The Kyle Report

The Kyle Report

Saturday, September 30, 2017

All council candidates expected to appear at Plum Creek debate

Water, wastewater, taxes, spending and mobility appear to head the list of topics to be discussed during a debate next month expected to attract every candidate seeking a place on the Kyle City Council.

The debate, to be moderated by Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Beth Smith, is scheduled for 6 p.m., Monday, Oct. 9, at the Plum Creek Community Center. It will begin with the unopposed candidate for District 2, Tracy Scheel, having the opportunity to make a three-minute statement, which will be followed by the two candidates — Dex Ellison and Marco Pizano — seeking to complete an unexpired 2-year term in District 1, and then the pair of candidates — Tim R. McHutchion and Alex Villalobos — who are vying for the District 4 position. The final debate will be among the four candidates — Travis Mitchell, Nicole Romero-Piche, Jaime Sanchez and Bill Sinor — who are running for mayor.

Each candidate in the contested races will have the opportunity to make a three-minute opening statement as well as a three-minute closing statement. In between, Judge Smith will be asking the candidates questions and, she said, "each candidate will have two minutes to respond with the initial candidate then having a 30-second rebuttal. I will alternate the order of candidates in which the questions are asked."

She sent a notification of the debate rules to all the candidates earlier this week in which she told them "Categories most important to the taxpayers in the city, through reading social media and listening, seem to be water/wastewater, taxes/spending/projects and mobility/infrastructure." She advised the candidates that they might want to touch on one or more of those issues in their opening statements.

All the questions will come from audience members who must submit them on index cards with an indication of what race the question is designed for. Judge Smith said they can bring prepared index cards with them and "There will also be some blank cards available for citizens to write questions when they arrive." The index cards, the judge said, "will be put in separate containers for each race."

She said she anticipates asking two or three questions for each set of candidates "and probably one extra for the mayoral candidates."

Monday, September 25, 2017

Public hearing scheduled on new zoning district

I’m not going to go into much detail about this and I won’t be writing about it immediately afterwards because, truth in advertising, I am a member of the Planning & Zoning Commission. But I think it’s worth noting that the commission will host a public hearing tomorrow evening (the meeting begins at 6:30 p.m.) to solicit citizens’ comments on the creation of a zoning category for Kyle that will be known as Office/Institutional. You can find information on the proposed new zoning designation and a link to its description here. Each individual who wants to speak will have three minutes to make their point, so it’s best to have a script prepared in advance so as not to use too much of those three minutes with idle ramblings. You should also complete a speakers form that will be available on the desk immediately to your left as you enter the council chambers on the first floor of City Hall. Zoning affects everyone and coming up with a whole new zoning category is rather a big deal so I want to make the availability to have your opinion heard on this matter known now so as to hopefully avoid all those complaints later along the lines "Why didn’t anyone tell us about this?"

Friday, September 22, 2017

Signs point to 30-day grace period on car calling ban enforcement

Kyle Police Chief Jeff Barnett said today all the required notification signs are in place to enforce the city’s ban on using a wireless communications while operating a motor vehicle or bicycle, but it might be as long as 30 days until the city knows if the wording on those signs passes state muster and KPD can begin ticketing violators.

The city council voted unanimously Tuesday to adopt the ban. The 7-0 approval means the ordinance didn’t need to come back for a second reading. Kyle adopted such a ban in 2016, but earlier this year, the Texas Legislature passed and the governor signed legislation that prohibited texting while driving. That legislation also effectively revoked all city ordinances on the subject, but gave municipalities room to adopt stronger rules. The only caveat was that, if stricter city regulations were put in place, signs had to be placed at the city limits on all roads bearing numbered highway designations.

Barnett said those signs are in place in Kyle "and we are consulting with our legal representation to review current wording and to recommend any additional language, if necessary. Enforcement on the city ordinance will take place only after the wording is adjusted and posted. If we do need to adjust the currently posted language, I would estimate the placing of those signs to be less than 30 days."

It is a common practice for police officers to position themselves along major arterials with devices designed to measure whether a motorist is exceeding the posted speed limit. Barnett said the KPD will not employ such tactics to snare drivers using their wireless devices illegally.

"Officers will enforce the new state law as they perform their patrol duties," the chief said.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

City maintains bills accurately reflect water usage

While acknowledging the water bills customer received this month may be higher than usual for a couple of reasons it maintains are legitimate, City Finance Director Perwez Moheet carefully and methodically outlined the city’s procedure for measuring and billing for residential water usage during Tuesday night’s city council meeting and concluded residents are invoiced accurately for the water they use.

Moheet said the latest bills customers received on Sept. 15 accounted for water usage between July 6 and Aug. 8, 33 days.

"We normally have 29 to 30 days" in a billing cycle, he told the council. "This one happens to have 33 days. This is the longest billing cycle in our fiscal year. Of those 33 days, 27 days were with 97-plus degrees with no precipitation. That’s 82 percent of the days in the total billing cycle. This included 10 days of 100-plus degree temperatures with two of those days being 106 degrees."

Moheet said residents who use automatic sprinkler systems to irrigate their lawns in the summer can use 16,000 to 20,000 gallons of water a month "very fast." Other typical causes for higher than normal water use, he said, include leaks in internal plumbing such as toilet flaps that have caught, are hung or have shrunk over time; faulty shower heads; faulty faucets; leaking faucets outdoors and indoors; leaking connections to clothes/dish washers; replacement of water heaters; swimming pool repairs; outdoor manual sprinklers that are inadvertently left on too long; and children playing with running water hoses.

"On automatic sprinkler systems, most people set them up to where they come on between midnight and 6 a.m.," Moheet said. "If you have a broken sprinkler head most people don’t see it until they get their bill. Just one broken sprinkler head can spew 200 gallons in one cycle. And if you have a number of those, it adds up pretty quickly.

"If a customer losers power, their irrigation control system reverts to the factory setting which is every day," he said. "So if the customer doesn’t catch that and update it, they will be using more water."

Moheet said during the August billing cycle, the average amount of water used per customer was 8,186 gallons. That compared to 7,424 gallons for the same month in 2016, which was a wetter year.

He also mentioned that Kyle, like many other municipalities, has a tiered water rate structure "that is designed to encourage water conservation." The first 4,000 gallons are billed at $4.40 per thousand gallons, the second 4,000 is $5.50, the third is $6.61, the fourth is $7.69, the fifth is $8.80 with a final increment for those who use 50,000 gallons or more in a month and they are charged $13.20 per 1,000 gallons.

After the meeting I posed a hypothetical to Moheet on a customer whose water usage for one month was 10,000 gallons. Specifically I asked whether he was billed (a) at the $4.40 rate for the first 4,000 gallons, the $5.50 rate for the second 4,000 and the $6.61 rate for the final 2,000 or (b) was the customer billed at the $6.61 rate for all 10,000. His answer was option (a).

"This customer’s water bill will total $86.05," Moheet said today. He said that total comes from adding $33.23, which is what he called the "minimum water charge," $17.60 for the first 4,000 gallons, $22 for the second 4,000 and $13.22 for the final 2,000. He said the customer’s water bill would be itemized to show the separate $33.23 for the minimum charge and a separate line item of $52.82 for the water usage charge.

"In this billing cycle we had 9,331 water meters that we read," Moheet told the council Tuesday night. "It’s electronic meter reading. The water meter has a device on top of it that sends an electronic signal to our meter reader that drives by neighborhoods and picks up signals. So there is no human touch of the meter reading in the process," a process, Moheet maintained, that eliminated the possibility of human error in meter readings. He said approximately 5,000 of the meters are west of I-35 and the remaining 4,300 are on the east side.

Moheet said the first thing that happens when the city receives those readings "is to catch those meter reads that show up as some anomaly." These could be zero reads or bad signals. He said meter technicians go to those locations to determine why meter readings were not recorded. "They then physically read the meters," Moheet said. "They actually open the meter box and they have the hand held device that they scan. They make sure the meter is not broken." Moheet said 90 percent of the times those faulty readings are the result of ant mounds, even rattlesnakes in the meter boxes or irrigation water that has flooded the meter boxes. "Se we clean all that out," he said. Moheet said of the 9,331 meters read last month, only 111 had to be re-read manually.

"So that’s the first cut," he said.

After that, the billing system searches for high and low, he said. Every month the system looks at a customer’s three-month average for the same three months in the prior year. "If it’s two and a half times less than or two and half times more than your last average it will spit it out for additional review," he said.

In all, he said, the system has 10 different such categories that it tests for.

"During non-summer months, we typically have about 800 accounts that we have to review based on these parameters," the finance director said. "For this billing cycle that we are talking about, we had 1,327. That’s because most of these were high-usage customers." Specifically, he reported, 679 were for high usage, 189 for low consumption, 233 for zero consumption and the rest for other miscellaneous reasons.

"Each one of those was looked at," he stressed. "It normally takes us three days to run these inspections and checks. It took us five days to run these. Every single one of them had a reason that their bill was approved."

Although Mayor Pro Tem Damon Fogley said he understood the city manager telling him the last audit of the city’s water billing system was in 2009, Moheet said the truth is the city is has been audited annually since 2004 by a company called Johnson Controls. Last year’s audit, he said, revealed a meter accuracy rate of 99.9 percent.

"Our meters are in good shape," he said. "We are above what the rating associations say is acceptable."

He said the meters that are pulled are sent to a certified laboratory with no connection to either the city of Kyle or Johnson Controls "and those results are then shared with us."

Moheet concluded by posing a question: "If the billing system or the meter equipment system had some gremlin in it, why does it only show up in the high usage months and then it normalizes? If there was a system error, then that anomaly would show every month."

Council member Travis Mitchell asked Moheet whether the billing could be adjusted so that a 32-day interval fell during periods of low water usage instead of during the summer months and Moheet said he would investigate whether the billing software could be reprogrammed to make that adjustment.

In a related item Tuesday, the council approved the expenditure of $374,579 for something that wasn’t clearly explained on the agenda but turns out is a system that unifies all the city’s computer-based accounting technologies into one system.

In other action citizens should be aware of, the council passed on final reading an ordinance that adds using a wireless device to "engage in a call" while operating a motor vehicle or bicycle in Kyle to the texting prohibitions already enacted by the state.

The council also approved zoning changes that would allow for an auto body shop to relocate from South Front Street to the corner of Rebel Road and Porter Street and for a medical facility to be built on the Dacy Loop.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Mayor pro tem seeks solutions to water bill complaints

Mayor pro tem Damon Fogley said Saturday complaints he has received about "excessively high water bills" prompted him to place an item on Tuesday’s City Council agenda that reads "General discussion regarding water billing practices and billing audit."

"A lot of people are concerned about this," Fogley said. "A lot of people are complaining about their bills. The reason I put this on the agenda is to have a general discussion about billing practices and if there’s any type of trigger mechanism in place when someone does have a spike."

Fogley is hoping to make public exactly how the city staff reacts to customer complaints about high water bills and, particularly whether technicians test water meters for accuracy.

"I think we need some kind of program in place," Fogley said. "I’ve had some residents contact me about excessively high water bills that they’ve had recently. They’‘ve had a huge spike during the summer months. They went from having an average bill of $100 that tripled when June and July came around."

The mayor pro tem said he researched what remedies have been undertaken by other cities and he said he especially liked an ordinance adopted last year in Austin that reads if a customer receives an abnormally high water bill they could be eligible for an adjustment if:
  • The customer’s water usage is greater than or equal to three times their normal usage;
  • They have at least 12 months of water billing history at the address in question;
  • They have not had another billing adjustment or credit within the previous 24 months; and
  • They file a form reflecting the high usage within 90 days of receiving the questionable bill.

If they are deemed eligible, the customers will have half of the excess charges credited to their account and the other half adjusted to a lower billing rate.

Fogley noted that Austin conducted an independent audit of its water utility billing system, the results of which were released earlier in 2016, that revealed it operated at 98.86 percent accuracy. The audit was authorized because of customer complaints about excessive bills.

"When I asked (City Manager Scott Sellers) when our last billing audit was, he said it was 2009 and there weren’t too many details about this audit," Fogley said. "I’m not sure they actually looked at the meters we had or whether it was just strictly about billing practices. I want to know what is our allowable percentage of error."

Austin’s audit began by testing the city’s 1,138 water meters for accuracy and the auditors recommended the city test their meter accuracy annually. Austin City Council member Ellen Troxclair, who recommended the above referenced ordinance to remedy customer complaints, pointed out that while a 98.86 accuracy rate might seem good at first glance, the city’s contract requires a rate of 99.9 percent.

"I want to know what our accuracy rate is," Fogley said, "I think we should discuss having a company come out and do an audit on our billing system and all our meters."

Fogley was asked whether a Kyle’s customer complaint automatically triggers an inspection of the meter’s accuracy or, at a minimum,. a check of the meter for possible leaks, an incredibly simple procedure,

"No, I don’t think it does," the mayor pro tem replied, "I think if someone requested it, they would go out there. That’s one of the reasons I put this on the agenda, I think there needs to be a mechanism in place for that."

Other items on the council’s Tuesday agenda include spending more than a half-million dollars — $632,405, to be exact — on five big-ticket items. Specifically, the agenda includes:
  • The first reading of an amended ordinance regarding the use hand-held wireless devices while operating a motor vehicle or bicycle. The city had in place an ordinance prohibiting texting and/or calling on such devices, but earlier this year the Texas Legislature passed and the governor signed a bill that banned texting while driving statewide, Kyle’s amended ordinance would add using these devices to "engage in a call" to the activities the state prohibits.
  • Spending 59 percent of that aforementioned $632,405 ($334,579) on "incode software modules, data conversion services, installation services, and hosting services for the city's Finance, Utility Billing, Human Resources, and Municipal Court" that "allows for the City of Kyle and Tyler Technologies to begin moving forward with plans to begin development of the various products." There are probably computer/technical geeks out there who can explain what that language means, but, frankly, this type of gobbledegook is beyond my comprehension. I must say I’m especially interested, however, in that line about spending this amount of money to pave the way "to begin development of the various products." What products? For whom? Will this development require the spending of additional money, i.e., is the city spending $334,579 to make it easier to spend more money later on? Hopefully, answers the public can comprehend will be provided during the council session. It is worth noting that the Tyler Technologies referenced in this material is a company that calls itself "the largest software company in the nation solely focused on providing integrated software and technology services to the public sector — cities, counties, states and school districts." So there’s that.
  • Spending $168,000 to purchase and install a 300 kilowatt diesel generator that will provide emergency backup electric power to the Public Works building. This is also from this year’s budget — $45,000 from the General Fund, $45,000 from the Water Utility Fund, $45,000 from the Wastewater Utility Fund and $33,000 from the Stormwater Utility Fund.
  • $40,089 for one of these and another $19,637 for two of these, both for the Stormwater Utility Department.
  • Spending $30,100 to purchase one of these things. According to Park Department officials, "One of the goals of the Downtown Beautification Plan (EDITOR’S NOTE: I believe the city is referring here to the "Downtown Beautification Plan," although the agenda material calls it the "Downtown Beautifaction Plan") is to keep the streets and sidewalk throughout the downtown swept and clean. The Public Work’s street sweeper does a great job of sweeping the thoroughfare. But the two-man crew of the grounds division of the Parks Department spend hundreds of hours each year hand picking and hand sweeping the beer cans and bottles, trash, leaves, crickets and various debris and trash. The Smithco Sweep star will allow the same crew of two to sweep the sidewalks, drainage inlets, parking lots and up next to curbs quickly and effectively. The piece of equipment will also allow the parks crews a quick way to clean up parks after major events."
  • What appears, on the surface, to be two routine zoning change requests — one that would allow an auto repair shop on Rebel Road and another for a medical facility on Dacy Loop in what is rapidly becoming a medical complex in Northeast Kyle — and two requests for waivers from the Rural Subdivision Standards, one of which would allow for the construction of a wastewater line for the Anthem subdivision.
  • City Manager Scott Sellers is expected to formally announce the City Council’s first October meeting will be held Wednesday, Oct. 4., because the regular meeting date, Oct. 3, conflicts with National Night Out.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Council OKs 911 merger

The City Council listened to a parade of county officials predicting a centralized 911 call center serving all of Hays County, minus San Marcos, will be the envy of the state’s 253 other counties and then voted unanimously Tuesday night to merge Kyle’s emergency response services into a collaborative effort while giving the city wiggle room to back out at a later date.

"This is a community effort to come together to provide the highest levels of public safety that we possibly can in this county," Hays County Precinct 3 Commissioner Will Conley told the council. "We have traveled this state and looked at most facilities. We have studied this issue for over a decade. This mechanism presenting before you tonight is not perfect. But it is head and shoulders better than what we have today. Lives will be saved. There will be a higher level of public safety and professionals running that institution if we approve this and move forward today."

Precisely what the council approved was how the center, which is not scheduled to commence operations until sometime in 2019, will be run. But in approving the method of governance, the city effectively said it will soon be getting out of the 911 business and turning that operation into a joint one with the City of Buda and Hays County. The decision also means the city will be forgoing its state-of-the-art emergency response computer software system for one that is already being used by Buda and the county.

Voters approved in a county election last November a bond package to finance the construction of the joint facility, which will be located in San Marcos.

City manager Scott Sellers told the council that Kyle employees working at the city’s 911 call center who move to the co-located one will remain Kyle employees, meaning they will not lose seniority and, perhaps more importantly, their city health care and pension benefits.

"There is no more basic fundamental service we should be providing than the highest level of 911 communication and emergency communication," Conley told the council. "It is at the time when our constituents have the most stress, at the highest need — when their child is choking at the kitchen table, when their home is broke into, when they’re being held at gunpoint. That’s where the rubber meets the road. All the other services that we do are important, but those are the basic, core, fundamental services that we should be the best at, that we should be exceptional."

Hays County Sheriff Gary Cutler said "I’ve been in law enforcement 43 years. Dispatch communications is the toughest job in law enforcement right now. I’m looking forward to the day when we reach out and hug the communications operators here in Kyle and bring them under one roof.

"I’m going to be really shocked if Hays County is not a model for some of the other counties in Texas," Sheriff Cutler continued. "I think they when they see how we’ve brought this together they will want to come visit and see how we’re doing it here."

Precinct 1 County Commissioner Debbie Ingalsbe acknowledged Kyle city officials made a number of demands (she called them "requests") before an agreement on the interlocal agreement which the council approved Tuesday night was reached. "We have honored those requests at no additional costs to the City of Kyle and I’m here now asking that you look upon this favorably," she told the council "I think it’s a great benefit to our citizens and taxpayers."

The major benefit of the collocation is that it, in effect, obliterates certain territorial jurisdictions when it comes to answering 911 calls. To give just one, albeit somewhat improbable example: A 911 caller seeking help because a gun wielding madman is pursuing the caller down I35 will, under this new service, no longer be forced to wait while his call is being transferred as he crosses the Buda city limits into Kyle.

Sheriff Cutler and Lon A. Shell, the chief of staff of the Hays County Judge’s Office, said outside the council chambers following the council’s 6-0 (council member Daphne Tenorio did not attend the meeting) vote that it is expected construction on the joint call center will begin in November and they expect it to be operational within 14 to 18 months of that time which translates into an opening anywhere between January and May of 2019. Although they acknowledged the subject had not been formally addressed, it is possible, they said, that 311 functionality could be incorporated into the facility’s operations at a later date.

Council members Travis Mitchell and Shane Arabie, who, along with Mayor Pro Tem Damon Fogley, handled much of the city’s negotiations on the terms of the agreement, said it was important for them that Kyle’s operators kept their own licenses to serve as emergency response dispatchers in case the city decided at any point to pull out of the deal, which, they said, the city could do by providing a two-year notice.

In other action last night:
  • The council decided it wanted stricter rules than the state has provided governing a motorist’s use of handheld communication devices and directed staff to return with an amended ordinance that maintains the city’s restrictions on using those devices for calling as well as texting, while incorporating the necessary language in the new state law that simply prohibits texting (but not game playing) on such a device while driving.
  • Following additional kudos for the city manager’s proposed budget from council member David Wilson, Fogley and Mayor Todd Webster, the council formally adopted his $75.5 million budget for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1 and set the property tax rate at $.5416 per $100 of assessed taxable valuation. Although that tax rate is 3.3 cents lower than the current rate, most property owners will still be faced with a higher tax bill because of increased property values combined with the fact that the City of Kyle was the only one of the eight taxing entities governing Kyle residents that did lower its tax rate.
  • The council passed the first reading of an ordinance amending two sections of the city’s "rural subdivision standards" that were in conflict with one another. One section required that "all lots in rural subdivisions be greater than one acre in area" while the other said "the minimum residential lot size in the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction shall be 9,600 square feet" and all lots in these areas served by a septic system shall have a lot size of 20,000 square feet. The change keeps the second rule allowing for 9,600 square feet foot lots, but only if they are connected to an off-site waste-water treatment line. Those using septic systems must be at least an acre and must employ county-approved advanced septic equipment. The amendments passed 4-1 with Mitchell dissenting and Arabie not present when the vote was taken.
  • Sellers told the council between 9,000 and 10,000 persons attended last weekend’s Pie in the Sky Festival. "For a first-year event, that’s phenomenal," Sellers said. Mayor Webster echoed Sellers, calling the festival "the most successful event the city’s ever had." Sellers also said the council’s first meetings in October and November conflict with National Night Out on Oct. 3 and Election Day Nov. 7. The preliminary thought was to advance both meetings to the Mondays prior to those dates.
  • The council authorized one more year in the lease the city has for three Harleys for its motorcycle cops, but Police Chief Jeff Barnett hinted the city may change to a different make beginning with the next fiscal year.
  • The council unanimously voted to spend $35,000 for a video surveillance system for parts of City Hall.
  • The council unanimously approved the appointments of Travis Robinson and Leslie Denise Blok to the Planning & Zoning Commission, but indefinitely postponed Tenorio’s political patronage appointment of Nancy Fahy to the Ethics Commission, presumably because Tenorio did not attend the meeting.
  • Without any discussion or debate, the council unanimously adopted a resolution documenting the annual review and update of the city’s investment policies.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

City may take first step to co-locate emergency call center

I've been trying to wade through all the paperwork accompanying the item on Tuesday’s City Council agenda concerning what is being referred to as the Combined Emergency Communication Center (CECC) and three thoughts immediately come to the forefront. First, the organizational chart outlined in the 30-year interlocal agreement looks like typical bureaucratic quicksand. Second, the agreement’s language covering the operations and maintenance of the CECC is typical bureaucratic gibberish. And third, if this is such a great idea, why isn’t the City of San Marcos or Texas State University participating?

First things first: the organization chart. The CECC combines Kyle together with Hays County and the City of Buda. All 9-1-1 calls from any of those jurisdictions will be routed to a centralized call center located within the city limits of San Marcos (go figure). The CECC is operated by three layers of boards, which are, in the order in which they appear on the organizational chart, the executive board, the advisory board and the management board. That’s right. Three boards at the top of the organizational chart and not a director to be found. The first time any mention of a director, or supervisor, or boss comes in the agreement is in Section 7.03 which specifies the duties of someone referred to as the "Hays County Emergency Communications Director." I promise I’m not making this up. This is the first paragraph of that part of the agreement that specifies this director’s responsibilities: "Supervise the Shared Employees, however, the Hays County Emergency Communications Director will not supervise, manage, or direct any non-Hays County Party’s Agency Specific CECC Employees, who shall nonetheless cooperate and coordinate with the Parties’ Agency Specific CECC Program Employees and the Shared Employees." Huh?

It turns out there will be two types of employees at the facility — "agency specific employees" who are employed directly by one of the three participating government entities and "shared employees" who are employed by Hays County and whose salaried are funded by the shared contributions of the parties involved. Yet, the bylaws of the organization state the "CECC Program means the Combined Emergency Communications Center Program, which includes the CECC, the Shared Employees, and all of the CECC Systems housed and managed within the public safety facility." What about those "agency specific employees’? Are they not part of this deal? This is just one example of the gobble-de-gook that has me scratching my head over this entire deal.

And nowhere in three paragraphs of the director’s duties does it specify his or her relationship to the three boards that supposedly run the show. Is the director answerable to one or more of the boards? I dunno, the agreement doesn’t say. The first of those three boards, the Executive Board, is to be comprised of two members of the Hays County Commissioners Court, one member of the Kyle City Council, Kyle City Manager Scott Sellers or his designee, one member of the Buda City Council, the Buda city manager or his designee and a representative from the Emergency Services District. I was thinking that Kyle council member Damon Fogley, because of his ESD experience, would be the ideal Kyle City Council representative. He told me today "It was mentioned that I might serve but no decision has been made." He added such an appointment might be a part of Tuesday’s council discussion.

Now to the important part, i.e., the money part. According to this document, 911 call percentages have "been used to determine the cost allocations for shared expenses related to the CECC." However, all of Buda’s 9-1-1 calls came through the Hayes County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO), so there is really no precise way to determine Buda’s share. So they decided to come up with Buda’s share by computing the number of "calls for service" received by the Buda Police Department and compare that to the "calls for service" received by the HCSO. It turned out that Buda PD’s calls were 18.627 percent of the HCSO total. So, the number crunchers figured, Buda’s 9-1-1 calls are also 18.627 percent of the total such calls received by the sheriff’s office. So when the 9-1-1 calls of all three entities are combined, Kyle’s percentage comes to 25 percent of the total, the county’s 61 percent and Buda’s 14 percent and those will be the percentages used to calculate the costs each will contribute, Got it?

There are also costs involved in updating KPD’s computer systems to make them compatible with those of the other entities. If I read what is being called the "CECC Interlocal Cooperative Agreement" correctly, Exhibit A on Page 8 suggests Kyle’s costs for this upgrade is in the neighborhood of $437,927. And that figure is $100,000 more than anticipated for three reasons. First, the cost for the "installation, system configuration, training, on-site operations" of the "CIS Professional Services" was $10,000 higher than originally budgeted. Second, the cost of the "interface between CIS CAD and the KPD CMS," nearly doubled, from $65,000 to $125.000. Third, a $30,000 cost was added to pay for the Grande "fiber connection to City of Kyle."

The way I see it, the takeaway here is the city is looking to participate in a deal that only a dedicated bureaucrat with access to an attorney proficient in double-talk knows what’s really involved. As for the rest of us, I guess we have to put our faith in those bureaucrats and attorneys.

As to why San Marcos chose not to participate, the answer appears to be the city didn’t think it made financial sense for it to participate, but it also thinks it is a great idea for Kyle, Buda and other parts of Hays County. In fact, when I posed the very question I asked in the last sentence of this first paragaph of this story to the City of San Marcos’s Communications Department, Kristi Wyatt from that department forwarded me a response from Police Chief Chase Stapp.

"The Hays County Combined Emergency Communications Center is a project that started its planning stages close to 10 years ago," Stapp wrote. "At that time, the City of San Marcos also began studying the feasibility of participating in the center. As the project progressed over the years, the City of San Marcos continued to fund critical upgrades to its own 911 Communications Center to include technology and spacial needs. When the final Hays County CECC project costs were released, the City of San Marcos had to conduct a cost versus benefit analysis to determine whether the added cost of participating in the new center was a financially sound decision for the City. At that time, the City's 911 Communications Center was functioning well, and we had identified a plan to expand the center to meet our growth needs in the future."

Chief Stapp also said his city’s 911 center could serve as a valuable backup to the CECC and concluded with: "The San Marcos Police Department is in full support of the Hays County CECC, and we believe the project makes a great deal of sense for the participating agencies."

Other items of interest on Tuesday’s agenda include:
  • The final approval of the city’s FY 2017-18 budget and the fixing of the property tax rate.
  • Even though the fiscal year doesn’t officially begin until Oct. 1, the agenda includes an item to spend money from this budget, specifically $35,000 of the $35,697 in the upcoming budget designated for the Court Security Fund to provide video surveillance at City Hall. For some reason, this expenditure comes under the jurisdiction of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.
  • Adopting a resolution that documents the city’s ultra-conservative investment policies (and when it comes to investing taxpayer funds, I’m very much in favor of the "ultra-conservative" approach)..
  • Police Chief Jeff Barnett is expected to update the council on the fact that a new state law which prohibits using wireless communications for texting while driving supersedes any city ordinances on the subject, but that the city may continue to enforce ordinances prohibiting the use of such devices that are not hands-free for phone calls as long as signs are posted "at each point at which a state highway, U.S. highway, or interstate enters the city" notifying motorists of such an ordinance.
  • The 12-month renewal of a lease on three Harleys to be use by the KPD which will give council member Travis Mitchell, who, because of his business, has knowledge about such items, the opportunity to explain why using Harleys might not be the best way to employ city funds.
  • The appointment of two persons to the Planning and Zoning Commission. Travis Robinson, an engineer whose experience includes designing and overseeing the permitting process for residential and commercial development projects, is the nominee to replace commissioner Brad Growt for Seat 3. Hays County Food Bank CEO Leslie Denise Blok is the nominee to replace commissioner Allison Wilson for Seat 4. The council will also consider a political patronage nominee for the Ethics Commission.