New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - April 8, 2011, New Braunfels, Texas
Page 8 — Herald-Zeitung — Friday, April 8, 2011
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“The district will not fight any claims that are filed in regard in relation to Thursday’s action, which terminates probationary contracts.”
STEPHANIE FERGUSON, New Braunfels Independent School District spokeswoman
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I louse* Bill 2485 projects us as losing $6.4 million, hut that’s still in committee.”
The district has long planned for a $7.6 million shortfall, and had trimmed $1.8 million from its proposed operations budget by late March. On Thursday, Moczygemba told the board he still believes the district’s $7.6 million loss estimate could rise because of pending legislation.
On March 31, NBISD gave its probationary professionals the option of resigning rather than face contractual termination, and 90 of them met the 6 p.m. deadline to do so. The others will see their contracts terminated as of May 28, though the district says it is hoping to hire 70 percent of them back when times improve.
The district refused comment about the prospects of
those teachers receiving unemployment compensation, saying it’s an issue between the employee and the Texas Workforce Commission.
Asked if NBISD plans to fight unemployment claims, Ferguson offered a comment.
"The district will not fight any claims that are filed in regard in relation to Thursday’s action, which terminates probationary contracts," she said.
Term-contracted employees have until July 12 to resign, but they will no longer be eligible for the $5,000 incentive.
For example, if a teacher accepts the incentive and is hired back before next school year, the full $5,000 will be deducted from his/her August pay. A teacher accepting the incentive, but choosing to return for the 2012-13 school year, will have $2,500 deducted from their first paycheck.
Also up in the air are the futures of an unknown number of at-will employees, such as bus drivers, custodians and food service workers.
“The district will not take action on at-will employees until the late spring or early summer,” Ferguson said.
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But Kinsey added the wall itself would Ik* 16 feet under water during a 100-year-flood.
The residents protested that their homes, too, would fkxxl anyway during a 100-year-stomi —•■ and they demanded to know il the city was requiring Schlitterbahn to ensure there would he no flooding impacts during more probable flooding events.
"We just want to know what the impact is going to he on homes because of that wall,” resident jeanie Edwards said. "All we need is for this wall to cause* a rise of iwo more inches anti we’re in trouble on the Comal.”
When told the required studies didn't answer the question of what flooding impacts would be in smaller deluges, one resident protested: “I low could you approve the permit without knowing the impact to homes on the other side of the* river?”
Shannon Mattingly, the city ’s director of planning and community development, said: "They have to abide by the ordinance in place and that’s what they’ve done. We can’t enforce anything more on developers than what is in place now."
Mayor Pro Tern Kathleen Knieger, who called the meeting, said the city’s regulations need to be stiffened.
" There’s a flaw in our ordinance,’’ Knieger said. “It’s not strong enough.”
I )aniel Edwards asked if the city could request a flood
tation and do that,” Edwards said.
"We should absolutely protect ourselves.”
He added: “Is there ft vehicle to stop construction until our concerns are answered? (^an we file an injunction?” Another resident said the neighbors should band together — and leave the city staff out of it.
Knieger said Schlitterbahn could have done a better job of being more open about its plans to build the wall, which residents said started going up quickly just last week with no evident notice to neighbors.
T he renovations are associated with a series of new rides and attractions the waterpark is building. The retaining wall is part of a new ride, staffers said.
During the meeting at City I lall, residents also expressed concern about the growing size of a trash dump on Gruene Hoad near East Tor-rey Street, where Schlitterbahn is dumping its construction debris.
One resident said the dump is filling up a spring-fed pond with debris.
Kinsey said the city has already taken a look at the growing heap, and has asked Schlitterbahn to spread it out a little bit to reduce its height.
Caniareno said the question of the dump filling a spring-fed pool would be investigated.
T he city also will meet with Schlitterbahn about residents’ concerns, he said, to see if some resolution can be found.
Herald-Zeitung file photo
Tubers float past a wall that is being constructed along the Comal River at Schlitterbahn Waterparks
impact study. Assistant City Manager Robert Camareno said he would look into it.
"I et ’s stop construction and do the study," Edwards said.
Edwards said he feared the wall, which extends hundreds of feet around a bend of the river upstream from Garden Street Bridge, would cause floodwaters to “rise so fast, you’re seriously going to get people killed. Then you start getting into the business of negligence and wrongful death.”
( )ik* of the residents said he believed Schlitterbahn could be held liable legally if the waterpark is forewarned first of the possible dangers.
“We should seek represen-
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the bill needed to be revised.
As originally filed, HB 2760 authorizes Edwards Aquifer Authority, Guadalupe-Bianco River Authority and San Antonio River Authority to call an election on levying a one-eighth of 1 percent sales tax in the counries of the authorities’ jurisdictions. However, two of those entities, GBRA and SARA, have called for changes in what originally was proposed.
Gulley introduced Steering Committee members Todd Votteler of GBRA and Steve Raabe of SARA, who explained their proposed revisions.
“Our real issue is GBRA being involved in calling the election,” Votteler said.
He said the authority’s attorneys have advised that legislation creating GBRA in 1933 prohibits it from being involved in levying a tax.
“We’re just getting a firm ’we can't do it,’” Votteler said. “We
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can’t be involved in the election.”
Raabe said the SARA board would prefer that its downstream counties (Goliad, Karnes and Wilson) not be involved in an election on levying a sales tax.
"We’ve gotten a lot of questions from our constituents, particularly downstream,” Raabe said, adding SARA also recommended the bill be revised to limit the sales tax levy to one-eighth of a cent.
Votteler and Raabe also told the group that GBRA and SARA recommended the election and the sales tax levy, if approved by voters, be limited to Edwards Aquifer Authority’s jurisdiction. The EAA consists of three entire counties
— Bexar, Medina and Uvalde
— and portions of five other counties — Atascosa, Caldwell, Comal, Guadalupe and Hays.
Based on sales tax collections in 2009, a one-eighth of one percent levy in the counties within EAA’s jurisdiction would produce an estimated $27.9 million, Gulley said.
“The ballpark of $30 million, or maybe a little more, is what we’re dealing with,” Gulley said. “I think it’s pretty tight, but I think it ought to get us through Phase One.”
Phase One of the EARIP involves activities for the restoration and mitigation of the threatened and endangered species and measures to be taken to assure that springflow does not fall below
25 cfs (cubic feet per second). Phase One also involves collecting more information to determine long-term measures for protection of the endangered species.
“By year seven, we will have gotten together and decided if additional work is needed” in what is being called Phase TWo of the EARIR Gulley said.
In drafting the proposed legislation, they envisioned the second one-eighth of one-cent sales tax as being levied to fund Phase Two, but legislators and others have criticized this approach because no specific details have been provided about what will be done in Phase I wo. It has been likened to giving the program a “blank check.”
Gulley recommended two versions of a revised HB 2760 be prepared. Both versions would limit the levy to the counties in EAA’s jurisdiction. One will call for an election on a levy of one-eighth of one cent, and the other will call for an election on an initial levy of one-eighth of a cent to be followed when needed by a second levy of one-eighth of a cent.
Gulley suggested scheduling a meeting on Monday with Garza, who’s sponsoring HB 2760, and Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, who’s sponsoring the companion bill, SB 1595, and giving them their choice of the two versions.
“We’re under the gun. We have to be up there on Monday,” Gulley said.
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