San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

February 6th, 2008
Who’s for it?

Editor at Large

KYLE – Hays County Precinct 2 Commissioner Jeff Barton (D-Kyle) received next to a hero’s welcome Tuesday night in the Kyle city council chambers, where the city’s legislators passed a resolution in favor of pursuing a new pass-through road financing proposal between the county and the state.

Kyle councilmembers sat spellbound and entranced as Barton told the exciting story of one-way access roads along Interstate-35, as well as a re-alignment of SH 150 to the east, which would take motorists directly from the interstate to the main highway through the city’s southeastern section.

“Why would anyone be against this?” Kyle Mayor Mike Gonzalez asked.

Said Barton, “In the interest of decorum, I should not answer that question.”

In fairness to the county judge and the other commissioners, we should emphasize that no one is against the latest proposal, so far as anyone has said. Indeed, County Judge Liz Sumter (D-Wimberley) told a couple hundred people in the Buda area Monday night that she would support a bond election.

Of course, that’s easy to say. The obstacles lie not in advocacy or opposition to accepting the pass-through agreement per se, but in the commitment, or lack thereof, to making it happen.

The burning question right now is whether the county should front the costs for state road improvements with a general bond issue, which requires voter approval. A subsidiary question concerns whether to call an election for May, the first election date of 2008, or November, which is the other.

Those are the questions being kicked around right now. And both questions dissolve into irrelevance when we look at the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) schedule for building the improvements.

TxDOT wants to award bids in May, and likes the money in hand 60-90 days in advance. Even if the county passes a bond in May, the county can’t issue bonds until 30 days later, which means TxDOT gets money in June.

That is, the timeline, alone, for an election in May or November works against the agreement. Barton is quite sensitive to the timeline, which is why we shouldn’t be too surprised if he motions in the next couple weeks for the court to pull the trigger on revenue bonds for at least part of the front costs, enough to start the projects.

The real question right now concerning road improvements isn’t “Who’s against it?” because being against it requires no action. If you’re against it, simply doing nothing will slow it down.

The real question is, “Who’s for it?” Being for it requires action. Being for it requires that three court members out of five vote to issue revenue bonds and move the projects immediately. It’s safe to say Barton and Precinct 3 Commissioner Will Conley (R-San Marcos) are two votes in favor. Who’s the third?

Sumter is the judge for the entire county. However voters stand on revenue bonds, they might want to inform her, in volume, that they’re watching her closely on this issue. Volume speaks volumes.

Precinct 1 Commissioner Debbie Ingalsbe (D-San Marcos) includes eastern San Marcos and southern Kyle in her territory. She’s up for election this year, with an interesting fight in the Democratic primary against old war horse Celestino Mendez, followed by a November contest against Republican Nick Ramus.

Ingalsbe is in no position to ignore constituents right now. However you feel about revenue bonds, for or against, tell her. That’s completely in play. It’s democracy. People can make a difference. Will they?

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