Commissioners learn more about disaster relief fund


The chair of a project committee which oversees the Burnet County Declared Disaster Relief Fund spoke to Burnet County commissioners Tuesday, June 9, about how the fund has helped residents in need.

Donna Klaeger also spoke to commissioners about their decision last month to rescind a donation to the Declared Disaster Relief Fund that would have given the agency $10,000 more to help local residents in need.

Klaeger, a former Burnet County judge who now serves as executive director for the Community Resource Centers of Texas Inc., told commissioners the relief fund has distributed $19,261 of the $44,301.03 received since its inception in October 2018 and has helped 51 individuals with rent, transportation, utilities and other expenses.

There is currently a balance of $25,490 available in the account, which is managed and distributed by the CRC, Klaeger said.

“No Burnet County Funds are in the BCDDRF and all funds that are being distributed have been donated to assist citizens of Burnet County,” Klaeger told the court Tuesday.

“The relief funds are for distribution to pay for needs and services of Burnet County citizens affected by the 2018 flood or 2020 COVID-19 disaster. All requests require documentation of need. If approved, assistance is provided for payment directly to the vendor. No funds are distributed to individuals and there is a $500 maximum per household.”

The Declared Disaster Relief Fund was created after the October 2018 Highland Lakes Flood as part of a special project fund agreement executed by Burnet County Judge James Oakley (on behalf of Burnet County) with the Austin Community Foundation in accordance with Annex T of the Burnet County Emergency Management Plan, which was approved in June 2017.

Annex T outlines the concept of operation, organizational arrangements, and responsibilities for coordinating the efforts of volunteer groups and local government to manage donations of goods and services that may occur in the aftermath of an emergency situation, Klaeger explained.

Under the agreement between the county and ACF, the CRC was named the organization which would manage and distribute what was then called the Burnet County 2018 Flood Victim Relief Fund and a project committee was appointed, comprised of Marble Falls resident Midge Dockery, Spicewood resident Kevin Naumann, Burnet resident Karen Hardin and Klaeger.

It is this committee which reviews every application for assistance and then determines what funding should be awarded.

Following the declaration of a disaster due to COVID-19 this past April, the name of the fund was changed to allow donations to be made to victims affected by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as any future declared disasters.

Last month, commissioners were notified by Capital Area Housing Finance Corporation (CAHFC) president Mark Mayfield, a Burnet County resident, that the Austin-based organization, which serves nine counties in the Capital Area Council of Governments with a total population of over 2.1 million, had voted to reinvest money in the local communities it serves and had charged the court with distributing $100,000 to nonprofits in the area.

Commissioners agreed at that time that VetRIDES, Meals on Wheels, Burnet County Child Welfare Board, Highland Lakes Family Crisis Center, Hill Country Children’s Advocacy Center, CASA of the Highland Lakes, Boys and Girls Clubs of the Highland Lakes, the Highland Lakes Crisis Network and the Community Resource Center Disaster Relief Fund would each receive $10,000, while an additional $10,000 would be split between The Helping Center in Marble Falls and LACare in Burnet.

However, commissioners rescinded the donation to the Disaster Relief Fund after County Auditor Karin Smith expressed concerns about the tax ID number sent to the county by the CRC belonging to the Austin Community Foundation, which is not located in Burnet County.

Klaeger said the Disaster Relief Fund is held by the Austin Community Foundation though the fund is managed by the CRC, which is why the ACF information was sent to the county. She asked them to not rule out future donations to the fund if the county receives any more charitable contributions.

“Last Commissioners Court, it was noted that CRC would not provide proper documentation to Auditor to receive funding,” Klaeger said. “The Community Resource Center did not receive any funding from the Court. The funding was for the Burnet County Disaster Relief Fund. The CRC was not required to provide documentation.

“This information was reviewed with the County Attorney (Eddie Arredondo) and Auditor (Smith) last week in hopes that funds will not be diverted from the BCDDRF in the future.”

Klaeger said donations continue to be accepted and interested parties can make a check payable to the Burnet County Disaster Relief Fund and mail it to 1016 Broadway, Marble Falls, TX 78654 or drop off a donation to 300 Avenue N, Marble Falls. For more information about the Declared Disaster Relief Fund, call 830-693-0700.