one commissioner; one City of Kerrville representative; three quarry operators, and at least three citizens.
After the court discussed 10 members total, Kelly suggested one more to make it 11, an uneven number, and including representatives from the offices of Andrew Murr and Dawn Buckingham.
Kelly said he also wants an Airport Board representative included, too.
Commissioners voted 5-0 to make the new committee 11 members.
County budget calendar
Commissioners adopted a revised budget calendar as they complete the 2021-22 budget; and adoption of the new budget will be Sept. 13. Kelly said, after possible revisions on Aug. 23 when a public hearing also is scheduled.
Retiring Commissioner Tom Moser’s replacement also will be sworn in at the end of the same Aug. 23 meeting.
Paid Time Off
Commissioners approved replacing the current vacation and sick leave policy with a “Paid Time Off” policy by a 5-0 vote.
HR Director Jennifer Doss said, “Nobody loses anything. Whatever they have in sick leave or vacation, they can use that. New employees will enter under the new policy, effective Oct. 1.”
She said sick leave balance as of Sept. 30 will be kept in sick leave.
Vacation balance as of the same date has a maximum carry-over of 320 hours and any balance over that transfers into sick leave.
Pct. 3 constable replacement
Two related items were called on the Precinct 3 constable post, the first an item to accept the resignation of Kenneth Wilke as constable. And the second was the appointment of Paul Gonzales as Wilke’s successor.
Kelly said in the 2020 election Gonzales was elected by voters to the precinct post, but asked to stay at his School Resource Officer position at Tivy High until his replacement there was worked out.
Now he’s ready to move to his new elected position, after Wilke agreed to stay in the Precinct 3 post temporarily.
Commissioners voted 5-0 to approve Wilke’s departure and Gonzales taking over the job as of early August.
Historical Commission award
President Julie Leonard of the Kerr County Historical Society gave a short report about their 57 members, five meetings under COVID, and community activities including an untold story marker at the old Thompson Sanitarium (State Hospital now), family cemeteries, all historical markers surveyed for condition and repairs, the pictorial display in the Courthouse lobby, partnering with work at the archeological event, and an agreement to safely store their files at the Logan Library, Schreiner University.
Treasurer Wilma Teague joined her for the presentation of the State Historical Commission’s “Distinguished Service Award” won after Leonard completed a 15-page report to the state.
Steve Stoutamire reported to the court on the Texas Archeological Society event in Kerr County in June, saying their week-long event drew more participants than expected; and they had the most first-time attendees ever.
He said their excavations on one local ranch drew 160 people, including state organization representatives. At another ranch, 43 people worked the site; and a field lab drew about 30 people.
He said all artifacts were sent to Austin to be studied and eventually returned to the ranch owners. And he thanked commissioners for attendees being able to stay at Flat Rock and River Star parks.
The owner at the largest ranch site has agreed to host this group in 2022, he said; and the state organization agrees.
Replacing Commissioner, Pct. 3
Kelly was questioned by a citizen on his plan for replacing Moser next month, asking commissioners if it would be more effective to elect his replacement. The answer to her question about length of remaining term is one year five months to Dec. 31, 2022
Kelly said the procedure by law is that the county judge appoints, and the appointee serves until the next general election. The position will be on the ballot in November 2022.
She asked about a debate with public input.
Kelly said he’s received at least 18 applications. They will have a special commissioners’ meeting Aug. 8 to reduce the list to five or six people; and that list will be made public. The Sheriff will do background checks on all of them; and Kelly will interview each one. He said he hadn’t planned a Town Hall; and she was free to contact any or all of them on the short list herself.
Asked if a public debate would follow, Kelly replied what he listed above is his procedure.
Illegal immigration issues,
A citizen offered examples of resolutions from other counties affected by increased illegal immigration and mentioned a motion in one on “constitutional counties,” advising against that. The woman said jails south of the Hill Country are smaller, and the build-up of illegals jailed will probably push north.
She added the organizations aiding illegals “are not helping us,” and “move them in under cover of darkness.”
Kelly accepted her sample resolutions, and said he attended a conference on this topic in Del Rio recently attended by about 150 officials, many of whom he talks to regularly. He said Sheriff Larry Leitha is “on top of this issue.”
Leitha said it’s a complicated subject and frustrating, as it’s not illegal to be undocumented in the U.S.
He said this Monday morning, law enforcement chased three vehicles on State Highway 41 and Interstate 10 and called for help from Kerrville and Kendall County law enforcement when the chases extended southeast. They arrested at least one person as a “trafficker,” he said.
He and Commissioners confirmed it costs about $100,000 a year to keep such persons in jail when they commit crimes here, in addition to transporting illegal immigrants. He said they prosecute smugglers, as does ICE and others, but they usually “process” them and send them back south.
“It’s basically a never-closing door,” he said.
Sheriff’s Office donations
Commissioners voted 5-0 to approve Sheriff Larry Leitha accepting three donations totaling $10,750.
Leitha said he would earmark those for his Sheriff’s Special Response Team Fund, and use the money for his unit to monitor immigration trafficking.
The donations came from two businesses and a citizen.
Jail Project Fund
The county auditor asked the court to approve closing the “Jail Project Fund 17,” remaining from the most recent construction and remodel of the jail; and transfer the remaining approximately $146,000 to the debt service fund. They can use that to help pay down the debt on that project, she said.
Commissioners voted 5-0 to approve this money transfer.
Updating county website
Harris said he’s talked to three different offices and specialists about possible improvements to the Kerr County website, including the Texas Association of Counties, and looked at a handful of other entities’ websites; and he recommended to fellow commissioners that they schedule a workshop in which to get expert information and recommendations.
They agreed to look at their calendars to set a workshop date; and Letz asked that Harris have his three examples available then on a video screen for them to see, and test usefulness on phones as well as computers.