The Coupland City Council held a public hearing on the proposed 2015 budget, followed by its regular monthly meeting on September 11. Three citizens attended the meeting. Here are the highlights:
- During the public hearing on the budget, Mayor Jack Piper summarized the main revenue and expense line items. There were questions and short discussions about election costs, franchise fees, and the condition of County Road 458 as well as options for mitigating future maintenance costs of that road.
- Moving on to the regular meeting, the Mayor reported that the City had $36,989 in the bank as of August 31. He noted that the financial report showed that the City was $200 over budget in the engineering line item because of issues with the proposed plat for the Prinz Estates, which resulted in additional reviews by the City Engineer.
- The previous election order was cancelled because only three persons filed for the three open Alderman positions. Barbara Piper, Susan Schmidt, and Sarah Torluemke submitted applications to appear on the ballot. Ms. Piper and Ms. Schmidt will remain on the Board of Aldermen. Ms. Torluemke will replace Eldridge Tidwell, who decided not to run for re-election.
- An ordinance adopting the proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2015 (October 1, 2014 through September 30, 2015) was passed unanimously.
- An ordinance adopting an ad valorem taxation rate of $0.25 per $100 of property valuation for taxes due in January was passed unanimously. The rate is unchanged from the current rate but because property values have increased somewhat, the City will collect about $2,000 more in property taxes next year. [Publisher’s Note: The 2015 budget is available for download from www.cityofcouplandtx.us.]
- The Mayor reported that the City’s portion of the Right of Way acquisition for TXDOT’s improvement project along FM 1660 has not been paid as authorized in the previous meeting because the agreement sent to the City by TXDOT was incorrect. Once again, TXDOT seems to not be aware that Coupland is an incorporated city within Williamson County. The agreement names the City as Williamson County with Jack Piper as the Mayor of Williamson County. They also listed an incorrect amount. The Mayor said no payment will be sent until we have a proper, signed agreement. The City had previously selected the option of making three equal payments, spread out over three fiscal years, with the first payment due before the end of FY 2014. Because the current fiscal year ends on September 30, TXDOT may not submit a corrected agreement in time to allow the City to make a payment during FY 2014, thereby pushing the entire arrangement back by one year. Mayor Piper said that there were personnel changes at TXDOT and he is dealing with different people than those who approached the City earlier in the year.
- There was a discussion about Bastrop Road in Coupland, a portion of which has become a bit of a ghost road. You have to look closely to see where it used to be as most of it fell into disuse decades in the past. Apparently it was part of the original plat for “Coupland City” in the 1800’s but most of it was never developed. The Mayor said that Martha Poldrack is developing a plot of land along that road and behind the Stock Up Food Mart for a new food establishment. No formal action was taken but by consensus, the Aldermen authorized the Mayor to negotiate with Ms. Poldrack on behalf of the City to help with the cost of clearing and leveling the old road bed but not absorbing future maintenance costs. Ms. Piper said they had contacted the Texas Municipal League and the City Attorney, both of whom said that the City is under no legal obligation to maintain any specific section of city roads. The consensus of the Aldermen was that the City can only maintain roads currently in use.
- With regard to mowing along those existing roads, the Mayor reported that he is still looking for someone to mow along CR 458.
- There was also a discussion about snakes coming from a property on Broad Street and near the school. The Mayor said he contacted the owner, who is a reputable businessman in Fredericksburg. The owner asked that City arrange to mow the property and send a bill for reimbursement. The Mayor also reported on recent road work work done by Naivar Construction (see earlier story).
- The Mayor reported that the state has been notified about two different sinkholes along Spur 277.
- Ms. Garry reported that the state is upgrading culverts along SH 95, evidently in response to a lawsuit. She also commented that even though Tesla Motors has elected to build its new battery plant in Nevada instead of Hutto, recent national exposure of that site (which happens to be in Frame Switch, the birthplace of Karen Marosko) will likely result in future development of that 1200 acre site between Hutto and Taylor and south of US Highway 79.
- There was a comment during the meeting about the need to have someone do some shredding in some overgrown portions of the City.
- With regard to a future Community Development Block Grant from Williamson County, the Mayor reported that Wilco is waiting for a copy of the August minutes to verify that he had the authority to enter the City into an agreement regarding future applications.
- Mayor Piper said future activity related to the Prinz Estates is awaiting the probate of Mr. Prinz’ will.
- During the recognition portion of the meeting, Ms. Schmidt mentioned the successful Choo Choo Fest in August. Ms. Marosko talked about efforts to save the old iron bridge on CR 456, which is currently closed and pending a decision by Wilco and the state whether they will repair or replace it. Finally, Mayor Piper recognized Edridge Tidwell for his role in serving on the inaugural Coupland City Council.
- For the Citizen’s Communcation portion of the meeting, Torsten Wabbel told the Council that in the near future he will be working a Boy Scout project which will involve the City Council.
The next meeting of the Coupland City Council will be on October 9.