Granite Shoals residential paving liens resurface at council meeting

By Glynis Crawford Smith
Contributor

Although the Granite Shoals City Council made several important decisions Tuesday night (Dec. 11), it was a non-action item on the agenda that piqued as much interest as professional contracts.

Mayor pro tem Jim Davant reported that more than 100 lots in the city may have paving liens against them that still are accruing interest.

He made the discovery after working with residents Chris and Patty Hanson who, in the course of selling inherited property, learned that old lien in the hundreds of dollars had ballooned into thousands of dollars.

When Granite Shoals incorporated in 1966, Sherwood Shores, the subdivision from which it was created, was the largest subdivision in the state. Many of the graded granite gravel roads that existed at the time remain, and early paving was done with residents being assed a fee for the work. 

The city has learned that it is prohibited by state law from forgiving the liens,” said Davant. “No only the original amount but accrued interest over as much as 30 years is owed.”

Through the years, liens have been discovered when property was sold, but original owners and owners who were gifted or inherited property have remained unaware of the old debt. It first existed in a trust fund for street and park maintenance, but that fund was dissolved.

Davant found old Ordinance 220 from October 1985 that lists 100 properties concerned, but he said other ordinances concerning the liens and debts have been issued through the years without a proper listing of all the properties. County computerized records go back only to 1986 and details about a single property may lie in the recesses of county record books, not to be discovered until a proper title search is conducted.

There is an issue for the city, since it made the liens and did not collect, but they are still out there and still accruing interest,” he said, noting that some properties may have been confiscated for sheriff's sales but transferred with liens in tact.

He promised to continue to research the matter to report back to council. In the meantime a copy of the list from Ord. 220 will be with city accountant Susan Nevills for citizens who want to check for their lot numbers against it.

Phillips Ranch Road officially re-opened Dec. 3, but I still brace for potholes that aren't there anymore when I turn in,” said assistant city manager Peggy Smith. “The road was closed for one additional day when a striping truck backed into a utility pole (that had to be repaired).”

Phillips Ranch Road

The roadway with newly softened curves is so inviting that many drivers have looked at their speedometers to discover they were enjoying it a little too much and the Granite Shoals Police Department has been lenient to the fact up to now.

We to thank people for their patience and to remind them that the grace period will be over before long and officers will be enforcing the 35 mph speed limit again,” said Smith.

She said silt fences would remain up until grass planted on the right of way eliminates erosion in compliance with Lower Colorado River Authority requirements.

Completion of paving of the southern end of Phillips Ranch Road will now have to proceed at the mercy of the weather.

Waste management

Aftermath of the October flood and the upcoming lowering of Lake LBJ were topics of conversation at the meeting.

Mayor Carl Brugger was authorized to sign an extension of the Declaration of Disaster first signed Oct. 18 regarding Oct. 16-18 flooding to ensure assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

As it stands now, citizens can add brush to piles on the municipal complex, but any more debris must be the responsibility of residents. County pick-up has ended.

The council voted to approve staff plans for managing the clearing of debris when the four-foot drawdown of Lake LBJ is conducted by the LCRA beginning Dec. 30 and concluding Feb. 23. Specifically, residents will be responsible for disposal of debris cleaned from the lakebed.

When the lake was lowered last year, large equipment launched in parks did damage and so much dumping occurred at city parks that dumpsters were brought in to the parks. That will not happen again. Large equipment will be banned and anyone dumping in parks will be subject to fines.

Only properly bundled limbs, no lumber on construction debris, and such items as furniture and Freon-free appliances may be left at the street for large-item pick-up every other week. That means residents will have to make their own arrangements for disposal or rent their own dumpsters.

The Granite Shoals solid waste contract moved seamlessly to Waste Management of Texas when the company acquired Austin, Marble Falls and Granite Shoals business from Republic Services on Dec. 1.

“Folks may notice trucks gradually changing from blue to green,” said Smith. “Otherwise, responsibility for the same services, including the larger recycle bins we were promised, become Waste Management responsibilities.”

Professional contracts

Selections for three professional contracts were made by the council.

“We were pleased to have six engineers respond to our RfQ's (request for quotation) for 'City Engineer of Record' in time,” said city manager Jeff Looney. “We have to very fine firms with close scoring for the council to evaluate.”

Following presentations by the national firms, JACOB|MARTIN and TRC, the council offered a contract to TRC.

Craig Bell and Sean Cool explained that their Austin office had begun as Hunter Engineering some 50 years ago and had continued the same team and contacts since becoming part of TRC. They listed local cities they had served and expressed an interest in a long-term relationship with Granite Shoals.

The council also was impressed by the JACOB|MARTIN firm. As the only firm bidding on the city's next Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) water system improvement application, they were offered the contract with confidence.

Ken Martin, PE; Will Drugger, chief operations officer, and engineer Luke Van Diest were on hand to represent the Austin office of JACOB|MARTIN, which now will participate in selecting the best suited projects for the grant.

JACOB|MARTIN has also managed the city's GIS (geographic information system).

The council also voted to offer a contract to become the city's “Financial Advisor of Record” to the San Antonio firm RBC. Robert Traylor, managing director at RBC Capital Markets, outlined the many services provided without charge to the company's clients.

In the case of each of the professionals of record, fees are assessed if the company is chosen competitively for a project.

Charter Review Committee

Organization of a Charter Review Committee, begun previously with the appointment of former council member Eric Tanner as chairman, continued at the meeting.

Approved as members were: Shirley King, Seth Smith, Merilyn Nations, Donna Maier, Paul Fletcher, George LaChance, Mark Morren, Steve Zbranek and Claudine Gonzales.

Granite Shoals' charter has been in place for over a decade,” said Tanner. “State law provides for a periodic review of charters, and approval of any changes by voters. The Council has appointed a Charter Review Committee, comprised of 10 individuals who have extensive experience in various boards, committees and even prior council membership, to review the current charter and recommend changes to put before the voters in November 2019. This review will ensure that the charter remains an effective framework for governing the city as it continues to grow and develop."

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