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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - June 7, 2003, New Braunfels, Texas New Braunfels SATURDAY June 7, 2003 14 pages in 2*sections pages in L seenHerald-Zeitung Vol. 152, No. 176Serving New Braunfels and Comal County since 1H52 50 centsTax increase will reduce reliance on sales tax Today: ■ Fluid income AW tough a greater income generator, sales tax is not as stable as property tax Sunday: ■ You get what you pay for: NB lags other cities in tax rate but offers more services. By Dylan Jimenez Staff Writer In 1858, New Braunfels was one of the first Texas communities to implement taxation to support public schools? according to historians. Almost. 150 years later, many residents support a tax increase, which will fund needs other than education. Responding to the prospect of losing services in already understaffed police and fire departments, council members say constituents overwhelmingly support a tax increase large enough to ensure appropriate emergency services. Given a balanced budget, by City Manager Chuck Pinto, city council decided in May to raise taxes 6 cents to 87.11 cents per $100 assessed valuation. They are in the process of finalizing the increase. Monday and Tuesday, council will hold public hearings on the proposed 19-percent increase. With the public seemingly behind it and the council unani mously support ive*, the ordinance should become law Tuesday. The tax hike first came up (‘arber this year. When estimates of sales tax revenue came in flat, council eliminated 28 city stall positions to create some breathing rtxirri in the budget. Pinto said for years the city seems to have over-budgeted, relying on sales tax revenues to pull the city through. Until recently, there have been plenty of funds for that kind of planning. From 1988 through 2000, sales tax revenue increased an average of 13 percent per year. In 2001, sales tax revenue only increased 2.3 percent. In 2002, if increased 2.85 percent, and in 2003, an 0.82 percent increase is expected. Although recently flat, sales tax is traditionally the highest revenue generator for the city. In 2001, property taxes brought in $3.5 million to the general fund, while sales tax brought in $8 8 million. List year was similar; $4.1 million of the general fund came from property taxes, and $8.1 million came from sides tax. Some reliance on sales tax is natural for a tourism mecca, but that income needs to be hacked up by property taxes, city officials say. A strong dependence on sales tax also is more difficult to manage. Sales tax receipts come in two months after the fact, giving officials little notice of a drop or |xx*k in income-. It also means officials will have to wait several months before they can See TAXES/3 A CISD says fewer teachers won’t equal fewer classes ByBrandi Grissom Staff Writer No teachers in the Comal Independent School District are* going tx) he sent packing. During Thursday night’s budget hearing, trustees were told that 17 fewer teacher units were allotted for the* 2003-04 budget than were allotted for the 2002-03 budget. A teacher unit, is (•qual to one full-time teacher or two part time teachers or paraprofessionals. 11 igher* paid positions like assistant principals or counselors account for more* than one teacher unit. 'The* term is used NICHOLS for budgetary means an I is based on the average salary of one full time* teacher. “We’re talking about 17 units worth of positions,” District 3 'IVustee Nick Nichols said. “A lot of teachers have retired, some have left for other reasons. ()f I hose*, we*’re just not going to In* refilling 17 units. We’re not losing 17 individuals.” Nichols explained that the* teacher unit reduction is a decision the* hoard made1 to save* money in the* face* of a $1 tx) $8 million Duel get shortfall. CISD will receive* fewer See CISD/3A Hoffman Lane speed limit may be lowered By Ron Maloney Staff Wnter Comal County se-t a public hearing tx) consider lowering the* speed limit on Hoffman Dine and making the* entire road a "no passing'’ zone*. 'I’he* hearing will he* conducted at 8:15 June 19. Hoffman Dine* runs northeast of Ne*w Braunfels from Farm-to Market Kernel 1102 to FM 3(Hv It creates a short cut for travelers headed to the* Canyon Lake* area and has historically be*en used by truckers. It, nisei provide*s aexx*ss ti) several Muldivisieais and Hoffman Lane Elementary School, which openenl this past school year. (/unity officials are lieuoimng incre-asmgly concerned about traffic safety issue** on the road. County Engineer TomIn other action In other agenda items Thursday, <x>unty commissioners voted to table until after the July budget hearings considering whether to hire an architect to plan courthouse renovations Hornseth said the* road sees much more t raffle I ban it once did. “As residential development, has increased along that mod. we have mon* of a mix of individual and commercial traffic. There* are (xii leer us ulxiut the mixed traffic We have safety concerns, and we’re trying tx) address then),’* I lomseth said Precinct 4 Commissioner Jan Kennady san! she’sSee HOFFMAN LANE/3AInside Abby  ........  4A Classfieos.............3-6B Comics.............   7A Crossword.............7A Forum ...............SA Movies ..............  4A Sports ..............1,3B Today.................2A Stocks.........  4A 66825 00001 Prince Solms Inn’s new owners make their dreams reality By Sean Bowlin Staff Writer New owners have taken ove?r the* historic downtown landmark Prince Solms Inn. Dong Huston and his wife, Allyson, just moved to N<*w Braunfels from Bentonville, Ark., where they worked at Wal-Mart Corporation for a combined total of 25 years. Doug was a store manager; Allyson was a financial oon-t roller and auditor. Allyson, originally from (Corpus Christi, had bee*n looking in Texas, New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona for a medi- urn-sized bed and breakfast. She* said she* always wanted one bex:ause it s the business to Im* iii ti) socialize. Allyson carne to New Braunfels t/> visit Schlitter-bahn and to tube when she? was growing up. So she went tx# a real estate broker, who told her the inn, which lists John Travolta and William P. Hobby among its famous guetsts, was for sale?. It. Noun'lexi |M*rfo<1, so Allyson drove from Arkansas to mu* the landmark herself. "I shopped for months for the inn. This one wasn’t txs) small and wasn’t loo big," Allyson said. Allyson wanted a place that had romantic Victorian furnishings. Doug wanted rustic cabins, which the Feed Store portion of the* inn haH. “With all those* original pine floors, they’re like little cabins,” Dong said Allyson showed Dong pictures of the inn. I Ie? was sold on the idea. I ie’d always wanted tx> own his own business. Doug said he and Allyson would make no structural changes to the inn. 'They plan See PRINCE SOL.MS/3A DAVID INGRAM/! lor ak] /©HungAllyson and Doug Huston enjoy a quiet, rainy afternoon on the front porch of the historic Prince Solms Inn. The couple recently purchased the inn, which was built in 1898. K. JESSIE SLATEN/!luraki /wiling Crystal Vela waits patiently for the paperwork to be completed and for the finishing touches to be put on the house she soon will call home. New Braunfels offers $5,(XX) to prospective homeowners By Dylan JimEnez Staff Wnter Crystal Vela, 19, is ready to get, out a her own. She lives with her parents and Hinger brother hut could Im* moving ito her own house as early as next lonth. After graduating from high school ist year, Vela decided she* wanted to love out. “I didn’t want to rent. I talked to iy parents, and they said that wham ley got married, they rented forever nd (fve*r, and that if they bought a ouse in the beginning, they would ave* boon better off,” she* said. Vela txM)k that advice and is buying or own two-bedroom house. She* is eking advantage of a city down pay-lent assistance program. didn’t want to rent. I talked to my parents, and they said ... they rented forever and ever, and that if they bought a house in the beginning, they would have been better off. J } CRYSTAL VELA 19 year okl potential homeowner The City of New Br aunfels offers up tx> $6,(XX) for imximo-qualified residents looking to buy a home in the city. The program is aimed at low- to m<Mierate-income families, and grant applicants have to qualify for a home loan. Tho grant helps pay the? down payment and closing costs. “What we’re doing is helping those who can afford a house but don’t have enough money to pay for a down payment,” Nancy Davison, New Braunfels Community Development Block Grant manager, said. She said a typical applicant lives in an apartment and would rather to spend rent money on a mortgage, but can’t come up with the down payment. "First-tune hornehuyers are the ones coming in," Davison said. She said most homeowners do not rn**! assistance, since they can usually use; tile home equity they have* earned to buy a new home. People who have owned bonu s in the past, hut who have not owned a home in the past three years, also are eligible, Those* who qualify for thisSee HOME HELP/3A home of her own I ;