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January 11, 2017     Hays Free Press
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January 11, 2017
 

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+ HaysFreePress.com January 11, 2017 Page 1D PHOTOS BY SAMANTHA SMITH Above, a group of construction workers busily place the finishing touches on a new hotel that's being built in Buda. Lysa Gonzales, Buda director of tour- ism, said there are currently 12 hotels that are planning to come to Buda soon. Below, Buda Director of Tourism Lysa Gonzales, Police Chief Bo Kidd and Buda Area Chamber of Commerce Managing Director J.R. Gonzales (back row, I-r) lead an inaugural industry roundtable with area hoteliers at the Comfort Suites Hotel in Buda Tuesday. Area hoteliers and Buda chamber meet in inaugural roundtable BY SAMANTHA SMITH news@haysfreepress.com The Buda Area Chamber of Commerce started the New Year offby hosting an inaugural industry round table meeting of all Buda and Kyle area hoteliers Jan. 9. BACC Managing Director J.R. Gonzales gathered together the group of hotel managers and owners to discuss areas of interest or concern. The hope was to address the issues in order to make their businesses more successful. Joining the hoteliers were city staff members along with Buda Police Department chief Bo Kidd. "The goal of the Chamber in 2017 is to reach out to businesses to see what we can do for them so for lack of a better term this is the first industry round table in pursuit of that goal," Lysa Gonzales, Buda director of tourism, said. Lysa Gonzales said there are currently 12 hotels that are planning to come to Buda soon. She said Buda's Economic Development department is also funding a convention center study, which will assess the city~ need for a convention center. The study is projected to be finished in three months. The hoteliers agreed that Buda lacks some features that other cities have in order to attract visitors, such as an amphitheater or a convention center, where large amounts of people would need lodging accommodations. Kidd addressed hoteliers' "We have a total of 12 officers handling around 1,000 calls a month. So when we recognize patterns, we deploy additional resources, but until then, we are short on manpower." -Bo Kidd, Buda Police chief concerns over the recent rash of vehicle burglaries in hotel parking lots. a community grows the crime grows with it," ].R. Gonzales said. Rahi Patel, owner of the Holiday Inn Express, asked Kidd about the decline of regular police patrols at hotels, which was seen as a deterrent for crime. Kidd said the lack of manpower meant a deeper strain on security measures like regular patrols through all hotel parking lots. "We have a total of 12 officers handling around 1,000 calls a month. So when we recognize patterns, we deploy additional resources, but until then, we are short on manpower," Kidd said. Kidd also asked hoteliers to have good quality security cameras in order to prevent crime at their properties. "We do the best we can with what we have," Kidd said, "At the same time some of the things you can do yourselves is have a good security system. Have a video camera, proper lighting, maybe a maintenance man or security guard in the lobby." Kidd also mentioned that vehicle burglaries were prevalent at one Buda hotel, which he attributed to the facility only having one working camera. Kidd also cited an uptick in vehicle burglaries around the holidays in Buda. "Bad guys are going to be looking for soft, easy targets," Gonzales said, "Some respon- sibility may lie with the hotels themselves in either better cameras, communication among staff and other hotels and law enforcement." The round table discussion also identified three areas for the Chamber and the city to work on in the future. Signage, along with proper lawn grooming near hotels were discussed. In addition, hoteliers opted to possibly create a committee to advise council on the maximum number of hotels allowed in Buda at any given time. It was unanimously decided that the Chamber would host a monthly industry round table, in order to foster more communication among lo- cal hoteliers, the city and the chamber. "We're here to help in any way", ].R. Gonzales said. Comptroller releases two-year spending estimate for Legislature STAFF REPORT Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar released the state's Biennial Revenue Estimate (BRE) earlier this week which showed the state is projected to have approximately $104.9 billion in revenue available for general- purpose spending during the 2018-2019 biennium. According to a press release on the comptrollers website, this represents a 2.7 percent decrease from the amounts available for the 2016-17 biennium. The decline is not due to a projected drop in total revenue collections from the 2016-17 biennium to the 2018-19 biennium, according to the release. Hegar is projecting overall revenue growth from the current biennium to the next. A significantly lower beginning balance of $1.5 billion, however, offsets such growth, per the release. In addition, a 2015 voter-approved constitutional provision dedicates up to $5 billion in biennial sales tax revenue to the State Highway Fund (SHF) starting in the 2018-19 biennium to address important transportation infrastructure needs. "Ongoing weakness in activity related to oil and natural gas has been a drag on state economic growth and led to lagging revenue collections in 2016," Hegar said. "Still, the diversity of the Texas economy has allowed for slow but continued economic expansion and steady growth in employment, which we expect to continue over the coming biennium. Texas stands in contrast to other states with large energy industries, many of which have suffered declines in employment and economic output." Sales tax collections make up the state's single largest source of General Revenue- Related (GR-R) revenues. Ultimately, there is $104.9 billion available to the Legislature for general- purpose spending in the next biennium. Following a strong 5.9 percent increase in real gross state product in the 2015 fiscal year, the Texas economy is estimated to have grown by only 0.2 percent in FY 2016. In 2017, the Texas economy is projected to grow by 2.5 percent. That growth rate should increase slightly to 3.0 percent in fiscal 2018 and 3.1 percent in fiscal 2019. Employment growth is expected to be 1.9 percent in fiscal 2018 and 1.7 percent in fiscal 2019, while the state's unemployment rate is expected to remain relatively unchanged at 4.5 percent in both fiscal 2018 and 2019. BIENNIAL REVIEW, 4D i Uii ! i I