City of Victoria Rumor Central....Setting the Record Straight

 

This page is to set the record straight on rumors about Victoria's City Government. If you hear a rumor you want to verify, contact O.C. Garza at 485-3110 or by email to O.C. Garza.

Rumors about Bootfest

I heard that Bootfest isn't being held in 2012. Is that true? Not true. Just to set the record straight, although the Victoria Convention & Visitors Bureau is changing its advertising campaign to “Explore Victoria,” Bootfest will remain as Victoria’s largest downtown festival. Bootfest will be held Friday, Oct. 5 and Saturday, Oct. 6 in downtown Victoria. For all the details, visit www.visitvictoriatexas.com or www.facebook.com/BootFest

Rumors about the $175,000 City Council Approved to Defend the Permit Application for the proposed Wastewater Treatment Plant

Did the City offer to meet with the residents opposed to this location of the plant agree to mediate with the City to lessen costs to all parties? Yes.

Did the residents opposed to this location of the plant agree to mediate with the City to lessen costs to all parties? No.

Why does the City have to defend itself in this contested case hearing? Because the opposing party has hired an attorney to represent them and that attorney is already in the discovery phase of this case.

Council approved $175,000 on the first vote to defend the City’s permit application. Is this money strictly to pay for attorney fees? No, this amount covers our estimate of the attorney fees as well as fees for engineers and expert witnesses.

Will utility rates for residents increase as a result of this money being approved to defend the permit application? No.

Did the information submitted on the permit application result in this contested case hearing? No, the City’s permit application has been accepted by TCEQ. The contested case hearing is based on the number of opposing comments received by TCEQ.

Is a contested case hearing unusual? No. This is part of the permitting process and happens often.

Why didn’t these expenses to defend the City’s permit application get budgeted in the legal department? Because this contested case involves the proposed location for the new wastewater treatment plant, all expenses, including any legal expenses will be paid from the Water/Wastewater fund.

 

Rumors about Curbside Recycling

What we heard...City residents are being charged  up to $7 for the recycling carts used for the new curbside recycling program.

Reality ... Not true. 

What we heard...City residents are being charged  $5 a month for the curbside recycling program.

Reality ... Not true. 

Rumors about Bootfest

What we heard... Bootfest cost $1.5 million dollars.

Reality ... Not true. 

 

What we heard... The crowd estimates for Bootfest are not accurate.

Rumors about Navarro construction project from Salem Road to Loop 463.

What we heard... The City started a project on Navarro from Salem Road to Loop 463.

Rumors about recycled goods

What we heard... Don’t bother with recycling because the City takes all items from the Huvar Recycle Center to the landfill.

Reality. ..NOT TRUE! The City does not take any recycled goods to the landfill. All recycled goods from the Huvar Recycle Center are taken to TBC Recyclers here in Victoria. This includes plastics 1 & 2, cardboard, paper, tin and aluminum. Recycling is not only the best way to reuse many items, but it extends the life of our landfill.

 

Rumors about the “Cement Plug” illegally installed in the storm drain

 

What we heard... The drainage ditch that runs through Mr. Redburn's property is currently the City’s responsibility.

Reality ... Not true. 

What we heard... The City should clean up all the rubbish, needles and other debris that are carried by storm water or thrown into the ditch by passers-by.

Reality ... Not True.

Sec. 13-203. - Watercourse protection.

Every person owning property through which a watercourse passes, or that person's lessee, shall keep and maintain all parts of the watercourse within that property reasonably free of trash, debris, excessive vegetation, and other obstacles that would pollute, contaminate, or significantly retard the flow of water through the watercourse. In addition, the owner or lessee shall maintain any existing privately owned structures within or adjacent to that watercourse, so that those structures will not become a hazard to the use, function or physical integrity of the watercourse. The owner or lessee shall not remove healthy bank vegetation beyond that actually necessary for maintenance, or remove that vegetation so as to increase the vulnerability of the watercourse to erosion. The property owner shall be responsible for maintaining and stabilizing that portion of the watercourse that is within the property owner's property boundaries in order to protect against any erosion and degradation of the watercourse originating or contributed from their property.

 

What we heard... The City is not willing to discuss this issue with the current owner.

Reality ... Not true.

 

 

 

What we heard... The court ORDERED Mr. Redburn to remove the illegal cement plug he installed in the storm drain.

Reality ... This is true.

 

More rumors about the Main Street and de Leon Plaza Improvement Project

What we heard... We lost a lot of downtown parking spots with the new downtown sidewalks.

Reality ... Not true. The number of parking spaces in the construction zone is the same as before the project; 179 total spaces. There are now six handicapped parking spaces compared to two handicapped parking places before the project. These handicapped parking places are required to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act ( ADA).

What we heard... The curb extensions serve no function and stick out too far into the street.

Reality ... Not true. The curb extensions are necessary because of the zero lot line layout of the downtown area. The curb extensions are required to comply with the ADA requirements when building handicapped ramps at the street corners.

What we heard... The street is uneven and too far below the level of the curb.

Reality ... This is true, but only until the final street paving is complete. Right now the street is below the curb level by a few inches. But when the final street paving is completed, the street and curb will be level. The edge of the street will be higher than before the project because the high crown in the road will be removed and a more level surface installed and paved.

What we heard... There are fewer trees planted than originally planned.

Reality ... Not true. The number of trees that could be planted as part of the downtown project actually increased because some were planted in the small curb extensions. Some trees could not be installed in the sidewalk due to existing or proposed awnings. The citizen group that requested and paid for the trees, liked the idea of planting them in the curb extensions as other cities have done. The City Council agreed to it. Because of the plantings in the curb extensions, the number of trees is actually more than originally designed.

More rumors about this project were answered below in an earlier post that is copied below...

Is the City spending $4 million on sidewalks in downtown Victoria?

What we heard... The City is spending $4 million in sidewalks in downtown Victoria.

Reality... Not true.

The Main Street and DeLeon Plaza Improvement Project is a $2.20 million dollar project. Of that total, $613,000 is for sidewalks, curb extensions and handicap ramps that are in compliance with the Americans with Disabilties Act. The rest of the project included demolishing existing sidewalks, underground utility replacement, street repaving, curb construction, signage, tree grates and painting of the old lightpoles and new traffic signals. (Please note that approximately 50 trees will be installed that were donated by individuals.) Another interesting fact; the money for almost all of this project is from the Victoria Sales Tax Development Corporation.

 

 

 

Cost Breakdown on the Main Street and DeLeon Plaza Project:

Demolition of existing curbs and gutters - $313,000

Utility work and installation - $321,000

Paving (curb, gutter, milling, overlay, striping) - $580,000

Sidewalks, curb extensions, and handicap ramps that conform with the Americans with Disabilities Act - $613,000

Signage, tree grates, cleaning, painting - $116,000

Mobilization, barricades, traffic control - $225,000

 

"Red Light" cameras at major Victoria street intersections.

What we heard... Those cameras at major street intersections in Victoria are "Red Light" cameras used for taking pictures of drivers who run red lights.

Reality... Not true.

The cameras you see at major intersections around Victoria are traffic detection cameras linked to our signal lights to help with traffic flow. These traffic detection cameras are connected to all the traffic lights in the intersection and are activated when a car approaches the intersection. Traffic flow at intersections controlled by detection cameras is better than at intersections using pressure operated devices, plus they do not get damaged every time a street is repaved or repaired. Again, these traffic detection cameras are to help with traffic flow at major intersections. They are not red light cameras and do not take pictures of anyone running a red light.

Caterpillar will not pay any taxes for the first ten years they are in Victoria.

What we heard... The new Caterpillar facility in Victoria will not pay taxes for the first ten years they are in Victoria.

Reality... Not true.

  1. Caterpillar will pay property taxes on the 320 acres they now own, the first time in many years that this property is back on the tax rolls.
  2. State law does not allow abatements on school taxes so Caterpillar will pay VISD taxes.
  3. Caterpillar will also pay taxes to The Victoria College. Additionally, Caterpillar will pay taxes to the Navigation District and Drainage District.
  4. Like all businesses, Caterpillar will pay taxes on normal business goods and some inventory.
  5. Caterpillar will also generate sales tax revenues through the purchases it makes.
  6. Up to 1,000 construction workers will be needed during the construction phase, and those workers will generate sales taxes and possibly some property taxes.
  7. When the Caterpillar facility is open, Caterpillar will employ about 500 permanent workers who will pay property taxes and sales taxes in the communities where they choose to live.
  8. It is true that the City and County have exempted Caterpillar from paying City and County taxes on the property improvements for the first ten years, but after the ten year abatement period, taxes on the improved value of that land will be paid. In the meantime, Caterpillar will be paying property taxes on the base value of that land.

The sale of the Old Water Pump House was done "under the table."

What we heard... The sale of the Old Water Pump House property on the Guadalupe River was done "under the table."

Reality... Not true.

Here are the facts about the sale of the Old Water Pump House.

The construction on Sam Houston Drive will close the Sam Houston Post Office

What we heard... The construction of Sam Houston Drive will close the Sam Houston Post Office.

Reality... Not true.

The City knows that major construction projects create hardships for business owners and are inconvenient for customers of those businesses. Our policy is to keep at least one entrance open to all businesses in the construction zone. In the case of Sam Houston Drive, all businesses and residences will remain accessible during the construction, including the Post Office. In the construction zone, traffic will be narrowed to one lane each way, but there will be entrances to all businesses and residences. The Sam Houston Drive Reconstruction Project will begin in late October or early November and is estimated to cost about $17.9 million.

 

The City is wasting tax payer money by mowing Loop 463.

What we heard... The City is wasting tax payer money by mowing Loop 463 because TXDOT mows those areas.

Reality...  Not true.

The City has a contract with TXDOT to maintain state highways inside the City limits of Victoria. This agreement has been amended over many years, the most recent agreement dates to 1998. Earlier this year staff met with TXDOT and they informed us that due to budget cuts, their right-of-ways would be mowed only twice per year.  In years past they had mowed four-to-six times per year. The City now mows the right-of-ways along Loop 463 from Business 59 to Hwy 87 (Main) four to five times per year. TXDOT has some specialized mowers that cut the steep slopes near the Loop 463 overpasses so they will still be cutting those areas. With high speed traffic on Loop 463, keeping the grass mowed is a safety issue much more than an aesthetic one. It takes our mowing crews about seven working days to mow all of Loop 463. We also mow along Port Lavaca Highway, Highway 59 (Business) and Highway 77, within the city limits, as required by the contract.

The City recently changed the mowing ordinance to force everyone to mow the rights-of-ways.

What we heard... The City made recent changes in the code that forces residents to mow the rights of ways and ditches.

Reality... Not true.

For more than 40 years there has been an ordinance requiring property owners to mow from the rear property line or middle of a back alley, to the curb. Most property owners have been doing their part to keep Victoria attractive. What has confused the issue is that that for years, city employees had a hard time saying “no” when asked if they could mow these spaces. That practice benefits a few property owners at the expense of most property owners who already mow their entire property. In our current budget environment we can no longer mow any property that is the responsibility of the property owner. And, with more than 24,000 properties in Victoria, it would be impossible for the City to mow those areas for every property owner.

The land for the University of Houston-Victoria location near the airport was offered for sale to the City.

What we heard... The city has a "friend" who wants to sell some land at top dollar and can't find anyone but the city willing to pay the preferred asking price."The friend" had previously offered the land to the Victoria school district and was turned down. I hope the city also will turn down the offer.

Reality... Not true.

That land was never offered to the City. The land is offered FOR FREE to the University of Houston-Victoria if they choose to relocate the campus to that location. The City Council has agreed in principle to extend infrastructure to that site if UHV chooses to move there.

Traffic problems at the new high schools are caused by TXDOT and the City?

What we heard... The City and TXDOT required that VISD install only one driveway at the new schools.

Reality... Not true.

Like all major developments, VISD hired engineers and architects to design and construct the new schools. During the plan review process with the project managers, the City did request that the East High School campus NOT have a driveway on Ben Jordan Street due to traffic conditions at DeLeon Elementary. But the original plans for East HS had a second driveway planned for John Stockbauer plus the main entrance on Mockingbird. This driveway on Stockbauer was cut from this project by VISD for budget reasons.

The issue at West High School is one of size. TXDOT would not allow two exits on 87 since one would be too close to the light at Loop 463 and Hwy 87. There were discussions about a second entrance/exit at West High School along the access road of Loop 463. But VISD's property did not contact the access road on Loop 463. So a second driveway at West High School would have required VISD to purchase more property or at the very least, acquire some easements from the property owner.

Cutting off utilities during a hurricane to force residents to evacuate?

What we heard... In order to get residents to evacuate during a hurricane, the City will cut off water, the gas company will cut off gas and the electric company will cut off electricity prior to a hurricane hitting Victoria.

Reality... Not true.

Utility systems are not designed to be "turned off" and they will remain in operation unless damaged by a storm. Residents should turn off utilities (electricity and gas primarily) at the house if so instructed by emergency personnel but the service will remain on.

Is the City spending $4 million on sidewalks in downtown Victoria?

What we heard... The City is spending $4 million in sidewalks in downtown Victoria.

Reality... Not true.

The Main Street and DeLeon Plaza Improvement Project is a $2.20 million dollar project. Of that total, $613,000 is for sidewalks, curb extensions and handicap ramps that are in compliance with the Americans with Disabilties Act. The rest of the project included demolishing existing sidewalks, underground utility replacement, street repaving, curb construction, signage, tree grates and painting of the old lightpoles and new traffic signals. (Please note that approximately 50 trees will be installed that were donated by individuals.) Another interesting fact; the money for almost all of this project is from the Victoria Sales Tax Development Corporation.

 

 

 

Cost Breakdown on the Main Street and DeLeon Plaza Project:

Demolition of existing curbs and gutters - $313,000

Utility work and installation - $321,000

Paving (curb, gutter, milling, overlay, striping) - $580,000

Sidewalks, curb extensions, and handicap ramps that conform with the Americans with Disabilities Act - $613,000

Signage, tree grates, cleaning, painting - $116,000

Mobilization, barricades, traffic control - $225,000

Traffic median on Main Street and Conti Lane

What we heard... The City is installing a median on Main Street and Conti Lane.

Reality... Not true.

The work at Conti Lane is a Texas Department of Transportation Project (TDOT). That is a state highway and the City does not work on them. It is true there is a median and traffic light being installed there, but not by the City, by TXDOT. For information about this project, call the local TXDOT office at 573-9251.

 

Library has cut back on hours

What we heard... The Library has cut back on its hours open to the public.

Reality... This is true.

Because of the budget reductions this year, the Library is closing early (5:30 p.m.) on Wednesdays. Every City department was asked to make budget cuts and institute a hiring freeze until our local economy improves. Our department directors have done a great job cutting costs and still providing essential services. For current library hours: http://www.victoriapubliclibrary.org/.