By Miranda Rogers
Responding to public criticism and a concern for local commuters, the Lockhart City Council decided on Tuesday evening to try to have the speed limit changed on US Highway 183.
Last month, the Texas Department of Transportation announced that the speed limit on Highway 183 would be set at 55 miles per hour, reducing it from the 65 miles per hour that was set prior to the construction of SH 130. That decision has sparked public outcry from many, who are concerned the slower speed limit is a thinly-veiled attempt to force commuter traffic to use the SH-130 toll road, rather than the free Highway 183.
City Manager Vance Rodgers said it does not make sense to lower the speed limit, after all of the safety improvements have been completed; he agreed with speculation the lowered speed limit is a way of forcing nearby residents who work in Travis County to use SH-130.
After some discussion, the council passed a resolution meant to push TxDOT to reevaluate the speed limit clause. In addition, the resolution supports a request for a special reduced rate for the toll.
The Caldwell County Commissioners Court entered a similar resolution last week.
In other business, the council voted to temporarily pull funding from the Caldwell County Medical Assistance Team (CCMAT).
The organization has twice failed to present to the council with financial information, pending the outcome of a business meeting.
An email was sent to the city by R. Craig Kolls, Jr., of CCMAT stating that the business meeting would not be held until Sept. 9, 2012, which is too late for the council to consider approving funding this fiscal year.
Councilmember Richard Banks voiced concern about giving the group another opportunity, reminding his colleagues that CCMAT is, “a worthy cause, but this group has a history of not having its act together for years.”
This is the second year that CCMAT will not receive funding from the City of Lockhart, based upon their failure to comply with the city’s budget requirements. The funding originally allocated to CCMAT will be evenly distributed to other non-profit organizations.
In brief news:
The council awarded a bid in the amount of $19,970 to Velasquez Masonry Co., to supply labor for the construction of the new canine facility block walls for enclosure of the shelter from the elements.
Quotes were also received from Salinas Masonry Contractors and FPC Masonry.
Another bid will be awarded to QRO-MEX Construction Company, Inc. in the amount of $275,115.50. The company will be replacing sewer main and service lines.
Because the lowest bid was $51,538.50 over the CDBG Grant of $271,000, the project to eliminate two 40-year-old sewer lift stations on Blanco and Church street has been rescheduled for a different budget.
The city also plans to use $4,115.50 from Capital Wastewater to fund the project, which should take about five months to finish upon approval of the Department of Agriculture.
The Third Quarter Fiscal Year 2012 Investment Report was reviewed and accepted, with a funds availability of $15,049,391.
City Council has approved amendments to current ordinances to make uniform and clarify the procedures for removal of city board, commission and committee members in the interest of efficiency and fairness.
In response to a request from last city council meeting, Lockhart Area Senior Activity Center has had their lease amended to waive the electricity fee for the city-owned building, with the stated reason that the Center serves a public purpose.
Councilmember John Castillo requested that Mayor Lew White be appointed to the General Assembly of the Capital Area of Governments (CAPCOG).
Disappointed that none of the City Council members made an appearance at a recent educational symposium, area residents Tracy Forrester and Donna Voetee pleaded that council “cut their ties with Agenda 21.” Forester accused council members of not doing their homework on property rights and ignoring warnings, instead getting “sucked in,” in an effort to save money. She announced there would be another Symposium presentation on Sunday and encouraged the council to attend.
Voetee brought a handmade “Powerpoint” presentation to get her point across that “council” in Russian means “Soviet.” She claimed that local voters were shut out of council decisions, and that CAPCOG was enforcing governance and socialism. Stating that unalienable rights are property rights, she urged for withdrawal as “the only American choice.”
The Lockhart City Council meets on the first and third Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. in the Glosserman Conference Center of Lockhart City Hall. The meetings are open to the public and televised on Time Warner Digital Cable Channel 10.