By Miranda Rogers
A massive operation to shut down what law enforcement called illegal gambling facilities in Lockhart has stalled talks by the Lockhart City Council to monitor and regulate such establishments in town.
Before the June 1 bust, the Planning and Zoning Commission was working with the council and City Planner Dan Gibson to amend the definition of an “adult gaming establishment” within the city’s Code of Ordinances. The item had been tabled both April 3 and May 5 because of the uncertainty of what was going to happen with the establishments.
Now that the businesses are now presumed to be illegal, Gibson, along with the Commission, have that the Council not approve the discussed ordinance, because it remains unclear how to rework the ordinance to make it legal. The concern, Gibson said, is if the proprietors of the closed establishments attempt to revise their business prospects and reopen.
Gibson said he has not yet discovered an “all-inclusive term,” but he knows now what to look for, and is searching for a legal precedent.
In the future, any text amendment process will end up at City Council, and will require interpretation for anything that seems questionable. The intent for the change is to prevent any business that does not fall into an existing classification from opening, and to keep would-be illegal establishments from changing the definition of what they do to create loopholes.
In other business, the council began talks about the 2012-2013 fiscal year budget.
The initial figures presented to the board show an excess of $88,818 for the city’s general fund. Electric, water and solid waste revenues are also exceeded to expenditures; both the wastewater and airport budgets are expected to balance, based on current projections.
City Manager Vance Rodgers suggested a 3 percent raise for all employees, and a capital expenditure to install special lift at pool for the mobility impaired. The police department requested four patrol cars, but Rodgers recommended two. A new sewer line cleaning machine will require an expense of $45,000, and there will also be a consideration for a city cemetery tax of 2.25 cents for maintenance.
The Lockhart Economic Development Corporation will contribute $36,000 to fund economic development; Lockhart will meet with them next week to discuss their cooperation.
The budget did show a $442,000 deficit for EMS, which has been standard for the past 15 years, Rodgers said. He explained that Caldwell County usually pays for half of the deficit, and that the city has improved on collections and will possibly be expanding areas to collect from.
Projected revenues show no increases on utility fees, and projected expenses will meet required maintenance, operations costs and debt payments. Though Rodgers suggested the 3 percent raise, no additional cost of living adjustment has been projected for employees. The next budget hearing will take place next Tuesday June 25, 2012.
Economic Development Director Sandra Mauldin presented additional information from the Hotel Feasibility Study completed recently by Source Strategies, Inc, outlining an aggressive marketing plan for new hotels along SH130. Mauldin gave credit to local banks who helped with opportunities in financing, local real estate brokers with retail solutions, and the Greater San Marcos Partnership for their assistance with graphic design.
She said she had been in contact with trade show booth in the National conference in Washington, D.C., and will she continue to market the area to potential buyers. With 10 strong leads, Lockhart still needs proven traffic, and development projects remain sluggish nationwide, she said.
In other economic development news, Mauldin said the Texas Department of Agriculture is accepting applications for Federal funds to revitalize downtown areas in rural Texas. She said there is $1.2 million available, and a potential grant project will be aimed to reworking sidewalks to join the U.S. Highway 183 corridor.
The project grants will be identified for the greatest opportunity for Lockhart, with minimum awards of $50,000, and maximum of $150,000. Though many council members would like to see some of the abnormally high sidewalks evened out, some of the areas have drainage issues, and would require the streets to be raised.
The project is intended to make the sidewalks “more walkable” and neighborhoods “more liveable.” The Department of Agriculture will use different grants to reveal the changes that Lockhart would like to see happen downtown.
In brief news:
Lockhart Fire Department Captain Warren Lay and Matthew Allen, GIS technician with the Caldwell County Appraisal District, will be filling two vacancies on the Caldwell County Wildfire Protection Plan Advisory Committee (CWPP). Clint Browning and Christine Banda have held the positions since CWPP was first formed, but Browning is no longer employed with the City of Lockhart, and Banda has requested to be removed due to a heavy workload.
The committee meets once a month on the second Tuesday, and is working its way through the developmental stage of the Wildfire Protection Plan.
The Muscular Dystrophy Association presented a plaque to the Lockhart Fire Department for their participation in the 2012 “Fill the Boot” drive. The event raised $4,000.
The council nominated Miguel Islas has been named to fill a vacant position on the Board of Directors of the Caldwell County Appraisal District. Each taxing entity has the opportunity to nominate an individual for the vacant position, which will be finally approved by the remaining CCAD Board Members. Also, Larry Burrier, previously a seat on the Electric Board, has been assigned to the Airport Board.
District 3 Council member Richard Wieland submitted his resignation on June 2, 2012. Vacancy of the position occurred June 10,2012, eight days after the letter was received. Wieland withdrew from his chair due to health concerns. A special election will be held Sept. 8, 2012, to fill the position of Councilmember District 3. Early voting will begin Aug. 22, 2012, and all voting will take place at City Hall. Filing for a place on the ballot is open to residents of District 3, and began on Wednesday.?Candidates may file until July 9.
The Lockhart City Council routinely meets on the first and third Tuesday of each month in the Glosserman Conference Room at Lockhart City Hall. Meetings are open to the public and are televised on Time Warner Digital Cable Channel 10.