Kerr County Commissioners held a regular meeting July 27, and mulled two added vehicle registration fees and the FY21 budget for the Kerrville-Kerr County Airport.

New vehicle registration fees

Kerr County Tax Assessor Bob Reeves asked commissioners to approve what the agenda called two “optional” fees to be collected by the local tax office.

One is a new $1.50 “Child Safety Fee” that would be added with 2021 vehicle registrations, benefitting a fund that can aid families in need of child car seats. These funds also can benefit organizations such as Child Services Board and CASA after the county gets 10 percent off the top and portions go to Kerrville and Ingram. This one passed by a 3-2 vote.

The other is a $10 County Road and Bridge fee that would be added to people’s vehicle registration fees, and the funds benefitting that county department.

Reeves said this $10 fee already was in place here; and was a request from Texas Department of Motor Vehicles. Commissioners also approved this.

Neither the agenda nor court discussion defined what’s “optional” about either one. County Judge Robert Kelly will be submitting the Annual Kerr County Fee changes to TxDOT.

Airport Board budget FY20-21

Mark Moser, president of the board for Kerrville-Kerr County Airport, accompanied by Airport Manager Mary Roher, presented the FY21 proposed budget to the county, a co-owner of the facility.

He said this area regularly receives about $38.3 million in business and profits because of their activity and jobs. That might be at risk now with “fuel flow” heaviest hit during the pandemic, he said.

Most airport income is from rentals, and he presented a balanced budget. But he warned their previous preferred stance of “revenue-neutral” now has them facing deferred maintenance and operations issues including hangar repairs, a new overlay on the important cross-runway, and lack of additional storage now for more corporate planes. Their T-hangar project also needs more funding.

Before commissioners voted to approve the budget, Don Harris asked if there is anywhere they can cut back in this difficult year; and Jonathan Letz noted the need for a “capital improvements” fund there to replace the county/city matching grants.

County Judge Robert Kelly said the county is half-owner and must take care of the airport. All agreed they need to make a plan, or have a better plan than this. The vote on the airport budget was 4-0 to approve with Harris abstaining.

COVID-19 report

Sheriff Rusty Hierholzer gave the emergency management report provided by Coordinator Dub Thomas, saying they were announcing revised numbers based on how the state is keeping statistics on positive versus “probable” cases. As of last week, Hierholzer said, Kerr had 244 total cases, 50 active cases, one death and one under investigation.

County Judge Robert Kelly said the work of Kerrville Fire Chief Danny Smith and Thomas to better sort out the regional and state numbers resulted in this new list, after the state’s backlog of “contact tracing” became an issue.

Thomas’ report said the county has had 5,462 tests administered; 340 positive test results, and now 50 active cases, and a less than 1 percent infection rate.

Commissioners also chose not to rescind their local state of disaster order, saying it should remain as long as they are incurring expenses related to COVID.

Giant Cane management

Tara Bushnoe came from Upper Guadalupe River Authority to ask commissioners for two things related to ridding Kerr waterways of “Giant Cane” (Arundo Donax).

She got county authorization for Texas Parks & Wildlife officials to spray on county property and rights-of-way; and to allow TPWD personnel to fill their trailer water tanks from tanks at the Hill Country Youth Event Center.

Bushnoe also said since they redesigned the River Cleanup from an organized group event, to single volunteer cleanup crews on personal schedules, she was requesting volunteers’ use of the HCYEC dumpster for smaller items.

Commissioners said yes, after assurances that large items that won’t fit are to be taken to the UGRA parking lot for disposal.

Storage, county-owned materials

They also approved three signed agreements with private property owners who are permitting county-owned materials and sometimes vehicles to be stored on their sites. Road and Bridge Director Kellie Hoffer said it keeps their materials more accessible in Precincts 1, 2 and 4.

Phases II, III, Center Point

Wastewater

County Engineer Charlie Hastings asked the court for authorization to advertise for bids on construction of Phases II and III of the Center Point Wastewater Collection System project.

He said Phase I, the largest section of the three, is almost complete, and phased out about 400 septic systems in that area. The funding for the other two phases already is authorized by the Texas Water Development Board and Texas Department of Agriculture. This will replace about 500 other septic systems in East Kerr County.

With the court’s approval for bids, they foresee bid opening on Aug. 27; and awarding contracts Sept. 14.

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