Re-zoning in downtown Lytle proposed, storm water utility discussed, council asked to help fund “visitor’s center”

The Lytle City Council present a plaque to City Administrator Matthew Dear for 20 years of service as a police lieutenant and assistant fire marshal before taking the reins of city government. The council also voted to make Dear permanent city administrator, removing the word “interim” from his title in place since taking the job in May.

By ANTON RIECHER
Scheduling of public hearings on proposed zoning amendments restricting the use of recreational vehicles and modular buildings in downtown Lytle received a go-ahead from the city council during its regular session Monday.
Regarding modular buildings, the council voted in February 2020 to create a new zoning district along Main Street that restricted the placement of mobile homes to certain areas, City Administrator Matthew Dear explained. However, that ordinance did not include modular-type buildings.
Extending the ordinance to include that type of construction requires again notifying residents potentially affected and conducting a new set of public hearings on the issue, Dear said.
If re-zoned, any pre-existing modular structure would be classified as “non-comforming,” meaning it would be allowed to remain but could not be expanded or enlarged, city attorney Jessie Lopez explained. If replaced, the new structure would need to comply with the ordinance.
District 4 Alderman Michael Rodriguez asked that any new ordinance be exact in defining the difference between a modular structure and a pre-fabricated building that would be allowed. On a motion by Rodriguez, seconded by District 3 Alderman David Emery, the council approved allowing the legal work to move forward on the amendment.
District 1 Alderman Joseph Morrow was absent from the Nov. 14 meeting.
With respect to recreational vehicles, Dear explained that a 2019 amendment to the zoning ordinance prohibited the use of mobile homes in certain commercial areas along Main Street. But the amendment did not specifically prohibit the use of recreational vehicles in those same areas.
As with the modular building issue, a revision defining zones RVs can be used along Main Street would require notification of affected businesses and public hearings to discuss the proposed changes before the council could vote.
Again, on motion by Rodriguez, the council approved moving forward with the proposed changes.
The council also voted to proceed on developing an amendment to the Lytle zoning and subdivision codes to establish requirements for on-site parking and garage requirements. Dear said the action would be aimed at “bigger, masterplan communities.”
Subdivisions without requirements for garages and ample driveway parking for at least several vehicles tend to develop problems with parking that blocks sidewalks and forces pedestrians into the street, several council members remarked.
“Do we want to paint the picture of what we want our community to look like or do we just want them to come in and build whatever they think we need,” Dear said.
In other action, the council voted to approve updating the city’s building regulations to adopt the latest editions of various national and international codes governing electrical, plumbing and construction work.
The code update comes several months after the council voted to update the local fire code to agree with the 2021 edition of the International Fire Code, Dear said. The city had previously been using the 2006 edition of the code.
“The building code and all the other codes we use for construction here in the city were based on the 2008 editions,” Dear said. “That’s pretty outdated so we needed to bring that up to the 2021 model.”
In certain ways, the updated codes are more lenient than the codes that had been in place, Dear said.
“I can tell as to the fire code what I saw in certain things allowed in the 2021 code weren’t allowed in the old 2006 version,” Dear said. Improvements in technology allowed the changes, he said.
The old codes adversely affected the Insurance Services Organization (ISO) rating which determines the cost of fire insurance for local homes and businesses, Dear said.
“Once we get these (updates) adopted we can contact ISO and they will bring our rate down,” he said.
On a motion by Emery, seconded by District 2 Alderman Sam Cortez, the council approved adopting the updated standards.
On a motion by Rodriguez, seconded by Emery, the council voted to award a $34,900 administrative services agreement with the grant management firm GrantWorks to obtain a Texas Community Development Block Grant.
The grant would be used for flood mitigation and drainage planning, Dear said.
The council also voted to authorize Dear to negotiate an engineering services agreement with San Antonio-based Kimley Horn for development of a drainage master plan for the Lake Shore Estates Subdivision.
Some council members questioned if it would be better to include the Lake Shore drainage plan under the overall city drainage plan under discussion.
“I do believe that if we fix drainage issues in Lake Shore it’s going to cause issues downstream,” Dear said.
However, Emery urged immediate action on the Lake Shore issue rather than wait an additional two years or more to complete the overall city plan.
“They have been waiting and suffering for this for years,” Emery said.
Dear was also authorized to negotiate with Kimley Horn for engineering services to establish a municipal storm water utility in Lytle. Added to the monthly utility bill of Lytle residents, the storm water utility is something common to most cities, Dear said.
“Once we get the utility established by ordinance everyone gets to pay into it monthly,” he said. “It’s an assessment on your property. Then we can use those funds to mitigate storm water and do drainage in the city.”
The Lytle Chamber of Commerce asked for the city’s annual participation of $35,000 in a proposed visitor center to offer information about lesser known offerings and events within the community. The presentation by Dear said the center would “offer a feedback mechanism from the community and visitor to help improve appeal.”
Total cost for the visitor center is estimated at $72,669 annually. Cost of one employee to staff the center is estimated at $52,525.
Dear said the city staff is frequently too busy to assist visitors seeking out tourist information. Funding the center would be on a year-by-year basis just as the city’s participation in Little League.
“Our staff is already busy doing other things such as processing bills and taking care of customers,” Dear said.
On a motion by Emery, the council approved participating in the project using monies from the hotel occupancy tax.
After a brief executive session to discuss pending litigation and purchase of property the council voted to allow the city administrator to acquire property discussed in closed session.

Lytle discusses water woes, votes 3-1 to adopt tax rate

In Lytle, Precinct 5 Alderman Charles Cate votes via Internet against a proposal to adopt a 2022-2023 tax rate of $.3643 per $100 valuation to support a $16.7 million city budget for the same period. The proposal was approved 3-1. Cate, a reservist, is deployed to an undisclosed location and participates in council meetings via Internet connection. Photo by Anton Riecher

By Anton Riecher
The Lytle City Council voted 3-1 Monday to adopt a proposed 2022-2023 tax rate of $.3643 per $100 valuation to support a $16.7 million city budget for the same period.
Precinct 5 Alderman Charles Cate, a reservist currently deployed to an unspecified location, voted against the tax rate and budget via Internet connection during the meeting. Precinct 1 Alderman Joseph Morrow was absent.
Cate said he was concerned about using money from the recent sale of $8.5 million in certificates of obligation to cover approximately $700,000 in annual debt in the near term. That large of a boost in property taxes revenue in the next four or five years is unlikely, he said.
“My concern is future years,” Cate said. “Where is that increase going to come from?”
City Administrator Matthew Dear said that incremental increases in utility rates will bring them in line with what is paid in surrounding communities and would create some of that income.
However, Cate speculated that further investment in infrastructure would also be needed. The $8.5 million bond sale is largely going to water and sewer improvements.
“As we are aware, these aren’t the last projects the city is going to need,” Cate said.
The $.3643 tax rate is expected to produce a 10.6 percent increase in revenue due to higher property valuations. The rate for the current tax year is $.3905. The new rate proposal was approved on a motion by Precinct 3 Alderman David Emery seconded by Precinct 2 Alderman Sam Cortez.
A call for speakers at a public hearing on the proposed 2022-2023 city budget of $16.6 million drew no response from the audience for the council meeting. The meeting was closed after one minute.
Another public hearing on the budget will be held at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 11 before final approval, Mayor Ruben Gonzalez said.
BOIL NOTICE
Lytle public works director James McGrath gave the council a detailed report on a water outage Sept. 18 that resulted in a notice to boil all drinking water through Sept. 20.
The initial problem that led to the breakdown was a contractor who broke a three-inch water line, he said. One day prior to the break, public works was called to the scene to locate several lines in the area.
“It was hard to locate,” McGrath said. “We located one line by about 5 p.m. and promised to locate the other first thing in the morning.”
Unfortunately, the contractor arrived at the work site before the public works department returned.
“He told his crew to lay one more joint of pipe and busted a three-inch,” McGrath said. “We lost water pressure.”
However, in the course of making the repair to the three-inch line, a 12-inch valve “broke loose” several miles upstream. Replacing it and another valve required draining the water system, so work was scheduled for late Sunday evening.
“We turned off the water at 10 o’clock,” McGrath said. “There was no water above ground in any of the overhead storage tanks. Anyway, you wouldn’t believe it but it took until 3 o’clock before the water stopped draining at the creek.”
The crew got the two 12-inch valves installed and repaired the broken three-inch line before daylight, he said. But rescinding the boil notice required the approval of the Texas Department of Environmental Quality.
“We couldn’t get an answer until about 10:30 a.m.,” McGrath said. “They told us where to take our samples. We got them into town about noon.”
It was 11 a.m. the next day, Sept. 20, before TDEQ gave permission to rescind the boil notice.
City officials were forced to post a notice requiring residents to boil their tap water. Water in the area was still safe to shower and clean with according to the issued release, but residents in Lytle could not use the water for consumption.
“To ensure destruction of all harmful bacteria and other microbes, water for drinking, cooking, and ice making should be boiled and cooled prior to use for drinking water or human consumption purposes,” the release added. “The water should be brought to a vigorous rolling boil and then boiled for two minutes.”
SIDEWALKS
On a motion by Emery, seconded by Cortez, the council approved a $440,000 advance funding agreement with the Texas Department of Transportation to build more than 11,000 linear feet of sidewalk near local schools.
The project involves 1,600 linear feet of 6-foot-wide sidewalk on both sides of Prairie Street from Cottage Street to Laredo Street, including the front of the primary school. On Cottage Street, the project covers 2,650 linear feet of sidewalk on both sides of the roadway from FM2790 to Prairie Street.
On FM2790, 2,200 linear feet of 12-foot-wide shared path will be built on the west side of the roadway from Blume Drive to Lytle High School. Also included is 1,200 linear feet of six-foot-wide sidewalk on the east side of the roadway from Cottage to Laredo.
Seventy-five linear feet of sidewalk from the southeast corner of FM 2790 and Laredo to directly connect with Lytle Elementary is also included in the project. The project also covers assorted detectable warning surfaces, crosswalks and signage, city administrator Matthew Dear told the council.
“It’s going to give our kids someplace to walk safely on either side of that road (Cottage Street),” Dear said. “It’s quite scary already with kids walking in a bar ditch with the drainage and mud. Or you get up on the roadway and take a chance on getting hit.”
Cortez said he considered the project a necessity “especially right there when it rains pretty hard and gets flooded.”
The TxDOT Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside Program provides funding for a variety of alternative transportation projects. TxDOT’s Public Transportation Division administers TASA funding for population areas of 200,000 or less.
Funds for the project will come from the sale of $8.5 million in certificates of obligation approved by the council earlier this month, the majority of which will be used to finance water and sewer improvements.
BRUSH PICKUP
On a motion by Cortez, seconded by Emery, the council approved an annual contract for municipal brush pickup. Hector Barrera & Son, the company currently handling brush pickup, was the only bidder, asking for $5,225 per month.
FIRE DEPARTMENT
On a motion by Emery, seconded by Precinct 4 Alderman Michael Rodriguez, the council approved a $1,000 a month increase in the amount it pays the non-profit Lytle Volunteer Fire Department to provide fire protection for the city.
Dear said the added money will allow the department to increase its budget for paid personnel.
“The department went from two paid personnel 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to three paid personnel 24/7,” Dear said.
The department also received an increase from the other entities it contracts with – Medina County Emergency Service District No. 5, Atascosa County ESD No. 1 and Bexar County ESD No. 5.
LAKESHORE ESTATES
In the wake of complaints about the potential for flooding in the Lakeshore Estates development, Dear recommended that the council have an engineer review the entire drainage situation and come up with an overall fix.
“The problem is if we throw a band-aid on one thing what is the effect on others downstream,” Dear said.

Lytle approves
$8.5 million bond sale to finance water, sewer improvement

Andrew Friedman, representing SAMCO Capital Markets, reviews the details of an $8.5 million bond sale to finance water and sewer improvements with the Lytle City Council during their Monday (Sept. 12) meeting.

By Anton Riecher
The Lytle City Council voted unanimously Monday to approve the sale of $8.5 million in certificates of obligation, the majority of which will be used to finance water and sewer improvements.
On a motion by District 3 Alderman David Emery, seconded by District 2 Alderman Sam Cortez, the council voted to sell the certificates amortized over 20 years at a 3.94 percent interest rate. The sale closes on Sept. 28.
To see full video of the latest Lytle City Council session visit the Devine News channel on YouTube at youtube.com/channel/UC5NvVUNwMPeR-VVmLSKY-Ng.
Andrew Friedman, representing SAMCO Capital Markets, the city’s financial advisor, told the aldermen that the sale required establishing a credit rating for the city.
“We went through a rating process with Standard and Poor’s,” Friedman said. “They look at not only audited financials but also want to get a sense of who Lytle, Texas, is on top of what you can read on paper.”
As a result, the city attained a strong AA- credit rating, the highest rating possible is AAA, followed by AA+, AA and AA-, Friedman said.
“When you drop below that you have to go out to pay for municipal bond insurance,” Friedman said. “We were able to avoid that.”
City Administrator Matt Dear told the council that $6.1 million of the certificate sale will go toward water system improvements, including building a water tower to feed a new looped water system. The certificates will also finance a $1.4 million sewer plant project.
Aside from utilities, $1 million will be designated for streets and sidewalks, Dear said.
A portion of the debt will be paid from the interest and sinking (I&S) portion of the city tax rate, Friedman said. However, the $7.5 million going to water and sewer improvements will be repaid from revenues generated by the city’s utility system rates.
Emery questioned Friedman about whether the debt could be refinanced if interest rates improve in the future. Friedman replied that the current rates would be “locked in” until February 2031 when the certificates can either be purchased from the investors using cash or the interest rates can be renegotiated.
In other business, the council voted to table action on proposals to address traffic issues on Lytle-Somerset Street, including the use of speed humps to slow vehicles. Dear informed the council that state law requires an official study by a traffic engineer.
Without state sanction, anyone who damages their vehicle going over a speed hump could potentially have a legal claim against the city, Dear said. In 2021, a plan calling for six speed humps and appropriate signage was estimated to cost at least $10,000, he said.
With inflation, that price is now calculated to be at least $15,500, Dear said.
A motion by District 4 Alderman Michael Rodriguez to table the matter until public sentiment about adding speed humps passed 4-1. District 5 Alderman Charles Cate, a reservist presently serving overseas, monitored the meeting by internet and voted against tabling the action.
Lake Shore Estates resident Trace Joyce once again addressed the council regarding flooding in the subdivision. Joyce reported that his home flooded in 2010 and has been threatened by rising water several times since.
Dear said he has filed a request for quotes from engineering firms in hopes to negotiate a price for the project. It is also under legal review, he said.
“Realistically, this project will probably take a year or two,” Dear said. Resolving drainage issues that stretch back to the beginning of the subdivision is not going to be cheap either.
Joyce asked if the city might have legal recourse against the engineering firm that developed the initial drainage plan for the subdivision.
Action on the item was tabled pending further research into the exact cause of the flooding.
On a motion by Emery, seconded by Rodriguez, the council voted to enter into an amended and restated solid waste contract with Waste Management, Inc., a waste and environmental services company.
Also on a motion by Emery, seconded by Cortez, the council voted to enter into a one-year extension of the CPS Energy gas systems contract.

Lytle increases rates
At the September 12 meeting, the City of Lytle voted to increase water/sewer rates. See details in public notice on page 13 this week.

Lytle approves $16.6 million budget, staff says utility rates must go up soon amidst growing city/ infrastructure projects

Today’s technology is amazing…Lytle City Administrator Matthew Dear, standing, addresses the city council Monday night, including District 5 Alderman Charles Cate who attended via internet connection (see laptop at right where he is on screen). Cate, an Air Force reservist, is currently deployed to an undisclosed location overseas, Mayor Ruben Gonzalez said.

By Anton Riecher
The Lytle City Council voted Monday to approve a proposed 2022-2023 budget of $16.6 million, not including expected federal stimulus funds.
On a motion by District 3 Alderman David Emery seconded by District 2 Alderman Sam Cortez the proposed budget was approved by a vote of 4-0. District 1 Alderman Joseph Morrow was absent from the meeting.
City Administrator Matthew Dear announced that the city’s total taxable value for the new budget year is $234.3 million. To collect the same revenue as the current year a no-new revenue tax rate of $.3443 per $100 valuation would be necessary.
“The new budget will raise $88,205 more than the current year, an 11 percent increase,” Dear said. “A lot of that is based on increased values as well as new properties added to the property roll this year.”
Under state law, the maximum tax rate the city can approve without voter consent is $.3654 per $100 valuation.
If an expected $379,885 in relief funds from the American Rescue Plan Act comes through the city will show an income of $17.8 million under the proposed budget.
“We do not have that number built into the coming year’s budget because we haven’t got that money yet,” Dear said.
The biggest obligations would be $6.1 million in water system improvements, $1.4 million in sewer system improvements and $985,000 in roads and sidewalks.
To make the new city budget work, Dear warned that the council will have to increase Lytle utility rates to bring them in line with surrounding communities in the coming year. For water, Lytle residents pay $12.00 a month compared to $38.14 in Devine, $32.47 in Hondo and $30 in Castroville,
For sewer, Lytle residents pay $18 a month compared to $30 in Castroville, $27.06 in Hondo and $23.57 in Devine.
“If we’re not going to change those we might as well put the brakes on everything we’re doing,” Dear said. “Tell the developers ‘Thank you, but not today.’”
A presentation by the Finance Director LaNet Hester noted Lytle experienced a 22% growth in 2021-22 and a 28% growth is expected each year until 2025.
District 5 Alderman Charles Cate, an Air Force reservist on deployment overseas, voted for the increase via an internet connection.
The council set 2:30 p.m. Aug. 30 as the date for a council workshop on utility and inspection rates.
In other action related to taxation, the council voted to approve a tax assessment and collection contract with Atascosa County. The county will charge the city $1.50 per parcel to collect, plus 10 cents for the central appraisal district.
If the city choses a different firm to collect delinquent taxes the cost goes up an additional 10 cents per parcel. The city’s current contract for delinquent tax collection lapses at the end of this year.
The council voted to authorize the city staff to issue requests for proposals to select a consulting firm to help Lytle apply for a $500,000 Texas Community Development Block Grant from the Texas Department of Agriculture.
“We’ve been told that the two top priorities this year will be wastewater and storm water,” Dear said.
First to apply for the job was GrantWorks. Michael Place, a client services representative for the company, works with the Alamo Area Council of Governments, which includes Atascosa County, and other regional COGs in obtaining grant funds.
Part of the grant process is “pre-scoring” the cities making application, he said.
“When we come to you and say we pre-scored you (it means) you rate pretty high and there is a good chance you are going to get funding,” Place said.
GrantWorks charges on a percentage basis but only if the grant application is successful, he said. The grant application would be required to benefit a low to moderate income area. Also, the city would have to provide a current audit.
The grant would also require a two-percent match of $10,000 from the city. The motion to search for consulting help was made by Emery and seconded by District 4 Alderman Michael Rodriguez.
Regarding the recent controversy concerning the proposed 170-plus lot Lytle MHC Mobile Park, the council voted to suggest 6:30 p.m. Sept. 8 at the city community center as the date for a town hall meeting on the project.
“The main objective out of this meeting is to have the developer present the plans and let the community actually get an idea of what is happening,” Gonzalez said.
“Although the meeting will be posted to the city hall website the city has no plans to make any formal presentation,” Dear said.
“It’s not a city meeting,” Dear said. “We are just facilitating a location.”
Citizen voices concerns on flooding around Lake Shores
A thunderstorm raging outside city hall set the stage for one resident concerned about high water. Trace Joyce spoke during the public comment period of the council meeting to warn that recent work in the Lakeshore Drive neighborhood to add an earthen crown above a pipeline increases the risk of flooding.
“It will increase the water that is going to be held,” Joyce said. “It increases the danger of a greater overflow when it has crested and it is finally pushed out of the way.”
Mayor Ruben Gonzalez said that a new drainage study is being discussed.
Ethics Comission created
On a motion by Emery seconded by Rodriguez the council voted to create an ethics commission to establish standards of conduct for city officials who volunteer to serve as city officials.
“Council members volunteer as full-time employees,” Dear said. “This is going to set forth our ethical standards on what is expected of you.”
The ordinance creating the commission establishes requirements for such volunteers to make financial disclosures and other reporting to avoid conflict of interest.
“For example, the planning and zoning commission is all volunteer,” Dear said. “If they had a financial interest in property being zoned it is information that we as a city need to know. They need to recuse themselves from that decision.”
Step toward Ozone ordinance
The council also voted to take the first steps toward an ordinance limiting the idling of heavy vehicles for lengthy periods of time inside the city limits.
“As we continue to grow and get more gas stations along the I-35 corridor we are going to continue to get trucks that are stopping and idling all night,” Dear said. “Bexar County is probably going to become an ozone nonattainment area.”
An ozone nonattainment area is one where air quality does not meet the federal ozone standards.
“Many truckers keep their vehicles idling overnight to provide air conditioning or heat while sleeping inside. An alternative is to park at a truck stop that provides electrical hookup to keep the vehicle comfortable,” Dear said.
Emery, who made the motion supporting development of an ordinance, urged the city to reach out to local truck stops to find out what alternatives are available. The motion was seconded by Rodriguez.
Other Matters
In other matters, the council:
•Approved $700 to finance the Veterans of Foreign Wars post to cook for a Sept. 11 memorial event to honor emergency responders.
•Appointed Martha Ellis of Lytle and Wanda Eggerton, an Atascosa County resident living near Lytle, to serve on the Atascosa County Library Board.
•Nominated Evangelina DeLeon, Margaret Wilson, Robin Cantu and Barry Sanders to serve on the Annual Citizenship Award Committee.

Lytle Lady Pirates Varsity Volleyball has busy weekend at Devine Tournament

Lytle Lady Pirate Calyssa Sevier is hitting while Cadee Martinez and teammates are ready to assist.

By Noah Gilkey
The Lytle Lady Pirates travelled to Devine on Thursday the 18th to kick off their season of competition at the Devine Varsity Tournament. First up on their six game schedule were the Poteet Aggies, who they fought hard against before unfortunately coming up just short both matches. The final score of both games was 18-25, 18-25.
Leading scorers for that first game were Calyssa Servier with 3 kills, Rose Scotello with 4 aces, and Marissa Lopez with 4 assists.
Turning to their next game the Lady Pirates were eager to improve upon their last matches, and that they did by putting up a hard fight against Feast for three matches before ultimately falling to FEAST.
Leading scorers were Rose Sotello with 2 aces and blocks, Calyssa Sevier with 5 kills, Cameron Hutton with 2 solo blocks, and Alyssa Sprenger with an impressive 8 digs.
Finishing out the tournament on Saturday began for the Lady Pirates with Crystal City.

Lytle Lady Pirate Amelia Martinez sends a nice serve over.

“We made adjustments Friday during practice and prepared for the upcoming teams on Saturday,” said Coach Sam Mendez of the teams’ preparation for the second half of the tournament. “We came out with those adjustments hoping to be as competitive as possible going up against Crystal City. We put in a DS on the right side to fill in for our true RS Hitter Marissa Lopez. Amelia Martinez # 5 our DS held her own in the front row and did her job well.”
The Lady Pirates came out with the win against Crystal City. Leading the 25-21, 25-16 matches were Cameron Hutton with 7 kills, Calssa Sevier and Rose Scotello with 6 kills, Elysa Aleman with an amazing 18 assists, and Calyssa Sevier with 2 aces.
The Lady Pirates’ second match pf the day was against Fox Tech High School. Playing three matches with scores of 25-20, 23-25, and 20-25 the Lady Pirates came up just short of the win against Fox Tech.
Leading scorers for their second match were Cadee Martinez with 9 kills, Rose Scotello with 6 aces, 8 kills, and 22 assists, Marissa Lopez with 8 kills, and Alyssa Sprenger with 11 digs. Finishing up the tournament against Somerset the Lady Pirates finished strong and took the win in three matches with scores of 18-25, 25-15, and 25-16. Leading scorers for that final game were Marissa Lopez, Cadee Martinez and Rose Scotello with 2 aces, Calyssa Sevier with 9 kills, Rose Scotello with 16 assists, and Calyssa Sevier 9 digs.
Of the final results from the tournament, Head Coach Sam Mendez said, “Overall it was a good experience for the Lytle volleyball team. We made a lot of good changes. The girls are working hard and keeping their spirits high!”

Lytle and Atascosa leaders reject appraisal district’s proposal

Atascosa County Precinct 2 Commissioner Stuart J. Knowlton speaks to Lytle City Council about the appraisal budget increase that has been proposed.

By Anton Riecher
Members of the Lytle City Council voted unanimously Monday, August 8, to join with the Atascosa County Commissioners Court in rejecting a proposed 2022-2023 budget for the Atascosa Central Appraisal District that proposed a 12 percent increase from last year.
District 3 Alderman David Emery made the motion that was seconded by District 1 Alderman Joseph Morrow.
“I trust our county commissioners and the county judge,” Emery said. “I know they have looked at this and the county auditor has discussed it in quite a bit of detail. We have a little time and I think we need to send it back and let them start again.”
The 2022-2023 proposed budget submitted presented to the ACAD board in July totaled $2.104 million, a 19.4 percent increase over the previous year. The budget proposal was narrowly defeated five votes to four by the board.
After further revision, the ACAD board approved a proposal calling for a 12 percent budget increase. However, when submitted to the various taxing entities involved, the commissioners voted to reject the proposal, chiefly, Precinct 2 Commissioner Stuart J. Knowlton explained to the city council.
ACAD is responsible for appraising approximately 72,000 parcels of property, Knowlton said. But nearly half of those parcels involve mineral development and are appraised by an outside firm rather than ACAD.
The remaining 42,000 to 46,000 parcels are comparable to the entire workload in either Medina or Wilson counties, Knowlton said. The main bone of contention is the hiring of an additional tax appraiser called for in the latest budget.
“Those counties operate with fewer staff that we do,” he said.
Although Knowlton, who serves on the ACAD board as chairman of the building committee, voted to approve the budget submitted to the commissioners, he told the city council that he voted against the proposal at the commissioner court meeting earlier Monday.
As a counter proposal, Atascosa County Judge Robert Hurley and Tracy Barrera are suggesting an eight percent increase over the previous year’s ACAD budget, Knowlton said.
“We have no issue with the raises for employees,” he said. “Several of their employees, the clerical staff, were way below what it should have been.”
Kimberly Faulk, who represents the city of Lytle and the Lytle ISD on the appraisal board, also appeared before the city council. She said that the most significant raises in the budget represented supervisory personnel.
However, Alderman Emery noted that an appraisal district deed clerk would receive a pay hike from $32,000 to $43,000 in the latest version of the budget.
“Seems like quite a big jump in one year,” Emery said. “It might be better to break that up over a couple of years. We’d all like to get a 35 percent increase in our salary.”
Lytle Salaries
Salary increases for the Lytle city positions of finance director, city secretary and city administrator also received attention from the council.
On a motion by Emery, seconded by Morrow, the council immediately increased the finance director’s salary to $70,000 a year, the city secretary to $55,000 a year and the city administrator to $90,000 a year, as called for in the 2022-2023 city budget.
City Administrator Matt Dear explained that the finance director completed her probationary period on May 3 without receiving the customary nominal salary increase. The city secretary was permanently appointed in June but without a change from hourly employee to salaried.
As for Dear himself, moving to his full salary required the council to wave three months of his probationary period. Mayor Ruben Gonzalez explained that the salary increases would have no fiscal impact since a recent retirement left the salary fund with enough to cover the amount and still show a surplus.
“One of the reasons we are putting it on here is they have done a great job of getting us to where we are right now,” Gonzalez said.
Subdivision Rules
A motion by Emery to explore possible revisions to the city’s subdivision and zoning codes to require buffer zone and other requirements for the development of mobile home parks was approved by the city council.
At issue are plans for a 170-plus lot mobile home park near Martin Street to be called Harris Park. Tammy McDonald and other residents on Martin Street let the council know their concerns.
“Our city is not ready for this many homes,” McDonald said. “The city council should consider the restriction we have put on other developers’ subdivisions.” Specifically, she said she was concerned with the space permitted between homes and other buffer areas.
Acknowledging that the council rezoned the property for this type of development nearly 25 year ago, McDonald said she was concerned about how the mobile home park would affect the value of her property.
Jolinda Harris of Harris Western, Inc. told the council that only new homes meeting federal standards will be allowed in Harris Park. All will be individually owned with no rented mobile homes allowed, she said.
“The only thing that is going to be rented is the lot,” Harris said.
All residents will be fully vetted including a credit check and a check for criminal background, she said.
“I’m not sure other subdivisions do that but we do,” Harris said.
She also objected to calling Harris Park “a trailer park.”
“These are really not trailers,” Harris said. “These are homes built in a factory and moved already built.”
Harris’ father, George Harris, who developed his first mobile home park in Lytle nearly 50 years ago, took issue with the argument that the new mobile home park will have a negative impact on the local tax base.
“They raised the taxes on units that belong to me almost $100,000 last year,” Harris said. “Since last year they raised it $200,000 above that.”
Speed limits
In other action, the council approved motion to revise proposed speed limits and install speed bumps on Lytle-Somerset Street. The motion by Morrow, seconded by Rodriguez, called for the city to investigation alternatives to speed bumps to better control speeding in that area.
Crossing guard
On a motion by Rodriguez, seconded by Emery, the council approved to $6,600 to cover last year’s contribution to Lytle ISD from the Bexar County School Crossing Guard fund.
Memorial event
Also, the council voted to partner with Patriot Automotive for the city’s September 11 memorial event.
“It’s going to be a great event for our first responders,” Gonzalez said.
3 nominated for Citizenship Award committee
The city council voted to nominate three appointees to the city’s Annual Citizenship Award Committee. Morrow nominated Margaret Wilson while Emery put forward the name of Robin Cantu. District 4 Alderman Michael Rodriguez put Eva DeLeon in nomination.
Two additional nominees are pending.

Lytle council debates procedures, Mayor breaks tie vote;
Campa retires after 46 years of service


With agenda intended on streamlining city leadership roles, projects and procedures, the Lytle city council passed all but one tabled item during Monday night’s four and a half hour meeting.

Continue reading “Lytle council debates procedures, Mayor breaks tie vote;
Campa retires after 46 years of service”

Lytle and Devine Election Results

Gonzalez re-elected Lytle Mayor, Rodriguez to council, Ritchey wins Devine City Council seat, Davis and Frieda re-elected to Devine ISD board

City of Lytle…
Mayor Ruben Gonzalez was re-elected with 363 votes to challenger Tom Cate with 174.
Michael Rodriguez won the District 4 Alderman race 50 to 21 over Marshall Witter.
District 5 Charles Cate was unopposed.

Ruben Gonzalez was re-elected Mayor for the City of Lytle.
Michael Rodriguez was elected to Lytle City Council.

City of Devine
Josh Ritchey won the District 5 seat with 39 votes over Cassandra Maldonado 15 and Wilburn Woody Woodrow 3 votes. Councilman D1 Rufino Vega and D3 David Espinosa were unopposed.

Josh Ritchey was elected to Devine City Council.

Devine ISD
Trustees Chris Davis and Renee Frieda were re-elected to their At Large seats over challenger Brenda Burford. Davis had 246 votes, Frieda 206 and Burford 95. Trustees SD1- Ali Buvinghausen and SD2-Carl Brown were unopposed.

Renee Frieda was re-elected to the Devine ISD school board.
Chris Davis was re-elected to the Devine ISD school board.

Elections this Saturday, May 7 for City of Devine, City of Lytle, Devine ISD and Statewide

Four different elections are taking place this Saturday, May 7, 2022 in our area. City of Devine voters in District 4 can vote, all voters in Devine ISD can vote, and all voters in the City of Lytle can vote in those elections. Statewide all voters can vote in the Special Constitutional Amendment elections hosted in their county.

Continue reading “Elections this Saturday, May 7 for City of Devine, City of Lytle, Devine ISD and Statewide”

Lytle discusses 80 foot sign, showing IHOP as proposed tenant near I-35


On April 11th, the Lytle City Council was held at 6:30pm. Starting with the pledge of allegiance, the meeting included a discussion on street names and the history behind the street name that the city recently removed/replaced.

Continue reading “Lytle discusses 80 foot sign, showing IHOP as proposed tenant near I-35”