Kerr County Commissioners discussed an airport board appointment; a downtown patriotic celebration next month; virus numbers; and a requested use of former JDC space.

Commissioners Harley Belew, Tom Moser, Jonathan Letz and Don Harris held this meeting in person, socially distanced, with Letz leading the meeting, and County Judge Robert Kelly joining by phone.

Airport Board, new appointment

Commissioners accepted the resignation of Keith Miller from the Kerrville-Kerr County Joint Airport Board, as he is moving to North Carolina. His brief resignation letter addressed to the board president was in their packets.

The board recently chose Miller’s replacement and presented that information to the county, naming Walter Scott Schellhase to complete the unexpired term, at Airport Manager Mary Rohrer’s request.

He was described as an architect by training who also is a pilot and airplane owner.

Schellhase talked with commissioners, who had his application and four-page resume in their packets. He said he appreciated the opportunity to be more involved in airport affairs; that he’s been flying in and out of here about four years. He reminded the court that his grandparents and great-grandparents lived here in years past, and then his parents came here to live.

Commissioners voted 5-0 to accept Miller’s resignation, and name Schellhase to serve in his place.

Courthouse grounds use,

KC Patriot Club

Jerry Wolff identified himself as president of the Kerr County Patriots Club, and asked commissioners’ permission to use the courthouse grounds on Saturday, Sept. 12 for a patriotic celebration.

In his presentation, Wolff said the club supports “conservative values and conservative candidates,” and said they want to hold a non-political event on Sept. 12, “to make up for no July 4 event.”

One reference in the agenda packet called it “Celebrate America Day.”

He said they plan to acknowledge Sept. 11 “Patriot Day;” the Aug. 18 200th anniversary of the national amendment that gave women the right to vote; “Constitution Day” Sept. 17; and, Wolff said, “Most important, we will have tables there to register people to vote.”

He also asked that county staff turn on an exterior electrical connection for the group’s PA system; and give them permission to hang a large banner from the end of August through their gathering that day.

Wolff said they plan to comply with the Governor’s directives relating to COVID restrictions and safety.

Commissioners voted 5-0 to approve these requests, noting the group also presented a specific, written COVID plan.

COVID-19 report

Kerr County Emergency Management Coordinator William “Dub” Thomas reported to commissioners that Coronovirus reports last week (Aug. 3-9) showed a slower rate than previously, with only 16 new positive cases.

He listed total tests administered in this county as 6,321; results of 391 positive cases, three current hospitalizations, and 47 active cases compared to 366 recovered.

“The main transmission method here is definitely ‘community spread’ and in the age ranges, the numbers for those 75-79 are creeping up.”

Asked by commissioners about recent testing offered in the community, Thomas said providers used cheek swabs; and turn-around time for those people to get results remains at about 48 hours. He stressed the test providers are still asking only those with suspected symptoms to come, for confirmation or “clearance,” not area residents who don’t have symptoms and just choose to be tested.

Thomas was asked his opinion for frequency of reports to commissioners, going forward, and agreed that he would come just to regular court meetings on the second and fourth Mondays from now on, unless some spike in cases/hospitalizations shows the need for more frequent reports. He will report again Aug. 24.

He agreed with commissioners that presently, despite Gov. Abbott’s mandate about masks, Texas’ border area with Mexico is experiencing higher case numbers than the rest of the state.

Commissioners also left the current disaster proclamation in place.

Use of office space,

County JDC

Commissioners discussed with a leader of the Christian Men’s Job Corps their request to use space in one part of one building housing the former Kerr County Juvenile Detention Center, for the CMJC’s meetings and classes.

Discussion resulted in a delayed decision, though the CMJC must move out of their former meeting space and finalize their scheduled October classes for members.

Commissioners were complimentary of their work and sympathetic with their problem, but the Juvenile Probation Department staff hasn’t yet moved out of that building, to the adjacent one. And a member of the county’s Capital Improvements Committee reminded them that group hasn’t finished recommendations for use of either building.

Generally they are considering county storage for 26 departments as the main use. This committee is slated to report to commissioners Aug. 17.

And Juvenile Probation chief Jason Davis and commissioners are concerned about protecting the privacy of juveniles entering and leaving the department offices there.

Commissioners agreed to table CMJC’s request until they get a CIP presentation and an architect’s report, while remaining sensitive to needs of the juveniles.

Kerr CAD budget

Commissioners briefly discussed the 2021 Kerr Central Appraisal District proposed budget, after Letz, in the absence of a KCAD representative, told them that KCAD overall budgeted a slight decrease from their FY20 budget.

He said commissioners could vote yes, no or take no action; but the result of “no action” was to let the budget be approved. He told colleagues KCAD’s budget is based on the tax levies of all area taxing entities.

Commissioners approved the KCAD budget.

A page in the budget lists 17 taxing entities. Kerr County pays the second highest proportion at 25.77 percent, second only to Kerrville Independent School District at 36.65 percent, and City of Kerrville paying 12.93 percent.

Total estimated FY21 levy to KCAD is $89,744,161; and the county’s share is listed as $23,129,488.

KCAD appraisers set the property values across the county, upon which each taxing entity’s tax rate (when set) is applied.

County budget calendar

Commissioners approved a revised calendar of budget hearings and votes; and are scheduled to vote on the 2020-21 (FY21) tax rate in late August.

Donations to Animal Services

Director Reagan Givens from Kerr County Animal Services got commissioners’ approval to accept donations from Kerrville Pets Alive.

Donations included a litter box, litter, dry and canned cat food, cat toys, a cat collar and 60 tablets of CAPSTAR flea and tick medication.

A commissioner asked, and Givens said they are allowed to accept such medication.

Burn ban

Commissioners voted 5-0 to continue the Burn Ban across all four precincts, due to lack of rain and dry conditions.

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