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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - January 29, 1999, New Braunfels, Texas /AVN EW «itil!®)FELS 20 33 2 110 0 3 10/22/99 £ O - Ut ! ■ S I ll IC R 0 PIJ BI I S HIN G 262 7 E Y RN DE. LL DR abHerald-Zeitung '    '%    jgg|    \ Vol* 148, No. 51    22    pages    in    2    sections    January    29,    1999 Friday Homeowners could get flood money Serving Comal County since 1852 50 cents By Chris Crews Staff Writer Comal County residents affected by the flood might be eligible for a government program that allows them to sell their homes at pre-flood values. County Engineer Tom Homseth said a public meeting was scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday at Comal County Courthouse for those interested in participating in the program. The meeting will take place in the commissioners’ courtroom. The Comal County floodplain administration staff and representatives from the state hazard mitigation program will be available to explain the program and answer questions. Homeowners whose homes were damaged significantly might be able to sell their flood-damaged homes to the county. The homes could be bought using funds from a special grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency with a 25 percent contribution from the county. The county would become the owner of the properties, and no permanent structures could be built on the property. County officials and board members of the Water Oriented Recreation District have expressed hope that some of the property could be set aside for public parks on the Guadalupe River. Homseth said he met with representatives of the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the river cleanup project would be split into two phases. The first phase would focus on cleaning the river channel, and the second would deal with cleaning private property. He said specifications called for cleaning the river from Farm-to-Market Road 306 to the New Braunfels city limits near Gruene during a 60-day period. Work should be completed by May I. “I would like to see it move faster, but the federal government just moves slowly at times,” County Commissioner Moe Schwab said. Spirited Sts. Peter and Paul first-graders (from left) Nathaniel Rodriguez, Courtney Ohlenbusch, Madeleine Medrano and Megan Mendez scream out their spirit at a special pep rally on Thursday. ROBIN CORNETT/ HeraW-Zeitung Ingram trial turns into detailed math match By Heather Togo Staff Writer SMITHSON VALLEY — What began as a local dispute between area residents and a concrete manufacturer has turned into a mathematical slugging match. Engineers and geologists played the leading roles in Ingram Readymix Company’s official hearing this week to obtain authorization to build a new concrete batch plant. Ingram is applying for a standard exemption, which would allow the cement franchise to build a new plant west of Texas 46 and U.S. 281. The Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission is conducting the hearing at the request of Citizens League for Environmental Action New and Bulverde residents concerned about the proximity of the plant site to area schools. Three Comal Independent School District schools, one Christian school, and three day cares are one mile from the proposed plant location. Detailed testimony on air emission calculations from Gary Johnson, vice president of Ingram Readymix, and Ann Inman, team leader for the TNRCC’s mechanical section, provided evidence the proposed plant would be in compliance with state standards for air quality control. A TNRCC spokesman said the environmental agency was a represented party in the hearing in order to determine if the proposed plant would violate any safety standards. Johnson testified the proposed plants Total Suspended Particulates rate would be .227 tons per year, which would not exceed the emission limit of 25 tons per year required for a standard exemption. Johnson also said a provision entailed in Ingram’s application would bind the manufacturer to an annual production rate of 54,000 tons per year and would require Ingram to perform quality control measures. See TRIAL/SA Coumy tv property tax deadline drawing near rn j By Chris-C^ews Staff Writer^ A steady stream of ti* payers has lined counters at the Comal County tax office this week, just in time to beat the deadline for paying their county and Comal Independent School District property taxes for 1998. Tax Assessor-Collector Gloria Clennan said the deadline for paying the taxes was Sun day, but her office would accept payment in person on Monday. “Since we will be closed on Sunday, we will accept payment on between 8 a.m. and 4:45 on Monday,” Clennan said. She said payment must be postmarked by Sunday to avoid late payment penalties. She recommended payments be mailed early because the post office did not postmark mail on Sunday. Late payments are subject to a penalty of 7 percent of the total tax bill. That increases to 9 percent on March I. The penalty increases by 2 percent each month until July I, when it jumps to 33 percent, Clennan said. The tax office is at 205 N. Seguin Avenue in New Braunfels. Inside Abby.............................. .......7A Business....................... .......5A Classifieds.................... .5-1 OB Comics.......................... .......8A Crossword.................... .......7A Forum........................... .......6A Local............................. .......4A ( Obituaries..................... .......3A Sports........................ ....1-3B Today............................ .......2A Television..................... .......8A Laney names 14 Republicans to lead House committees AUSTIN (AP) — Democratic House Speaker Pete Laney shook up committee assignments Thursday, placing 14 Republicans in key positions but deposing several veteran GOP chairmen. Democrats, who hold a 78-72 edge in the 150-seat chamber, now lead 23 of the House’s 36 permanent committees. A select committee appointed to consider a constitutional rewrite also will be headed by a Republican. “I have tried to accommodate the requests made by each member as much as possible and to apply the talents and interests of each member to their best use,” Laney said. Rep. Edmund Kuempel, R-Seguin, is chairman of the Committee of State Recreational Resources and sits on the Committee for Environmental Regu- See COMMITTEES/5A How They Voted CISD board of trustees voted 6-0, with one member absent, to table a vote on removing its optional homestead exemption. The board was expected to Iqjte action on the issue again at its Feb. 25 meeting. CISD homestead break lives to see another meeting By Heather Tooo Staff Writer Comal Independent School District board of trustees voted 6-0 Thursday night to postpone a decision to eliminate the 20 percent homestead exemption for district taxpayers until a future meeting. Emotions ran high between teachers and taxpayers during a public discussion about eliminating a significant tax exemption for district patrons at a CISD board meeting. About 150 district patrons came to voice their opinions about an administrative recommendation to cut the homestead exemption. CISD homeowners currently have the option to receive a tax exemption that lowers the assessed value of a home by 20 percent, which significantly reduces the amount of CISD school taxes. CISD officials are considering discarding the exemption because the district’s $ 1.50 maintenance and operations tax rate is at the state’s maximum. However, board members moved the decision should be tabled until more information could be provided. “I don’t think the public is educated about this issue and I don’t think tonight is the night,” trustee John Clay said. “I think we should wait for the (performance review) audit, continue to educate the public, and wait for word from the legislature.” CISD will receive a school performance review audit from the comptroller’s office in May. Several board members also voiced concerns that making a deci sion before the legislature took action on educational issues was premature. lf passed, Senate Bill 68 would create an adjustment in state funding for schools whose growth rate was greater than the state average. During the audience participation segment of the meeting, district patrons in equal numbers voiced vehement opposition and support for the recommendation. A packed room of district taxpayers, including many retired patrons, criticized the district for a lack of communication about the proposed elimination. Former Bulverde West Mayor Bob Hieronymus said, “I don’t believe the board has done a good job of communicating to the taxpaying public. There are other districts that operate with the $ 1.50 cap, so why do we need to take this kind of measure?” The meeting quickly turned into a question and answer session between board members and taxpayers about the effects of the proposed elimination. CISD’s 1998 property tax rate is $1.76 per IOO valuation. A patron whose home has dh appraised value of $100,000 currently pays school taxes on $65,000 of the appraised valise with the 20 percent homestead exemption and the state’s $ 15,000 homestead exemption. Many CISD teachers and personnel voiced their support of the recommendation to provide more funding for teacher salaries, which are the area’s lowest. The board w ill meet again Feb. 25. Exemption issue tabled Left, Bill Coale of Canyon Lake makes his feelings known without saying a word at Thursday’s Comal Independent School District board of trustees meeting. Above, CISD superintendent Jerry Major speaks about the need to find additional funds for the district. ROBIN CORNETT/ Herald-Zeitung ;