Gonzales County commissioners tabled action Monday, July 25, on giving a $138,202.48 royalty check to Nixon-Smiley CISD until they can determine what needs to be done to transfer the property into the school district’s name once and for all.
Gonzales County had received the royalty check from EOG Resources for a one-acre piece of property located east of Farm-to-Market Road 108 and south of U.S. 87 near Smiley and towards Westhoff.
Nixon-Smiley CISD Superintendent Jeff VanAuken and board member Bud Box told commissioners the property was originally surveyed in 1910 or 1911 and was given to the county “for the specific use of the school district.”
“When the Smiley school district consolidated with Nixon, we picked up several of these little tracts of land and that comes under the umbrella of the Nixon-Smiley school district,” Box said. “EOG did the research for us and found the acreage and there was a check for $138,000 that was for a few years accumulation of royalties on the property. The appraisal district is saying we should be the owner of that property, so we’re just asking that we get the royalty revenues from that property.”
Both County Auditor Becky Weston and Tax Assessor-Collector Crystal Cedillo said the deed information on the parcel of land lists Gonzales County as the owner, though it was indeed given to the county to generate money for the former Smiley school district.
“The Angus well (the producing well which generated the royalties) is tied tov property the county owns that was donated to the county for the use of the school,” Weston said. “In turn, the county needs to donate or gift the land to the school. The land belongs to Gonzales County right now because it was donated to us.”
County Judge Pat Davis said he believes the land was placed in the care of the county judge because the county government was more “established” and thought to be more permanent than school districts, many of which consolidated or disbanded because they struggled to maintain funding.
Cedillo reminded commissioners that “if there's production on the property and the appraisal district has value for that production, and it's under Gonzales County, you're gonna get taxes for the minerals and it doesn't matter if you're tax exempt.
“We pay taxes on minerals,” Cedillo added. “So if you're giving that money to another entity, you're paying taxes on those minerals, so you're going to pay a tax bill. The county will need to be reimbursed for any taxes it pays on the property if it is donated to the school.”
Precinct 4 Commissioner Collie Boatright, in whose precinct the well is located, said, “I think there's no question as far as the money is for the benefit of the school. It's just a matter of how we appropriate it and take care of the tax, but we should give the property to the school district and get it corrected. I think we just need to table this until we can get the details worked out so we can get the money where it needs to be.”
“We need to have a title company look at it and research it and make sure we don’t get hammered on this,” suggested Precinct 2 Commissioner Donnie Brzozowski.
In other action Monday, commissioners voted to:
• Ordered the Nov. 8 general election.
• Approved an updated interlocal agreement with the City of Smiley regarding radios to be funded through American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for the Smiley Volunteer Fire Department.
• Authorized advertising for qualifications for engineering services to build a maintenance shop and new office for Precinct 1 Commissioner to replace the old house building currently being used that can no longer meet the department’s needs.
• Adopted the annual Special Vehicle Inventory Tax and Chapter 19 budgets as well as the Tax Assessor-Collector’s annual report for fiscal 2021-22.