But the item that will have the biggest effect on Kyle residents is the one on the proposed and much-discussed stormwater fees.
Tuesday’s meeting has on its agenda the first reading of the ordinance officially designating a Stormwater Utility, already agreed upon when the council passed its FY 2016-17 budget, and the necessary fees to finance the new department, fees that were not part of the fee schedule outlined in the budget. No public hearing is scheduled as a companion piece to this agenda item; that will come when the council holds its second reading on the ordinance, which is currently scheduled for Nov. 15. That means anyone who wants to speak on anything regarding the subject of stormwater mitigation must do so during the citizen comments period which comes right at the beginning of the session.
In its proposed ordinance, the city is saying it is creating the utility in order to "maintain the public health and safety, within the city limits, by protecting the community from the loss of life and property caused by surface water overflows, surface water stagnation and pollution arising from point source and nonpoint source runoff within the boundaries of the service area of the utility, as established in this ordinance;" as well as to "offer and provide drainage service on nondiscriminatory, reasonable and equitable terms within the service area."
Homeowners associations or other property owners may retain ownership of drainage facilities on their properties. However, the ordinance states "Private drainage improvements not conveyed by dedication to the city as right-of-way or drainage easement shall be maintained by the user. A maintenance schedule and maintenance plan shall be submitted to the city prior to approval of construction plans. Existing drainage facilities will have 180 calendar days after the effective date of this ordinance to submit a maintenance plan to the city. The city has the right to do periodic inspections of privately owned and maintained drainage improvements to ensure that the maintenance schedule is being implemented. Failure to adhere to a maintenance plan will be a violation of this ordinance."
And, it should be noted, violations can be punishable by fines as severe as $2,000 a day.
As already mentioned ad nauseam, the proposed stormwater fee for single family residences is $5 per month and will appear as part of the customer’s monthly utility bill. The commercial rate is somewhat more complex:
- Monthly Fee = Monthly Base Rate x Impervious Cover (sq. ft.) x Adjustment Factor
- Monthly Base Rate = $0.0021 per sq. ft. of impervious cover
- Adjustment Factor = The adjustment factor is unique to each commercial property and is based on the percent of impervious cover. It is calculated using the following formula: (1.5425 x % of impervious cover) + 0.5064.
Got that? If you do and do the math for a typical commercial property in Kyle, which I have done a couple of times, it is evident commercial customers bear the brunt of the overall cost of financing the new utility.
The council is also scheduled to be forced to sit through presentations on microsurfacing, billboard requirements and Goodwill Industries. None of the three presentations were made available for public consumption ahead of the meeting so there’s no telling exactly what these presentations will involve.
I do know microsurfacing is used, similar to slurry seal, for road repair projects so I am guessing this has something to do with the road bond projects or the resurfacing of other roads in Kyle. Microsurfacing is applied in order to help preserve and protect the underlying pavement structure and provide a new driving surface. Roads chosen for microsurfacing application generally have low to moderate distress and narrow crack width. Microsurfacing is similar to slurry seal. It consists of the application of a mixture of water, asphalt emulsion, aggregate (very small crushed rock), and chemical additives to an existing asphalt concrete pavement surface. Polymer is commonly added to the asphalt emulsion to provide better mixture properties. The major difference between slurry seal and microsurfacing is in how they "break" or harden. Slurry relies on evaporation of the water in the asphalt emulsion. The asphalt emulsion used in microsurfacing contains chemical additives which allow it to break without relying on the sun or heat for evaporation to occur. Thus, microsurfacing is an application that hardens quicker than slurry seals and can be used when conditions would not allow slurry seal to be successfully placed. Streets that have a lot of shade and streets that have a lot of traffic are good candidates for microsurfacing. It is a temporary fix; i.e., roadways chosen for cyclical microsurfacing applications would typically be treated every five to seven years.
Pursuant to Chapter 395 of the Texas Government Code, which requires a member of a city’s Impact Fee Advisory Committee to be a resident of the city’s ETJ, the council will consider the appointment of civil engineer Freddie E. Dippel Jr., who lives in the Century Acres subdivision near Mountain City, to the commission. However, the city has been injudiciously silent on another requirement of Chapter 395 which requires a member of that committee to be a representative of the "real estate, development or building industry."
The Lehman Road rezoning issue is the second reading of an ordinance that has divided both the Planning & Zoning Commission and the City Council and that’s one to rezone five acres at 245 Lehman Road, most of which is in the 100-year floodplain, from agriculture to retail services so that it can be used for purposes normally reserved for warehouse zoning, specifically a retail outlet selling flags and giant flagpoles and the facilities required to warehouse all those items it sells. Since most of the company’s customers are not only out of state, but many of them are out of the country, the walk-up, storefront activity is not expected to be all that heavy. The argument against the request is that its detractors want to reserve Lehman Road for normal retail service activities. The argument for it is if anyone was interested in developing that area for retail services, it would have done so long before now and it’s better to have some taxable- revenue-generating business located there than for it to sit vacant.
Two items on the agenda involve stop signs. The first is in response to instructions from the council for the city to propose a policy that removes politics from the discussion of where to put stop signs in the city. Under the policy proposal the council will consider Tuesday, "the city (will) install (stop or yield) signs in locations where the city engineer, in the exercise of his/her judgment, determines that such installation is appropriate." Citizens will still be able to make a request to the police chief and/or the public works director for stop signs in certain locations. If a visit to the proposed location along with a review of accident records for the spot calls for it, a more comprehensive traffic study could be undertaken. If the study says a sign is not warranted, it won’t be installed. If those who requested the sign want to appeal that decision, that appeal , under terms of the policy under discussion Tuesday, "will be reviewed by a panel consisting of the police chief, director of public works and the assistant city manager. The panel will make a recommendation to the city manager, who will make the final decision on the appeal." Under current policy, citizens could appeal the decision not to install a stop sign directly to the City Council, whose members found it politically expedient to make the wishes of their constituents a higher priority than whether the stop sign was warranted. This proposed policy effectively places a stop sign on that avenue of appeal.
Coincidentally, right after this discussion, the council will decide whether to approve a three-way stop sign at the intersection of Lockhart and Front streets, at the corner where the Library’s Thrift Store is located.
According to the agenda, the item concerning the RSI incentives amount a "technical amendment" to those agreed to earlier this month. This entire discussion ensued because of a mixup on property taxes, specifically who was responsible for paying those taxes. Both the county and the city assumed partial responsibility for the mixup and therefore agreed to a joint $246,000 grant to RSI that will be forgivable if, during the next decade, RSI adds 82 full-time employees to its workforce, which currently consists of 50 employees. The city is also providing RSI with a $234,000 interest-free loan which must be repaid in equal installments over a 10-year period. In return, the city will be the second lien holder on the company’s property at 1670 Kohler’s Crossing. One interesting part of this agreement that has been largely overlooked requires RSI to "retain and maintain a local intern program and provide opportunity for at least two Hays CISD students for an internship each year of this agreement."
For those who haven’t heard, Jesse Espinoza, the former Kyle police sergeant who was suspended last year because of allegations he accepted a $5,000 bribe to provide inside information on Police Chief Jeff Barnett to someone pursuing legal action against the chief and then lied about all of this during his arbitration hearing, filed a federal lawsuit against the city on Wednesday. You can read more about all this here. I still haven’t seen a copy of Espinoza’s suit so I don’t know what remedies he is pursuing, but I do know the council plans to go into executive discussion Tuesday to consult with its attorneys about the lawsuit.
Other items on Tuesday’s agenda include:
- "Discussion and possible action" on whether to write a $270,000 check to Union Pacific to pay for "preliminary engineering services" in connection with relocating the rail siding that is currently blamed for the myriad train stoppages that block traffic on Center Street.
- An update from City Manager Scott Sellers on serious FM 2770 drainage problems that Sellers said at a recent council meeting could cost close to a half million dollars to fix.
- The approval of two additions, Mike Torres and Rick Koch, to the Planning & Zoning Commission. Neither of these two nominees were vetted by P&Z, which is supposed to be the process for committee appointees, so there's no word on actually who made these recommendations. Also in here is a recommendation to name interim commission Allison Wilson to a full term. The two new members will replace Lori Huey and chairman Mike Rubsam. Rubsam's knowledge and expertise in zoning issues will be missed and difficult to replicate.
- Condemnation of about 1.4 acres that the city maintains is necessary to complete the Burleson Road improvement project.
- The expenditure of $46,999.83 (an expenditure already approved during the passage of the current budget) for the purchase of a Ventrac tractor. Here’s everything you need to know and more about this machine.
- The second of the two required public hearings (no one came to speak at the first one) concerning the annexation of 51½ acres southwest of FM 2770 and FM 1626 in the Plum Creek PUD.
You can read the complete city council agenda here.