City Council Recap for December 12, 2017

189

The Kerrville City Council held a regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday evening, December 12, 2017, in council chambers at Kerrville City Hall. The meeting was quite eventful, yet at least one action was quite concerning. Here is a brief recap of the events.

Debt Refinancing

The City refinanced over $17 million of General Obligation and Revenue Bonds last week. The purpose of the refinancing was to restructure the current debt service to enable financing of two major infrastructure projects: the Legion sewer lift station and the water system enhancement to bring the TTHM levels within mandated limits.

This action coupled with the restructuring of the debt to KPUB, which allows the funding of these upgrades within the Council guidelines that stipulate no more that 35% of water & sewer revenues can be used for debt service. Specifics of the refinancing are available online. Here are the critical elements of the refinancing:

  • Gross savings by refinancing the $17.2 M is $1.17 M with a net present value savings of $1.1 M
  • The average coupon interest rate is 2.472 %.
  • The City was able to retain a high AA rating and the rating agency, Standard and Poor’s, offered exceptionally positive words regarding the current financial state of the city as well as its management of financial matters.
  • S&P offered comments such as, “Very strong management with strong financial policies and practices..”, “ Strong debt and contingent liability position…” This is counter to some who claim that the City’s finances are reckless and in a very onerous position. The professionals speak highly of Kerrville history of financial management!

O’Reilly Auto Parts CUP Denied

O’Reilly Auto Parts Corporation had requested a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for an acre of land bordering the Guadalupe River and adjacent to Starbucks on Junction Highway. The Planning & Zoning Commission had previously approved their request, with some additional stipulations added.

Discussions during the council meeting centered on the proposed size of the building — over 7,000 square feet — and the impact upon the river corridor. Speakers encouraged the Council to deny the request because of the negative impact upon the river views as well as overall vision for the future of the river front. After considerable discussion, the council voted 5-0 to deny the request. According to O’Reilly’s representatives, it’s unlikely they will proceed with any construction project on this site, since they’d now be limited to only 3,000 square feet.

Alcoholic Beverage Licensing Fees Reduced

The Council voted 5-0 to correct an anomaly in the Alcoholic Beverages Ordinance which imposed a $1,500 licensing fee upon brewing sites, such as Pint & Plow, as compared to the licensing fee of a restaurant of only $150. A quick agreement was obtained to reduce brewpubs fees to $150.

Termination of EIC Member James Wilson

There were two agenda items related to the Economic Improvement Corporation (EIC). First, the EIC requested the council increase their budget by $83,300 to provide potential funding for outside legal services. After a bit of wrangling, the council voted 5-0 to authorize the budget modifications.

Emotions ran hot on the next EIC item regarding the intention to essentially fire a volunteer EIC Board member, Mr. Jim Wilson. George Baroody was the lead Council member in proposing that Mr. Wilson’s term be terminated immediately. In Mr. Baroody’s words , “Mr. Wilson has made comments which disparage the Kerrville City Council!”

Mr. Ferguson questioned the suggestion and thought removing Wilson would be inappropriate. Mrs. Summerlin had a significantly different view from Baroody’s, as well. She insisted that no threats to sue had been made, nor were any comments made by Mr. Wilson which warranted removal, especially mid-term with his term up for renewal in June 2018.

Emotions ran hot as the termination was approved. Mrs. Summerlin called the move undemocratic and a scary precedent. Why would anyone volunteer to serve on the city commissions or boards if their service is contingent upon their complete agreement with the Council majority, asked Summerlin.

Baroody continually asserted that this situation was different and created an unhealthy operating condition on the EIC Board. After a series of exchanges among Baroody, White and Summerlin, the vote to remove Wilson was 3-2, with White, Baroody, and Voelkel in favor, and Summerlin and Ferguson opposed. Applications will be accepted for candidates wishing to fill the remainder of the term held by Wilson.

In the aftermath of this action, another EIC member resigned in protest. Mr. Paul Stafford submitted his resignation on Thursday, adding his name to the list of EIC members who no longer serve our community because of the actions of this council. Delayne Sigerman was removed in May 2017, and now James Wilson and Paul Stafford have also vacated their chairs after serving the city with distinction in these volunteer posts.