Breckenridge Texan

Commissioners officially reinstate burn ban

Commissioners officially reinstate burn ban
April 24
07:20 2018

The county-wide burn ban is officially back on. During their meeting Monday morning, Stephens County Commissioners joined several of the surrounding counties and voted to reinstate the burn ban.

During a phone call Monday afternoon, Breckenridge Fire Chief Calvin Chaney said the area is extremely dry and the fire danger is very high. During the past couple of weeks the fire department has responded to several grass fires, including one on Monday that Chaney had just returned from on FM 717 in the southern part of the county.

The County Commissioners had lifted the burn ban on April 9 with the stipulation that residents had to get permission from the fire department to burn brush. When the situation immediately got out of control, Chaney put a halt to burning in the county on April 10 and again last Tuesday, April 17, because of dangerous high winds and very dry conditions. Between Friday, April 13, and Monday afternoon, April 16, the BFD responded to more than 20 fires, including one that destroyed a barn.

“We were hoping that we were going to get some rain during that ‘100 percent chance of rain’ they gave us, but we didn’t get anything,” he said. “So that’s when they voted to go ahead and put it (fire ban) back on.”

Also during their meeting Monday, commissioners voted to allow the City of Breckenridge to retain the county’s portion of any proceeds they receive from properties that are deeded to the city and then sold at a public property sale. The proceeds will be used to help cover the city’s costs of demolition and disposal of substandard structures around the city.

When a property is deeded to the city because of back taxes or other reasons, the property is sold at a public sale and the revenue from the sale is divided up between the four governmental taxing entities that collect property taxes on that property — the City of Breckenridge, Stephens County, Breckenridge Independent School District and the Stephens Memorial Hospital District.

Because many of the properties include substandard structures that are deemed as unsafe, city crews demolish the structures and haul the debris to the city’s monofill site, which is a specially permitted landfill near the city’s convenience station where debris from the structures can be dumped.

At the meeting, Breckenridge City Manager Andy McCuistion spoke to the county commissioners, explaining that demolishing the substandard structures and removing the debris from those properties is expensive for the city.

“If we don’t clean them up, then nobody is going to clean them,” he said. “We’re trying to get them back on the tax roll. They’re going to sit out there and deteriorate if we don’t.”

McCuistion said that since some of the structures have asbestos in them, city crews that demolish them and remove debris are required to have asbestos training.

Chaney, whose department oversees code enforcement for the city, said it is expensive to test for asbestos on each of the structures, so it’s cheaper for the city to just treat all the structures like they have asbestos. Each structure must be wet down before it is demolished, then wet down again when it’s put in the dump trucks to be hauled off. Then, at the end of the day, any debris that has been dumped in the monofill has to be covered with a layer of dirt.

During the discussion, commissioners told McCuistion and Chaney that county employees could help city crews haul off some of the debris to help speed up cleaning the property around the city. They agreed to look into having the county employees attend required asbestos training so that they can help.

 

Story by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan

Cutline, top photo: Breckenridge City Manager Andy McCuistion talks to county commissioners on Monday about dealing with properties that are deeded to the city and then sold at a public property. The City is asking to keep the proceeds from the sales to help cover the costs of demolition and disposal of the substandard structures. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

 

The proceeds will be used

 

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