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January 20, 2010     Hays Free Press
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Page 6A NEWS Hays Free-Press January 20, 2010 Buda Bonds: Council debates quality, of life and wants vs. needs Continued from pg. 1A share a ballot with an ordinance seeking to pull the Hays CISD into the Austin Community  College taxing district and add another 9.46 cents to the tax rate. Councilmembers instructed Buda City Manager Kenneth Williams to seek out citizen in- put on the potential bond proj- ects. "I think it's important that we solicit input from residents on the various projectS we're considering for a possible bond election," said Councilmember Cathy Chilcote. "We need to know, what do you want, and what do you want to pay for?" One proposed project in the bond package would quadruple the size of Buda City Park, ex- panding it north and west from its current 12 acres to nearly 50 acres. Phase I, estimated to cost about $4.9 milli.on, would add the additional, acreage, hooking into the lower campus of Buda Elementary, along with addi- tional parking, a fishing pond and a trail around Onion Creek. Phase II, with an estimated $5 million price tag, could add a swimming pool, skate park, amphitheater and more park- ing. Chilcote said she's concerned about the high price tag to con- struct and maintain a munici- pal swimming pool, but said she thought citizens would sup- port other elements of the park expansion. "I think we've waited a long time to see that park become what it could be," Chflcote said. "I don't want to wait any lon- ger." The Buda Parks Commission began working on the concept plan in 2003 and approved the draft in early 2008. Tenorio said she'd like to see the plans revis- ited. "Once the plans get a few years old they out to be pulled off the shelf, looked at and freshened up based on the changes of the population," Tenorio said. For example, with an amphi- theater recently built in Stage- coach Park, one might not be needed in City Park, Tenorio said. Additionally, the city may decide it can't afford to take on the operations cost of a swim- ming pool. However, the city may decide to add a feature such a disc golf. "Those are the kinds of things I want to look at and update," Tenorio said. Councilmembers largely supported one of the smaller options in the bond package, a $300,000 sidewalk and bridge leading along Main Street to the newly constructed Stagecoach Park. The city's library could also get a boost from the bond pack- age. The current library; built in 1993, occupies 5,200 square feet. Plans call for expanding the facility on its current site to 15,000 square feet, or con- structing a new 26,000 square foot library. "I really look forward to hav- ing a new library with all of the resources people need so we don't have to drive down to the San Marcos Library," Chilcote said. The city esnates it would cost $5 million to expand on its current site, $8-million to build a new facility on donated land or $11 to purchase land and build. Councilmembers said they would want to keep any new library site in a central and pedestrian-friendly location. "Theresa lot of reasons why expanding the current loca- tion doesn't make good sense, and dollars and cents is one of them," said Councilmember Ron Fletcher. Tenorio said she would like to see the county float a library bond package, similar to a parks bond package approved by citi- zens in 2008. In the last two years, the number of library patrons has jumped from 54,000 to 70,000, but about 65 percent of library patrons live outside the city On Hold?: Projects once approved, now reviewed Continued from pg. 1A ates increasingly protest large government spending pro- grams. But Sumter's colleagues, including Democratic Party primary foe leffBarton, the Pct. 2 commissioner, say the judge's recent actions on spending don't withstand scrutiny. "Of course we should be vigi- lant but at this point there is no evidence that there is reason to be concerned" about the coun- ty's revenue projections, Bar- ton said. ,It's kind of silly to tell people the sky is falling when we don't even have Chicken Little's word for it yet." The commissioners court has scheduled a Jan. 26 work- shop on capital improvement projects and the longterm fi- nancial outlook. At Barton's prodding this week in court, Sumter said she had not yet invited Hays Central Appraisal District officials to testify about the outlook for property valu- ations. He cited this later as evidence that the judge has no intention of facilitating a meanfhgful examination of the issues she raises. He also criticized as "theat- rical" the judge's use of figures she asked financial adviser Specialized Public Finance Inc. to run that seemed to show a 3.76 cent tax increase next year to pay for government center. Those numbers did not ac- count for 4.5 cents built into the tax rate, a program started more than five years ago, spe- cifically to pay for the govern- ment center. "We had votes and a great deal of discussion all through the summer and fall about these issues. The time to object was long ago. You can't have your cake and eat it too. You can't be for projects in front of certain groups and against them in front of other certain groups and for them at certain times and against them at cer- tain times," Barton said.. ,. He pointed also to the judge's stated advocacy of a new jail, estimated to cost $50-60 mil- lion, while Barton and others have pressed to renovate the existing jail at a fraction of the cost. The county has commit- ted $2.2 million to jail reno- vations and studies of the jail facility and criminal justice system. Barton said, "It's a frustrating diversion because we have a lot of work on our plate and a lot of real issues to address and now we're going back and it's very difficult to understand the ra- tionale for this little three-ring circus." limits and don't pay municipal property tax. "There's nothing wrong with that, unless you ask the citizens of Buda to issue a significant amount of debt to subsidize people outside city limits," Ten- orio said. The initial wish list for the bond package also includes about $25 million in road and drainage improvements throughout the city, though that entire amount might not make it on the bond ballot. "That would definitely be pri- oritized and broken down into different types of work," Wtl- liams said. "I anticipate what- ever council considers in the future would be a much smaller amount than that." The road projects could in- clude a new street connecting Goforth Road to Cabela's Drive, preserving access to north- bound IH-35 once the inter- state access road goes one-way. Another $12 million could go to street, drainage and sidewalk improvements in the old down- town. "Our road and drainage sys- tem needs repair," said Buda Mayor Bobby Lane. "The drought has really tom up our streets." Wdliams said the city is look- ing at options for soliciting citi- zen input on the projects in the months leading up to placing the proposed projects on the ballot. "I think citizens are looking for quality of life issues that relate to health and safety," Chilcote said. "This will be the perfect opportunity for people to pick and choose what is more important to their life." Now Open in Buda! 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