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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - April 25, 2000, New Braunfels, Texas Inside Abby................................7A Classifieds.......................4-6B Comics...............................8A Crossword..........................7A Forum.................................6A Local/Metro........................4A Movies..................................7A Obituaries...........................3A Sports............................1-2B Today.................................2A Television............................8A Key Code 76 Election Hydrant repair floods neighborhood IMPORTANT Officials at the Comal County Voter Registration office are urging registered voters in New Braunfels to check the information on their registration cards before heading to the polls to avoid any more mix-ups./AV NewHerald-Zeitung — -          .. Mistake costs By Ron Maloney Staff Writer The ground rumbled and water roared Monday morning as a city crew tried to repair a North Walnut Avenue fire hydrant. About 60,000 gallons of water gushed from beneath the fire hydrant, flooding nearby yards and a garage. New Braunfels water and sewer collection manager Jerry Sanchez said a water department crew was preparing about 9 a.m. Monday to fix a hydrant near North Walnut Avenue and Kerlick Lane when water erupted from beneath it. In the half hour or so that it took to stop the water from a 14-inch water main across the street, water flooded a garage attached to a nearby home as well as a number of nearby yards. See HYDRANT/5A Early voting in the May 6 city council and bond issue elections begins Wednesday and will continue through May 2 at the Comal County Courthouse annex Room 101. Voters can cast their ballots from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Special voting hours will be offered from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday.Vol. 149 No. 112    14    pages    in    2    sections    April    25,    2000    a    ^    r    Serving    Comal    County    since    1852    50    cents Tuesday voters chance to cast ballots Error on voting o card leaves couple out of council election Three hurt in boat crash CANYON LAKE — Two men were transported by helicopter and another by ambulance to a San Antonio hospital after their bass boat collided with several tree or stumps in Canyon Lake near Cranes Mill Road. Alcohol might have been a contributing factor in the accident, law officials said. As of press time Monday, the identities of the three injured men had not been released. One of the men who was transported by helicopter remained in critical condition Monday afternoon, and the other two men were reported to be in serious condition at University Hospital, said Canyon Lake Fire/EMS captain Stuart Rhodes, who responded to the accident. The accident happened about 11:30 p.m. when the 17 or 18-foot Skeeter bass boat—reportedly traveling at a high rate of speed toward the mouth of the Guadalupe River near the Cranes Mill boat ramp — collided with one or several tree stumps or trees in the lake, officials said. One of the men probably was thrown from the boat as a result of the impact, said Comal County Sheriff’s Office Captain David Ott, who also responded to the accident. County loses patience over jail work By Erin Magruder Staff Writer The deafening pounding of construction and renovation at the Comal County Jail still could be heard Monday afternoon, even though a written agreement with the contractor stated it would have been silenced almost two months ago. But for more than two years, the $4.5 million jail expansion and renovation project has been plagued by repeated missed deadlines. And county officials say Dallas-based contractor Stoddard Construction is the main reason the project has been delayed more than seven months past its original Sept. 2,1999, completion date. Stoddard failed to meet the most recent March I extended deadline for completion of the project, and the county has been charging the company $1,000 per day in liquidation damages since the missed date. Stoddard Construction representatives were not available for comment by press time Monday. County engineer Tom Homseth said he believed Stoddard already had been given more than enough time to finish the project, which began in March 1998. “Our position right now is the delays are theSee JAIL/5 A RON MALONEY/Herald-Zeitung Above: Jerry Sanchez, far right, and two water department employees survey damage to a Walnut Avenue fire hydrant Monday morning — just after they shut off a valve break that saw an estimated 60,000 gallons of water flow into neighboring yards. Below: Neighbor Roland Kneupper watches in dismay as his backyard is flooded. Broken valve sends 60,000 gallons of water down street Proposed tax hike draws little oppositionGolf course plan, fee increases OK’d By Heather ToddStaff Writer Only one New Braunfels resident voiced his opinion about a proposed 2 percent tax rate increase Monday night, and he spoke in favor of it. Local resident David Stinchcomb, who did not speak during the pubic hearing but during citizen’s communications, said a higher tax rate would help the city keep up with infrastruc ture without going to the taxpayers with bond propositions. No one spoke during a public hearing about a proposed $.32 per $100 valuation tax rate that could increase the city’s total tax revenues by IO percent. City council approved the proposed tax rate Monday on its second reading. Council also set May 8 as the date to vote on the tax rate. The average household (with a value of about $80,000) already pays $199 a year in property taxes. The increase would bring that total to $203.47 The current tax rate is $.31312 per $100 valuation. Chet Lewis, director of finance, said only 2 percent of the expected IO percent increase in tax revenue would come from the higher tax rate. He said new construction and new annexed properties made up 6 percent of the revenue increase and the remaining 2 percent would come from an increase in property values. The maximum allowable tax rate possible without requiring a rollback election is $.33125 per $100 valuation — a rate that would cost the average household about $211. With the 32-cent tax rate, the city could get about $165,000 more in revenue ($3,455,206) than the effective tax rate of $.30783 per $ I OO valuation ($3,289,720.) The effective tax rate generates the same amount of property tax as the previous year. Council also approved the second reading of a proposed $20 million budget, which includes spending $50,000 on downtown improvements See TAX/5A K. JESSIE SLATEN/Herald-Zeitung Ken Hutton, Jim Hayes and Earl Thomas enjoy a game of golf Monday morning at Landa Park. Council approved a five-year plan for the course that night. By Heather Todd Staff Writer At least one New Braunfels couple will not be able to vote for their next city council representative because an error on their voter registration cards listed them as living in the wrong single-member district. On Thursday, the Hunnicutts went to the vote in the city elections at Comal County Courthouse. They were told they could not vote in the District 4 city council race because they were listed as living in District 5. However, they were allowed to vote in the city-wide bond issue election. After the error was discovered, officials contacted Secretary of State’s election officials Monday for advice. Bonnie Sarkozi, city secretary, said the Secretary of State’s office advised the city to not allow Lee and Eva Hunnicutt to vote in the candidate election because the candidate and bond elections were on the same ballot. Lee Hunnicutt said he and his wife were frustrated that they were not allowed to vote in the District 4 race through no fault of their own. “It’s the principle of thing. We were denied our basic right, and we didn’t do anything wrong. And, they’re making it incumbent upon us to make the change,” he said. “I’m disappointed, but if the outcome comes out to one vote, then ITI probably be moderately upset.” Elizabeth Hanshaw, director of the legal division of the Secretary of State Elections Division, said because it was a secret ballot election, officials could not guarantee the Hunnicutts would vote only in the candidate election and not vote in the bond election again. “I think the city would be in a better position to not let them vote (in the candidate) election. There’s too many variables and too many questions,” Hanshaw said. “The city would have to take the legal risk if the election results came back one or two votes off” Karen Sachtleben, voter administrator for the Comal County Voter Registration office, said Lee and Eva Hunnicutt, who live in District 4, mistakenly were listed as living in District 5 on their See VOTERS/5A ;