Burnet County submits Rainy Day wish list

By Lew K. Cohn

Managing Editor

The Highlander

Burnet County commissioners on Wednesday, March 20, discussed a wish list of infrastructure projects the county will submit to a state representative whose bill would create a new grant program using the state's “Rainy Day Fund.”

State Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, the chairman of the House County Affairs Committee, has suggested using some of the Texas Economic Stabilization Fund — currently at $11.8 billion and growing — to create a grant program for county's to fund needed infrastructure improvement projects.

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar has predicted the Economic Stabilization Fund will grow by more than $3 billion over the next budget cycle and would reach a total of $15 billion if untouched during the next two years.

A House proposal under consideration at this time would take $6.6 billion from the Rainy Day Fund, leaving about $8.4 billion. The Legislature has agreed to keep a minimum balance of $7.5 billion in the fund at all times, which would leave about $900 million that could be used to fund any additional projects like Coleman's grant program.

County Services Director Karen Hardin compiled Burnet County's wish list, which includes items left over from a 2016 list of road and bridge projects commissioners put together prior to passing the first of a series of three road bonds which have helped them perform work outside their normal maintenance of county roads.

That list includes a new elevated bridge at Double Horn Road as well as new bridges on County Road 116, County Road 323 and Ancient Oaks Road; base, shoulder and surfacing work on County Roads 212, 215, 217 and 266; fixing a low-water crossing on County Road 321; installing concrete box culverts on County Roads 340, 340A and 403; and a new overlay on County Road 404W.

Other projects which have been added to the list are revitalization of the iron pedestrian bridge at Joppa; a new emergency operations center with updated equipment and expanded tower coverage; purchase or construction of a new County Services Building (the one at 1008 N. Water St., Burnet, is leased and not owned by the county); replacing outdated voting equipment; improving outdated dispatch equipment; network communications infrastructure upgrades; right-of-way acquisitions for upgrades to US 281, Texas 29 and Texas 71; and building two new annexes for future growth as part of a 10-20 year plan.

Total price tag for the wish list, which Hardin was to submit to Coleman's office on Wednesday, exceeds $23 million. County Judge James Oakley noted the list does not commit Burnet County to any particular project or require them to set aside any funds at this time.

In other action, commissioners approved a purchase agreement with Mueller Inc. for a new maintenance building, to be located at the Burnet County Jail, for a cost of $34,974, with 25 percent down up front, or $8,743.50. Concrete has already been poured for the facility slab and Precinct 1 crews were responsible for performing site preparation.

Meanwhile, county tourism director Andi Ball told commissioners the county will be hosting a media tour of area attractions on Monday, March 25, through Wednesday, March 27. Ball also presented a request from the Burnet Chamber of Commerce for sponsorship of the Bluebonnet Festival at a cost of $2,500, to be paid for out of tourism funds, which commissioners approved.

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