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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - May 7, 2003, New Braunfels, Texas New Braunfels WEDNESDAY May 7, 2003 16 pages in 2 sections ■■■■■pi mm    in    pages    in    c    sceneHerald-Zeitung ■' -    ",    W-    .    .    •    ; BMI—BM I Vol. 152, No. 149 Serving New Braunfels and Comal County since 1852 50 cents TOOT VV CISD officials: Loans made good sense ■ lf ‘appropriate people’ knew about the plan, how come school board members were shocked to learn about it? THURSDAY ■ What are the schools getting for their half-a-million dollars worth of field work? FRIDAY By Seam Bowlin Staff Writer The plan to loan athletic booster clubs $482,000 to pay for artificial turf projects was a money-making opportunity for the county school district, officials said. Comal Independent School District Business Manager Abel Campos, who came up with the idea, said he and Jim Grunert, superintendent, thought the plan was a “win-win” funding option for the school district and the booster clubs. “Our job is to solve problems,” Grunert said. “We wanted this as a back-up to present to the boosters if the bank loan can’t be worked out ... a second option for them to consider.” Undef an agreement reached in March, Smithson Valley and Canyon booster clubs were to pay nearly half of the estimated $1 mil lion it would cost to install artificial turf at their football stadiums. Banks asked the school district to co-sign for the loans, which Campos has said the district cannot do. “(The loansj were a plan B kind of a deal if financing from the banks fell through,” the business manager said. And from an investment perspective, the loans made good business sense, Grunert said. “It was a way to take money that we invest and obtain a higher percent of our investment, which could have made the taxpayers some additional money,” he said. The money for the loans would come from mold litigation settlement funds, which are currently drawing I percent to 1.4 percent in interest, Campos said. And banks were going to charge See LOANS/3A GRUNERT A taxing situation State bill could mean more local funding for poor VFDs By Ron Maloney Staff Writer Officials in cash-strapped volunteer departments are watching the progress of legislation that would eliminate rural fin? protection districts and replace them with Emergency Service Districts. The bills are Senate Bill 1021, introduced by Sen. Frank Madia, I)-San Antonio, and its companion, House Bill 3427, introduced by Rep. Glenn Ix?wis, D-Fort Worth. If approved, the bills would take effect Sept. I. Neither bill would provide state funding, but would allow the ESDs to raise property taxes with voter approval. The ad valorem property tax cap would be six cents per $100 of assessed valuation. The bills would not affect existing ESDs like the ones at Canyon Lake and Bulverde because they do not permit a new ESD to provide services already offered in an existing one. In January 2002, three of the county’s four Rural Fire Protection Districts conducted elections to be converted into ESDs under the Texas Health and Safety Code. Voters approved the change for only one district — REED 2. That district, now called Comal County ESI) 5, serves the Bulverde area and is contracted with the Bulverde Volunteer Fire Department. The difference? Emergency Service Districts have broader powers than Rural Fire Protection Districts. They can provide fire or emergency medical sendees. They can be supported by a local sales tax or by a property tax rate of up to 6 cents per $100 of assessed value. RFPDs are limited to 3 cents per $100. Voters must approve any change In tax rate In an ESD It is supported by a tax rate of 4.5 cents per $100. Voters turned down ESDs for Spring Branch and Canyon Iaike. Canyon Lake Fire/EMS Chief Shawn Wherry thinks the legislation would help his department. The rapid growth of the Canyon I .ake service area is outpacing the available tax revenues. “It’s through the state senate and we’re optimistic,” Wherry said of the legislation. The Spring Branch Volunteer Fire Department in RFF!)I serves the largest geographical area in Olm a I County. Nathan Oxhatidier, who is a volunteer fireman and a member of the governing hoard, isn’t sure how the Spring Branch department would be affected. “Its a tossup. There are Se© TAXING/3A Making a mess for mom K. JESSIE SLATEN/!torald-Zeitung Spring Branch Volunteer Firefighter Nathan Oxhandler works on the rear flashing lights on a truck the department bought from the military several years ago. He says he doesn’t know exactly how state legislation that would convert his rural fire protection district into an emergency services district would affect his department.Construction to slow traffic at Walnut/1-35 From Staff Reports Traffic on Walnut Avenue at Intoratate 35 will be slowed today aa it i« reduced to one lane in each direction for conatruction work. ’The change will tie in effect about a month while workers reconstruct the atreet under the intestate. “We highly recommend Business 35 to Seguin Avenue or Spur Street,” Ttexas Department of Transportation project auperviaor Lorn Whitehead said. “This will be the tie-in under Intestate 35. “We’re hoping the fir at phaae will take approximately two weeks, and then two weeka for the accend phaae,” Whitehead aaid. That would be the beat-caae acenario depending upon the weather, abe noted. The frontage roada in both directions will remain two lanes. “We don’t expect them to bi? hampered all that much,” Whitehead said. I Inside Abby....................................4A Classifieds.........................5-8B Comics................................3B Crossword..........................3B Food  ..............  1B Forum..................  SA | Obituaries.........................3A Sports..............................7-8A Today....  .....................2A TV Grid...............................4B Key Code 76 • "'56826 00001 i Council approves election outcome By Dylan Jimenez Staff Writer # New Braunfela Diatrict 3 City Councilwoman Debbie Flume wan abaent Tueaday when council reviewed and approved the May 3 municipal election results. Mayor Adam (kirk read the final outcome* of the election, and council declared Gale Pospiail defeated District 3 incumbent Hume 914 to 530 votes and that Valerie Hull defeated District 4 Councilman Robert Kendrick 485 to 411 votes. Council also approved the results of the special election. Proposition I, which allowed the* city to use hotel occupancy tax funds to construed a nc;w avie center in the downtown area, passed 1,746 to 1,668 votes. Proposition 2, which would have reduced sale*s tax e*armarkid for economic devel-opment by two-thirds, failed 1,450 to 1,967 votes. Imposition 3, which would have created a street maintenance tax, failed 1,490 to 1,939 veites. After reviewing the* results, council issued cert Skates to the two cou ncilwe >men-elect. “Se>rne?thiiig e*lse? to frame* on your wall,” ( kirk told PospisiL Councilmen! hers Kendrick and Flume will he in office until Monday, whe*n they will approve? the minutes from the last meeting and feirmally sti?p down from office. “I’d like* to congratulate? the new council members, and we’ll see* you in he*re* for work next Memday,” (kirk said. Pospisil and Hull will be* sworn in May 12 and get “severely in the? middle? elf our work,” (kirk said. The councilwomen take office* in the rmdelle* ejf a crunch to balance the* budget Injure* the? end of June?.Man who burned home under guard From Staff Reports TTie 69-year-old New Braunfela man who allt*gedly burned down his home in a standoff with police last week has been transferred to McKenna Memorial Hospital. Berm Mikkelsen was moved Monday from Brooke Army Medical (k?nter in San Antonio to McKenna Memorial Hospital. He remains unde?r the guard of Ne*w Braunfels police. McKenna of bela Is did not return three calla Tuesday for informatiem on his condition. Mikkelsen was treated at BAMC for smoke inhalation suffered in tilt? fire tliat destroyed his Sable Circle home Friday morning Brandishing a rifle; and either weapons, he held Ne?w Braunfels police at hay for nearly 12 hours beginning late* Thursday night. He allegedly brandished at least eau? fintnrm in the incident, which stemmed from a domus-tic diaturbance call. ** DAVID tNQRAM/Haruid Zartung Nicholas Ammann decides ifs easier to use his hand than the icing dispenser to decorate a cake for his mom in honor of Mother’s Day. Students at Rah© Primary and Bulverde Elementary participated in the annual event. ;