Gonzales council questions, scuttles CAD plans


GONZALES — Gonzales County Central Appraisal District (CAD) Chief Appraiser John Liford addressed the Gonzales City Council last week, looking for a vote to continue his efforts to find a new home for his county offices. Council members, however, ultimately decided against the effort by remaining silent.

Liford said that the CAD was looking for land in which to construct a new building for their offices which have become outdated, undersized and are currently for sale by the owner. The current CAD building was built in 1935 and has issues with proper electrical wiring, accessibility, HVAC, as well as not having enough office space for individual, private meetings between staff and property owners, Liford said.

A parcel for a relocation was located on Water St. where Liford said the CAD could construct a 6,000 square foot building that would sufficiently fit their needs. After consulting with three different architects, the cost would be between $1.1-1.46 million for a new building, he said. That would be below the $1.5 million pre-approved loan that they have been offered for construction.

Liford also listed how the city would benefit from approving the move, with more income flowing to city coffers based on new utility taps that the building would use, upwards of $7,200 per year in electricity and $3,000 per year in water and wastewater use.

Since the CAD is a countywide entity that sets appraisals for property, Liford said that he needed 9 out of 12 county taxing entities to agree to the move, per rules outlined in the Texas tax code. The City of Gonzales needed to agree, and the council was not too keen on the idea.

Councilman Dan Blakemore questioned the decision to build new offices while there were empty county-owned buildings awaiting tenants. Liford answered that the old library building would need renovations that were not feasible based on its location, and he was informed by County Judge David Bird that the old county annex was unavailable.

Mayor Connie Kacir asked how the additional space would be utilized, in which Liford responded that he would like a dedicated space for the multitude of filing cabinets the office has and continues to acquire — which need to be in a climate-controlled space — as well as the aforementioned additional office space for the 12 employees.

Councilman Bobby O'Neal asked what the timeline for new construction would be. Liford said that it could be all completed by February if all went according to plan.

Liford said that the property had a CAD value of $91,850 of just over one acre, and the selling price would be $85,000.

After the discussion, Kacir asked for a motion in order to entertain a vote. No member made a motion, and thus the item failed due to lack of action.

When approached for comment yesterday, Liford said that the current relocation proposal has ultimately failed, with four of the 12 taxing entities effectively voting no on the issue. The Nixon-Smiley CISD voted no, and the City of Nixon and Gonzales County commissioners joined Gonzales councilmen in non-votes, which will be a vote of no in the eyes of the tax code after 25 days without action.

However, at Monday's commissioners court meeting, Liford said that commissioners did say that the old county annex was now available after his understanding that it was not available last year. However, Liford said that the annex would require work in order to bring the restrooms into ADA compliance. A new plan would still need approval from the CAD board of directors as well as a fresh round of votes from the taxing entities that Liford just visited.