More than 20 Blanco Library supporters came to the August 9 meeting of the governing body of Blanco to protest funding cuts to the library, which, according to librarian Crystal Spybuck, is already facing a 64 percent cut in funds from the state. Statistics cited by Spybuck include the fact that over 100 people use the library every day, over 650 per week in the summer. The library has over 5,400 patrons, nearly 2,200 of whom have been active since 2009.
Of the annual budget of $122,500, none comes from Blanco city taxes, and only one-half of one percent of sales taxes in the southern part of Blanco County is designated for the library, which operates with the help of over 40 volunteers. Spybuck also pointed out that the facility is the only one in the city which has a projector system, a large conference room which can be darkened, and in her words, “a willingness to be open for organizations such as yours to use during off hours.”
She pointed out that the library, which is currently open seven days a week, provides computers, internet and WiFi access that people are unable to get at home, computer classes for adults, reading and art programs for children, free databases for research, a workforce computer to help people looking for jobs, a cool (or warm) place for people to be, best-sellers, movies, audio books, and internet access for travelers.
Friends of the Blanco Library president Ruth Holleman pointed out that the library “brings good things to our city, attracting people with high standards who want a good place to live.” She called the proposed action “a shame,” which would “endanger the health of the city,” concluding that the library is “an active and vital community service that needs your support more than ever.” The proposed cut in funding is the second by council, which originally gave $15K per year in support.
Council members voted to approve an amendment to Section 6 of Utilities Ordinance 269, which creates rules and regulations for furnishing city utilities and sets rates for charges.
Residential garbage collection charges will rise to $13.30 per month per dwelling, while commercial rates will be determined by the amount collected, but not less than $15.75 per month.
Residential sewer rates will be determined by the amount of wastewater discharged, with each user billed the same minimum user charge of $15.00 per month for the first 2,000 gallons. Rates in excess of the minimum usage will be calculated based upon the average water consumption during the months of December, January, and February at the rate of $2.00 per 1,000 gallons metered after a 2,000 gallon minimum. Residential customers outside the city will pay at a rate of $3.00 per 1,000 gallons over the 2,000 gallon average. Commercial sewer rates will be assessed at $15 per month for the first 2,000 gallons, plus $2.25 per 1,000 thereafter. Out-of-city customers will pay $3.38 per 1,000 after the 2,000 gallon minimum.
The following schedule of monthly water use charges will be established as follows: 1) inside the city limits: first 1,500 gallons and minimum charge: $25. All over 1,500 gallons at a rate of $7 per 1,000 gallons; 2) outside the city limits: first 1,500 gallons and minimum charged: $37.50 per month. All over 1,500 gallons at a rate of $10.50 per 1,000 gallons.
In other business, council members followed the lead of the Blanco Independent School District and nominated Dr. David Behrends and Lynn Boyd to serve on the Blanco County Appraisal District Board of Directors. The city has 83 votes to cast in the election.
A request by local motel owner Ralph de Leon to allow golf carts on city streets was tabled until city attorney Eddy Rogers and police chief Milton Willmann can meet to draft an ordinance. The mayor received an affirmative answer when he asked if council was interested in pursuing the development of an ordinance. While Rogers cited safety concerns in his reluctance to have carts traveling on Blanco’s city streets, Chief Willmann stressed that stringent, specific rules would make their operation safer, including a permitting process and a requirement that operators have a driver’s license and insurance. Mayor Chuck Homan asked that the issue be put on the September meeting agenda.
Blanco Chamber of Commerce secretary Debbie Vallone-Homeier reported that the chamber hosted a HOT money workshop at the chamber this morning and thanked council members who attended. The chamber will soon be compiling a Members’ Directory that will include advertising opportunities for members. She announced that the September Member of the Month is SpeedNet. A joint chamber mixer with the Johnson City Chamber was to be held August 11 at the Miller Creek RV Park. The 2011 Protect and Serve Mixer will be held September 30 at Uptown Blanco. Featured speaker is humorist, author, and sometime gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Blanco Police Department. Elections for the chamber board will be in October. Nominations will be open beginning the end of August.
Planning and Zoning Commission chair Tony Vela reported that the final version of the proposed signage ordinance was chosen at the August meeting. A public hearing will be held at the next meeting prior to presenting the ordinance at the September city council meeting. P&Z recommended WB Saloon and Cycles owner and operator Nelson Wheatley to fill the last vacancy on the commission. Council approved his appointment, with Rebecca Howerton abstaining on the grounds that she does not know him.
Police Chief Milton Willmann reported that calls plateaued in July but that more tickets and warnings were issued. There have been numerous suspicious persons and vehicle calls, which, Willmann has often said, are a good thing because they show that citizens are alert and helping the police keep Blanco safe. The force has been busy with follow-up investigations to serious crimes in the city. Following executive session, council approved removing Officer Matt Norman from probationary status and giving him a salary increase.
A request to lower the speed limit to 20 mph on Terry Lane, the road which runs between First Baptist Church and the football stadium from Seventh Street to Highway 1623, was withdrawn since the small segment lies between two school zones. Chief Willmann said when school starts two officers will be posted at school zones at the beginning and end of the school day. There are also new school zone signs posted with the “No Cell Phone Use” message on them, according to the mayor.
Finally, as a formality, council voted to approve the Government Accounting Standards Board Resolution 54, which is used in compiling the city’s annual budget.