Hays County Commissioners Court Moves Forward With Capes Dam Preservation Proposal, Discusses New Voting Machines

Staff Reports

This morning, Hays County Commissioners held their regular meeting to discuss the latest step in the process for the preservation of Capes Dam and new voting equipment.

Commissioners discussed and approved with a 4-1 vote a professional services agreement with Vista Planning and Design for the development of a proposal for the preservation of Capes Dam. County Judge Ruben Becerra voted no.

The Hays County Historical Commission expressed interest in being involved in the creation of a conceptual master plan, according to the agenda, to preserve the 150-year old structure.

The commission identified funds in its general fund operating budget to cover the $5,187.50 contract with Vista.

Hays County Historical Commission Chair, Kate Johnson, said the proposal would include a diagram or map of the addition of parking, trails, picnic tables and markers noting the environment and history of the area for Stokes Park and Thompson’s Island.

“We continue to have ongoing discussions with the City of San Marcos regarding the future of Capes Dam and how we partner together to ensure the best possible outcome,” Commissioner Debbie Ingalsbe-Gonzales said. “And we’ll continue to have those conversations with them as Ms. Johnson stated, this is the creation of a conceptual plan just to see what that might look like.”

Ingalsbe said the county would also continue the conversation about the potential transfer of ownership of the property to the county, but this was the first step in having those conversations ongoing.

Becerra said he has supported the preservation of the dam for several years; however, he did not believe the county should be spending money on the property while the City of San Marcos still owned it.

According to staff, the proposal could potentially help the county in their future potential grant applications and other funding sources.

Commissioners also held a workshop with Hart Intercivic and ES & S to exhibit both certified vendors and their respective hybrid voting solutions.

Both companies provided commissioners with a presentation regarding their project.

The acquisition of new election equipment was first discussed in 2017; legislative changes have been made to allow the use of hybrid machines in the Countywide Polling place program under the Attorney General Opinion KL-0170.

The opinion allows Hays County to consider the recommendation of the previously assembled committee to purchase a hybrid system that will provide a paper back-up of a voter’s record that the voter can verify before casting their ballot.

Both vendors were allotted 30 minutes to provide commissioners with their presentation and answer any questions from the court.  

In other news, commissioners held a discussion and voted 5-0 to authorize the Hays County Clerk’s office to re-structure personnel, including regrading positions and adding additional staff and equipment.

The restructure is projected to cost the county $67,359. The restructure will allow for the office to hire four new staff members to help with the new County-Court-At-Law and to reorganize staff and regrade a couple of the senior positions.


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