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IRS moves to foreclose on Bradley house

Thursday, May 5, 2005 by

Government seeks Circle C home Bradley deeded to cousin

The Internal Revenue Service has sued former millionaire and local developer Gary Bradley, along with his cousin, to help satisfy Bradley’s $5 million tax bill. If the government wins the lawsuit, the IRS will be able to foreclose on a house in Circle C Ranch that the developer transferred to J. Robert Bradley, his cousin, at the end of 2000, according to court documents.

The IRS claims that Bradley owes back taxes for 1994, 1996 and 2001. According to the lawsuit, Bradley transferred the house at 5016 Tiger Lily Way to his cousin without payment. Such a transfer could be fraudulent, as the government alleges, because Bradley was insolvent at the time. The government says in its suit that the transfer to J. Robert Bradley was done " to delay and candor Bradley's creditors, " particularly the IRS.

Alternatively, the IRS says, even if the transfer of the house was not fraudulent, it is not allowed under state law because Bradley’s cousin is an insider and knew or should have known that Bradley was insolvent.

In February, Bankruptcy Judge Frank Monroe dismissed a suit filed by the Bradley estate’s trustee, against J. Robert Bradley, “to recover fraudulent transfer.” If the trustee had won that suit, the property would have gone into the estate. The judge also ruled that the IRS would be free to collect taxes owed from “assets that are not property of his estate.”

Bradley filed his Chapter 7 bankruptcy case in mid-2002. The bankruptcy court took action more than a year ago to allow the government to file liens on Bradley’s property. The government filed a notice of tax liens last year, so this action likely has not surprised the Bradleys. Joe Martinec, Gary Bradley’s bankruptcy attorney, did not return a call for comment.

Erosion, floods, water quality costly for city

Committee cites need for $800 million to resolve problems

Watershed problems in the City of Austin are pervasive, and will cost $800 million to resolve over the next 40 years. That was the message last night to the city’s Environmental Board as the Watershed Protection and Development Review department presented its master plan for remedying the situation.

Jean Drew with the WPDR’s Citizen Advisory Committee presented the group’s findings, developed over several months of work. Michael Ihnat, manager of the WPDR, also presented his department’s Annual Report, highlighting major projects in the areas of water quality, flood and erosion control, among others.

Drew told the board that flooding and erosion are the major problems facing the city, along with the loss of water quality. “Given enough money, we can eliminate most of the flooding and erosion problems,” she told the board. “Water quality is a more difficult problem. The goal of attainment in these areas is very expensive, and adequate funding is critical to the plan’s success.”

She noted that many areas of the city are still prone to flooding in a heavy rainstorm from rising creeks, saying that statistics show a two-year storm creates structure flooding in 14 of the 17 watersheds identified in the Phase I master plan. “In fact, more than 7,000 homes and businesses are in the 100-year floodplain,” Drew said. “This is a serious public safety issue.”

Erosion along creek banks in the city’s watersheds is also a major problem, she said, noting that there are 500 structures currently threatened. City staff has studied erosion data, and has developed a map showing the potential for channel expansion of the city’s urban creeks. “ Walnut Creek is the most troublesome,” she said. “Our data show that almost all of the Walnut Creek Watershed shows a high or very high probability of doubling its channel in the future. We have some programs in place now, but the overall erosion control program is hurt by a lack of resources.”

Water quality programs are in the same boat, she said, noting that urbanization has led to the degradation of habitat, creek biology, and increases in pollution loads. “We’ve all seen the projections for future development in Austin,” Drew said. “Our projections show that the pollutant load for Town Lake will grow 60 percent by the year 2040 if we do not fund and execute this plan.”

Board Member Phil Moncada commented that he would like to see the city get data on how entities like the Texas Department of Transportation and the University of Texas, which are also major builders in the city, are affecting the city’s water quality. “It’s very troublesome to me,” he said. “They build in the inner city but we have no idea just what the impact is on our waterways.”

Projected costs to resolve the city’s problems are between $300 million and $500 million for buyouts, detention ponds and channel modifications for creek flooding; $100 million to $300 million for storm drain installation, repair and replacement; at least $150 million for bank stabilization projects, and at least $250 million for integrated ponds to improve water quality and erosion problems.

Drew said the $800 million needed for the projects works out to $20 million a year over the next 40 years. “Based on our current operating budget, we project a $2 to $5 million annual shortfall in dealing with this.”

The plan proposes a package of general obligation bonds, revenue bonds, drainage utility fees, developer participation fees and grants and loans for projects that qualify to pay for the plan.

In his annual report, Ihnat listed the department’s key accomplishments, including several awards for city projects and some major steps forward on environmental projects.

“We are particularly proud that the Grow Green landscaping outreach program won the 2004 Texas Environmental Excellence Award for Education,” he said. “In addition, the TCEQ and city won an EPA grant to adapt and promote the Grow Green program in five major communities around the state. The city will benefit greatly from the advertising program that will go along with this. “

Ihnat also noted that his department, in conjunction with the Parks and Recreation Department, has been working on the design and construction phase of the Salamander Research Facility, located at the Austin Nature and Science Center. “We should have the main building completed in about a month or so,” he said. “There will still be a lot of work inside the building, constructing tanks and laboratory systems, so I think everything will be up and running in early 2006.”

He also noted that the Salamander Research Program recently completedhabitat restoration on Eliza Spring, one of the sites in Zilker Park that is home to the endangered Barton Springs salamander. “The restoration has resulted in a dramatic increase in the salamander population in that area,” he said. “Prior to the work, our average count in that area was 9.9 salamanders. Now there are hundreds living in the improved habitat.”

One other highlight was the hydrilla weed eradication program on Lake Austin. “We were showing about 240 acres of hydrilla infestation early last year,” he said. “We added about 8,000 grass carp to the lake, and in combination with a large flood event, that area was cut to 83 acres in December of last year. Following the lowering of the lake earlier this year, we were measuring less than two acres of hydrilla.”

The WPDR’s Watershed Master Plan and Annual Report can be found on the department’s website at http:// www.ci.austin.tx.us/watershed.

©2005 In Fact News, Inc. All rights reserved.

Gas tax rider . . . Rep. Dawnna Dukes (D-Austin) attached an amendment for a local gas tax election to House Bill 3540 on Wednesday. The bill, if it passes the Senate, would give the Central Texas region the right to vote to use a local gas tax to alleviate the region’s tolls. Each county in the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization—Hays, Travis and Williamson—would have to approve the gas tax, which could be anywhere between 3 cents and 10 cents . . . Cinco de Mayo events . . . A joint Travis County/City of Austin celebration of Cinco de Mayo will begin at 11am today at Wooldridge Park. The celebration will include food booths, mariachis, and folklorico dancers from McCallum High School until 2pm. The Parque Zaragosa Recreation Center, which is celebrating its 9th Anniversary, 2608 Gonzales Street, will have its own party . . . Members of the delegation from Saltillo, Coahuila, Mexico Austin’s sister city, are making their annual visit to Austin. After a morning discussion of commerce, culture and other topics, they will visit the Cinco de Mayo celebration at Wooldridge Square. After that, they will return to City Hall to have lunch with Mayor Will Wynn . . . Also today, the Planning Commission will hold a special meeting at 8am for training purposes . . . There is no City Council meeting today. The Council will return next week . . . Art talk tonight . . . The Austin Museum of Art downtown presents Conversations on Collecting, an informal gallery talk led by Director Dana Friis-Hansen, highlighting various works on display at the museum’s current exhibition Color/Pattern/Grid. Sixteen Austin collectors and ten Texas artists will share anecdotes about collecting art and discuss their artworks on view in the exhibition. The talk is free with admission to the museum from 7-8:30pm tonight. The current exhibition features artists such as modern masters Paul Gauguin, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Alexander Calder, Joseph Albers, Joan Mitchell, Robert Rauschenburg, and Andy Warhol; renowned contemporary artists Sol LeWitt, Christo, Chuck Close, Jenny Holzer, Jim Hodges, Leonardo Drew, and Gajin Fujita; well-known Texas aritsts Bert Long, Jesús Morales, Liz Ward, Charles Mary Kubricht, The Art Guys, Trenton Doyle Hancock, and Lordy Rodriguez; plus many Austin artists, such as Michael Ray Charles, Margo Sawyer, Steve Wiman, Virginia Fleck, Gabel Karsten, Brad Tucker, and Faith Gay . . . Political parties . . . City Council candidates and their supporters will be at a variety of places on election night to await the results. Place 4 incumbent Betty Dunkerley and Place 1 candidate Lee Leffingwell will be at Hill’s Café, 4700 South Congress Ave., starting at around 8pm . . . Place 4 candidate Wes Benedict’s party, dubbed as the " Take That Toll And Shove It Party" starts when the polls close at 7pm at JC's Steakhouse at 5804 N I H 35 (290 & I-35). Some other candidates may be at the same location . . . Place 1 candidate Andrew Bucknall will host a party at his home, 1207 Greenwood Ave . . . Place 3: Jennifer Kim and campaign volunteers will be at the South Congress Café, 1600 S. Congress . . . Margot Clarke and her friends will be at Threadgill’s, 6416 N. Lamar . . . Mandy Dealey and friends will be at Serrano’s at Symphony Square on Red River. . . Gregg Knaupe’s party will be at his campaign headquarters on the 11th Floor of Wells Fargo Building on 15th Street. In Fact Daily will be monitoring the election from the County Clerk’s Office on Airport Blvd. and visiting the candidates at various locations.

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