Three candidates are running for two two-year terms on the Village of Salado Board of Aldermen: Frank Coachman and write-in candidates Amber Preston-Dankert and Linda Reynolds.
We asked the candidates the following questions. Their answers are below:
1. In the past two years, what has been the best thing to happen to the Village of Salado that can be attributed in any part to the local government? What has been the worst thing to happen in the past two years attributed to local government? What would you do to correct the latter? (150 words)
2. What is your stance on The Sanctuary and Stagecoach Inn and other economic development efforts within and outside of the Village? What can or should be done to improve the tourism industry in Salado? (150 words)
Question 1: The Village was given a permit and 6 acres of land for a waste water treatment plant. The Sanctuary Development has not been nor will be given any cash or contributions towards any of the development costs within their project. In exchange for bearing the total cost of their complete infrastructure, a 50 percent rebate of property taxes will be provided for 15 years from platting for residential sections and 15 years from Certificate of Occupancy for commercial establishments. The rebate is only from the Salado basic 19.99 tax rate. There are no sales tax rebates and all other taxing entities are excluded from this agreement. The Village will only share future increased tax revenues generated within the development. If the Sanctuary had formed a MUD, our Village would have received nothing from future property or sales taxes. Due to chronic problems with the inherited sewer plant it must be decommissioned.
Question 2: “Embrace the Future and Honor the Past.” Our Village limits cannot become land locked in any direction available to us. We must entice future developments to be part of the Village. Without this growth, we will not continue to sustain a lower tax rate than the cities around us, because so few of us will be bearing the burden to support the quality of life we all desire. We must endeavor to reestablish one of our most historic land marks and tourist attractions – The Stagecoach. The iconic name is synonymous with Salado. I feel we are on the right path with the establishment of the position of Salado Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Director and an associate. We need to give these professionals the opportunity to do their appointed tasks. I believe they have a positive start. Our sales tax revenue is up for the first quarter of 2016.
Dr. Amber Preston-Dankert
Our best accomplishment was the passage of the sewer bond. Salado was in desperate need of a sewer to alleviate immediate septic issues along Main Street and to improve economic development along our western corridor of I-35. The addition of larger businesses along the highway will add immediate tax relief while preserving the quaint, historic downtown we all appreciate. The worst thing to happen has been the unreasonable construction delays along I-35. Hind-sight is 20/20, so I can now see that we should have been more involved in the highway construction process from project conception. We trusted that timelines would be met and that the design would not have impacts on our natural resources. Timelines drag on years overdue, design failures increased water flow into overburdened drainage systems, and our creek stays muddy and contaminated after rain events. We must do more now in terms of scrutiny and accountability.
Question #2: If managed right, development will add value to Salado, bring in tourists and tax base, and not deplete our emaciated budget. Numbers show that the tax breaks offered to Sanctuary may cost the village more to support (i.e. police support, infrastructure) than what we make off its taxes. We cannot continue to offer more incentives than we can afford. With the Stagecoach, we are offering benefits that fit the industry standard and Stagecoach directly benefits tourism in Salado. I am confident that with the completion of I-35, we will see Stagecoach emerge as a beacon of light for Salado. Improvement of the tourism industry starts with the individual business. Businesses must keep up with supporting interests of the ever-changing tourists that visit Salado. We need to be asking what tourists want to see and what hours they want to shop. Give them what they want, and they will come.
Question #1: Dr. Amber Dankert spent many hours to offer the Salado Community an opportunity to openly discuss what many perceive as a growing wildlife problem in the Village. I felt that I had a voice on the issue, and an opportunity to participate.
Even though the community seems split on an approach to the problem, I did feel the BOA would make some decision.
The worst thing that happened is no decision was made. Mr. McDougal made a motion to set aside $10,000 for the problem, and then the issue was never placed back on an agenda. Dr. Dankert is one alderman and to place an item on the agenda, two alderman must make the request of the mayor pro-tem.
What did the $10,000 accomplish? Nothing.
Where is the $10,000?
Your guess is as good as mine.
I will not vote to raise taxes for the third straight year in a row.
Question #2: Stagecoach and Sanctuary agreements were negotiated by the mayor pro-tem and alderman Coachman. They negotiated the deals, including the village administration’s use of Eminent Domain. None of the current information is available on the Village web-site, so it is difficult to respond to this question.
Would you want 10,000-20,000 strangers visiting your neighborhood for a concert?
Would you want single-family-resident zoned lots in your neighborhood to be rezoned for Mixed-Use?
Would you want three acres in your neighborhood rezoned from Historic District to Commercial?
Be careful how you answer the above three questions!
If you say no to all or any, you’ll be labeled negative. Just like the bullies in school, Name-calling is the easiest trick of bullies… even children do it.
I will not vote to raise taxes for the third year in a row.
I will not vote to raise taxes.
I will not raise taxes.
Pretty negative, huh?