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Hays Free Press
Kyle, Texas
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May 1, 2003     Hays Free Press
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May 1, 2003
 

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Voters could shake up councils, school boards, in Saturday vote BY BILL PETERSON Editor ndA-If early votes are an indication, they almost certainly are, the school board election'has caught a lot more fLre in the Buda/Kyle area than either city council election. Voters could change as many as three of the five seats on Buda's city council in Saturday's election, which puts four candi- dates in the running for three at-large posi- tions. Meanwhile, Kyle's city council and the Hays CISD Board of Trustees each have an at-large position and a single- member district up for vote. Through the end of early voting on April 29, 472 people had cast ballots in the school district, which, is holding its fast elections in two years after three incum- bents ran unopposed in 2001. Kyle's elec- tion had attracted 151 voters, while 74 vot- ers turned out to place early selections in Buda. Even accounting for the fact that the school board ranges over the entire area, the fact that it's early vote is more than double the combined total in Kyle and Buda confirms the passion in that race. The highest profile race on the ballots is for the at-large position on the school board, with incumbent David Wiley trying to hold off three challengers. Former Hays CISD administrator Joe Graham, running under the auspices of the anti-bond group Citizens for Responsible Education (CFRE) is making a strong push, as is fre- quent school volunteer Patti Wood, who is running as an alternative to the incumben- May 3 Elections, pg. 2 loot diggt'ty... we've got a wiener Heather and Mike Hodnott, and daughter Kaylee, of South Austin greet .their hero, Me, at the finish line after he won the Sixth Annual Wiener Dog Race at the Buda Country Fair Sunday afternoon. (photo by Bill Peterson) Me on the go in weiner race final BY BI PETEItSON Editor B UDA-A year ago, Me finished fourth in the weiner dog race put on by the Buda Lions Club at City Park. Me was six months old. Just a pup. But you knew right then he had something special. Seems you can always tell the winners at the starting line. Soon, his owners, Mike and Heather Hodnett of South Austin, were putting Me through the paces. They're tough, and they know winners always have to pay the price. "Yeah, we'd just throw the ball around the yard," said Mike Hodaett, describing the rig- orous training that made Me a champion Sunday afternoon. Physical training is key. So is nutrition. "Iams lamb and rice," Heather Hodnett said. Mo came back to Buda last weekend to take care of some unfinished business. He had a race to win, and 175 other weiner dogs with their eyes on the prize. Mo knew the competi- tion would be unforgiving. Juggy, from Houston, and Buddy, from Mansfield, were among the finalists. Names like Oscar, Max, Penny and Fritz would 'make the sixth Buda weiner dog races among the most hotly con- tested in memory. After the race, Me held the prize. Actually, Me on the Go; pg, 9 Push comes to shove as Hays school board election approaches BY BILL PETERSON Editor 'AYS CISD-Responding to allega- .tions last week that members of Citizens for Responsible Education (CFRE) spent lavishly on bond sales trips in 1996 and 1997, CFRE members coun- tered on two fronts. On one front, former Hays CISD Trustees President and present CFRE co- chair Bryce Bales said the present school board's operating expanes.lwrf the loard's . expenses when he was a mem- ber. On another, Bales said he had no knowl- edge the school dis- trict would incur the expenses on the 1996 and 1997 bond sales trips to New York, during which school leadership spent nearly $42,000 on expenses. The school district's financial audits indicate that the school board's expenses have increased to $160,543 in 2002 from $78,141 in 1997. In addition, the school district's financial records show that the school board's travel expenses increased steadily to $37,325 in 2002 from $11,471 in 1997. However, the Hays CISD's contract with First Southwest indicates that Bales should have known the school district would be responsible for the expenses on the 1996 and 1997 bond sales trips. As to the allegations of excessive spending on bond sales trips leveled at a press conference last week by pro-bond group Citizens for Better Schools (CBS) following an open records request with the school district, Bales said school offi- cials were told by Gary Kimball of First Southwest, the district's bond advisor, that the costs "were a part of their set fee." Said Bales, "We went as a guest of First Southwest. We were never offered information regarding the cost of the trip, nor the opportunity to control any costs therein." However, Kimball said earlier this week that Bales signed a contract to the contrary.. Indeed, the district signed a five-year deal with First Southwest on Nov. 30, 1995, with Bales giv- ing his signature as the Hays CISD board president and Tommy Seargeant giving his signature as the secre- tary. An appendix to the contract stipulates that "(a)ny out of state travel in connection with a debt issue" would be paid by the bond issuer, the school district. In some cases, according to the appendix, First Southwest was to "initially pay" related expenses. None of the bond trip expenses appear on the district's financial audits, according to Carter Scherff, the school district's interim financial director, because those trips aren't included in the district's normal operations budget. "The way that is handled is the finan- cial advisor pays the expenses, then deducts them from proceeds of the bonds when the bonds are sold," Scherff said. Scherff couldn't account for why board travel expenses have increased steadily since 1997. However, he said the high number for 2002 is likely to result Hays School Board Election, pg. 3 New B uda council can't vote once elected BY BRENT STRONG Staff Writer B UDA-Thre of the five seats for the Buda City Council, could be completely different after this Saturday's elections. However, such a significant change wouldn't stop the current council from making one final round of important decisions. State statute says newly elected officials cannot he sworn in to office until five business days after the election, according to Buda City Administrator Bob Mathis. The ear- liest time for the newly elected coun- cil to be sworn in would be on May 9 under those restrictions. The lag between elections and swearing in has some officials in Buda con- cemed. "It seems kind of wrong to me for the new council to have to work with something for the next two years, which they couldn't have a say in," Buda City Councilman Hutch White said. One of the issues coming up on the agenda is the selection of a replacement for a vacant seat on the Economic Development Corporation Board (EDC). Warren Q Bonita and Doug Gunn can't quite make up their mind about who they want to occupy Buda's three seats on the city council. The couple has all four candidate's signs side by side in the front of their house. The Gunn's along with the rest of Buda will have to make up their mind on May 3. (photo by Brent Strong) Ketteman, director of the EDC, said gestions for a board member, choosing a new bod member for up for a vote at the same council he's a little concerned with the old Cathy Chilcote, who is running the EDC. Chilcote authored some. meeting on May 6. Chilcote said council making a decision and said for re-election, said she has her own criteria for resignations for commis- the board will he vocal with its sug- concerns about the current council sioners and board members, which is Buda Council Election, pg. 9