At the July 8 meeting of the governing body of the City of Blanco, city attorney Ricky Simmons notified council that letters will be sent with the next water bill inviting property owners in the extra-territorial jurisdiction, including Yett Park and Cielo Springs, to be annexed by the city. These areas already receive services from the city. Each year the city may annex a certain amount of property to increase its revenues, either by voluntary or involuntary means.
Tamara Chapman of PEC informed council that there will be a rate increase of .0106 per kilowatt hour for residential and most other rates, due to a fuel charge to PEC beginning July 1. “We’re not happy about the increase,” admitted Chapman, “but it’s out of our control.” She also announced that six PEC offices, including one at Canyon Lake, are now open on Saturdays from 8 a.m. till noon. She also notified the council that road crews are working in the Blanco area to upgrade power poles.
Planning and Zoning Commission member Amil Baker reported to council that “little progress” was made on developing the signage ordinance at P&Z’s regular meeting on June 17. A special meeting was held prior to council meeting on July 8 to discuss approval of the plat of the San Saba Estates Phase II subdivision being developed by Jason Wheeler. P&Z voted to recommend that council approve the plat. Council member Tina Gourley asked Baker what had transpired regarding concerns of residents of the adjoining Sunset Ridge subdivision that San Saba Street, owned by David Behrends, is too narrow. Mayor Rodrigue responded that a meeting of property owners with Dr. Behrends has not yet occurred. Ricky Simmons said that the road issue is “no impediment” to approving the plat. Public works director Nathan Cantrell commented that the Sunset Ridge owners have access through Sixth Street. The mayor said that the roads servicing both developments could be taken over by the city when developers bring them up to the necessary specifications. Council approved the plat with Tina Gourley dissenting.
Blanco State Park Superintendent Michael Young updated council on activities at the park, including two recent week-long eco-camps for children, progress on reclamation of park trails with the assistance of the Boy Scouts, park hosts, and other volunteers, and good visitation during the July 4th holiday. He called the recent rains, “a great relief,” but added that they had a negative effect on visitation. Once again he encouraged park visitors to check in at the park office so that accurate records of visitation can be passed on to the state auditor’s office and Texas State Parks headquarters. Young reminded council that, although all visitors are expected to pay, those who walk in at some other entrance will not be given citations in the interest of maintaining good community relations. He reiterated that an annual $60 park pass is really a bargain in tough economic times, adding that parks with good attendance rates receive more money from the state for improvements. Council discussed other means such as sewer and water abatement to offset lost revenues. Council member Doug Pautz requested that Young put together some figures to present at upcoming council budget workshops.
Other upcoming events at the park include the Blanco Outback Triathlon on Saturday, July 25th, which is expected to bring 350-400 people to the area. Young thanked Nathan Cantrell for the additional water released upstream, which enhances the river flow for recreational purposes. Finally, Young informed council that a communications tower approximately 40-50 feet high will be installed behind park headquarters. “We have researched to find the most aesthetic, least intrusive tower,” said Young, adding that the tower’s height will be lower than security lights on the Highway 281 bridge. Additional plantings, and CCC interpretive panels will also minimize the impact of the additional structure.
Police Chief Ed Sonier reported 166 speeding tickets issued in June with 233 citations in all and 80 call sheets. He commended officer Gary Pittman for a program Pittman developed called “Active Shooter in the School,” which a number of school systems are interested in implementing. Sonier also asked council to approve the use of police vehicles by Blanco officers for supplementing state trooper presence on I-35. Officers are paid $55 per hour for a 10-hour shift during the night, during which they sit in their vehicles to provide traffic control. They do not pursue speeders or work crimes, explained Sonier, adding that the city is remunerated for the time of the officers, as well as receiving $12 per hour for use of the vehicles. Mayor Rodrigue commented, “I see it as an opportunity to help (the officers) better themselves financially.” Council approved the continued use of police vehicles by the officers.
Chamber of Commerce representative Debbie Homeier reported in the absence of Julie Dill, who was unable to attend. Over 180 volunteers contributed to the success of the festival, and there were more vendors than could be accommodated in the space available. According to Homeier, vendors have already begun signing up for next year’s festival. Programs left over from the festival are being used by the chamber as ads for next year’s event. Souvenirs including T-shirts are available at the chamber office, and a credit card process has been added. There is currently no administrative assistant, so a volunteer program is being implemented. Administrator Julie Dill’s term has been extended to September 30. In response to a question about proceeds from the festival, Homeier responded that they go to pay the administrator’s salary. The next chamber mixer will be held at Miller Creek RV Park July 31st at 5:30 in conjunction with the Johnson City chamber.
In other business, council approved the 2009 Proposed Appraisal and Collection Budgets for the Blanco County Appraisal District, in the amount of $529,963.00. After discussion in executive session, council also voted to approve a motion to accept a counter-offer from BISD to accept payment of 1/3 of a bill for installing a water meter, in the amount of $1,376.89, in settlement of potential litigation resulting from the district’s failure to pay the original bill.