By Miranda Rogers
Long discussed plans for a Lone Star Grand Prix kart race in Lockhart hit another speed bump on Tuesday evening, as the Lockhart City Council continues to eye ever-changing plans and prices for the event.
City Manager Vance Rodgers met recently with LSGP officials and with repeat world-champion kart racer DJ Ortiz, all of whom urged the city to plan the race downtown, rather than moving it to Lockhart City Park as they originally suggested.
The track in the park, they said, would increase the number of items that would need to be added, such as energy dissipaters, which would need to be installed to increase safety around poles designed to keep the karts off the grass.
Though the safety measures in the park are cost prohibitive, creating a track in the downtown area will be just as costly, Rodgers said. He estimated the cost between $40,000-50,000, and said the city would not be able to use funding previously sought by the LEDC, because the project could no longer be classified as a “park improvement.”
Additionally, he said, the city would need at least 2,000 bales of hay, which may be recovered and resold, and additional barricades with a specific angle to keep karts from tilting.
While batting around ideas to keep the project alive, Mayor Pro-Tem Angie Gonzales-Sanchez suggested using a portion of the hotel tax, since the attendance of the event would bring tourists to stay the night in town. While the budget will not allow council to take any money from the hotel tax that is reserved for bond, an estimated $40,000 would be left that could be used as a one-time expense.
Councilmembers Richard Banks and John Castillo rejected that notion, suggesting it was more important to share the hotel-motel tax funding with the non-profit organizations who depend on those monies. Banks made it clear he had no intention of continuing to support what he referred to as a “frivolous” project, and a “bait-and-switch” presented by the promoters.
Councilmember Paul Gomez pointed out information that kart grand prix races are generally well-attended events, and said if the city entered an agreement to host repeated races, it would cost less the next year because the facilities would already be there.
After much discussion on the issue, Banks moved and Castillo seconded a motion to abandon the event until further notice, which failed 3-3. Another motion was made by Gomez and seconded by Gonzales-Sanchez to wait until a final reply for further funding, which also failed 3-3.
Because the council took no action, the item will return to the agenda in September.
Despite the fact that the city could no longer use funds from LEDC towards the Grand Prix event, Rodgers said he plans to reestablish approval to use the funds for park improvements.
In brief news:
Lockhart Municipal Court has agreed to an amended contract for the Department of Public Safety Failure to Appear Program, which has been in place since September 2001. Changes will be made to Section 706.005 of the Transportation Code, which will require courts to reports compliances immediately, versus the previous requirement of five days. The DPS Failure to Appear Program denies the renewal of a person’s driver’s license when defendants fail to appear and/or fail to pay court ordered fines and fees.
The Council granted a request from the Lockhart Area Senior Activity Center to renew their lease for an additional five years. The contract was altered from previous agreements, however; the new contract asks the Center to pay for electricity, the cost of which will be prorated and set at $300 per month.
White requested discussion regarding ordinance procedures for appointments, resignations, and removal of appointed board members. City Attorney Peter Gruning recommended simplifying the ordinance considerably, making it clearer and more consistent. An updated ordinance is expected to be presented to the Council in the near future.
The council voted recently to adopt a tax rate of $0.7227, lowering the tax rate by one-hundreth of a cent and allowing for a 3 percent pay increase for employees. A final vote on the City’
The Lockhart City Council routinely meets on the first and third Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. in the Glosserman Conference Center at Lockhart City Hall. Meetings are open to the public and are televised on Time Warner Cable Channel 10.