Two candidates are vying for a two-year term as Mayor of the Village of Salado: Hans Fields, whose name appears on the ballot, and Skip Blancett, who is a write-in candidate.
We asked them the following questions:
Question 1: What do you think will be the greatest challenge facing the Village in the next two years? the next five years? the next 10 years? How would you recommend addressing these challenges? (200 words)
Question 2: What can the Village do to bring more properties into it? (100 words)
Question 3: How would you rate the emergency services of our Village, including police, fire and ambulance. What can be done to improve these areas? (200 words)
Question 4: How would you rate the infrastructure of our Village (streets,lights, sidewalks, utilities, parks)? What would you recommend or support to improve these areas? (200 words)
Two-years: Stagecoach Inn. Approve and sign the agreement.
Construction of the Sewer and the WWTP: The budgeted amounts are too low. This could be addressed by voluntary sewer connection, installing a Low Pressure System instead of a gravity sewer and utilizing the existing 50,000 GPD plant.
Sanctuary: If Mr. Hanks has not started to build the Sanctuary, then we do not need to build our WWTP there.
Growth and Public Safety: Sorting through building issues like the conversion of private homes into rentals, the first apartment complex and higher density (6 to 8 affordable homes per acre) subdivisions that will be annexed for WW service. Commercial construction on FM 2484.
Sanctuary: Ensure that Sanctuary is being constructed per agreement.
Protecting Salado’s Historical Buildings: Make farsighted WW choices now, protecting neighborhoods and the integrity of Main St.
Sanctuary: Sanctuary should be well on its way towards completion. If not, both Sanctuary and the Village will have terminated the agreement. Our 200,000 GPD plant will be looking for customers.
Water: The greatest challenge will be water, potable for residents/businesses and irrigation for the Mill Creek Country Club. Secure as much water volume as we can now, prepare for a conservation future and secure irrigation water for MCCC by not sending it to Sanctuary.
Question 2: Offer sewer for annexation and be firm about it. Relax the complicated Subdivision Ordinance that applies to the ETJ for annexation. Offer to apply 5 to 10 years of a percentage of a development’s generated property taxes specifically to that development’s infrastructure construction. It mirrors what a MUD does for a land developer, with the Village eventually receiving all property tax. The Village should not be pursuing low density land developments as the taxable value won’t be sufficient for the Village to maintain the streets in that subdivision. The current board and the Mayor keep throwing away years of sales tax and ad-valorem tax as enticements putting at jeopardy our Village financial structure.
Fire Protection: For now our fire protection is adequately manned by an ever changing 30 volunteers. The Current fire chief says that in five years we will need a paid, full time fire department to adequately provide fire protection for the 117 square miles of responsibility. The fire department will at some point need to become a Village Department
Police Department: Our current police force is under manned yet leased out to James Construction on Village time. The current force cannot provide 24 hour per day police protection for the Village but the current administration says we have too many officers. Currently the police department is being told not to spend any budget money and the administrator is using the police car acquisition budget elsewhere. That budget line has disappeared. Our Police Department is being limited by the City Administrator, the Mayor and the BOA micro-management. Hire more officers and let the chief run his own shop.
Ambulance Service: The service we do have is from Scott and White Hospital. So far this service has been adequate. We need to be vigilant to ensure the service remains adequate. Work to try to ensure shorter response time to Salado calls.
Question #4: Some of it is almost non existent (“public” lights, sidewalks and sewer) so none to very low rating. As the Main St. improvements (lighting/parking/sidewalks) move forward, they can’t inhibit commerce and the free movement we enjoy now. The current scheme prepared by college students will again have a negative impact on village movement, parking and businesses. I will pursue a better plan. The streets must be addressed not by replacement, but by maintenance. The Salado Water Supply Corp. is first rate and ready to meet our immediate water needs. The acquisition of Centrovision by Grande Communications has resulted in a significant upgrading of both TV (all digital) and internet speeds at a price, but gets a near top rating. For those who use antennas, I’ll protect your rights. The electrical utility is not first rate enough. I will encourage ongoing maintenance and upgrades in the system. Parks are nearly top rate, with the outstanding private Salado Sculpture Garden and the public Pace Park. I will see that Village government doesn’t negotiate away future parkland.The orphan infrastructure is drainage. I will establish a plan, restore existing culverts and ditches add new where necessary and strengthen the retention and drainage for new construction, particularly with land development.
1. Sewer line and water treatment plant completion
2. Writing effective Ordinances
4. Road Repair/flooding issues
6. Protecting the Historical and embracing growth
7. Hiring a Certified Building and Fire Inspector
8. Deer population and environment
9. Securing grants to offset improvement costs
10. Municipal administration/services that meet citizens’ needs
1. Embracing/Managing growth
2. Road repair, ordinances, annexation, Historical, Grants, environment
4. Enhancing City Parks
5. Maintaining a safe and healthy environment
6. Expanding the sewer lines
7. Effective networking with county, state, and Federal officials
8. Municipal administration/services that meet citizens’ needs
1. Retiring the Bond Debt
2. Embracing/Managing growth; protecting the historical
3. Municipal administration/services that meet citizens’ needs
4. Road repair, ordinances, annexation, Historical, Grants and environment
6. Utility and water demands
7. Safe, healthy environment
Evolving Challenges will require continual planning, long-range vision, balanced thinking, creativity, and physical, mental, and moral strength. From this time forward, the election of smart, dedicated, positive Village officials is critical. As our fore fathers/mothers did, the challenges will be addressed and resolved as they emerge. Our future is bright and strong.
First: Ordinances must be written/ re-written to meet current Village and Developer needs.
Second: The Village saying “yes” is as important as saying “no.” Building Standards are important, but not so strict that it is difficult to conduct business. Congenial, professional understanding between the City Manager and the Developers is a must. Helping each other reach their goals is the objective.
Third: The Village must hire local inspector(s) to quickly inspect and give permits.
Fourth: Developers should be given an appropriate incentive to annex. Example: 50% of property taxes for 5-years. 50% of something is better than 100% of nothing.
Police: The newly formed Committee on Emergency Services, consisting of experienced members, is addressing personnel, equipment, and administration procedures. Their findings and recommendations will be presented to the Board of Aldermen. Personnel issues are only be discussed in Executive Session with the Chief present. Aging equipment is a major concern. Updating Administration procedures is a given. This being said, the Police work diligently to protect the Village, work I-35 and local accidents, and answer calls.
Fire: Having been a Volunteer Fireman, our Volunteer Fire Department is one of the best in the State and probably the Nation. Whatever, they do is professional, competent and beyond the call-of-duty. Example: cleaning out ditches to prevent floods, cutting fallen trees, and placing high water barriers. They raised the money and submitted grants to pay for their second Fire station.
Ambulance: In the village, doing their job, and taking care of citizens. Work daily with our Police and Fire Department.
Seriously lacking: An alert system for inclement weather. This must be top priority next year. The Village evacuation plan must be updated. Shelters for Disaster Victims identified; FEMA information given; and what to do when an area is identified as a Disaster area.
The infrastructure is a major concern.
If developers do not annex and if new businesses do not come, there is no choice but to raise property taxes to maintain the infrastructure.
Regardless of the feelings about Sanctuary, their property and sales taxes will help with infrastructure maintenance. Had they became a Municipal Utility District (MUD), their citizens would have used your roads, parks, and infrastructure without paying a penny. Outside of whatever was purchased from local businesses, there would be no sales taxes. You, the Citizens would pay.
Being surrounded by new subdivisions and no annexation, your roads, Police Department, parks, and other infrastructure amenities are at Salado’s expense. Without annexation, Salado cannot grow. However, everyone else will grow as your infrastructure declines along with property values.
TXDoT is considering lights, sidewalks, and Bike trails at no cost to Salado. In the last Austin meeting and following correspondence, TXDoT has not said no.
The Downtown committee is working to acquire lightings, benches, and other infrastructure items.
The Roads Committee spent $260,000 on road repair last year. More is planned this year. Bell County provides much of the work at cost. A 6-year road repair plan is followed.