Comal County Judge Sherman Krause says the county’s gearing up for the summer tourist season and will provide law enforcement for Water-Oriented Recreation District and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
In a live-stream interview on NB Today May 23, Krause told New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung’s David Compton that in addition to honoring contracts with these groups, Comal County’s road department is standing by, ready to fix potholes and remove tree limbs and objects from roadways.
But tourism is just part of what the county must manage in the months ahead.
Comal County remains the second fastest-growing county — of any size — in the United States.
More People Mean More Crime
As county commissioners begin the budget process for 2019, Krause said they’re taking a hard look at the need for additional law enforcement, jail space, courtrooms, judges and prosecutors.
“Any time you start talking about spending additional taxpayer dollars over what you’re spending now by adding infrastructure or adding new employees to take care of that problem, you’re talking about spending more money, taking more money from taxpayers, and that’s always difficult things to do,” he said.
Construction already is underway for the new Comal County jail. Piers are being drilled for the foundation. In less than six weeks, the slab will be poured.
Interior demolition has begun in the Comal County Courthouse, which used to be a bank building. Vaults must be removed.
“It’s exciting to see that,” Krause said. “If you walk into that building today, it looks so much different than it did two or three weeks ago.”
Additional courtroom space will be added to the Landa Building, also under renovation.
The county needs more judges. But even if the upcoming Texas legislature decides not to add another county court-at-law judge and/or a new district judge, existing judges still need courtroom space.
Krause said having more courtrooms would allow judges to process cases a little faster than they are now.
Where Does Water Go?
Water supplies are a concern, although not a responsibility of county government, Krause said.
But stormwater runoff is another issue facing Comal County. New buildings and parking lots force rainwater onto neighboring properties.
Need for More Local Control
But the biggest issue Comal County faces is gaining local control over controversial projects like Vulcan Quarry, a proposed 1,500-acre rock-crushing plant at SH 46 and FM 3009, between Bulverde and New Braunfels, that’s ringed by rapidly growing subdivisions.
He said politicians who do have zoning authority in Washington D.C. or Austin don’t understand the needs of local authorities and jurisdictions. County governments only have authority granted to them by the state legislature.
“The idea is to allow a lot more of that decision-making to occur on the local level,” Krause said.
Comal County’s asked the state to give it more control for the last 20 years.
“As the growth continues, obviously we have a bigger need for controlling things, with growth being one of them,” he said.
“There are a lot of residents that live out there that don’t want a quarry as their neighbor.”