The verdict is in on the state of Hays County, and commissioners Ray Whisenant and Mark Jones believe things are looking positive for one of the fastest-growing counties in Central Texas.
Whisenant, the Precinct 4 commissioner, and Jones, the Precinct 2 commissioner, spoke May 28 to more than 150 city officials, residents and business leaders gathered at the Plum Creek Country Club about the challenges and opportunities facing Hays County.
"Since [Jones and I] took office in 2011, we have not had to raise the tax rate in Hays County," Whisenant said. "There are a number of things that figure into that, and we like to think it's good management, but we also live in one of the fastest-growing counties in Central Texas, and we have a lot of good employees that work for Hays County."
According to a May 16 report from the U.S. Census Bureau, Buda, Kyle and San Marcos had the second-, fifth- and seventh-fastest growth rates respectively in Central Texas between 2011 and 2012.
That growth has expanded the county's tax base, Whisenant said, but it has brought its share of challenges as well. The swelling population has stressed much of the infrastructure in Hays County, including water utilities and roads.
In 2011, the commissioners reformed the Hays County Water and Sewer Authority after nearly 10 years of dormancy. The entity was formed to facilitate discussions about water utilities and service in Hays County.
"We can't do a whole lot except meet and talk about things that concern water in Hays County," Whisenant said. "The real goal of the Hays County Water and Sewer Authority is to provide opportunities for Hays County to have water in the future."
Jones highlighted the county's road projects, which has included widening FM 1626 to five lanes, and a partnership with the Texas Department of Transportation, which includes construction of a truck bypass in Buda and extension of FM 2001 to Hwy. 21 east of Buda.