New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - November 21, 1980, New Braunfels, Texas
Residential deposit policyMc of lim Center Comp. r, u, Box 45*136 callas, Texa:, 75235
Utilities trustees offer council alternatives but want no change
New Braunfels Utilities trustees decided they didn’t want City Council to change the residential deposit policy included in a new electrical ordinance, but they suggested some alternatives for council to consider.
The ordinance will be up for its second reading at Monday’s City Council meeting. Mayor Pro Tem Barbara Tieken, who attended yesterday’s Utilities board meeting, voted against the first reading of the ordinance Oct.
27 because of the deposit provision.
Tieken objected to a cash deposit requirement of two months’ estimated billing, citing deposit policies of other Texas cities based on flat rates, not a “sliding scale” that, for some homes, could amount to a hefty sum.
If the council votes to change the requirement, it should be changed for all rate classifications, not just for residential customers, the trustees stressed.
“Further, if a cash deposit of less than two months is adopted, it should be adopted on a trial basis, subject to change, with a review annually to determine adequacy," a prepared position paper read. The trustees approved the paper but did not vote on it.
Utilities Manager Bob Sohn argued that, under the ordinance, new residents could avoid the cash deposit by offering proof of good credit from their previous utility company, an
endorsement by a friend or relative with good credit, or an irrevocable letter of credit from a financial institution.
“Compared to other utilities, we provide a great number of alternatives,” Sohn said.
Attorney Tom Burr us recommended the council members discuss the deposit provision Monday but wait until its third reading of the ordinance before amending it. should they decide to do so.
Sohn said the billing estimations for deposit
Taylor Communications Inc
25 cents November 21,1980
purposes are arrived at by checking past records, or in the case of a new home, by calculating the number of square feet.
“We can develop a reasonable, conservative and fair watts-per-square-foot assessment that will require very little adjustment. If, after two months, it can be shown that the deposit was too high, we adjust it lower.
“If the deposit was too low, we can’t adjust it. These provisions are built into the ordinance.” Sohn said.
20 Pages - 2 Sections (USPS 377 880)
New Braunfels. TexasCommissioners certify election on 3-2 vote
By PATRICIA YZNAGA and HENRY KRAUSSE Staff Writers
With Comal County Judge Max Wommack breaking a 2-2 tie, Commissioners Court yesterday certified the results of the 1980 general election.
“As far as we know and believe,” Wommack said, “they are correct.”
The certification followed a 20-minute discussion of an election tabulation discrepancy after Deputy County Clerk Linnell Hinojosa cited a 45-vote difference between the election computer’s ballot count and the voter signatures.
“There were some instances where the machine counted more, there were some where the machine counted less,” Hinojosa said.
“When you add and subtract the signature lists and precincts, you get 45 more signatures than reported,” Hinojosa said.
The balance between the two differences was two votes, Hinojosa said.
“Some of these have to be wrong,” she said of the computer counts in an interview before the meeting. Deputy clerks Kathy Hartman, Charlene Nolte and Doi (thy Ixiubach agreed
“Everybody’s down on our office," Laubach observed.
“We’d just like to satisfy the public,”
Hartman expressed her doubts over the accuracy of the computer lists to Wommack shortly before the meeting, but Wommack told her, “It’s too late as far as I’m concerned."
“People could have taken the (ballot) card and walked out with it, and not taken it to the box,” Comm. Monroe Wetz said at the meeting.
“There’s people who might walk by not signing the register and pick up a card and
JUDGE MAX WOMMACK
. .breaks tie
Wet/, and Comm. Harry Carpenter voted for certification and Heitkamp and Mural voted against.
“The principle that I find is not who won, but the credibility of the equipment we use to get the results of the election,” Heitkamp said after the ballots were certified. “And that’s all I have to say on that subject.”
vote,” he added, explaining that a minimum of manpower was controlling the polls.
“We’re all human beings and human errors do happen,” he said.
“It all hinged on getting a late start on it (ballot count) because the first computer wasn’t working — we thought,” Comm. Charles “Tart” Mund said.
In in interview, Hinojosa said a repairman from Computer Election Services Inc., had inspected the ballot-counting machine Wednesday afternoon and found nothing wrong with it.
The problem lay with the ballots, Hinojosa said. “All the cards were sitting in the box and were warped,” she said. “You had to shuffle them real hard. There was nothing wrong with the machine."
Although Wommack recommended certifying the election results, 20 minutes passed before Wetz moved for certification.
“Is it out of order to discuss this with you in your office?” asked Comm. Orville Heitkamp. Wommack said there was nothing wrong with that, but both men kept their seats as discussion continued.
“There’s no way that we can ask for a recount today,” Wetz said.
“No sir, the court does not have the authority to ask for a recount under any circumstances,” Wommack said. “Now, there wouldn’t be anything wrong for one of you to go out and get 25 names on a petition,” he said.
Wommack, in answer to a question by Mund, said he was unsure of the cost of a recount, adding that although a recount could be requested before certification, “I’m not saying that they can be counted afterwards."
However, under Article 7.15, subdivision 23, candidates or petitioners have up to 30 days to
COMM ORVILLE HEITKAMP .. ‘credibility of equipment' at stake
request a recount, and can do so even after the votes have been certified. Shad Jeffries, staff attorney for the Texas Secretary of State's Election Division said in an interview.
Jeffries was in the Courthouse but did not attend the court meeting.
“The way I see it, we either get up and certify the votes or we do not certify them,”
Wommack said. “The trouble is, fellas, this i the decision by candidate John K. Mullins to cancel his requested recount) took place Monday or Tuesday and ifs a hell of a time to be asking questions.”
“I imagine that there are ways that they (ballots) can be recounted (after certification)," Wetz said.
Comal sheriff's race
Investigator checks election procedure
By HENRY KRAUSSE Staff writer
Calling his Courthouse visit “an informative investigation,” Shad Jeffries, staff attorney for the Election Division of the secretary of state’s office, met with county officials yesterday to check allegations of wrongdoing raised by defeated sheriff’s candidate John K. Mullins.
The action resulting from his probe will not be decided until next week, he said.
Mullins, in a statement issued Wednesday, accused the Com
missioners Court of violating the Election Code by tabulating ballots Nov. IO after County Judge Max Wommack recieved his request for a recount.
The court should have deferred tabulation until after the recount, Mullins said, so he withdrew his request.
The court’s action was defended by 207th District Judge Robert T. Pfeuffer, who said in an interview' Wednesday the mere counting of ballots was not a canvass. The results had to be certified to complete the canvass, Pfeuffer said, and this the conunissioners refused to do.
“That’s probably not a common interpretation,” Jeffries remarked. “That would have to be up to a court to decide. It’s not a completed canvass, but ifs more like the first half (of the canvass) was done without the second half following.”
Jeffries refused to speculate on the results of his investigation, saying At our office we will determine what we think should have been done, according to our interpretation of the statutes.”
If the Election Division decides there was a violation worth prosecuting, its findings will be turned over to the district attorney, who will make any decision whether or not to prosecute,
Jeffries arrived shortly before an emergency Commissioners Court session. This time, the commissioners certified the election results by a 3-2 vote. He met with the press outside the court meeting room but did not attend the meeting.
"If I go in, they’d probably get around to asking me questions, and I don’t want to get involved in actual deliberations,” he said.
Jeffries met with County Judge Max Wommack and County Clerk Irene Nuhn in their offices before the meeting, then talked to deputy county clerks and Judge Pfeuffer afterwards.
“I wanted to speak with Mullins, but I wasn’t able to get ahold of him,” Jeffries said in a telephone interview today.
Complaints from counties over punch card ballots were “too numerous to count" he said during his Courthouse press conference Thursday.
“There might be a problem certifying them iii the future,” Jeffries added.
His work as a special investigator has been “mainly with recounts, trying to get those established. There have been a large number this year, but that happens anytime elections are thought to be close,” he said.
SHAD JEFFRIES state investigator
Two breakers' purchase from LORA is approved
New Braunfels Utilities trustees yesterday approved the purchase of two 138 kilovolt circuit breakers from the Lower Colorado River Authority, at a cost of $46,000 each.
Although Utilities did not get bids on the breakers, LCRA did, and is making them available to its wholesale power customers at considerable savings, Manager Bob Sohn said Friday.
“We had an executive session to discuss this before we approved purchase. We did not bid for those items per se. LCRA did, and since they bought them at a larger quantity the savings was considerable. If we had gone to any distributor the price for just two of them would have been about $62,000 each,” Sohn said.
“We feel Uke we’re within the spirit of the law. I’m not going to issue a purchase order until we have a letter in our file from LCRA stating that they did, in fact, bid for them. We’re going to get copies of the bid tab forms as well.
The board also approved the low bid of $18,131 from
Becker Motor Co. for three half-ton trucks. The trucks will release two larger trucks from the wastewater department to line control, Sohn said.
Rerouting of a transmission line under construction along Krueger l^ane caused the board to approve a change order for a contract with Olmos Construction Co. Utilities will pay the company, which is building foundations for the towers, an extra $17,525.
The change also deletes $2,400 worth of work from the contract, and that amount was subtracted to arrive at the $17,525 figure.
A general liability and fleet insurance bid for 1981 from the Ferguson Insurance Agency was approved. Utilities will spend $15,850 for renewal of the contract, which expires in Jan., 1981.
The board also approved purchase of a pole trailer from Clifton Metal Products at a cost of $4,100.
Bids for $54,700 of 795AA conductor wire for the Marion transmission line will be sought, the board decided.
In-person electric substation tour planned by trustees Wednesday
New Braunfels Utilities General Manager Bob Sohn took the board of trustees on a tour of electric substations yesterday — on paper.
The board will follow that up with a special meeting Wednesday at 9 a.m. to tour the facilities in person.
In a lengthy discussion of electric system plans, Sohn outlined areas of concern and estimated the total cost of various projects will be $1,319,747.
"We have $1 million in bond money,Inside
unspent, dedicated to this work,” Sohn said.
Priority items include a proposed 138 kilovolt transmission line to the Marion substation southeast of the city.
The Ixiop 337 substation also needs work, and will require the purchase of about 2.6 acres of additional land, he said.
“There’s a lot of work to be done at
TV LISTINGS.......... 10A
the Sheriff’s Posse station,” near the Sheriff’s Posse rodeo arena south of town, but that won’t be tackled until the next budget year, he said.
The Benne substation north of New Braunfels was also discussed. The LCRA has proposed two alternatives for developing either a “ring bus” or a “split bus," and Sohn recommended the latter.
Total cost for the split bus: $306,007, with the New Braunfels Utilities share amounting to $283,208.
“I’d like to see this entire plan reduced to paper, with a schedule of costs by the month,” trustee William Richter said.
Sohn agreed, adding the plan wasn’t on the agenda for approval as yet.
Board Chairman Herb Schneider invited Mayor Pro Tem Barbara Tieken to attend the Wednesday tour since Mayor Max Winkler, a member of the board, was ill.