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Celebration cut short by treasurer report

By Sandy Jennings BCC Staff Writer

Bandera City Council began their regular meeting on Thursday, July 7, celebrating special recognition from Texas Governor Greg Abbott, presented by Bandera County Historical Commission Co-Chairman Eleanor Dugosh Goodley.
Goodley presented Mayor John Hegemier and Frontier Times Museum Trustee Eddie Rowe with certificates from Abbott with a proclamation recognizing Bandera as the Cowboy Capital of the World.
Goodley continues to work on receiving the same recognition from President Barack Obama, stating that, “Certificates of recognition from the President’s office are coming next.”
Treasurer Report
The festive mood changed quickly as the council heard an alarming report from Interim Treasurer Rose Garr, who reported having to pay an $11,000 tax bill penalty for late payroll deposits by former treasurer Trinity Burnes.
Garr stated that she fears this “penalty will be one of many incurred by the former treasurer.”
“The $11,000 is a just a portion of what we will have to pay,” Garr said. “Trinity filed the January though March payroll deposits late, too, which means there will be penalties, we just haven’t received that report back, yet.”
The penalties are only one of her concerns.
“There were unnecessary cash accounts that were set up that we have to trace,” Garr said. “There were numerous NSF checks from utility payments, some as big as $600-$800, that came back and have never been addressed. I have let the auditors know about everything.”
Garr is preparing for an August audit, noting her frustration in having “to play catch up” with last year’s treasurer reports and accounts.
“I’m still behind from last year,” Garr said. “It’s very frustrating trying to keep current on all treasurer business when I’m still having to do last year’s work.”
City administrator report
City Administrator Mike Garr, the husband of interim treasurer, started his report stating that he would be sounding a city alarm randomly, starting last Saturday, to “get the residents accustomed to the sound and what it means.”
Garr addressed the trash in the City Park during the Fourth of July weekend as being “out of control,” noting that he had taken off that weekend and adjustments will be made for next year.
Garr recapped his preliminary visit to a new well site off of Highway 3240, in which the city will be seeking a grant to develop. He also spoke of a well in the subdivision of Indian Waters that is not in use.
“We are looking forward to putting this well back in use,” Garr said. “It’s one of our future development projects that we will be working in conjunction with Dave and the Board at BCRAGD (Bandera County River Authority and Groundwater District) and Aquatech Drilling.”
A representative from Aquatech Drilling was not present to give an assessment on the re-evaluation of the current state of the Indian Waters well.
Monument for Heritage Park
Bandera County Historical Commission Chairman Roy Dugosh presented the council with a picture of the desired monument for Heritage Park, a rendition of the famous Teddy Roosevelt Remington statue, displaying an action-style reared horse with patriot.
There was much discussion over the actual statue, with Councilman Rebecca Gibson stating, “Everyone likes choices, I just wish we had some options.”
Gibson noted that the same statue resides at Antler Oaks Lodge and the YO Hilton in Kerrville, asking if there were any options that better represented the “Cowboy Capital.”
“It’s going to belong to us, our trademark, right up there with Theodore Roosevelt at the White House,” Dugosh pleaded passionately. “We will own that statue.”
Dugosh stated that there wasn’t another option for the same cost and value. The Bandera Economic Development Corporation (BEDC) approved $20,000 for the bronze statue – cost of statue $15,900; removal of existing water fountain and installation of concrete base $2,000; and historical marker $1,800.
Council approved the budget and location of statue, in Heritage Park on Main Street. Council did not approve the actual Remington rendition.
David Mauk, general manager of the BCRAGD, presented, in support of a resolution, their recent proposal for a United States Geographical Survey grant to install a rain guage and flood warning system along the Medina River. The council resolved to partner with BCRAGD in this game-changing endeavor.
EDC Appointments
The last item on a hefty agenda, the appointment of members to the Economic Development Corporation (EDC), was moved up on the agenda, due to what Hegemier described as “a restless crowd.”
Both Martha Shoemaker and Joe Hearn held terms that expired in May, and two seats on the committee have been vacant for months.
Gibson presented applications she received for the empty seats and Shoemaker also said she had applications presented to their committee.
Gibson read from a set of bylaws in regards to how long an EDC member could serve, emphasizing the bylaw that sated “no longer than six years.”
Hegemier interjected, stating that a person could not serve for more than two years at a time. He was referencing what was discovered to be a different set of bylaws.
Too many bylaws
In fact, as the conversation continued, it was discovered that City Council is being governed under three different sets of bylaws. Each set was created prior to the existence of the majority of council members and lack minutes explaining changes and amendments. In fact, two different sets of bylaws were from 2012.
The discussion of which bylaws to use held an impact for incumbents Hearn and Shoemaker.
“Well, let’s get all technical, okay!” a concerned senior citizen barked at Gibson.
“Well, yes, let’s,” Gibson returned.
Gibson nominated Toni Kunz and Cindy Harrington to fill the vacant seats and made a motion to table the expired seats until the council could figure out the bylaw debacle.
The galley erupted in dialogue with many questioning the interpretation of the bylaws and the significance of following them.
“You are creating a deterrent for us to keep going,” Hearn said. “I kind of feel like I’m getting a slap in the face and have less zeal to keep getting things done. EDC has been a dedicated servant to this community.”
senior citizen
His speech seemingly had an effect on the concerned senior citizen who yelled out, “Ya’ll had workshop after workshop, can ya’ll tell me anything ya’ll accomplished? That would be nice.”
Gibson responded that she would be “happy to go over the many accomplishments and progress the council has made,” especially noting Councilman Jim Hannah for “reaching many of his goals for the community.”
The tension in the room surged as the same citizen yelled, “She’s got too many bylaws.”
However, Gibson didn’t skip a beat as she replied, “They’re not my bylaws, darlin’.”
Hannah withdrew his motion to postpone and the council then moved to reinstate incumbents Shoemaker and Hearn.
“This is ridiculous, we need to pick one set of bylaws,” Councilwoman Sheila Pumphrey said.
New website
Gibson and Mike Garr presented a new website design and maintenance plan, after attending an informational workshop.
Unfortunately, the concerned senior citizen left the meeting before the fruits of the workshop could be discussed.
Garr noted that the present website is outdated with many of the sites not linking to anything. “We will definitely have a more robust website,” he said.
Gibson presented many examples of what the new Bandera City Council website would contain, including new links to other organizations and events across the community.
“It will be clean, easy to use and manageable,” she said. “They (Civic Plus) set up the website and do all the updates, but we can also add photos and do updates.”
One feature that excited the council was the ability for community members to access forms, complete them and submit them all online.
The cost of the construction and maintenance of the website is $5,371 with a $175 monthly maintenance fee.
The council approved the website, with an initial down payment and the remainder to be paid next year.
City council will meet again on Thursday, July 21, with a predicted recommendation from Garr concerning the city marshal department in light of an earlier tasering of a 66-year-old woman.