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2011-09-08

No Protests, So BCRAGD Approves Tax Rate Hike

By Carolyn B. Edwards; BC

Following a sparsely attended public hearing, the Bandera County River Authority and Groundwater Conservation District (BCRAGD) board of directors
voted to approve a tax rate of .024474 for fiscal
year 2012.

The rate is a four and a half percent increase over last year’s rate.

Taxpayers Dean Schmelling and Jean Kennedy spoke in opposition to the increase in the public hearing.

“Why is this increase necessary?” asked Schmelling, who said the board did not give taxpayers enough information to make a decision as to whether the increase was needed.

Kennedy wondered why district spending did not
appear to have been curtailed despite the fact that the district’s rules were suspended regarding well permits and permitting for nine months. She also wondered when the district
planned to “establish routine enforcement
procedures that would not require attorney intervention when a violation occurs.” Kennedy claimed the district had spent $2,000 for legal fees on a single rule enforcement matter and fined the party $400. Kennedy proposed
requiring violators to reimburse the district for its legal fees and court costs.

During the called meeting that followed the public
hearing, new board member Sid Gibson decried
mandates issued by the Legislature. “It seems
like the state is requiring us to do some things and then offers no back up,” he said. “We need to be up in Austin fighting these unfunded mandates.”
Board members Ernest DeWinne and Lee Kneupper voted against the tax rate increase.

“I have difficulty in voting for an increase
without knowing more details about the budget,”
DeWinne said. “We have not really examined the budget as a board,” said Kneupper, apparently referring to the board’s earlier approval of
a budget submitted by a committee. “We have programs with no definition.”