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Burnet County opposes Matterhorn pipeline, moves two polling places

Texas Tech University at Highland Lakes in Marble Falls

Voting is moving from the Burnet County Courthouse South Annex in Marble Falls next door to the Texas Tech University at Highland Lakes campus (pictured) in time for the Nov. 8 mid-tern elections. Staff photo

A proposed pipeline set to run through the Briggs and Joppa area of Burnet County met with opposition from the Commissioners Court, which passed a resolution against the Matterhorn Express pipeline and the legal process in place for seizing private property. 

“Burnet County on behalf of its citizens opposes the Matterhorn Express Pipeline being routed inside of Burnet County,” reads the resolution, which received a 4-0 unanimous vote by commissioners at their regular meeting Tuesday, June 14. Precinct 3 Commissioner Billy Wall was not present. 

Commissioners also moved voting locations from the county courthouse’s north and south annexes to two new sites and started 2022-23 budget discussions, announcing a possible 5 percent reduction (0.02 cents per $100 valuation) in the tax rate.

PIPELINE

The pipeline resolution requests immediate action by the Texas Legislature to protect landowners and communities, listing three ways to do this. 

First, commissioners asked the Legislature to create a better regulatory process for oil and gas pipeline routing that enable those affected to have a voice in what happens. 

Second, they asked that the process include environmental and economic studies for all oil and gas pipelines, whether intrastate or interstate. 

Finally, they asked that the Legislature require substantial governmental oversight over the power of eminent domain that is currently delegated to private companies. 

“These pipelines can take a better route, but it’s a longer route,” said Precinct 2 Commissioner Damon Beierle. “It’s not as direct, and it will cost more, but they can go farther south where other pipelines are already there.” 

The pipeline resolution will be sent to local state representatives and senators as well as other state officials. Although the county asked for officials from the Railroad Commission of Texas and the pipeline to attend the meeting, only upset landowners were on hand for the reading of the resolution and the vote. 

POLLING SITES

Two main polling sites in Burnet County will be moved to new locations by the Nov. 8 mid-term elections, commissioners decided. 

Burnet Election Administrator Doug Ferguson asked that voting be moved from the county courthouse’s North Annex to the bigger auditorium at the AgriLife office, 607 N. Vandeveer in Burnet. This decision also closed the First Lutheran polling location. 

A second vote moved polling from the South Annex at 810 Steve Hawkins Parkway in Marble Falls next door to the Texas Tech University at Highland Lakes and Central Texas College campus, 806 Steve Hawkins Parkway.  

“The issue with the South Annex is with parking and the flow of voters,” Ferguson told commissioners. “The parking situation is much better next door. You have ample parking, and we can do curbside voting when requested.” 

Also, people will be able to line up inside the building rather than outside, and with two doors going in and out of the room where the machines will be set up, traffic will flow more smoothly. 

“We can set up eight machines (at TTU), which we have not been to do at the South Annex,” Ferguson said. 

TTU at Highland Lakes officials are happy to host the voting location at no cost, Ferguson continued. Commissioners agreed to the move contingent on getting details in a written contract with the school. 

BUDGET

The 2022-23 budget process officially got underway as commissioners huddled around the table with County Auditor Karin Smith at the end of Tuesday’s meeting. 

A preliminary look at the numbers shows a proposed tax rate of 0.38 cents per $100 valuation, down 0.02 cents, or 5 percent, from the 2021-22 rate of 0.3997. 

Budgeted current tax revenue is estimated at $26.3 million versus last year’s tax revenue of $23.9 million. 

Even with the extra money, all requests for new personnel cannot be met, County Judge James Oakley told commissioners. 

According to Smith’s worksheet, just over 23 new positions have been requested, including eight new sheriff’s deputies, a new attorney and clerk in the District Attorney’s office, a new attorney in the County Attorney’s Office, an Odyssey software clerk, and a new deputy clerk position in the County Clerk’s Office. 

The county judge must present a proposed budget to commissioners by July 31. A final budget must be approved by commissioners no later than Oct. 1, when the next fiscal year begins. 

suzanne@thepicayune.com