All Medina County commissioners and Judge Schuchart were present for the February 25 Commissioners Court meeting, which opened with an authorization of preliminary Limited Offering Memorandums for issuance of Special Assessment Revenue Bonds in relation to The Woodlands Public Improvement Area. This development establishes the Neighborhood Improvement Area and Major Improvement Areas, which are for housing and parkland. The bonds have a preliminary issuance value of $11.3 million.
In a call after the meeting, Commissioner Jerry Beck assured residents, “This will not affect all Medina County tax payers. It would affect taxes rates for people living in the Woodland Public Improvement Area.”
Developers are responsible for marketing and selling their own bonds. Funds raised will go to creating roads, bridges and other infrastructure improvements in the Woodlands development, and will increase the tax base for the county as construction increases the property value.
Beck added, “However, raising our tax base only benefits taxpayers here if we lower our tax rates. In my opinion, we really need to lower our tax rate because our tax base has grown exponentially each year with all these new subdivisions. Yeah, the growth is a benefit, but it comes at a cost, too. At the same time they are tapping our resources, our water, our farmland, etc. The ones who ought to benefit from this growth and increase in tax base are our taxpayers.
“In June we will start looking at the budget again, and in September is when the tax rate will be set by Commissioners Court again. But it takes three votes to lower the tax rate,” Beck said.
Medina County’s response to the ice event was multifaceted, with commissioners sending graders to assist TXDOT with clearing HWY 90 & IH-35, and the Sheriff’s office fielding a flood of calls (many were from people who lost power: do not call 9-1-1 to report a power outage) and hauling potable water to those without it. The Sheriff’s office was on generators which they had beforehand because detainees are held on-site. Commissioner Beck reported that most people did the right thing and stayed off the roads, which greatly improved driver safety.
After the meeting, County Emergency Manager Keith Lutz stated, “I feel confident that all entities will be looking for opportunities to purchase generators. The great news is that our recently adopted hazard mitigation plan, specifically calls for generators. Not only for the county but for all of the cities as well. So any hazard mitigation grants that come forward, we would be eligible to apply for funding.”
After the meeting, County Emergency Manager Keith Lutz discussed the actions taken by his office to coordinate the many moving parts involved. Generators were set up to power the county’s communication towers for 4 days. Warming centers were set up by FBC Hondo and Zion Lutheran Church in Castroville. Officials stated one reason there was not a bigger push for more warming centers was the fallibility of power to all buildings (even public ones); If people gather in a community building and that building loses power, the result is many people in one cold building (with an increased transmission risk) who then would have to drive back home.
If more generators were available or installed for the buildings, it would make warming centers a much more viable plan for future events. Generators are part of the county Hazard Mitigation Plan, and should be purchased as hazard/disaster grant money becomes available.
Lutz was in communication with Rob Flores, the City of Devine Emergency Manager, during the event as well as Chris Andrews with Devine PD. Despite the communication with local government, some citizens have expressed that they had no clue what help was available at the county level.
I-info is a notification service for which county residents are encouraged to register; it sends updates on emergencies such as weather as well as announces COVID-19 vaccines as they become available. However, no notices about warming centers were sent out during the week to our knowledge. The link for the i-info ARC system is also available on the medinacountytexas.org main page.
A contract was approved for property & liability insurance consulting and management with Gray & Co. in the amount of $3,250 for one year. If additional services are needed, they will be billed at a rate of $125/hr travel and service time. Approval was also given to auction surplus property (such as used pickups & equipment) through Purple Wave, Inc., an online auctioneering site. If the site performance is satisfactory, future surplus items may be sold on it.
ESD #2’s audit report was found to be representative of fact and was accepted. ESD2 serves the Devine area, funding fire protection through Devine VFD. ESD2 had a revenue of $467,155 with expenses of $330,253 for a net of $136,902 for 2020. This put their end of FY 2020 net position at $1.4 million.
An updated master development plan was approved for Potranco Oaks subdivision which reduced lot frontage from 105 to 65 ft for phase 7. House values are unchanged and will average ~$400k.
Final approval was given to Medina Valley Surveys to vacate and replat Lot 27-ASan Antonio Trust Subdivision, establishing Lot 1 & 2, Lee Crisp Subdivision in Pct. 2 off of CR 582.
Final approval was given to vacate and replat Lot 37 HWY 90 Ranch Subdivision in Pct. 2 off of CR 4612.
Speed limits were reduced on County Roads 531, 5223, 4614 & 4617.
By Kyle G. Saathoff