Tax abatement for Best Western Hotel postponed

With a 5-2 vote, the Pleasanton City Council postponed action on a request by Raj and Geeta Patel, for tax abatement for the proposed Best Western Hotel project, at 1917 W. Oaklawn. Also included in the motion was to have the staff look over what their options are and then proceed to give the information back to council.

Councilmembers are Mayor Clinton J. Powell, Jimmy Magel (Dist. 1), Abraham Saenz (Dist. 2), Janet M. Jackson (Dist. 3), J.R. Gallegos (Dist. 4), Roger G. Garza (Dist. 5) and Jeanne B. Israel (Dist. 6).

Voting against the postponement of the hotel project tax abatement were Gallegos and Saenz. Gallegos commented on how council granted tax abatement to the Hampton Inn recently. He disagreed with postponing it, as did Saenz. City Manager Bruce Pearson said that based on what Israel said, they would look at the economic impact of the abatement, as well as the property value, appraised value of the hotel, etc. This would allow for a somewhat accurate prediction on what the economic impact would be. Mayor Powell commented on how they have a workshop coming up on this issue.

Powell added that the case with the Hampton Inn, was that allowing for the tax abatement would make the project LEED-certified (environmentally friendly). Even if council had not approved the tax abatement for the Hampton Inn, it was still going to be built. Saenz asked how long the abatement would be for and the Patels said 3-5 years.

Israel explained, “This isn’t about not supporting tax abatement, it is in support of a procedure in order to look at the best possible tax abatements that would be options. Certainly, having some information in our council packets to give us those options, those can be provided by staff so in the future we will be better prepared.”

Council then voted unanimously to have Mrs. Patel meet with City Manager Bruce Pearson about the waiver of utility connection fees and bring it back to council. Pearson said they needed to assess certain issues, such as the size needed, fire protection, etc. Gallegos said they wanted to start soon and it is an asset to the community.

After discussing the different options concerning the repairs or replacement to the Main Yard Carrizo well pump and appurtenances, council voted unanimously to approve method #4.

Pearson introduced Rudy Klein and they gave a presentation on the Main Yard Carrizo Water Well. This particular well is located at the Main Yard Water Plant on Goodwin Street and Water Street. It has recently been removed from service, due to a gradual decline in production.

The city has had the well casing televised in April 2011 and again in October 2011 to determine the rate of growth of several small holes that have appeared in the casing. These holes have grown significantly over the short period of time due to the fine sand being drawn through the holes as water is being pumped to the surface. The decline in production of the well is attributed to the same sand wearing on the pump impellers. The Main Yard Carrizo Water Well was drilled in May and June of 1997. The total depth of the well is 1,710 feet .

Methods presented were: 1.) full liner with gravel packing, 2.) full liner without gravel packing, 3.) partial liner (metal skin or swagging) and 4.) partial liner- double packer.

Method four is similar to “full liner without gravel packing” except that instead of dropping a new screen into the existing screen section, the liner ends below the section of existing pipe with holes. The top of the liner would include an 8” casing section with new packers, swedged to an 8” section that also includes packers. This would seal off the section of casing that includes the holes. These liners are usually made of metal 3/8” to 1/4” thick. They can include a vulcanized rubber sleeve. The liner will reduce the inside diameter of the casing to a 6” casing for approximately 35 feet. Estimated time to complete this installation is one day. Cost is estimated to be $25,000- $50,000. Expected life span is eight-ten years.

Council voted 6-1 on approval of the plat presented for the Chaparral Place Subdivision, as presented by Josh Cude of Excel Ventures.

Voting against was Magel. He explained this project is 16 acres and includes five commercial lots and one that is a multi-family lot. Possibilities for the commercial use include a bank, restaurant or retail. Plans also include a two-story quadraplex with 136 apartment units. He also discussed including a large water main to improve the infrastructure and they are also improving an existing sewer main. The project will be built in three phases. The overall time is 18-24 months. The total cost of the project is $10-15 million. Magel asked about the trees on the southside of the road and was told they will try to leave as many of the trees as they can. Magel expressed concern about drainage problems on Lantana, which is just one street down from the project. Magel said that needed to be addressed before the item was approved, as it has been a problem for years. City Engineer John Metting explained it was upstream and theoretically, they should see better drainage. Metting said the problem Magel was talking about is caused by the culverts under the Texas Department of Transportation road.

The council voted 6-1 to set a workshop before the next regularly scheduled city council meeting to discuss tax abatement, on Feb. 16.

This will begin at 6 p.m. Voting against was Saenz. Israel explained that while she supports tax abatement, they have no direction. She wanted to see a procedure established for the future.

The hiring of a finance position at city hall was approved unanimously. This will be a full-time finance director and it was noted that this is a budgeted item. This person will provide direction and assistance in numerous areas to the accounting process, said Pearson. They will deal with streamlining, debt service, bank and wire transfers, checks and balances, budget protection, etc.

With a 5-2 vote, council approved the reimbursement of travel costs to Jason Yarborough, who had applied for the city manager position. Yarborough lives in Florida and his total expenses were $730. Voting against were Gallegos and Saenz. Garza asked if anyone else was being reimbursed and it was explained that so far, Yarborough is the only one who has asked to be reimbursed.

Gallegos said he thought it was a waste of taxpayer money. Mayor Powell said it is customary in many cities to do this. Jackson noted that the council had voted near the end of last year to pay 100 percent of reasonable travel compensation to the city manager applicants for travel costs.

A request by Hector Moreno and Jose Trevino of the Pleasanton Hispanic Chamber of Commerce for use of Pavilion #2, surrounding park area, electrical outlets, concession stands and safe river access at no charge for the upcoming Kid Fish, was approved unanimously. The event is set for April 21.

Another upcoming event sponsored by the Pleasanton Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is the Cinco de Mayo Celebration and Papalote (kite) Festival on May 5. For this event, council approved unanimously Moreno and Trevino’s request for the use of Pavilion #2, surrounding park area, baseball and soccer fields, electrical outlets and concession stands. Moreno said he was visiting The Valley during the weekend to watch a similar festival. He was also hoping to have a band lined up for the event. Saenz asked if there would be alcoholic beverages and Moreno said he did not know. Jackson asked if the electrical lines in the park might be dangerous for the kite festival and Moreno said the event would be more of a demonstration.

Also approved unanimously was a request by Moreno and Trevino for street closures, city electrical outlets and necessary barricades or equipment for the Pleasanton Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Market Days on Oct. 20-21. This will include Main Street between Johnson and Goodwin, and Hunt Street between Smith and Highway 281. Jackson said that she appreciated the work they do.

Council also voted unanimously to approve a request by Norman Porter and Barbara Westbrook for use of Pavilion #3 and surrounding park area at no charge for March 23-24, for the Civil War Reenactment by the Atascosa County Historical Commission. This also includes the closing of the nearby portions of East Hunt and Colwell Streets. Porter explained that during the Civil War they mustered just where he was standing. Also at that time, the Atascosa County Courthouse had been in Pleasanton. Porter is hoping for a display of part of the Courthouse. The event will not include any shooting, however he is in need of more horse riders.

During the City Manager’s Report, Public Works Director Johnny Martinez reported that crews started installing the 12-inch water line on Crestline. They also installed 684 feet of PVC, six water taps and fire hydrants on Crestline, between Cynthia and Live Oak Drive. Street crews have been replacing various signs around town and destroying graffiti. He noted they found lots of graffiti in the Oak Forest area and throughout town.

City Manager Bruce Pearson gave an update on the master plan. He said the Planning and Zoning Commission has had at least four meetings to review proposals from 10 different consultants to choose from, for development of the master plan. They have narrowed it down to three consultants to be interviewed, said Pearson. In a meeting the previous night, they decided on seven quantitative grading categories. Presentations were scheduled for the following Wednesday night. Pearson added that the Planning and Zoning Commission has done an admirable job, as it has been no easy task.

Pearson also wants to propose a water model to be done of the city’s system soon.

“We feel like we’re comfortable now with our water rights, but we don’t know where we are going with being able to just distribute the amount of water needed as we continue to grow, because of our pumping capacities and the growth and the size of our distribution mains. We hope to have that model. It is a very comprehensive study that will be done,” said Pearson.

They have had a couple of staff meetings in the last few weeks, said Pearson. They will continue having staff meetings and preparing monthly activity reports from each department.

Pearson also discussed construction standards and specifications from water and wastewater construction. He said they have found that the city employees are already doing a good part of what is in the construction specifications manual and he is very pleased with this. The next item he will look at is material specifications. As for personnel training, he said they will look at innovative ways to have people progress with their career.

During Citizen’s Comments, Warren Domke shared some information on a new radio station in Atascosa County, KSAQ, 102.3 FM.

“After several years of no radio voice in this county, we have a radio station in the process of being put on the air,” said Domke.

He said they are hoping for a signal this month. Domke was involved with KBOP and KBUC, until it went off the air. When the station was sold he also did news at KTSA in San Antonio for several years until they reduced the staff due to the economy. He has been involved in the radio field since he was in high school.

The radio station will basically be a computer operation and the music will be country. Domke is also hoping to be playing oldies as well. He wants it to be a community asset, with news five days a week, community announcements and hopefully funeral announcements as well. He said he is hoping those with advertising dollars will throw a few their way. Right now, he is the only staff and they are looking for a sales person. He added he is open to any comments anyone has.

“I hope what we’re looking at is something everyone will be pleased with and enjoy and will support,” said Domke.

The next speaker was Patsy Troell, who said she had something to bring up because it keeps coming back to haunt her.

Troell explained that Councilman Garza had asked her to turn over her notes and files from Pleasanton Community Center Inc.

“For the record,” said Troell, “I am under no obligation to turn over any of my private files.”

However, she did call Garza and said she would be willing to make copies of what he wanted. She made an appointment on Monday with Garza and said they could go through her files. When he saw what he wanted, she would mark them off and then make copies. That Monday she called him and Garza cancelled because his help was ill. She said she understood and for Garza to call her when he was available.

“As a courtesy I’m willing to let him look. I have nothing to hide, but to turn over my files to someone? I’m not obligated,” said Troell.

Garza then said, “I don’t think it’s courtesy, it’s public knowledge.”

Troell said the files are private and the organization is a private incorporated one.

At this point, Mayor Powell asked for order in the chambers.

“I just want everybody to know that I’m not obligated to,” said Troell.

Garza repeated that it is public information.

Council voted unanimously to approve the plat presented for the Corgey Road 4.75 Acres Subdivision.

Councilmembers also heard a report on the Atascosa County Appraisal District by city representative Joe Rodriguez. Rodriguez said there is a “Meet the Chief Appraiser” meeting on Feb. 7, with all of the taxing entities. Chief Appraiser Michelle Cardenas had some complaints against her and on Jan. 23, said Rodriguez, all of the complaints had been dismissed. A total of 169 new parcels were drawn from Dec. 15- Jan. 26. He thanked council for his appointment and Mayor Powell thanked him for his service.

The best bid for the electronic voting system was approved unanimously. It was awarded to Hart of Austin, in the amount of $103,000.

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