Population boom predicted for Buda

Buda is growing rapidly—so rapidly that one scenario projects the population to balloon by 700 percent from now until 2040, according to a city of Buda presentation delivered at a special City Council meeting on May 7.

Having grown 39 percent since 2010, Buda is the fastest growing Texas city with a population greater than 10,000, the presentation stated. Since 2011, it is the fastest-growing city in the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization region.

If the city completes the full-purpose annexation of the Sunfield, Meadows at Buda and Stonefield neighborhoods by 2036, the city's population is being predicted to grow to 80,000, according to staff-modified projections based on previous Texas State Data Center forecasts. It hovers around 11,000 currently.

Buda City Council convened for its special meeting to discuss plans for the upcoming Fiscal Year 2015 budget, which will be adopted by Oct. 1. The council also discussed its capital improvement projects list and the progress that has been made toward recommending a possible bond election in November.

Mayor Todd Ruge said that while the population projection is one the City Council had yet to see, the city had been preparing for a range of scenarios.

"It's something we are going to have to deal with," Ruge said. "We have planned accordingly with master plans. The key is to follow through [in implementing the master plans]."

Despite the estimated growth, Buda has little room to expand geographically, which is why its planning documents have deeply explored high-density development, the mayor said.

Once Buda is fully developed, it will likely be a seamless transition from Austin to Buda, Ruge said.

"It'll be kind of like when you go through Round Rock or Pflugerville, and it's just one big city," he said.

The city's finance director, Sidonna Foust, said at the meeting that Buda is projected to have a budget surplus of $7 million at the end of the fiscal year. That is in addition to the millions the city has in its reserves.

Ruge said that thanks to the prudent financial planning of past councils, the city has built up savings "for a rainy day." With cash to spare, city leadership is ready to invest in projects that will increase the quality of life in Buda, the mayor said.

"(Previous councils) had the foresight to think about the future and know how precious this money is and not spend it on projects that weren't needed at the time," Ruge said. "It's really put our current council in the position where we can pull the trigger on a lot of these projects that are needed."

Among the top priorities identified by the public, staff and the council are water and wastewater issues as well as transportation infrastructure.

At least two more workshops will be held before the budget is adopted, Ruge said.



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