Year in Review: Hays County Commissioners Court + San Marcos, Buda and Kyle City Council

The 2016-17 Hays County Commissioners Court, from left: Mark Jones, Precinct 2; Debbie Gonzales-Ingalsbe, Precinct 1; Judge Bert Cobb; Will Conley, Precinct 3; Ray Whisenant, Precinct 4 The 2016-17 Hays County Commissioners Court, from left: Mark Jones, Precinct 2; Debbie Gonzales-Ingalsbe, Precinct 1; Judge Bert Cobb; Will Conley, Precinct 3; Ray Whisenant, Precinct 4[/caption]

Hays County Commissioners Court


Big decisions made in 2016


Proposition 1 passes
The passage of Proposition 1, which will help the county address its aging law-enforcement facilities, was a highlight of 2016, Hays County Judge Bert Cobb said.


Proposition 2 passes
The passage of Proposition 2, which will provide funding for transportation projects, was another highlight, Cobb said.


Psych court creation
Last year, Cobb said creation of a psych court would be of importance in 2016. The court, which would take offenders dealing with psychiatric issues out of the traditional justice system, has yet to be created. Creation of the court has been challenging because of a lack of qualified professionals to work with people experiencing psychiatric issues, Cobb said.


Top issues for 2017


Vocational training in schools
Cobb said he hopes the county is able to work with school districts to provide more vocational training.


Issuing bonds
Cobb said interest rates may rise in 2017, so the county will make a priority of issuing bonds as soon as possible in order to get the lowest possible rate.


Regional collaboration
Continued growth in Bexar and Travis counties will make collaboration with regional partners—including counties and cities—of special importance in the coming years, said Cobb, who serves on the Capital Area Council of Governments, a regional entity aimed at fostering cooperation among municipalities and counties in Central Texas.







Buda City Council




City Manager Kenneth Williams City Manager
Kenneth Williams[/caption]

“The relocation of Deep Eddy Vodka [to Buda] was one of the biggest things in 2016.”


—City Manager Kenneth Williams on the city’s agreement to bring a Deep Eddy Vodka distillery to town



Big decisions made in 2016


Municipal facility construction
Construction on the new city of Buda Municipal Complex, which will include a new City Hall, library and police department headquarters, began in early September.


Water-sharing agreement
In July, Buda City Council signed a final agreement to serve as a formal mechanism for sharing water with neighboring cities  through the Hays-Caldwell Public Utility Agency, a public entity that develops long-term water supplies.


Deep Eddy Vodka to come to Buda
In December, Deep Eddy Vodka announced it would open a new distillery in Buda after coming to an agreement with city officials. The company will add 45 new jobs at the distillery as well as $12.5 million of investments.


Top issues for 2017


Bond projects continue
The city will continue work on the propositions outlined in the 2014 voter-approved bond, including street improvements near the downtown area. Construction on Main and San Antonio streets as well as FM 967 at Main is expected to begin in the summer.


Continued work on water issues
In 2016, the city approved a feasibility study that looked into the possibility of using  aquifer storage and recovery, a system that stores water in an aquifer for later use. The city will continue to research different water options.


Main Street Program additions
The  Main Street Program is intended to stimulate the economy of downtown areas. The city hired a program manager Jan. 12 and will create a Main Street advisory board in 2017.







Kyle City Council




City Manager Scott Sellers City Manager Scott Sellers[/caption]

“When you create the comprehensive plan, it’s a pretty big deaL. They’re supposed to survive for a good 10 years. Ours is about six years into it, and we need to do what’s called a midterm update, which is basically a refresher.”


—City Manager scott sellers on Kyle’s plans
to update its comprehensive plan in 2017



Big decisions made in 2016


Annexing 10 square miles
In April, Kyle City Council approved the involuntary annexation of 529 acres, and in early May, it voted to annex another 6,500 acres southwest of the city by petition from the landowners.


Resolving the Yarrington property matter
A plan for a 47.74-acre tract of mostly undeveloped land located just north of San Marcos at the corner of Yarrington Road and I-35 proved controversial in 2016 after nearby residents protested plans for a large truck stop. The city is working with the developer to resolve the issue.


Development of Cypress Forest
Cypress Forest, at the corner of West Center Street and Old Stagecoach Road, was under construction throughout much of 2016. The neighborhood will feature homes from 1,680-4,500 square feet with prices beginning at $240,000, a housing stock the city has lacked.


Top issues for 2017


Creating a three-year annexation plan
Kyle City Council directed city staff to work on and come back with a plan for annexing portions of the extraterritorial jurisdiction, or ETJ, which is the area just outside the city’s limits.


Revising the comprehensive plan
City Council has planned to hold a joint meeting with the planning and zoning commission to look at zoning categories, economic development and quality-of-life initiatives, such as green spaces, trails and parks.


Code enforcement
The city of Kyle has one full-time and two part-time code-enforcement officers and would like to increase that number in order to “raise the bar on the image of the community,” Sellers said. More enforcement could lead to aesthetic improvements and beautification initiatives in downtown Kyle, along I-35 and on major thoroughfares.







The 2016-17 San Marcos City Council, from left: Jane Hughson, Saul Gonzales, Ed Mihalkanin, John Thomaides, Lisa Prewitt, Melissa Derrick and Scott Gregson. The 2016-17 San Marcos City Council, from left: Jane Hughson, Saul Gonzales, Ed Mihalkanin, John Thomaides, Lisa Prewitt, Melissa Derrick and Scott Gregson.[/caption]

San Marcos City Council


Big decisions made in 2016


Emergency response changes
In 2016, transitioning the city’s emergency response from a longstanding partnership with Hays County and other entities was a priority for the city. City Manager Jared Miller said issues related to that partnership have been resolved, and he said he is confident the partnership “has a little bit of longevity to it.”


Economic development
Miller said the city celebrated many economic development “wins” in 2016, including the openings of an Amazon.com distribution center and a Best Buy e-commerce center.


Flood recovery efforts
Miller said ongoing efforts to recover from two destructive floods in 2015 were highlights of 2016. The city received a $25.08 million disaster-recovery grant in February. The city expects to present in the spring a list of engineering projects that could receive funding from the grant.


Top issues for 2017


Bond formation
The city is identifying needs to be addressed in a May bond. The bond would likely be focused on building new city facilities, such as City Hall, police department headquarters, fire stations and public services buildings. The city has until Feb. 17 to call for a bond on the May ballot. 


Land development code work
The city is nearing completion of its new land development code, which will dictate regulations related to the environment, affordability and other factors. Approval of the code is expected in the spring.


Downtown issues
Miller said the city hopes to address parking and transportation issues in the downtown area. In December, City Council directed city staff to move forward with a program that will improve enforcement of existing parking rules downtown.

By Brett Thorne
Brett Thorne reported on education, business, economic development and city government in San Marcos, Kyle and Buda from 2012 to 2017. Thorne attended Texas State University in San Marcos, where he graduated in 2010. He joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in 2012 and was promoted to editor in 2013.


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