by BILL PETERSON
A local controversy that not long ago raised noise and temperatures may have gone away quietly last week before the Hays County Commissioners Court.
The commissioners approved an interlocal agreement with the City of San Marcos, formalizing an arrangement whereby the county will spring $1.6 million of its 2007 parks bond money primarily to build a road at The Village in San Marcos. The road would make new football fields accessible for use by the San Marcos Police Athletic League.
Opponents of the expenditure argued long and hard that spending parks bond money for a road must be a violation of the law. However, Special Counsel Mark Kennedy discovered on his reading of Attorney General’s opinions that the allocation is within the law.
Kennedy found that the expenditure is appropriate because the road is necessary to make the football fields viable, among other reasons. In another AG opinion, Kennedy found that public funds spent on private property are permissible if the county believes the land will go to a public purpose. And, finally, the funding is permissible because the county is receiving a recreational easement from The Village in return.
“I feel sure that we’re in compliance with the law,” Kennedy told the court.
The interlocal agreement impressed County Judge Liz Sumter, a Wimberley Democrat, so much that she voted for it. Sumter made waves during the funding debate by recusing herself from the discussion and vote to approve the allocation.
However, the interlocal agreement passed with only a 4-1 vote. Precinct 4 Commissioner Karen Ford, a Dripping Springs Democrat, maintained her opposition, making her the only member of the court to vote against the project every time it has come before the court.
“I still believe it might be an inappropriate use of our parks bond funds,” Ford said.
Senior correspondent BILL PETERSON is editor of www.hayshighway.com where this story was originally published. It is reprinted here through a news partnership with Newstreamz.com.