New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - July 26, 2005, New Braunfels, Texas
Page 2 — Herald-Zeitung — Tuesday, July 26, 2005
■ General Fund (ad valorem taxes): $26.1 million
B Road Fund: $6.2 million
■ Indigent Health Care: $1.4 million
■ Debt service: $1.4 million
■ All other funds: $1.1 million
■ Total: $36.3 million
■ Aug. 4 — County Judge Danny Scheel will present his recommended budget to commissioners. It will be on display at the County Clerk's Office and in the libraries located within the county.
■ Aug. 25 — Commissioners will conduct public hearings, vote on changes to Scheel's proposed budget and adopt it.
■ Sept. 8 - The county's 2006 tax rate will be set.
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Departments asked to shave IO percent off budgets
$1,462,000 above projected revenues.
A penny on the county’s 33.37 cents-per-$100 tax rate runs about $618,000 under the newest budget numbers, which means tile county is still facing a 2.3 cent increase in its tax rate.
"I’m very, very concerned, and I’ve asked each department head to cut their budgets by IO percent,” Scheel said. “That would save about $600,000, and wed still be $800,000 short. We have a long way togo."
Scheel, who has often praised the county’s managers for their ability to keep costs to a minimum, knows what he is asking could in many cases be impossible. But everywhere he looks, he said, he sees very difficult choices ahead.
Precinct 4 Commissioner Jim Ken-nady will be one of die four votes that accepts, rejects or changes Scheel’s budget. She, too, understands it will be tough going for already strapped departments.
"It’s a no-fluff budget in many areas,” Kennady said. “I think its asking a lot, but the department
heads will certainly do their best. They’re a good group of people, no doubt about that, and I’ve already heard from several who say they’ll scrape it to die bone even more dian it already is.”
The cuts are made even more difficult, Kennady said, by what’s happened to some of the county’s fixed costs over the past year, f uel and office supplies have both seen substantial price increases over die past year, she noted.
“Its very difficult to go down IO percent when office supplies or gas have gone up 5 percent,’’ Kennady said. “When we talk about a IO percent cut, its really a 14 percent to 15 percent cut in some places.”
Kennady said she believed it admirable to try to do everything possible to save what money the county can.
But this year, she noted, another issue the county faces is trying to find a means to help its employees face their own increased costs. No raise has been added to the budget, but commissioners spoke during the hearings of a 5 percent, across-the-board cost-of-living increase for all county employees and elected officials.
“ The judge knows, and I think commissioners’ court agrees, we need to give COLAS,” Kennady said. “We’re trying to squeeze out money so we can do that."
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Has not operated in the black For 2 years
managed to create exhibits for $700 to $800. But the major exhibits, such as those provided through its coveted affiliation with the Smithsonian Institution, cost $20,000 and more.
“How do we do that without community support?” he asked.
The National Endowment for the Arts was cut by 20 percent this past year. The money the Texas Commission on the Arts spends funding cultural organizations was cut by one-third.
“There’s a trickle down,” Gallagher said, noting the museum had so far never gotten the public support it needed.
The museum board believes it would take IO years to build the museum again from scratch, Gallagher said.
"I hope some group will pick up the baton and carry it. It s a very, very, challenging thing to do," Gallagher said. "Apathy, like a weed, can grow up to strangle the productive part of a community. If we did fail and don’t find a solution, if theres a group of people trying to create something for the community, I hope the community can try to nurture it enough to let it grow.’’
What became the New Braunfels Museum of Art and Music opened as the Hummel Museum in 1992 on Main Plaza in what is now the Commissioners’ Court Building.
It featured the largest collection in the world of the artwork of Sister Maria Innocentia Hummel, a nun in World War II Germany.
Her paintings of happy and innocent-faced children were later interpreted in plates and figurines that are famous around the world.
In 1991, the museum and Comal County jointly purchased the former savings and loan building at 199 Main Plaza. The building, with its soaring ceilings and beautiful atrium, was not cheap, and the overhead involved in maintaining it — $5,000 a month — was breaking the museum.
The county operated the rear half of the facility as the Landa Office Building.
In August 2001, the museum’s lease on the Hummel collection expired, forcing the organization to change its focus. It became the New Braunfels Museum of Art and Music. It affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution’s Center for Folk Life and Cultural Heritage for access to its collections — exhibits focused on Texas arts, music and culture.
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Late in 2(M)I, officials discovered that the building would need a new roof.
"Our share of that was $75,000," Gallagher said. "We didn t have it. We just couldn’t afford it.”
Comal County, which had a right of first refusal under its 1991 condominium agreement with the museum, bought out the museum’s half of the building, leaving the organization with a nest egg to start over.
The deal with Comal County let the museum out of its prohibitively expensive downtown facility and left it with enough operating capital to pay off debt and start over.
the museum board looked for locations in downtown New Braunfels. In each case, either parking or the condition of the building was an issue.
So the board looked to Gruene, which it felt would be a natural fit for the museum.
Not everyone agreed.
There was to be a smash grand opening at the end of May 2002, with concerts and a Smithsonian Institution exhibit on folk music icon Woody Guthrie. It just didn’t work out that way.
First came a yearlong legal battle.
What had started as a verbal agreement with the city turned into a permitting nightmare and then a lawsuit — since tossed out of district court — over parking.
A verbal understanding with city staff members that a building permit in the 1200 block of Gruene Road would be issued for a facility that included park
ing for 75 cars fell apart when another Gruene property owner threatened legal action.
"The city recoiled from the agreement, raid we needed 220 spaces,” Gallagher said.
The museum got the additional spaces by leasing them.
Even with donated work, donated legal fees and the strong support of its community-based board of directors, the museum went $200,000 over budget and stretched its resources to the very end.
The 2002 flood and its after-math caused financial problems for the River’s Edge Restaurant adjacent to the museum, forcing closure of the commercial business that was intended to help subsidize the museum through its lease.
In late December 2002, a local businessman who refused to allow his name to be made public stepped in and guaranteed more than $1 million in refinancing, helping negotiate a lease to reopen die restaurant as the Gruene River Grill and a deal that would reduce the museum’s debt and ultimately pay for its building.
But the museum has not been able to operate in the black in the more than two years since it reopened.
Gallagher, who joined the museum when it changed direction five years ago, hasn’t given up, but whatever happens when the doors close, he has no regrets.
"It was already closing then. To have survived five years, we have accomplished a great deal.There’s no regret at all. I’d do it all over again.”
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From staff reports
A 22-year-old San Antonio man escaped life-threatening injury Monday when the van he was driving collided with an Amtrak train on North Grape Street.
New Braunfels Police Sgt. Craig Christopherson reported the accident occurred at about 9:15 a.m., when the driver of the van, who he did not identify, failed to stop at the stop sign posted at the crossing.
Evidence at the accident scene showed the driver attempted to stop, but was unable to before the train rammed the 2(X)5 Ford Econoline in the driver’s side door. The van was spun around by the impact and stmck the train again before coming to rest.
Sunday’s story about the city’s drainage ordinance said the developer of the proposed Oak Creek Estates subdivision on Alligator Creek was not opposed to paying the $ 1,250 per lot fee. The story should have said knowledge of the required fee was not preventing the developer from proceeding with the subdivision’s platting process, which would ultimately result in an $883,750 payment to the city.
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The 112th Comal County Fair & Rodeo is just around the corner!
Join in the excitement surrounding one of the biggest events of the year. Market your company by advertising in the Comal County Fairs two special sections.The Herald-Zeitung will publish two Fair sections, jam-packed with information everyone in Comal County needs to know. Where and what to see, the carnival schedule, entertainment schedules, list of events, exhibitors information and, a second publication with pictures of all the fair winners.
Be sure your business is a part of these special sections!
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wreck leaves I injured
MANDY REARY/Herald Zeitung
At 9:14 a.m. Monday morning a DHL van stopped on the railroad tracks across Grape Street and was hit by
an oncoming Amtrak train.
There were 78 passengers and crew on the train. None were injured, and the train was able to continue service.
The driver, who freed himself by climbing through the
window of the van, was treated for his injuries at McKenna Memorial I lospital.
I Ie was also cited for failing to yield the right-of-way to die train.
Rodeo is just