Martindale pulls plug on ‘can ban’
By LPR Staff
CALDWELL COUNTY GUARDIAN
In an effort to combat problems with litter on the San Marcos River, the Martindale City Council dipped their toes into the muddy waters of a “can ban” during their regular meeting on Tuesday evening.
Only moments before broaching the subject, the Council approved a retainer contract with a new City Attorney, Austin-based Kent Wymore, who was in attendance at his first meeting.
Mayor Kim Smith said she had placed the item, along with a propose ordinance, on the agenda as a courtesy to another councilmember, but read a prepared statement noting she had serious concerns about the matter; Wymore, she said, had not had the opportunity to review the ordinance and advise the council as to the possible ramifications of attempting to impose a ban.
“I’ve litigated cases that… easily, attorneys’ fees go into seven figures,” Wymore said. “This is something that… If you jump into it without doing all the proper research you could find yourself involved in a lawsuit, like New Braunfels was.”
Ban supporter Mike McColb said that he, along with other supporters of the ban would be happy to help the City with attorneys fees, should it become necessary.
Meanwhile, operators of the tubing outfitters at the center of the ongoing river controversy said they have been making daily attempts to keep litter out of the river, and committed to continuing to do so.
Ultimately, according to Mayor Pro Tem Lisa Shell Allan, the council hoped to take the opportunity to discuss the proposed ban with members of the community, residents, outfitters and legal counsel to find the best way forward for everyone involved.
The City of New Braunfels imposed their controversial can ban in 2011; it was initially declared unconstitutional, but that decision was later overturned on a technicality. The case was before the courts for nearly six years, likely costing the city millions to defend.
The council will make an announcement in the near future about any special called meetings or town hall workshops to discuss the ban.
In other controversial business, the Council voted 5-1 to approve the City’s budget, over the objections of many residents of Hopson Ranch and Butterfly Meadows, two subdivisions that are located within the city limits, but who receive limited municipal services.
Residents of the neighborhoods, including former council members Ernest Painter and David Aguilar, made a passionate showing at the meeting, “demanding,” in Painter’s words, that the council earmark funds to the two neighborhoods for street lights, fire hydrants and road maintenance.
“Previous councils have done absolutely nothing for these neighborhoods,” Aguilar said. “And now it’s time for you to get off your butts and do something.”
Both Painter and Aguilar, who were critical of both current and past councils, were replaced after three-year terms last May, and were involved in the drafting of the current fiscal year’s budget.
High on the list of contentious points in the budget were the allocation of $65,000 for the salary of a city manager or city administrator, and the earmark of $15,000 to the Martindale Community Library.
Both of those items, suggested councilmember Mary Alice Paul, should be removed from the budget with the funds instead directed toward street lights and fire hydrants in the impacted neighborhoods. Her motion to that effect died for a lack of second.
Of note, water service in the two neighborhoods is provided by the Martindale Water Supply Corporation, a private entity that is not bound to provide fire suppression infrastructure, according to state law. The MWSC is an entity apart from the City of Martindale.
Paul stood alone in voting against the budget as it was presented.
The full budget is available for review at www.martindaletexas.org.
A video of the meeting can be viewed on the Martindale, Texas, Community Services Facebook page, where regular updates about public events and meetings are posted as a service to the community.