Blanco County News
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Commissioners Consider Fire Suppression, Pass on Burn Ban
Wednesday, June 11, 2014 • Posted June 12, 2014

The Blanco County Commissioners Court held a Regular meeting on Tuesday, June 10, 2014 at 9:00 a.m. The Commissioners met in the Commissioners Courtroom of the Blanco County Courthouse in Johnson City, Texas. All four County Commissioners were present. Blanco County Judge Bill Guthrie was absent because he is attending school at this time. Blanco County Commissioner Paul Granberg presided over the Regular meeting in Judge Guthrie’s absence.

The Regular meeting opened with the Pledge of Allegiance. Blanco County Clerk Karen Newman read the minutes of the Special meeting of May 27, 2014. A motion to accept the minutes as read was given by Blanco County Commissioner Chris Liesmann and seconded by County Commissioner James Sultemeier.

Blanco County Commissioner John Wood asked the Court to consider amending subdivision regulations to include fire suppression. The proposed regulations state that: “In a subdivision that is not served by fire hydrants as part of a centralized water system certified by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality as meeting minimum standards for water utility service, the commissioners court may require a limited fire suppression system that requires a developer to construct: (1) for a subdivision of fewer than 50 houses, 2,500 gallons of storage; or (2) for a subdivision of 50 or more houses, 2,500 gallons of storage with a centralized water system or 5,000 gallons of storage. Added by Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1390, Sec. 5, eff. September 1, 2007.

Blanco County Commissioner Wood told the Court the County has carefully been considering fire suppression for subdivisions. The issue of County liability has been raised. County Commissioner Wood thanked County Attorney David Hall for his work on the proposal. Hall has reviewed the proposal thoroughly and said there was no County liability; the liability for maintaining the storage equipment would be to the home and property owners of the developments.

Johnson City Fire Chief Burdett spoke to the Court regarding the proposal. Burdett said, “the proposal is well intentioned, but I would like to see a more comprehensive fire code for Blanco County.” A specific question was who would be responsible for maintaining the system. Burdett told the Commissioners Court, “we need a credible water supply that we can trust…but any water is appreciated.”

Citizen Elaine Cross also addressed the Court regarding fire suppression. Cross thanked the Commissioners for their work on the proposal. Cross said, “water is a hard to come by resource.” Cross reminded the Commissioners of what can happen in a fire when fire fighters are forced to seek out alternative water supplies to refill tanks. Sometimes grass or structural fires occur on impassible terrain, and equipment is costly. Cross said the ordinance could be a “helping hand” to fire fighters.

Blanco County Attorney David Hall said there has been a lot of research conducted for the proposal. His questions pertained to general authority and liability. Hall reminded the Commissioners the proposal can be changed to suit specific needs. Hall said there are four title companies who are licensed to operate in Blanco County. Requirements could be made for the developer on record to indicate signage on storage tanks on each plat. The title companies would get notice of requirements of subdivision responsibility to maintain equipment because, “there is a lot at stake for who has government authority in subdivisions and responsibility to maintain.”

Blanco Fire Chief Ron Solomon told the Court, “I am all for more water.” Solomon said that 2500 gallon storage tanks would be critical for the initial knock down but firefighters would still have to shuttle for additional water. Blanco County Surveyor Amil Baker asked for clarity regarding maintenance of paved roads and added that this discussion could be part of a potential workshop.

A discussion followed as to who must enforce the proposal and who would oversee the maintenance of the equipment. Blanco County Commissioner Granberg and County Attorney Hall said the homeowners have total responsibility. According to Hall, “if not maintained [the system] is rendered useless. The fire suppression plan would give an extra pot of water to fire fighters.” Baker said requirements could include fire suppression equipment to be installed as per ordinance when subdivisions are developed. This installation would be met before authority for subdivisions are given as part of a check-off system.

Cross gave a comparison between maintenance of roads and tanks, because County roads require responsibility of property and homeowners. As the discussion ended County Commissioner Wood told the Court, “the proposal is a good idea but I would like to see more backing from the Fire Department and Fire Chiefs.” Blanco County Commissioner Wood said that he would not make a motion to accept the subdivision regulations to include fire suppression at this time. Wood added, “another workshop to answer additional questions is needed.” He thanked everyone for their input.

County Commissioner Granberg told the Court, “everyone has gotten rain and things are green and are looking pretty good.” County Commissioner Sultemeier said he would pass on taking action on the burn ban. Therefore the County-wide burn ban remains off. County Commissioner Granberg asked Kathy Strickland, secretary to Blanco County Judge Bill Guthrie to clarify requirements for prohibiting the sale or use of “restricted fireworks” which are defined as “skyrockets with sticks” as classified in 49 Code of Federal Regulations, Section 173.100®(2) for the July fireworks season. Strickland told the Court, “in order to restrict the sale or use of ‘restricted fireworks’ the County must be under a drought index of 575 and there must be a burn ban in place. Blanco County is currently in a 0-200 drought index. Hence, per the Texas Forest Service no action is taken.”

County Commissioner Granberg asked the Commissioners Court to consider acknowledgement of receipt of the 2013 audit for the North Blanco County Emergency Services District. A motion to accept the audit was given by Blanco County Commissioner Liesmann and seconded by County Commissioner Wood. No discussion followed and the motion carried.

The Court was also asked to consider authorization to reduce the salary of the Tax Assessor/Collector (TAC) by $200 per month and increase the salary of the Chief Deputy TAC by the same amount for the extent of the term of the current TAC due to health issues. Blanco County Commissioner Sultemeier made a motion to authorize the change in salary. This motion was seconded by County Commissioner Wood; no discussion followed and the motion carried.

The Court approved the final plat for the Summit Springs Subdivision. A brief presentation by owner Davy Roberts indicated there was good interest in completing the development on the Burnet County side and that development was proceeding on the Blanco County side of the project. According to Roberts, “the water system would include fire hydrants positioned near tanks at a central location. Trucks can come to fill up on the Blanco side which includes about 25% of the project.” Blanco County Commissioner Liesmann asked if all documents had been submitted and he was told they had been. County Commissioner Liesmann gave a motion for approval of the plat for Summit Springs Subdivision and County Commissioner Wood seconded. There was no discussion and the motion carried.

Blanco County Commissioner Wood asked the Court to authorize for paving projects in Precinct One. The paving would be done on Cottonwood and Maenius Roads. Blanco County Commissioner Wood gave a motion to approve and County Commissioner Liesmann seconded. There was no discussion and the motion carried.

The Court heard a lengthy presentation of the annual report from the outside auditor for FY 2012-2013. The auditor said the report was made in compliance with all rules and regulations set forth in Gatsby Annual Review. The auditor’s assessment was that Blanco County, “is in good financial condition,” and, “the [Blanco] County does a good job of making and holding the budget line.” A motion to accept the annual report was given by Blanco County Commissioner Wood and seconded by County Commissioner Sultemeier; this motion carried.

The Commissioners Court approved the estimated June payroll of $256,887.69. Blanco County Commissioner Liesmann made a motion for approval, County Commissioner Wood seconded, and the motion passed. All official reports were in, and those were approved by the Court with a motion for approval made by Blanco County Commissioner Liesmann and a second by County Commissioner Sultemeier. The outstanding bills in the amount of $54,043.49 were also approved by the Commissioners Court. Blanco County Commissioner Wood gave this motion and County Commissioner Sultemeier seconded. After approval of the motion the Regular meeting adjourned.

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