With a public hearing and approval action for the fiscal year 2022-23 budget on the horizon, Dripping Springs City Council held an Aug 2. meeting to workshop the proposal. The council also heard a presentation from the Dripping Springs Visitors Bureau and passed a short consent agenda with several items concerning construction projects.

Talking tourism

First up on council's Aug 2. agenda was a report from Pam Owens, Dripping Springs Visitors Bureau president and CEO, about the state of tourism in the city and the bureau's priorities going forward.

The visitors bureau is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting tourism in Dripping Springs.

Investment in marketing the city's tourist attractions will continue to be a priority for the visitors bureau, according to Owens' report. Some of the attractions included in the report are the city's branding as the "wedding capitol of Texas," the Dripping Springs Songwriters Festival and the city's natural features.

One of the visitors bureau's main initiatives going forward is the promotion of Dripping Springs as a destination to witness two upcoming solar eclipses in 2023 and 2024, according to Owens. The Texas Hill Country will be directly in the path of the 2024 eclipse. Other priorities outlined by Owens in her presentation include gathering more complete data on visitors to inform future marketing campaigns and developing more local art experiences.

Bond resolutions approved

Resolutions approving two construction bonds offered by Meritage Homes as fiscal surety for work on phases 3 and 4 of the developer's Big Sky Ranch subdivision were passed on consent at the council meeting. The bonds, totaling $4.43 million for Phase 3 and $1.3 million for Phase 4, provide financial assurance to the city that site work including utilities, paving, drainage and more will be completed in both phases of the subdivision.

Also passed on consent at the meeting was a resolution approving a maintenance bond offered by Jimmy Evans Company, Ltd in the amount of $1.56 million. The maintenance bond guarantees for two years the "materials and workmanship" of Jimmy Evans Company, Ltd on the wastewater extension improvements in the Driftwood subdivision.

The three approved bonds will officially take effect once Mayor Bill Foulds Jr. completes and signs the necessary documentation.

Budget discussion and tax rate

Dripping Springs Finance Director Shawn Cox workshopped the proposed FY 2022-23 budget with the members of council. This was the seventh budget workshop.

Some of the items discussed were the farmers market at Pound House Farmstead, Dripping Springs Ranch Park and Event Center, hotel occupancy taxes and more. The budget proposal can be found in the Aug. 2 agenda packet.

Notable items discussed during the budget workshop include a jump of more than $290,000 in predicted revenue in FY 2022-23 for DSRP, $12,600 in increased booth revenue for the farmers market due to increased space at Pound House Farmstead and a $57,000 increase in revenue derived from Coyote Kids Nature Camp due to its planned expansion beyond summer months.

The budget cannot be finalized until after a public hearing, which is scheduled for Aug. 16. Afterward, council can decide whether to officially adopt the budget or push the vote back to amend the document further.

Cox also said the city has not yet received its property tax rate information from the Hays County tax assessor-collector. Once the information is delivered, the city will be able to schedule a public hearing on the proposed rate, and council will vote on its adoption in September.

The next regular council meeting is scheduled for Aug. 9.