Council gives Crystal clarity, lets the grass grow


After new Gonzales Mayor Connie Kacir was sworn in Tuesday night, council got down to a standard agenda for the evening.

Crystal Theatre President Barbara Crozier addressed council during public comments. She was on hand to speak for an agenda item that left $10,000 omitted from the theatre's budget. Crozier had various cast members, instructors and patrons stand to represent the facility, which encompassed almost the full chamber.

During last year's budgetary process, the theatre's operating funds were left out of the process. Crozier said that the confusion had resulted from an earlier line-item budget omission where the theatre was to receive funds from the convention and visitor's bureau but didn't.

City Manager Allen Barnes brought the issue to council to help clarify the situation. Mayor Kacir asked if the funds were available, to which Barnes said they were and that they were permissible based on the theatre's value for tourism and promotion of the arts. District 2 Councilman Tommy Schurig made the motion to accept the funding, which was given a second by District 4 Councilman Clarence Opiela.

In another agenda item, Barnes said that the new Robert Lee Brothers Jr. Library is in the design phase and has gone to bid but the furniture was not included. An interior design firm that furnishes such projects has stepped forward to do this for the city and have provided references for their work, which Barnes said all checks out.

When asked to clarify a portion of the budget, Schurig asked where the money was coming from. Barnes said that it was from a $100,000 family donation and that the city has applied for a grant as well. Opiela gave the motion to accept with Schurig giving the second. The motion passed with District 3 Councilman Lorenzo Hernandez as the only opposition vote.

A discussion on the city's hydroelectric power plant was tabled by Kacir. Recently it came to Barnes' notice that re-licensing the plant, as the council had previously authorized, might be more of a cost burden than decommissioning the facility. He said that he will be going out for a quick bid on both costs and will report back at the July meeting, and tabling the item will give them a bit more time to find those numbers.

A new proposed ordinance would have required property owners to maintain the height of grass that grows on the city right-of-way between the curb and their residence. Barnes said that he has found it difficult to get compliance from residents on the issue and that technically the right-of-way is a part of a resident's lot.

City Attorney Jackie Williamson said that she has researched the issue and the city has the authority to require the ordinance and that it had been requested by city officials. But when Kacir looked for a motion from the council, members stayed silent on the matter and the ordinance failed for a lack of a motion.

In other items, council:

• Appointed Schurig as the mayor pro-tem

• Heard of the city's new building permit fee schedule

• Passed the city strategic plan

• Heard a report from Barnes regarding the city's street program and the delays they have been having because of recent rains and the streets that are next in line for improvements.