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Councilmember Barron's City Business Update (5/9/22)


Good morning, Neighbors,

     Well, grab your favorite beverage, reading glasses, and a comfy seat because this is a long one! City Council meets this week (tomorrow, Tuesday, May 10, 6:00 at Gem of the Hills), but before I get to the agenda, there are several things I want to share. First, congratulations to Mike Smith, Deda Devine, and Rodney Thrailkill who were elected to the council and will be sworn in at tomorrow's meeting. We will also say thank you to Martin Sauceda who has served the city for years and chose not to run for another term. Thanks also to Ryan Moses for being willing to serve.Lots of work ahead for this council in the coming years,
     You all have probably seen by now that Blanco has been designated as an International Dark Sky Community! This is no small honor as only 4 other Texas cities hold this designation. We owe a gigantic thank you to Wayne Gosnell for his tireless service to this community in his efforts to protect our beautiful night sky. Learn more at the website of Blanco County Friends of the Night Sky. Thanks to all the volunteers who assisted Wayne in this effort. Now, shield those lights!!
     You may have seen the Inframark crew around town filling some awful potholes. Please know that we understand that this is a temporary fix. We are doing the best we can to take care of some really horrible areas while we work toward a comprehensive plan for lasting solutions----subsurface infrastructure as well as streets---so as not to waste taxpayer dollars. Thanks for your patience we have lots of catching up to do on infrastructure maintenance.
     You may have noticed that the lot by the Laundromat on Second Street (Pecan Bottom) is not being mowed. That's because the city along with KBB is working to make this a Nature Discovery Park. We are letting the vegetation come in for the month of May to see what Mother Nature put there and allow the desired plants to go to seed. I've already identified sedges, Venus Looking Glass, Mexican Hat, and a large patch of native clump grass. We will be mowing for Lavender Festival and allowing vendor parking for the summer. All parking in this area will stop in September and we will begin the design for planting. We will need volunteers so if nature is your thing, come on down!
     Now for some not-so-good news. As Inframark began operations of the wastewater system for the city, all paperwork and reports required by TCEQ were filed. This led to the discovery that the city has been out of compliance with some TCEQ regulations for years. Reporting was not done and notices of this were ignored. We have received notices from TCEQ and are preparing for assessments due to non-compliance. Additionally, there was a questionable projection of revenue during the last budget year. The department director gave the city an anticipated revenue item of $450,000 that our reconciliation efforts cannot substantiate. What does it mean to the city's budget? The bottom line is we don't know yet. I have said for a full year now that the city's financials were a mess and we are still cleaning up. Thanks to the efforts of our City Administrator, we were able to find a firm to conduct our audit and we are close to knowing just where we stand. I will keep you posted.
     Now for the agenda. The consent calendar consists of minutes, election business, and budget items. The budget items deal with putting numbers in the right places to get our accounting in order. Our interim consulting Finance Director will be present to answer questions. Again, remember that our last budget was done using the best numbers we could find considering that the city had not been following GASB standards (Governmental Accounting Standards Board). We are optimistic that we will have clean numbers in time for this year's budget process.
     Old business relates to an agreement with 42 at 32, an RV park outside the city limits, for water service and consideration of the Short-term rental ordinance. I won't go into more about the STR. I think I have covered that in detail previously. Again, I am asking for your public input on this matter. The proposed ordinance is in your packet.
     New business deals primarily with requests for zoning changes, variances, and special use permits. These were heard at the last Planning and Zoning meeting and will be considered first, during a "Public Hearing" prior to beginning the regular council meeting. Briefly, there is a request for the conversion of the old Live Oak Nursing Care Facility into multifamily housing (15 apartments), a set-back variance for the BISD tennis courts and a set-back variance for a retail establishment on S. Hwy 281 (Echo). Planning and Zoning recommended granting these three requests. Planning and Zoning did recommend the denial of a request for a rezoning AND special use permit for property at 1917 Main for the development of a storage facility. All info is in the packet. If you have any questions or comments regarding any of these requests, please be present tonight during the public hearing to express your views.
     Council will be electing a new Mayor Pro-tem and discussing (NO ACTION to be TAKEN) a water quality ordinance. This ordinance has been adopted by Wimberley, Wood Creek, and Hays County to help minimize potential water pollution from future developments. The ordinance in its current state is likely too detailed for our use, but many of the components can be instrumental in how we manage future development in our area both within the city limits AND our ETJ. Please give it a look and reach out with any suggestions for modifications as the ordinance moves through the public process.
     Thank you all for your involvement in your city government, and remember, if you have an area of specific interest, we likely have a volunteer project for you.