After a workshop to review problems with changing the ordinance before the regular meeting Tuesday night, the Refugio council will consult with its attorney.
However, the council agreed to pay for road repairs. However, in order to come up with the money, Councilman Garrett Engelking proposed assessing a $5 surcharge on every sewer customer for a year to build up a reserve to pay for the road repairs.
Because the policy is outlined in an ordinance, the aldermen held off on making a formal decision.
Bob Koonce, whose neighbor, Clifford Smith, on Power Street, currently paid contractors more than $7,000 to repair a break under the street. The Smiths also said that it would cost at least another $4,000 to repair the street.
“That’s my daughter’s college tuition,” Mrs. Smith said.
City engineer Robert Viera told the city council that 90 percent of Refugio’s sewer lines are buried more than eight feet below the surface and the city does not have the equipment to safely dig that far down.
Koonce told the council he doesn’t know of any other town that places that kind of burden on homeowners.
“I don’t know if people will buy homes in Refugio if they knew they were responsible for repairing sewer lines,” Koonce said. “I know I might not have bought my house if I had known that.”
The council also approved three requests for hotel-motel tax money.
In the absence of Bob Edwards, council member Ron Nelson explained a request from the Warriors’ Weekend organizers for $3,240 for an upcoming motorcycle rally, barbecue and dance fundraiser in Refugio on March 6. More than 5,000 people showed up last year for the annual Warrior’s Weekend in Port O’Connor.
Nelson said Edwards has booked 14 rooms in Refugio for the rally and flyers will be placed in papers to advertise it.
Carl Barnhart, representing the Refugio County Country Club, requested and received $1,537.60 for advertisement of upcoming golf tournaments.
“We’re struggling – people aren’t playing golf like they used to,” Barnhart said.
The club sent out 140 letters for an upcoming tournament to Winter Texans, “ones that do come and appreciate the course.”
Capt. Don Foxhall, representing VFW Post 6290, received $1,568.80 to advertise an upcoming gun show and market days which begin in April. The gun show is set for February. The first gun show drew 350 people in August. Foxhall said the gun show is a prelude for the market days that will commence the third weekend in April at the VFW Hall and continue every month. A contest will be conducted to name the monthly market days.
In matters of assets purchased by the police department with drug funds, council member Engelking urged the council to set a local policy regarding the assets. According to Engelking, who obtained an opinion from Texas Municipal League, state statutes do not restrict municipal police departments from disposing of assets purchased through money seizures.
The matter came to light when Nelson purchased a vehicle for the Blue Book value, through the police department.
Nelson, who is also assistant fire chief for the Blanconia Fire Department, said he wanted to use the vehicle for that purpose. Blanconia is technically in Bee County but closer to Refugio so a mutual aid agreement exists between the two departments.
“When I heard about Stone Garden going to replace the vehicles, I asked (Chief Fernando Garcia) what he was going to do with the vehicle,” Nelson said.
Garcia and Nelson went to Mayor Rey Jaso with the proposal.
“It’s a legal sale,” Jaso said. “Our chief has checked everything out.”
Garcia said he reviewed the statutes.
“I’m following state law,” Garcia said.
But Engelking was adamant about stopping the sale.
“We’re doing the same thing we got hammered for back in September,” Engelking said.
Garcia also told the council that the vehicle has been parked for some time now because it was costing the department too much money in repairs and was the oldest in the fleet.
Nelson also purchased two second-hand motorcycles from the police department several years ago and paid the full amount the department originally paid for the used cycles.
While the council agreed that both sales were legal, council member Karen Watts suggested that the vehicle should be open for bids, to avoid the appearance of special consideration.
After the meeting, Garcia said typically, vehicles that go out for bid bring less than half the Blue Book value and sometimes, even less.