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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - July 17, 2001, New Braunfels, Texas New Braunfels TUESDAY July 17, 2001 12 pages in 2 sections HHT" mtmmrm    12    pages    in    2    sect    iiHerald-Zeitung Vol. 150, No. znServing New Braunfels and Comal County since 1852 50 centsRedistricting board condensing five plans into two By Martin Malacara Staff Writer The state’s Legislative Redistricting Board intends to boil down five redistricting plans into two by July 24, a spokeswoman for the state’s Office of the Attorney General said. At that time, the board will adopt a House and a Senate redistricting plan to submit to the U.S. Department of Justice for final approval, Jane Shepperd said. However, redistricting difficulties will remain with the state for a while. “Regardless of (Department of Justice) decision, there will most likely be lawsuits by groups that don’t like the plans for a certain RATLIFF reason,” Shepperd said. The Legislative Redistricting Board met Monday in Austin to hear testimony from individuals and groups concerned with the redistricting plans. State law requires the board to resolve redistricting issues in the event legislators cannot. The board is comprised of Lieutenant Governor Bill Ratliff, Comptroller Carole Keeton Bylander, See REDISTRICTING^ Redistricting Plans Under the House plans: • Comal County would become part of District 73, including Bandera, Kendall and Uvalde counties; or, • Comal County would become part of District 53, which would include Kendall and Kerr. In either House plan, Edmund Kuempel would not represent Comal County. Under the House plan proposed by Attorney General John Comyn, Guadalupe County would fall under District 44. Under the Senate plans, Jeff Wentworth would still represent Comal County,but would lose Guadalupe County under a plan proposed by Lt. Governor Bill Ratliff. Lien and ‘mean’? Tax-paying homeowners angry about county notices Council mulls options for NB city manager CHRIS PACE/Herald-Zeitung Mary Ann Kapidian, who works at Bradfield Properties, holds the tax lien notice she was upset to receive from Comal County this past weekend. By Ron Maloney Staff Writer It’s Saturday morning, and you’re drinking coffee and reading your mail. You open a letter from an Austin law firm you have never heard of — and get the kind of surprise that wrecks your whole day. Mary Ann Kapidian and her husband George, who own a home on North Park Ridge in New Braunfels, got such a surprise on Saturday. The law firm McCreary, Veselka, Bragg, which collects delinquent taxes for Comal County, sent the Kapid-ians and 7,600 other Comal County residents “Notice of Tax Lien” letters demanding immediate payment of past due taxes. In the Kapidians’ case, that was for $98.72 in taxes that they really were not late in paying. They were among about 440 taxpayers who are either disabled or 65 or older, making them eligible to pay their taxes in four installments — and who mistakenly got the threatening form letter. The letter, dated July 12, also states that the law firm was retained to foreclose on the property and that a tax “We sent out 7,633 letters. If you received one and you re over 65 and making payments, you re getting a letter of apology from me”— Gilbert T. “GII” Bragg attorney lien had been placed against the Kapidian home. ‘Tm a real estate agent. I keep really good records, and I know what’s due and when,” Kapidian said. She called the office of County Tax Assessor/Collector Sherman Krause and was told the letters went out in error. An employee at the tax assessor’s office said the office received “hundreds” of calls on Mondays. “The phones have just been ringing off the hook all morning,” she said. Krause said the problem came from the law firm using a county-generated list of all individuals whose tax accounts did not show a zero balance on the tax roll. The names of seniors and others that have payment agreements with the county were not flagged in the database. The law firm, which collects the county’s delinquent taxes, sent the letter to some people that did not owe delinquent taxes. “The problem we have today is 440 people got delinquent notices who didn’t have delinquent taxes,” Krause said. Krause said he was sorry about the mistake. “We should have followed up and made sure letters didn’t go to these people,” he said. The tax office has taken steps to make sure it does not happen again, Krause said. The error occurred during a switch in software that the county uses to tabulate tax rolls. The names of taxpayers that participate in the installment plan were not flagged on the Est, so the law firm sent letters to them as well. Krause said it was just one of those See NOTICES/3A By Amy Clarkson Staff Writer New Braunfels City Council plans to move quickly to replace retiring City Manager Mike Shands. Council plans to discuss its options and suggest interim replacements during a closed meeting at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in council chambers. And when council goes into closed session, at least one council member will question the need for meeting behind closed doors. Councilwoman Debbie Flume said she believed discussions about council’s hiring policy should take place in public. ‘J am a little concerned if we’re not discussing hiring someone, why we’re going into closed session,” she said. “I think it should be open.” Flume said she had not yet reached any decision on what steps to take to replace Shands, who notified the city this past week that he planned to retire. Shands can stay on through October but no later than Jan. 31, 2002. Flume’s opinion puts her in direct opposition to the city attorney, whom she voted against employing when he was hired earlier this year. City Attorney Charlie Zech said council planned to dis-Meeting ■ WHAT: Special city council executive session to discuss hiring a new city manager ■ WHEN: 5:30 p.m. Wednesday ■ WHERE: City Council Chambers, 424 S. Casten Ave. cuss its options in hiring a new city manager and that allowed council members to meet in closed session. The Texas Open Meetings Act allows for an exemption to discuss personnel matters — as long as they concern an individual. In this case, Zech said the person to be discussed was Mike Shands. “They’re going to be talking about his replacement, how long he’ll remain at his job,” he said. “Those are decisions that affect him directly, and that’s why the meeting is closed. They’ll also be talking about interim replacements and salaries.” Flume said she believed any discussion that involved Shands would be premature. “I don’t think we’re going to discuss what happens to Mike (Shands),” she said. “I think that’s putting the cart See COUNCIL/3A National contenders CHRIS PACE/Herald-Zeitung New Braunfels Mayor Stoney Williams reads a proclamation Monday at Comal Park Fields to the NB Stars 10-and-under softball team, which is headed to a national tournament. See Page 1B for details. Inside Abby.......................... ......5A Classifieds................... ...5-6B Comics........................ ......3B Crossword.................. ......7A Forum.......................... ......6A Local/Metro................. ......4A Movies.......................... ......5A Obituaries.................... ......3A Sports......................... ...1-2B Today........................... 2A Key Code 76 Hospice swings open the doors From staff reports Hospice New Braunfels will host an open house 9 a.m. today at 611 N. Walnut Avenue. The open house will feature a continental breakfast and German music, followed at 9:30 a.m. by a speech from Marion Primomo, clinical professor in the Family Practice Palliative Care Program at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. Her address will focus on “Living With Hope.” Primomo helped establish the hospice care concept in South Texas. Hospice executive director Nancy Ackley will share current and future plans for the hospice, including a new name and graphic identity for the organization. Afterward, attendees will have a chance to tour the 10,000-square-foot facility and be entertained by Mexico Lindo. The hospice’s resale shop, Thrift Avenue, also will have a grand re-opening. Proceeds from the thrift store benefit the Benevolent Care Fund at the hospice, which provides services to all patients and families in need without regard to their financial resources. Both events are free and open to the public. CHRIS PACE/Herald-Zeitung Malcolm Stevenson, of Stevenson Homes In New Braunfels, welds a guardrail in place Monday in front of the Hospice Building on Walnut Avenue. ;