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Attorney hired to facilitate Llano County property trade

Llano County commissioners Jerry Don Moss, Linda Raschke, and Mike Sandoval

Llano County Commissioner Jerry Don Moss (top left) reacts to the vote of Commissioner Mike Sandoval (bottom), who opposed hiring an attorney to handle a massive property trade for the county. The Commissioners Court voted 3-1 — with Moss abstaining — in favor of the hire during its meeting Jan. 23. Staff photos by Dakota Morrissiey

The Llano County Commissioners Court voted to hire an attorney to handle the multimillion-dollar property trade between the county and the city of Llano for the John L. Kuykendall Event Center and Arena, but not without some controversy. During the court’s regular meeting on Monday, Jan. 23, Commissioner Jerry Don Moss, the project’s main supporter, abstained and Commissioner Mike Sandoval, who opposed the trade, voted no. 

The vote was 3-1 to hire Brad Hatfield of Moursund Law Offices in Horseshoe Bay to execute the transfer of title and paperwork associated with the event center trade. Moss abstained because he has been heavily involved in the trade negotiations, he said. Sandoval voted no, despite a “yes” vote in December to hire a different attorney for the deal. That attorney didn’t work out and another had to be found. 

“I didn’t want to vote for more expenditures for something I’m not in favor of,” Sandoval told after the meeting. 

The trade deal has been a point of contention in the county since its approval in October. Commissioners Linda Raschke and Sandoval opposed the trade on the grounds it would disproportionately benefit the city of Llano over the whole county. The same two commissioners voiced their opposition again during the allocation of hotel occupancy tax (HOT) funds in November, which was $150,000 for the initial operation of the event center. 

The Commissioners Court ultimately voted in favor of the center trade, which gives the county the $2.7 million center in exchange for county-owned property within Llano city limits valued at $393,000.

While Raschke opposed the trade in past votes, she told that she voted in favor of hiring an attorney to make sure the deal was conducted responsibly.

“This is just to get an outside counsel’s perspective on if we should move forward,” she said. “I’m not in favor of using HOT funds. I still think that’s a wrong thing to do.”

Moss has been negotiating the trade with the city since it was first proposed in July. He said he thought it was best to abstain and allow the rest of the Commissioners Court members decide what they wanted for themselves.

“I’ve been involved with this from the start,” he said. “I just thought I’d step back and let the court decide what they wanted to do. I am surprised (at Sandoval’s vote). I don’t know what that’s about.”

No timeline has been set for when the properties will officially exchange hands, but Moss predicts it could be months.