County Press Editor
REFUGIO – After a closed session with County Attorney Todd Steele, county commissioners agreed to pursue a universal fee for eight-liners that would mean cooperation with the cities in the county.
The Refugio County Commissioners Court came to the consensus at a workshop on Friday morning, April 5.
Commissioners also learned what the county’s jurisdiction was: what it could do and what it could not do.
County Judge Rene Mascorro said the county does not have the authority to prohibit establishments that are game rooms or amusement centers.
However, he noted that the establishments are legal businesses the county can set regulations and fees to abide by.
He added that the county has no zoning, so it cannot require the businesses to be in certain locations.
Mascorro suggested that the county set fees in line with the cities’s fees. All would have to agree on the same fee per eight-liner.
Currently, Woodsboro is amending its ordinance to set the fee at $1,000 per eight-liner.
The city of Refugio has set the fee at $500 per machine.
Bayside and Austwell have no ordinances that set fees for the machines. The cities also do not have game rooms.
However, Bayside Mayor Ken Dahl said his town may consider such an ordinance and adopt the uniform fee.
Mayor Rey Jaso said he would present the idea of a uniform fee to the Refugio City Council.
Mayor George Hernandez of Woodsboro also agreed to a uniform fee.
“That way, no community is given the advantage,” Hernandez said.
Commissioners Ann Lopez, Stanley Tuttle, Gary Bourland and Rodrigo Bernal all agreed the uniform fee was a good idea.
Also, all elected officials at the workshop agreed that eight-liners are a law enforcement problem if the law is being broken.
Refugio County Sheriff Robert Bolcik said he sent a letter to all the game rooms, notifying them that they have 30 days to comply with the law.
“After 30 days, we will be actively investigating,” he said.
Bolcik said he wanted to respect Refugio’s and Woodsboro’s police departments. He said if the cities need help from the sheriff’s office, he would be glad to provide it. Otherwise, he would take care of those establishments outside city limits.
Bolcik also said he was reviewing his employee policy manual.
Refugio Police Chief Andy Lopez Jr. noted that he had revised his policy manual and has implemented the changes for a couple of months.
"Any kind of conduct that reflects negatively is detrimental to the city and is not allowed," he said.
He said his department’s officers should set a good example by not participating in any kind of gambling.
“The main word here is ‘legal,’” said Commissioner Bourland.
“If they step out of bounds, then they need to be squashed,” Bourland added.