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Hays Free Press
Kyle, Texas
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September 22, 2010     Hays Free Press
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September 22, 2010
 

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Page 4A THEY REALLY SAID THJ 'Tf ever there was a model of business and ing together and creating infrastru -- U.S. Foodearvlce Austin Division President John Fowler on his corr distribution faclltty near Buda. Officials broke ground for the Hays Fr( government join - ire, this is it." pany's plans for a $50 million project last weak. Press * September 22, 2010 Kyle May( r ver the last six weeks, our | | city council held a series r.~J,, of workshops to prepare Kyle s budget for the upcoming fiscal year. For the first time, our council reviewed the proposed budget line by line, and debated the merits of each proposed expenditure. We spent long hours in workshops discussing various proposals to keep spending as low possible while maintaining Kyle Mayor vital city services for residents and strengthening our police department. I am very proud of my fellow council members for all their hard work and long hours away from their families. As a result, this year we not only increased the size of critical city departments, but also lowered property taxes, further reduced a portion of our city debt, and decreased our dependence on transfers from the utility fund. Less than two months ago, I was warning citizens of an impending tax hike that could be as high as 3 cents (45.39 cents), representing a 7 percent increase over last year's rate of 42.40 cents per $100 property valuation. Even after the council imple- mented cuts totaling $270,000 from our budget, we still found ourselves facing a tax increase. However, at the final budget workshop, which occurred only a week before the council was to take our final vote on the budget, the council agreed to one last very large cost-cutting measure: the council voted to officially abandon plans for a city-funded industrial park. Funds were borrowed in 2008 to pay for the development of the industrial park, but the council decided those funds ($2 million) could be better used to pay down Kyle's debt, consisting of almost $73 million. With less than a week to decide how best to utilize the $2 million, it was not possible to call a spe- cial meeting of the council and comply with the Open Meetings law. So instead, interim city man- ager James Earp, finance officer Wendy Bates and I formulated a plan that would satisfy the ma- jority of the council, be fiscally responsible for both the long and short-term and maintain the lowest possible tax rate for our taxpayers. I want to express my appreciation to James Earp and other staff members who worked throughout the Labor Day holiday to finalize the budget for presentation to the city council. On September 7, the council voted to approve the final budget as presented. Instead of issning new debt this year to fund the infrastructure costs of the new library and construct new side- walks in town, a portion of the $2 million will pay for these proj- ects ($300,000). The remaining funds ($1.7 million) will be used to make interest and principal payments on the 2008 Series Certificates of Obligation over the next four years. This measure significantly dropped the debt portion of the total property tax rate and allowed for a small increase in funding for Opera- tions and Maintenance. These additional funds provided a modest 1.5 percent cost-of-living adjustment for our city employ- ees and decreased the amount transferred from the Utility Fund for the city's operating costs. The city council set a tax rate of 41.54 cents, a 2 percent decrease from last year. I realize this is not a significant reduction in our citizens' tax rate. But in these difficult economic times, we must work to alleviate the financial burdens of our citizens and their families. During a time when many cities are strug- gling with debt, we achieved a modest cut in taxes that also decreased our overall debt. I am proud of our city council and staff for working together during a difficult budgetary process. I feel blessed to serve with this city council and look forward to working with all of them in the future. I am confident we will continue to work together for all the citizens of Kyle - and insure that our city continues to progress. "n just five weeks, local voters will decide whether they want to build .a community college within a few miles of Buda and Kyle. It's time to engage in some serious talk about the merits of the proposal. In a letter to the editor last week, for- mer Hays CISD Board President Bryce Bales outlined his opposition to joining the Austin Commtmity College District and the construction of a branch school On FM 1626 to serve the needs of citi- Zens who reside in our county's largest School district. Bryce was a hard working, energetic and thoughtful leader on our school board during the formative years while the HCISD was doubling and tripling in enrollment. I strongly disagree with Bryce and others, though, who oppose the inclu- sion of our fast growing school district into the ACC system. The newACC school which opened in Round Rock this year has attracted more than 4,000 students - considerably more than anticipated. It's already an economic boost to that community. Voters there embraced the merger by nearly a 60-40 percent margin. A"yes" vote for joining Hays with the ACC district will bring a college campus to FM 1626 about half-way between our towns. And, ACC has purchased nearly 100 acres at the intersection on Kohler's Crossing. Motivation for the election is the result of petitions signed by thousands who like the idea of having a respected community college built in our midst. Led by a group of community lead- ers, including banker Terry Mazurek of Buda and businessman Vince Collier of Kyle, scores of Hays parents and voting age college students signed petitions seeking consolidation of the Kyle-Buda area into the ACC district. Chamber of Commerce support has been virtu- ally unanimous and scores of families, whose children now attend one of the Austin campuses, support the consoli- OFCABBAGES dation. A big influence in support for ACC is the location of Seton Hospital in Kyle, a spectacular addition to the quality of life here. We've now got the best hospital in Hays County- no ifs, ands or buts. After almost a year of operation, Seton has proven to be the biggest asset to our area since Kyle and Buda folks decided 40 plus years ago to bury their animosities and consolidate two strug- gling school districts into a top notch system. In the last year we have welcomed the addition of many new doctors with many different specialties. An extra bonus has been technicians, nurses and support staffwho have added depth and talent to our communities. Through the past year we have discovered that these new citizens are generally well paid and great assets to our area, particular those who bought or rented homes and became part of our inner core. Their talent and com- mitment to this area have provided an added, unexpected economic boost to both Buda and Kyle. A surprising number of these new- comers are graduates of community colleges; their income level is consider- ably higher than that of many of our younger citizens who have entered honorable but less well paid trades. Quite frankly, they are icing on the cake that is already pretty tasty. Local folks who specialize in the dispensation of gloom warn that the Travis County college district folks want to engnif us solely for economic gain. That's not true. A good "deal" is, of course, beneficial to both sides, per- haps, but I am convinced our commu- nities will be the biggest winners if this merger is approved. Economically, this area has had a good 10 year nm of growth in popula- tion and new businesses, before the recent downturn. The cRunty road bond that passed two years ago, largely on the votes of residents of the IH-35 cor- ridor, have greatly improved our traffic problems and as soon as the state gets its act together, large improvements on FM 1626 will be enacted. We have, through close cooperation with county and state government, decreased our mobility problems. A broader spectrum of folks, including an overwhelming majority of chamber of commerce members and business leaders, see similar educational im- provements onour part in this merger, plus lower tuition rates for attending a locally based community college. If we vote yes on this matter we will get a branch of th9 college located in all of our backyards. Senior citizens will pay little or no taxes for the school, since the first $105,000 of a home will be exempt from the community college tax, which will be slightly more than 9 cents (the same as we all pay for the separate fire and EMS district). A campus within a few miles of our population center will be a big- ger economic boost than a dozen big box stores can provide. Commercial and residential areas within a sizeable radius will see boosts in the valuation of their properties, and that sort of activity raises all ships. There are some folks among us who have given up on our collective ability to continue to improve the quality of life for our citizens. I am convinced a ma- jority of us in this minute section of the globe don't subscribe to that viewpoint. It's a win-win situation. Vote YES on the proposal to build a community col- lege within Hays CISD. bob@haysfmepress.com LETTERS TO THE EDITOR LE'rrER FROM THE CANDIDATE On Tuesday, September, 28th, the Hays Cotmty Commissioners Court will vote on next year's county budget. If this budget passes, it will mark the third time in four years that the com- missioners court has raised taxes. It will also mark another selfish pay raise for elected officials. During this economic recession, the commissioners court should not balance the budget on the backs of tax- payers. The responsible alternative is to cancel the pay raise for elected officials and hold spending in check. I was honored to accompany many concerned citizens at a recent budget hearing. I was dismayed at the out-of- much rationale of Commissioner Jeff Barton, the foremost apologist for the tax hike. Mr. Barton seems to think that county government is entitled to as much tax money as it wants. As citizen after citizen spoke of financial hard- ships from the recession, Mr. Barton continued to defend his tax hike. A tax hike may pose no problem for Mr. Barton. He has repeatedly voted for tax hikes and just raised his own taxpayer-funded salary by more than $8500. But I disagree with Mr. Barton. Hays County deserves fiscal responsibil- ity, now more than ever. If you share my concern over these repeated tax hikes and elected official pay raises, please join me in making your voice heard one last time before the upcoming budget vote. We will rally outside of the county courthouse on Tuesday, September 28th, at 12:00 noon, to demand better. Bert Cobb San Marcos (Editor's Note: Commissioners'pay is scheduled to increase.from $65,048 to $66,349, an increase of $1,301. Commis- sioners Debbie Gonzales-Ingalsbe, Jeff Barton and Karen Ford have all declined the increase.) A WONDERFUL GIFT SHARED I was thoroughly moved by Brenda Stewart's '~, short walk down a long path" in your August 11, 2010, issue. During my recent trip to Washington, D.C., I visited the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, the Washing- ton Monument, Arlington National Cemetery and the nearby Marine Corps Memorial- also known as the Iwo Jima Statue, and, for about the eighth time, the Viet Nam Wall. And, as ever, I had a hard time clearing up after walking the whole length. As I walked down into the earth and began to view the names, I looked- as I always do - for"Burt Mc- Cord," the little brother of a high school classmate. He died very soon after he arrived over there in the quagmire. And it was such a waste! His father ran a ser- vice station two blocks from our house, and he was teaching Burt all the differ- ent kinds of work that a manager must do to run a service station. And all that teaching and learning was lost inViet Nam. After I visited with Burt, I moved on down and left the memorial. The over-whelming emotions de- scribed and suggested by Ms. Stewart were quickly and easily recognized by me as poignant experiences shared by Ms. Stewart, myself, and all of the other visitors. What a wonderful gift Maya Lin, the young 21-year-old Chinese architect who de.;igned the Wall, gave to us! Lem Londos Railsback YNC-USMCR&USNR-RET; O.S.M. Laredo ES.: We should remember that the 58,195 names on the Wail are those that we know about for sure. There were others. WHERE ARE YOU, BOBBY? I attended the Austin - San Antonio Growth Corridor summit last Friday in New Braunfels. Henry Cisneros spoke on the need for our corridor to work together for thoughtful growth. He made it a point to introduce all of the mayors present within this corridor and made the case on the importance of a combined vision for the region for a strong mutual economic development. Buda Mayor, Bobby Lane, was not in attendance again. I have not seen him present at any of the "envision" sum- mits. Does he not see the need or does he simply not care? Lynne Connellee Buda FROM THE "Until we get more 'bang for our buck', we need to stop throwing money at education -- it,s obvi- ously not working. And this is true at every level of schooling. How is it that prtvate schools and some charter schools can better educate our children at a much lower cost than our beloved public schools?" -- Bill, on ACC's proposed annexation, at hayfreepreee. com "It becomes a precarious situation when a society no longer values education. There is no form of formal educa- tion that can survive without funding. Without a doubt, there am problems with our public schools. Them am many examples of poor decision with money, but that is a matter of leadership. You want a mason for poor returns that doesn't involve money? You need to look no further than the Texas State Board of Education." -- Jose Milan on ACC's proposed annexation, at haysfreeprees.com MANAGEMENT BARTON PUBLICATIONS, INC. Co-Publishers Bob Barton and Cyndy Slovak-Barton Office Manager Connie Brewer business@haysfmepress.com NEWS ROOM Editor Brad Rollins brad@haysfreepmss.com Staff Reporters Jennifer Biundo Sean Kimmons Kay Richter School Reporter Jim Cullen Community Reporters Sandra Grizzle Myrtle Heideman Pauline Tom Brenda Stewart Sports Editor Jason Gordon ~ports Reporter Mark Caul Columnists Bob Barton Bartee Haile Phil Jones Svea Sauer Clint Younts Donn Brooks John Young Brenda Stewart Darryl Jamail Proofreaders Jane Kirkham Brenda Stewart ADVERTISING Tracy Mack tracy@haysfreepress.com CIRCULATION Circulation Mgr Suzanne Haliam paper@haysfreepmss.com CLASSIFIEDS Suzanne Hallam paper@haysfmepmss.com Distribution Gigi Hayes Carolyn Harkins Pete Sizemom PRODUCTION Production Mgr David White Assistant Designer Jorge J. Garcia Jr. Hays County Commissioner Jeff Barton is a minority owner of the Hays Free Press Contact Us: HaysFreaPmss.com news@haysfreepmss.com business@haysfreepress.com BUDA 512-295-9760 KYLE 512-268-7862 METRO AUSTIN 512-262-6397 www.haystreepress.com q~ .... 1"" H/'TIIIII~IBIIIIIMIIII~N Ilfhlm~Tmr IT Ill -I I' lit nf~nr r n r' r ,1111 IIl~lllilllla, I1 v. n le,r r - ir~,~ tr,* dl~l*lllnl~tlnlllfltel,llh rra,~l,O.~'l I~. ~"~,.~.~'ml,rlrrm~~~~ ......