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Mason County News
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County Looks at Rural Development Authority
Wednesday, March 11, 2009 • Posted March 11, 2009

During their first regular meeting of March, the Mason County Commissioners' Court tried to look to the future of the county, and to make sure that the residents will have a say in how development occurs within county boundaries.

Judge Jerry Bearden explained that pending legislation, HB 2167, would create the authority for counties within a designated portion of the hill country of Texas to have greater control over certain aspects of development within their counties. Those counties included in that geographical area are: Bandera, Blanco, Burnet, Comal, Edwards, Gillespie, Hays, Kendall, Kerr, Kimble, Llano, Mason, Medina, Real, and Uvalde County.

The Court discussed the proposed legislation, and found that it had the potential to be both good and bad for counties, as it would allow the county courts the ability to enact laws regarding: (1) density of development as determined by minimum or average lot size within a designated area; (2) reasonable building and set-back lines on all sides of any building or property used for business, industrial, residential, or other purposes; and (3) an infrastructure cost recovery fee, as described by Section 231.294.

Judge Bearden pointed out that several things would have to happen before such regulatory authority passed to the county. First, the state would have pass the bill. Then, the residents of the counties would have to vote to approve the legislation. And, third, the county courts would have to set the standards, determine punitive costs, and devise a method of enforcement.

Commissioner Eldon Kothmann told the court that, while he understood the potential for the legislation to help counties control development, the only reason he felt he could support it was that it would eventually come before the voters of the county, at which time, a full discussion of the pros and cons of granting such authority could be fully discussed and debated.

The county court also discussed the possiblity of returning to giving employees comp time rather than overtime pay in an attempt to hold down costs. After discussion with Sheriff Buster Nixon, it was decided to continue paying overtime; but, Sheriff Nixon and EMS Director Linda Williams will try various scheduling options to hold down overtime costs.

In other business, the Court voted to move to the regularly scheduled meeting of April 13 to April 14 due to the 13th being Easter Monday.

Also, the Court voted to have county employees who use county cell phones reimburse the county at a rate of ten cents per minute for personal phone calls. Each department head will be responsible for monitoring personal cell phone use and working with employees to reimburse the county.

The meeting adjourned at 10:44 a.m.

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