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Letter to the Editor
Wednesday, December 25, 2013 • Posted December 27, 2013 • Updated December 27, 2013 9:28 AM

Dear Editor,

This year Llano City Council budgeted $20,000 to fund a new program to help people clean up their property.

It works something like this: you contact the City Manager and let him know you need assistance removing a large amount of trash from your property. The City Manager decides if you qualify, and if you do he sends over a dumpster or two for you to fill. Then the city hauls away the dumpsters and empties them. And you don’t pay a dime for any of it.

City documents show that two dumpsters (or 80 yards) cost upwards of $700.

Llano City Council member Mike Hazel is one of the first to take advantage of the new program.

In a letter to Mr. Hazel, City Manager Brenton Lewis says “As you are aware, the City of Llano has begun a new program of assisting property owners in cleaning up their property ... I would like to congratulate you on your plans ... I am also pleased to inform you that the City will pay the cost of removal of debris to not exceed 80 yards.”

Mr. Hazel’s business, Hazel Properties Inc., used the city program to dispose of a frame home that he tore down on the same block where he has already built and sold five spec houses in recent years.

It hardly seems right that the tax payers of Llano should be subsidizing an Alderman’s private real estate development business.

Nor is it right that a Councilman should vote to approve budgetary items and then reap financial gain from those items.

John Ferguson

Llano, Texas

Editor’s Note: After receiving this letter, we asked the City about the new program. According to City Manager Brenton Lewis, it was discussed during budget workshops and added to the budget as a $20,000 line item for clean up. The budget is not specific, and guidelines for the program have not yet been established. According to Lewis, “it is only open to all citizens and/or property owners within the City limits of Llano.” In addition to the budget line item, City Council passed Ord. 1259 at the Oct. 7 meeting, which allows the city to assess a $1.03 fee for all customers who use the city’s solid waste collection service. The fee goes to fund the $20,000 program.

The program started on Nov. 1, and in addition to Mike Hazel, Dennis Masterson has also been approved for the benefit. General guidelines are based on: if a building has been identified as a possible condemnation structure, the amount of material, the cost to the City if the city has to demolish vs. the property owner providing the labor, if a property owner states they will have the nuisance abated within one or two weeks or on a monthly schedule, and the City weighs each clean up on its on facts, and determines the route to take for the least cost to the City.

“Since each situation is different, citizens may approach the city with their plans to abate nuisances and demolish dilapidated buildings,” said Lewis.

For more information regarding this program and to see if your project qualifies, contact Eugene Long, Shawn Sutton or Brenton Lewis at 325-247-4158.

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