Police get added incentive to stay in Lockhart￼
By Kyle Mooty
Lockhart Police Officers will receive an immediate incentive bonus of $2,500 with a second payment of $2,500 no later than Jan. 31 as the City hopes to retain the officers already here.
The Lockhart City Council unanimously approved the payments at last week’s meeting and tabled a discussion of possibly raising the hiring incentive for new officers until its Nov. 1 meeting.
Mayor Pro-Tem Angie Gonzales-Sanchez expressed her appreciation to the officers.
“We really want to thank you for your dedication and your loyalty, but most of all for your service,” Gonzales-Sanchez said.
Lockhart’s Human Resources and Civil Service Director, Julie Bowermon, said the City was not unlike many of the surrounding areas with a shortage of police officers, therefore proposing the incentives.
“There is a shortage of police officers across the United States, and this includes Lockhart,” Bowermon said. “There are over 40 police officer vacancies in agencies right next to Lockhart. That’s quite a bit. The intent of tonight’s proposed ordinance is to improve the city’s ability to compete with surrounding agencies’ compensation packages. It has been a challenge to recruit qualified police officers. The police department currently has four officer vacancies and one lieutenant vacancy. The department currently has four cadets that are attending police academies and they are projected to graduate in early 2023.”
Also, in December, the LPD will have two sergeant vacancies.
In other business:
The Council approved alcohol on public sidewalk, streets and other means for eight listed events and future such events approved by the Council.
The current eight events permitted to have alcohol on the streets, sidewalks and other ways include: Cinco de Mayo, Chisholm Trail Roundup, Diez y Seis, First Friday, Courthouse Nights, Sip-n-Stroll, Texas Monthly BBQ Fest, and The Running of the Bulls.
According to the City, under the new ordinance, businesses may not rent the public sidewalk or any other public property for the purpose of selling alcohol in the CCB district. Compliance with Texas Alcohol Beverage Corporation (TABC) regulations is the responsibility of TABC licensees. Event sponsors are required to obtain a special activity permit from the Lockhart Police Department, unless the event is City sponsored. The Council unanimously approved the ordinance.
A Mural Ordinance was approved by the Council, 7-0. It will define and regulate murals in the Courthouse Square Historical District. All changes in color will be reviewed, and as David Fowler notes, “There will be no way to sneak in a mural and it must be kept with the character of the district.”
Parties planning a mural must submit an application.
Lockhart Fire Chief Randy Jenkins ask for and received the Council’s appr oval for an interlocal agreement with Caldwell County to become members of the PHI Cares Program. This means that Lockhart residents will receive free coverage on unpaid PHI Air Medical services with unlimited transports, no pre-existing conditions limits, on scene calls, no co-pays, or out-of-pocket expenses.
Should Lockhart require transport to any adjacent county (Gonzales, Guadalupe, Hays, Travis, Bastrop, or Fayette), they will be covered by PHI Cares membership benefits. The contract begins Nov. 1. The closest PHI Air Medical is at Cedar Creek.
The Council did not approve zoning request for Cuatro Consultants made on behalf of Jimbo Cotton to change 19.357 acres at 1400 Lovers Lane from Agricultural Open to Medium Density. The request failed by a 5-2 vote, with concerns about the road being among the main issues.
Zoning changes that were approved by the Council included .562 acres and another .135 acres at the 500 block of W. Market Street from Commercial Medium Business to Residential Medium Density. Owners Tamara Carlisle and Donna Blair said the plan was to sell each home (five total), which should be under 2,000 square feet. The lots currently house sheds for the former Wilson-Riggin Lumber Company.
The Council also approved to change 89.775 acres at 2400 FM 1322 from Agricultural Open to Residential Medium Density, where the owner hopes to be selling homes by January 2024. He currently has 424 lots on site.
.586 acres at 915 Red River Street from Commercial Light Business to Residential Medium Density.
The Council also approved a one-time contribution to Ascension Care-a-Van.
Mayor White read a proclamation noting October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Ashley Rios, program director at Hays-Caldwell Women’s Center, accepted the proclamation.
City Manager Steve Lewis reminded everyone that the Texas Monthly BBQ Fest will be Nov. 5-6 in Lockhart, with the World’s Fair set for downtown on Saturday, Nov. 5, from 12-7 p.m., and the Top 50 Picnic on Sunday, Nov.6, at Lockhart City Park from 12-4 p.m.
Lewis said the Caldwell County Elections Office informed the City Secretary of a petition requesting the times for the early voting hours be from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 30. Early Voting began Oct. 24 and lasts through Nov. 4. The General Election will be Nov. 8.
The formerly named Dickens Christmas will now be called A Christmas to Remember in Lockhart Dec. 2-3. The lighting of the Christmas Tree will be on Friday, Dec. 2, and the Parade will be on Saturday, Dec. 3 at dusk.