CONNIE SWINNEY • PICAYUNE STAFF
MEADOWLAKES — In a walk through the neighborhood, residents such as Dee Nolen take their time to enjoy the pace of the bedroom community; however, on occasion, Nolen has noticed motorists who disrupt the tranquil setting.
“I was walking one night (on the main thoroughfare), and some kid was just flying by,” he said. “I can see how some people would think that (there’s a traffic issue) if you’re on one of the main roads.”
Officials, acting on concerns about traffic safety, have distributed a survey for input from the gated community’s 2,200 residents to gauge their positions on law enforcement, which could lead to the creation of a city-staffed police department.
Even with the motorist incident, Nolen has hestiated to support such a proposal by city leaders.
“I’m not hip on getting a policeman who works for the city. There’s all those expenses that go with a new employee in-house,” he said. “It’s probably better just to contract more hours with the county if we need more traffic control.”
The city of Meadowlakes contracts with the Burnet County Sheriff’s Office for 40-60 hours per month with a handful of off-duty deputies for additional traffic enforcement.
“It’s usually worked at the schedules of the off-duty sheriff’s deputies, around their schedules, and may not always be at the time that most citizens would like it here from what we’re gathering,” City Manager Johnnie Thompson said. “For the last several months, the council has heard individual citizens requesting additional traffic enforcement. We’re just investigating the possibility of creating a police department.”
To fund both a contract with the sheriff’s office and a part-time salary for a code-enforcement officer, the city spends about $43,000 per year.
The estimated cost for a department to handle traffic and code violations would be about $67,000 to $70,000 per year — about $20,000-$30,000 more.
“We’d be able to dictate to some degree the hours worked, expanding the scope away from traffic to other aspects as well,” he said.
To launch the city agency, officials could earmark about $35,000 in capital investment funds for a vehicle, equipment, technology and office supplies, Thompson said.
“The only tax income we have is through household property taxes,” he said. “We have no industry or commercial businesses.”
To pay for the additional cost, officials would levy a tax on property owners that would cost about $48 per year on the average home valued at $227,000, Thompson said.
The survey deadline is Nov 25. Meadowlakes council members are expected to review the responses at the Dec. 9 regular meeting.
To obtain a survey, go to city hall at 177 Broadmoor St. Call (830) 693-6840 for more information.