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Hays Free Press
Kyle, Texas
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August 28, 2003     Hays Free Press
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August 28, 2003
 

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1&apos; 7"  i;.- ''-- 2: '...., , i' ,= Comptroller finds little fault with Hays CiSD Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn BY BILL PETERSON Editor AYS CISD-The Comptroller came to town last Thursday with findings from the state's grand inquisition into the Hays CISD. Following this spring's divisive school bond election and considering the Comptroller's con- ceres about a low fund balance and too little money going to Hays CISD classrooms, it fig- ured the audit might reveal serious problems. "We literally reviewed everything from the custodian's closet to the superintendent's office," said the Comptroller, Carole Keeton Strayhom. After holding the district upside down and shaking out the dust, with the district's cooper- ation, of course, here's what the Comptroller's office found: $9.1 million in potential net sav- ings through 2008. In other words, the district could be about $1.82 million more efficient with its $54.9 mil- lion budget by about three percent. By the time Strayhom finished her presentation of the Texas State Performance Review (TSPR), school offi- cials didn't know if they should be relieved, or if they should be upset that the comptroller couldn't identify more potential savings. Strayhom said she would wait a year until some of her recommendations have been implemented before giving the district a grade. Most of her recommendations were minor and her general impressions were favorable. "I think this is a good district," she said. Even the concerns initially cited by the Comptroller's office were softened by the review. For example, Strayhom said upon initi- ating the audit in March that the district spends only 43.4 cents of each dollar in the classroom, compared with the statewide average of 51 cents. And she expressed worry that a $3.3 mil- lion fund balance was only 5.2 percent of bud- get, compared with the state's 10 percent rule of thumb. But Betty Ressell of the comptroller's office said after the review that she's satisfied the fund balance is improving. And she found a reasonable explanation for the low budget per- centage spent in the classroom. "This is a fast growth district," Ressell said. "One of the reasons for the low dollars spent on instruction is debt service. But I still think there are ways to shift some of those dollars." Now, the district will set about implement- ing Strayhom's recommendations to shift those dollars. Hays CISD Superintendent Kirk London, who started the job in June, said the audit gives him a comprehensive blueprint of the district, a good way to become entirely familiar with the district's issues in a short time. "I was real pleased, very pleased," Hays CISD Trustees President Laurie Cromwell said. "I think Comptroller Strayhom is passionate about education and I think these recommenda- Hays CISD Audit, pg. 3 Buda Marine slept in Hussein's house BY DANIEL MICHAEL Staff Writer B UDA-Kyle Childress, a Bud a native, was among the first Marines to enter Saddam Hussein's palaces when American forces entered the former dictator's hometown of Tikrit during Operation Iraq Freedom. Childress, a Lance Corporal in the 5th Battalion 1st Marines, returned home to Buda for rest on Aug. 1. He will visit with friends and relatives before going back to Cmnp Pcticlleton. While occupying Tikrit, Childress stayed several days in one of Hussein's marble and brass alcazars, sleeping in a palace bed and admiring Hussein's vast collection of art- work. "It was a kind of a reward," Childress said, adding that the change of scenery refreshed him after weeks of combat and just a few hours of sleep per night. A 1998 graduate of Hays High School, Childress joined the Marines after a short time in college, just weeks before the 9/11 attacks. Less than two years later, the 24-year-old found himself in northern Kuwait surveying and scouting targets in the llth Marines Field Artillery Regiment. ,'ii would drive around in a Hum-V and survey plots of land," Ctiildress said. "The infantry would qal] to give US grid coordin}'.?. <>:'#/:'r ' ' Then the eight-ton, 153 mil- ' limeter Howitzer, or "big can- non," as Childress called it, "would hit the target with pin- point accuracy." From Jan. 28 until the out- break of the war in March, Chlldress comes home, pg. 8 Kyle Childress soaks up the ambiance of one of Saddam Hussen's palaces in Tikrit. Garlic Creek plan complete, but not embraced BY DANIEL MICHAEL Staff Writer B UDA-City Staff certified that the Garlic Creek West Subdivision prelim- inary plan is administratively correct during Tuesday--s Buda Plannihg and Zoning Commission (P&Z) meeting. But that hardly means the matter is set- tled, for the certification means the P&Z may, or may not, have 30 days to take action on the plan. May or may not? Buda City Administrator Bob Mathis said B&W Development, which is putting together the controversial project, signed a waiver which "some could argue" elimi- nates a timeline on when the P&Z must approve the preliminary plan. Mathis said he is discussing the matter with city attorneys. For all intents and pur- poses, though, he said that the P&Z should move forward with making a decision on the preliminary plan. He said the developer The certification means the P&Z may, or may not, have 30 days to take action on the plan. signed the waiver to avoid logistical incon- veniences with the city. P&Z Chairman Ronald Fletcher said, "unless we get a future legal ruling, we have 30 days." On the recommendation of city staff, the P&Z took no action on the preliminary plan. However, the city staff's ruling sets in motion a series of deadlines for the city. If the P&Z approves the preliminary plan, the Buda City Council would have an addition- al 30 days to make a decision, meaning the preliminary plan could be approved by the city within 60 days. The proposed 2,000 home subdivision is in the city's extra territorial jurisdiction (ETJ), j2 which would double the population of Buda, if it were annexed: The deadlines are significant because the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) is set to make a decision in March on whether the western third of the Garlic Creek West near the intersection of FM 967 and FM 1626 is in the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer recharge zone. If Buda were to approve the subdivision before the TCEQ approves the new recharge zone map, precedent indicates that the subdivision could be "grandfathered" under existing environmental regulations. That would allow the subdivision to avoid the expensive environmental rules and leave a bad taste in the mouths of envi- ronmentalists, particularly the Barton Springs/Edwards Aquifer Conservation District (BS/EACD), which believes the subdivision is a threat to the aquifer's water quality. But Buda residents have concerns about the proposed subdivision that go well beyond water issues. During Tuesday's P&Z meeting, about a dozen residents expressed anxiety over the subdivision's ffect on the city's quality of life. Many expressed concerns about how the subdivision would impact traffic along FM 967, Old Black Colony Road and downtown Buda. Citizens also voiced concerns about drainage, wastewater, preserving the history along Black Colony Road, and the subdivi- Garlic Creek Subdivision, pg. 9 Early voting opens Kyle recall campaign Staff Report YLE-Mor.e than 4,800 citi- zens are technically eligi- ble to vote in Kyle's Sept. 13 election to determine whether Mayor James Adkins is going to be removed from office. But best guess estimates by long- time election officials concern- ing possible turnout range from 500 to 800. The election began Wednesday, with the first day of early voting. The large number of eligible citizens is deceiving, since slightly more than 600 of those registered have had their voting rights suspended because they have not paxticipated for several years. Most may have moved away from Kyle and not both- ered to inform Hays County Elections Administrator Joyce Cowan of their current resi- dences. Anyone on the list who still resides in Kyle can vote by signing an affidavit when appearing at the polls. Generally, the response is con- siderably less than ten percent of those listed Turnout in the statewide races last November within Kyle proper totaled less than 1,700, with many contested races at the state and county. On the other hand, the May city election saw 567 participate, with two contested council races on the ballot. The record tumout in a city election occurred in 1988, when controversy over the location of the Wackenhut Prison at the edge of town was the central issue. Extensive campaigning far in excess of any that has occurred this year resulted in 817 votes being cast. This was at a time when less than 1,600 citizens were registered to vote within the city limits. Mayor Sandra Tenorio, along with Councilwomen Ophelia Bigford and Eloise Romo, were easily re-elected, grabbing between 58 and 65 percent of the vote. The three incumbents had been strong supporters of the location of the prison in Kyle. In comparison, today about 37 percent of the registered vot- ers live within the old corporate limits, with the remainder in newer sections of Kyle. An additional examination of the voting lists indicates that about 62 percent of the eligible voters live On the west side of IH-35, with the balance living primarily in the Steeplechase and Trails subdivisions. For many years, voters with Hispanic sumames were in the majority in Kyle. Recent heavy growth has seen those totals decrease to about 40 percent. On the other hand, the number of African-American voters has increased substantially, al- though it hovers at about four percent. The petition drive conducted over a three-month period earli- er this year by recall advocates and headed by Dan Ekiakadis of Spring Branch, Sherry Anderson of Plum Creek, and Maxine Weatherford of Blanco River Crossing (which lies just outside the corporate limits), netted slightly more than 400 signatures. A counter petition drive sup- porting Adkins was conducted oyer a two-week period in late July and early August, returning 512 names. It was turned aside by the city council on the advice of City Attorney Barney Knight. Recall voting begins, pg. 9 r---