McLennan County commissioners Tuesday approved moving $10,000 to a fund designated for costs associated with the May 17 Twin Peaks shootout.
The action was the first time the court shifted funds to that specific line item in the budget.
County Auditor Stan Chambers said commissioners created an item in the budget for Twin Peaks-related expenses during the fiscal year 2016 budget discussions. Chambers said District Attorney Abel Reyna asked for the budget line to be included.
“He wanted to have a separate line item because he was expecting there would be a lot of requests for information,” Chambers said.
There was $1 placeholder in the line item before Tuesday’s approval.
Chambers said the $10,000 has not been allocated to any specific payout. He said Reyna must have the money in the fund before he can start paying for expenses related to the shootout that left nine bikers dead and 20 wounded.
County Judge Scott Felton said it could be the trials that result in the largest expenditure for the county. But everything is still up in the air as the situation moves through the judicial system, he said.
Arrested bikers could plead out, which would cost less for the county, or the trials could be moved to another venue, adding to costs, Felton said. It would be difficult to offer an accurate estimate of what the Twin Peaks shootout ultimately will cost the county, the judge said.
“It’s frustrating because we don’t have an idea,” Felton said.
Amy Kuzniarek, office administrator for the district attorney’s office, said moving $10,000 to the budget line was suggested by Chambers. She said the money has to be in the account to pay for miscellaneous expenses related to the melee.
1st lawsuit bill
The county in late September paid its first lawsuit bill that was a result of the shootout. Commissioners approved paying $16,971.87 to its insurance company, the Texas Association of Counties Risk Management Pool, in a case filed by Hewitt biker Matthew Clendennen, who was among the 177 arrested after the shootout. The lawsuit named the county as a defendant and has since been dismissed.
Clendennen, the owner of a local landscaping business, claimed in his lawsuit he was wrongfully jailed and his business suffered because of his arrest.
County Administrator Dustin Chapman said that is the only lawsuit related to the melee that the county has been named in.
The county must meet a $50,000 deductible before its risk-management pool coverage kicks in.
Chapman said county leaders still are compiling information to apply for $250,000 to $270,000 from the governor’s County Essential Services Program to help cover costs associated with sheriff’s deputies’ overtime and the housing and feeding of inmates after the Twin Peaks melee. Once the information is collected, it will be submitted for review with hopes of assistance from the state.