Saturday, September 15, 2018

More Rain, CBC, Wildlife Biologist, Taxes and Council

Wonderful RAIN!  Don't complain, the lake is still 9 feet below normal for this time of year.  So far I'm counting 11.5 inches since September 1 - outstanding!  Last Thursday had 1,666 acre-feet inflow to the highland lakes.  Travis did not release any water on Thursday, Travis is at 655.75 - that's about a 1.75 foot increase.  Great news!  Looks like maybe more on the way.  You can see real time weather on my weather station.  There is another link at the top right of the blog.

CBC met in regular session Thursday - here is a link to that agenda.   

4)  Blocking was an issue and applicant was given a height that was the average between surrounding homes.

5)  Waiver was denied - applicant wanted to use a roof material that was inconsistent with roof.

6)  Applicant was allowed a variance on the driveway slope with the provision he put in a hand rail and steps.

7)  Landscaping was approved as requested.

Most of the "ON-SITE" inspections went without issue.
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The Wildlife Advisory Committee met at 5:00 P.M. on Sept 13.  Discussion was held and committee agreed to recommend hiring Warren Bluntzer Wildlife Consulting Services as the city's Wildlife Biologist.
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There will be a regular meeting of the City Council on Monday, September 17, 2018 at 6:30 P.M.  Here is a link to the packet.  I see 31 items on the agenda - long night. 

They will be accepting the tax rate ($0.164) and the budget for the year. 

Some interesting items, they will look at the new sign ordinance (again), hear from a couple of committees and go into Executive Session to discuss two lawsuits, Kilgore v. City of Lakeway and City of Lakeway v. Cherry Knoll, and will be discussing reimbursement of legal expenses in the lawsuit filed by Tiffany McMillan against Mayor Cox.  Still paying expenses created by McMillan (really?).
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Another shameless promotion for my favorite Veterinary Clinic, Lakeway Veterinary.  These folks are outstanding!  They not only go the extra mile on all the patients, but spend a lot of time and money to support the City and the Lakeway Police.  They have been a wonderful addition to the businesses in the Lakeway area - give them a try!

That's all for right now.  I hope everyone is enjoying the rain and cooler weather.  As always, if you want to be added to my email list send a note to lakeway@bain.us and I'll make it happen!

Joe Bain
lakeway@bain.us
Sky Pictures
K5LWY







Wednesday, September 12, 2018

More Rain?, Tax Rate, Pictures and More!

More rain?  I'm not complaining!  Lake Travis is up about 1.5 feet so far - the good news is the ground is pretty saturated and we have water runoff that is going to the lake.  More good news, more rain in the forecast and moderate temperatures.  So far, I's showing a total of about 10.5 inches since September 1.  

More good news.  At the budget meeting Monday evening, Council decided to set the tax rate at the effective tax rate.  What does that mean?  This is the tax rate that does not increase your city taxes.  With the increase in appraisals and sales tax income the new tax rate will be $0.164 per $100 evaluation.  The first run was going to be $0.174 per $100.  This is a good thing and is what the city has tried to do for years.  Thanks to the elected officials that made this happen.

The budget process is one of the most important things the city deals with on an annual basis.  It affects every citizen and yet there is no interest.  There were about 4 folks that attended the session, Betty Haley was the only council candidate that showed enough interest to attend.  Good for her!

The bad news.  The school district will still be at the max rate which means a tax increase for those that are not frozen...  The State really needs to fix school finance!  There is a committee in the legislature looking at solutions, good luck to them.

At the Ethics Commission meeting today I learned that Greg Holloway (Chairman) is moving to Louisiana in two weeks.  I wish he and Judy all the best in their future endeavors!  Five of the seven members were present and received an overview of the Ethics ordinance.  

Front
Back
Got some shots today of the Police Station project and the Tuscan Village project.  I will take some updates on the new apartment complex North on 620 by Hudson Bend - it looks like it is moving forward quickly.

Looking North
If you want to see more of the Police Project, click on this link:  http://skypict.com/lakeway-police-project/ . 

Facing East
Facing North

These are lower images and if you click on the images they get larger.  They show more of the detail of the buildings.


Facing West
 To see more of Tuscan Village, click on this link: http://skypict.com/new-construction/tuscan-village/

I noticed they repaired some of the road issues on Lakeway Blvd.  When we have really hot weather, cars and trucks brake on the down hill grades and the asphalt actually slips and makes rough spots.  There is another one just West of Lakeway Dr. they will fix soon if not already.

That's all for now, keep the folks on the East coast in your thoughts and prayers.  They are in the cross hairs of a major storm.  

I appreciate all the good reviews and support!  If you want to be added (or removed) from the blog, send me a note and I'll get it done.

Joe Bain
lakeway@bain.us






Sunday, September 9, 2018

Rain and ZAPCO

Rain?  Well, we are finally getting some!  My unofficial total is about 9.5 inches so far in the last week or so.  The ground is now saturated and runoff is going into the lake.  The lake level has improved by about 6 inches since the start of this event.  It's now at 654.38 (full is 681).  Inflows to the Highland Lakes is about 904 acre feet, this is gauged from river flows.  Runoff increases the amount going into the lake.  Yesterday they released 1,115 acre feet at Mansfield Dam. 

ZAPCO met in regular session Wednesday, September 5.  Here is a link to the meeting packet.  

5-6)  Zoning change for property East of the middle school on Bee Creek Road from ag. to C-1 was recommended unanimously.  A Special Use Permit was also recommended for a daycare facility on this property.  It is the same folks that own and operate the day care on Highlands and Highlands Village Drive.  I believe there is space for about 48 children.  Both of these recommendation should come before Council at their next meeting.

7)  Another Special Use permit was recommended for Blue Sprig Pediatrics at 107 RR 620 South.  They will have a medical office that will specialize in autism therapy.

8)  Yet another Special Use Permit for a car wash on property at 100 Birrell Street (next to Post Office).  This land is / was owned by the owners of the Vibra rehab center.  Baylor Scott & White acquired that entity and are selling this property.  This location is somewhat problematic because of access to Birrell St. from 620.  The plan is for an exterior car wash with vacuums available for customer use.  They claim low water use with about 98-99% recovery and recycle.  Access will only be on Birrell Street - no access to RR 620.  Birrell can be accessed via 620 and currently Medical Dr. behind HEB.  SUP was recommended to Council.

9)  Revised the plan for Lake Travis Transitional Center to change the property use for 100 Birrell Street.  It was originally approved for a restaurant.  The number of auto accesses went from 2300 per day to about 800 a day.

These were the major items.  I don't see a video link.

Lot's of election signs going up around the city - please be sure your signs are not in the right-of-way and are legal.  
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No pictures today, although I'm an instrument pilot, the drone isn't water proof!

If you haven't had a chance to look at my website, today would be a good day to look through it - lots of pictures of Lakeway construction - http://www.skypict.com - if you need pictures, please be sure to call or email.

As always, if you want to be added (or removed) from my email list, send a note to lakeway@bain.us and I'll get it done.

Thanks again for the support!  

Joe Bain
lakeway@bain.us


Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Rain and Ruling + ZAPCO!

Wonderful, wonderful rain!  So far as of about 10:00 AM Tuesday morning, we have received a total of about 2.5 inches of rain and more on the way.  With luck, this may impact our lake.  Currently the lake is at 653.87, down from 654.39 on August 31.  If the lake starts coming up, I'll do a special post. 

Sunday, September 2, 2018, a judge on the Supreme Court of Texas denied the Petition for Writ of Mandamus from Thomas Kilgore.  Here is a link to that ruling.  Note that it is "Without Prejudice".  That means it can be re-filed if desired. 

ZAPCO will meet in regular session Wednesday at 9:10 AM.  Here is a link to the agenda and packet.

That's all for now!

Joe Bain
lakeway@bain.us



Saturday, September 1, 2018

Cavs Win!, Lawsuit Dismissed, Lake Info and More!

There's a couple of BIG news items this morning!  First is the Cavs won their opener - Lake Travis 35, Martin 14.  Congratulations on the first win of the year!

Travis County District Judge Tim Sulak dismissed Thomas Kilgore's lawsuit against the City of Lakeway with prejudice.  This means he cannot refile this case with Travis County.  Shortly after the ruling, Mr. Kilgore's attorney filed an emergency petition for a Writ of Mandamus in the Texas Supreme Court.  Here's a link to a definition of Mandamus.  This is a parallel to a lawsuit and writ filed by one of the mayoral candidates in May.  Although slightly different, the similarities are significant.  Here is a link to the filingHere's a link to the petition.  There is a September 4th deadline for the City to provide final ballot language to the secretary of state.

I had an interesting communication about some info I posted a few weeks ago.  A democratic campaign Consultant wanted to know if I had documentation on the information I posted.  I replied, Yes, the question you should ask him is if it's true.  If someone wants to see the documentation on tax liens or judgments, send me an email.  This is concerning from many angles.  Why is a democratic campaign consultant involved in our elections? Not a resident.  Lakeway's elections are supposed to be non-partisan!  We need folks that are interested in the welfare of our great city, not democrats or republicans that are trying to turn the area one color or another.  There are two candidates in my opinion on the ballot that fit that description.  I'll go into that in another post.

Water!  Well not much of it.  As of Friday the 31st Travis was at 654.39.  Still dropping about a foot a week.  We are now at 62% full.  Inflows to the Highland Lakes totaled about 61 acre feet.  Travis released 2,033 acre feet.  It's going to get worse if we keep releasing this amount without any inflows.  Maybe we should interrupt some of the water sent to interruptible  customers.  Just a thought. 

The Service League of Greater Lakeway is hosting a community training event on Sept. 21, 2018 from 1:30 - 3:00 PM at the Lake Travis Community Library.  They have a great staff of volunteers serving the community by providing free transportation to medical and other necessary appointments, arranging for the loan of medical equipment and minor handyman repairs.  They are looking for like-minded individuals to join their staff.  Show up and do something for the community!



Lakeway Prosecutor Amy McHugh was named Outstanding Prosecutor of the Year by the Texas Municipal Court Association.  Another great and well deserved award for our courts.  Seen at left is Judge Kevin Madison and Prosecutor Amy McHugh.

Lakeway is moving into the 21 Century.  they have received a grant for a charging station for electric vehicles that will be installed at the Lakeway Swim Center.  It will be interesting to see the usage reports in a year or so.

The Lakeway MUD will meet in Special Session Wednesday, Sept. 5, 9:30 AM at 1097 Lohmans  Crossing.  Here is that agenda.

Baylor Scott & White Lakeway is the first hospital in Texas to combine imaging and a robot for Parkinson surgery. It's called the  Deep Brain Stimulation System.  Here's a full report from KVUE.

Baylor Scott & White is also doing a seminar on Resolving Hip or Knee Pain.  Thursday, Sept. 20 at 6 PM.  RSVP 1.844.279.3627

The Balcones Community Orchestra will perform works of classical composers in a FREE concert from 4-5 PM September 23.  For more information call the Activity Center at 512-261-1010.

That's all for today.  New updates on pictures of the Police Facility at http://skypict.com/lakeway-police-project/ .  There is much more at http://skypict.com .  I update the pictures as construction moves forward.

If you would like to be added (or removed) from the email list, send a note to lakeway@bain.us and I'll get it done.

Joe Bain
lakeway@bain.us
www.skypict.com








Friday, August 24, 2018

Taxes, Budget and Council and More!

I'm giving up on rain, the lakes continue to drop.  It was close enough to smell two days last week, but no luck.  Lake Travis continues to drop - now at 63% full, about 9.24 feet below normal for this time of the year.  Currently at 655.09 down from 655.74 last Friday.  Inflows were about 131 AF yesterday , Travis released 2,202 AF yesterday.    A large deficit.  Let's do a rain dance!

Let's talk taxes.  How much was your raise this year?  Social Security gave us a 2% cost of living raise - the largest in many years.  Lakeway proposed a maximum tax rate of $0.1741, same as last year.  Property values went up about 5% average, mine and many others went up more than that, that means about an average of a $40 increase in your city taxes or about 5%.

That is compounded with a current "roll back rate" of 8%.  The legislature is charged by Gov. Abbott to lower the "roll back" rate to 2.5%.  Let's talk about what that means.  If the "roll back" rate is lowered to 2.5%, our highest tax rate without an election would be $0.1671.  That would be a reduction to the "Effective Tax Rate" that is currently $0.1644.   Just FYI, this is because we use some of our sales tax dollars to buy down the tax rate.

If the "roll back rate" was set at 4% (more likely than 2%) our maximum tax rate would $0.17.  The "roll back rate" that is set by the legislature hurts small cities with low tax rates significantly more than larger cities with larger tax rates - cities like Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Austin.  That said, lets hope our elected officials work hard to keep our rates low.  Thanks to all of them for working through the budget process and the city staff for educating them on how it works.
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No new Police report.

Council met twice Monday, once for a Special Budget Session and also for the regular Council Session.  

Steve Jones presented the proposed budget and this counted as one of the required public hearings.

There were questions on the Activity Center and Swim Center recapture rates.  There were questions on the Health Insurance rate increases and there was a presentation by our Financial Advisor on the City's Fund Balance.

The recapture rates are set at 35% for the Activity Center and Swim Center.  This was a number that was promoted when the bonds were issued for these assets. There was discussion on how to move forward on the recapture rates and if we want to increase them or not.  There was discussion on the free use by the 80% groups.  

The Health Insurance was put out for bid again this year.  BC&BS (current vendor was a 15% increase), Cigna was a 40% increase, BS&W quoted a 69% increase, and United Health Care was a 66% increase.  Lots of discussion - health care is a continuing issue.

There was a presentation by the financial advisor about our Fund Balance and if the City needs to increase our target amount.  Lots of discussion, our Fund balance target is 25-30% and we are in that range.  That allowed us to get a AA1 rating (highest available for our size city).  The Fund Balance is like a savings account in case there is an issue so the city can continue to serve it's citizens.  The bad news is this requires an increase in funding - more tax dollars to a savings account.  This is all compounded by the legislature wanting to decrease the city's ability to raise taxes.

There was also discussion on the proposed budget and several item lines were discussed.  Here is a link to the video.

A Public Hearing was held after the discussion.  I think 3 citizens spoke.  The meeting went from 2:00 to 5:08 P.M.
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4) Knowledge Transfer for new volunteers.  Training held this morning on open meetings and how to run meetings.

Appointments suggested for the Comprehensive Plan Committee were announced and will be appointed next month.  
The Sign Ordinance was put off again because the new attorney is rewriting the entire ordinance.
Some discussion on code enforcement and update on current issues.

5)  Police Station was discussed and seems to be on time and on budget.  We are about half way through the project.

6)  Special Use permit was granted for 15301 Pheasant Lane for a small office, retail sales and shop.  No objections were made.

7)  Boat dock ordinance was amended to take out the 100' restriction.  

8)  Heritage Commission ordinance was tabled until issues could be corrected.

9)  Resolution was adopted for a written process for Boards and Committees.  There were also written procedures made to standardize when video's and audio tapes are done and how long they are kept.

Judy Holloway spoke and claimed that changes have been made to video recordings.  Our vendor removes dead space from videos, no votes or content is ever changed.  She claims to have proof of video changes that have been altered.  City Manager Steve Jones requested examples of those alterations.

10)  A resolution was passed to temporarily suspend the TTP deer control program.  Comments were made that there were more humane ways to control the deer that have been investigated.  None that I am aware of in Texas - Texas Parks controls and decides what is allowed.  A Wildlife Biologist will be hired to determine where this needs to go.

11)  Lakeway Park bidder was awarded a contract.

12)  An interlocal agreement was approved to continue the operation of the 911 service at our dispatch center (PSAP).

13)  There was a discussion on ways to improve public input  for future development projects.

Council then adjourned int Executive Session to discuss the City Managers annual performance review, discuss a project and possible removal of ETJ where a project is proposed and to discuss a lawsuit filed on the election process.

Council came back and worked through the consent agenda which included a correction and discussion on the interlocal agreement with Bee Cave on dispatch charges.

Meeting was adjourned at 10:45.
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A lawsuit was filed against Lakeway by Thomas Kilgore because of the way the city is handling the election process.  Here is a copy of the lawsuit if your would like to read it.

CBC met in regular session Thursday,  Here is a link to that agenda.

All items were approved on their agenda.

We now have five candidates for Council.  Glenda Foreman Engert has thrown her hat into the ring.  She was a council member previously and would make a good addition to the council.

That's all I have for now!  Pray for rain. If you want to be added to my email list (or removed), send a note to lakeway@bain.us and I'll take care of it.  Check out Sky Pictures - aerial photo's!  

Thanks for all the support!

Joe Bain
lakeway@bain.us







Saturday, August 18, 2018

More Heat, Election, Council, Budget and More

More 100° heat, Lake Travis on it's way down and maybe a little rain in the forecast.  We did get 1.6 inches last week but there was little run off.  The Lake stopped dropping for two days but is on it's way down again.  As o Friday the 17th, Travis was at 655.74 - about 9 feet below normal for this time of year, about 64% full.  That's about 408,897 Acre Feet below full.  Inflows to the lake were about 178 AF and Travis is sending out 1,515 AF.  A deficit of about 1337 AF per day - this doesn't include the evaporation.  

Election news.  It appears as of Friday there were four candidates for council.  

One moved from California a few years back without paying his state taxes there ($2,748 Nov. 15, 2004), and then skipped out on a bill in Denton County ($12,656 lien) August 28, 2006  and moved to Lakeway a little less than 5 years ago.

One lives on Rolling Green and doesn't want any improvements on the Lakeway MUD land and was very outspoken about it when it was in front of ZAPCO.  She resigned from the Art's Committee because she didn't have the time to work on it.  She's running for a "full" term on the application - the November election is for two "unexpired term" positions.

One was Chairman of the Ethics Board, rejected a complaint that was filed against Council Member Hennagin because of a clerical issue and resigned the next day.  Now appointed to the Board of Adjustment.  She is also running for one of the non-existent "full terms".

Last is a current Council Member's wife.  All good with her!

Who knows, there was a lawsuit filed last week about the way the issues were handled in the last election.  Thomas Kilgore has filed suit to either use "place positions" for council or delay the election to May.  
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Let's get back to basics, but first a short story.  This year's July 4th parade didn't have a "Previous Mayor's) car as is usual.  Wonder why?  The Women's Club had a float for the past recipients of "Volunteer of the Year" awards from the City.  All of the living Mayor's were recipients - isn't that interesting!  They ALL worked hard for the good of the City, not just single interest.

Since it's inception, Lakeway has been led by volunteers that worked hard for the city and it's residents.  That's why we have the wonderful city today.  We have ordinances to keep the city safe and clean and low taxes because everyone worked hard and worked together.  I hope this will continue.
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Council has two (2) meetings Monday.  the first is a budget hearing and the second is the regular council meeting.  Lets look at the agenda items.

Here is the Special Session agenda.  

Item 3 is another stab at the FY2019 Proposed Budget.  Hopefully they have looked at some items and will lower the rate a little.  City Manager Steve Jones will give a presentation.  

Here's what you need to know:  The "effective tax rate" the rate that would give the city an equivalent tax income is $0.1644.  That rate takes into consideration the increases in property values and increases in sales tax income.  The proposed rate is $0.174 which would be a little over a 5% increase in the city tax rate.  These figures have probably changed some as Julie makes adjustments.  that would equate to about a $40 increase on a $400K house.    

There will be a public hearing for citizens to speak about their thoughts for the budget and tax rate.

This meeting starts at 2:00 P.M.
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Here is the agenda for the regular meeting.  It includes the aouncil member packet.  

Item 4)  Reports on previous meeting issues - the list is growing.  There was no information on the appointments for the Comprehensive Plan Committee in the Packet - I guess they will spring it on us at the meeting.

Item 6)  A Special Use permit for a property at 15301 Pheasant Lane.  This was covered at ZAPCO and approved by them.  

Item 7)  This item involves boat dock permits.  Previously, a limit on how close boat docks could be to each other was placed in the ordinance because there were many complaints of docks intruding on each other when the water levels dropped.  It appears the council has a solution for that and wants to take out that limitation.  

Item 8)  Council evidently wants to redo the Heritage Commission and make it a Committee and otherwise make updates to the ordinance.

Item 9)  It looks like they are codifying the rules for all committees and commissions, what is published and what will be video'd and audio taped and length of time those items will be kept.

Item 10)  Is a resolution to "suspend" the deer control program.  In my opinion, we are getting the cart before the horse on this one.  This should wait until there is a study that shows the current condition of the program.  The data that Texas Parks uses shows that the deer population is controlled.  There is plenty of time to hire a good biologist to do a study and bring back data.  Then a decision can be made as to the way to proceed.

Item 11)  Contract award for park improvements.
Item 12)  Interlocal Agreement approval for operation of the PSAP.  That is the funding and equipment for our 911 operations.

13)  Looks like they are going to talk about public on future development projects.  I'm a little confused on this one.  

It appears they have scheduled 3 items for discussion in Executive Session.  City Manager's annual performance review is pretty standard, and they are going to discuss issues with releasing properties located at 19618 and 19726 Bee Creek Tavern road from the ETJ.

The last item is discussion of a lawsuit filed by Thomas Kilgore vs. City of Lakeway.  He has been outspoken on the way the city has handled the 3 year term walk back as per Secretary of State instructions.  I haven't been able to find the filings yet but will post them when I do.  Here's a link to the Statesman Article.

Looks like a looonnnggg meeting! 
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Get your calendars out and mark off October 2.  That is the date for National Night Out!  Start now to put together a meet up and have the police join you to answer questions and give pointers.   I'll remind you again next month.  Here's a link to more information.

The next Lakeway Blood Drive is September 15 at the Lakeway Activity Center from 8 A.M. until noon.  Here's a link to more info.

That's all I have for today - if you haven't yet, go to my new website, www.skypict.com for Sky Pictures.  There are a lot of new area pictures of new construction and updates on the Police Facility.

Have a GREAT weekend.  If you want to be added (or removed) from my email list, send a note to lakeway@bain.us and I'll get it taken care of.

Joe Bain
lakeway@bain.us