San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
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March 24th, 2011
As new decade dawns, Hays County making wise investments


The 2010 U.S. Census numbers are in and Hays County is continuing to grow by leaps and bounds. Our current population is 157,500, up from less than 100,000 just one decade ago. With such explosive growth, it is no wonder that so much is going on in your county government.

For almost seven years, I have had the honor of serving as your county commissioner. Amidst this historic growth and despite the challenges of a global economic recession, I am happy to report that the state of our county is strong. In fact, Hays County has made tremendous progress in preparing for the future while maintaining a trim and balanced budget.

We are winding down a very successful parks bond program. In 2007, voters approved an investment of $30 million to meet our growing population’s recreation needs. Now, Hays County citizens have many new parks and conservation areas to enjoy with friends and family. San Marcos enjoyed some of the largest investments, including the Purgatory Creek Preserve, Spring Lake improvements, Five Mile Dam complex, CFPO fields (off Hunter road), improvements to city tennis courts, improvements to city baseball fields, etc. Many of the projects in the San Marcos area were partnerships between Hays County and the City of San Marcos.

Our county road bond program continues to pave the way for our transportation future. In 2008, voters overwhelmingly voted in favor of a $210 million bond to improve aging roads and crowded state highways in Hays County.

About ten years ago, the state shifted the burden of improving state roadways to city and county governments. Fast growing counties like ours faced the alternatives of improving these roads ourselves or facing a future of chronic traffic congestion and roads in disrepair. Our county made the right choice to take our transportation future into our own hands.

After we approved the road bond program, I met with state officials to show them the major steps that Hays County was taking to improve state roads within its borders and successfully negotiated that the state put $134 million toward our efforts.

Today, this is touted as one of the best road improvement partnerships in the state. Moreover, the road improvement projects paid for by this bond program are under budget by millions of dollars and on schedule. This means that major roads such as Interstate 35, Ranch Road 12, the San Marcos loop (eastern section), Texas 21, and FM 1626 are undergoing improvement and Hays County taxpayers are getting a great return on their investment.

Finally, we hear a lot about taxes and spending these days. The federal government’s unrestrained spending has built a mountain of debt that is unsustainable at its current level. In stark contrast, Hays County has worked hard to target investments where they matter most by meeting the needs of a rapidly growing population. Our finances are strong. Our credit rating is excellent. Our savings run deep. We only spend what we can afford and we spend it wisely.

This has been a decade of unprecedented growth in Hays County. We faced the challenges of a booming population, cuts in state funding for road improvements, and the effects of a global economic recession. I am proud to report that our county government was up to the task. Programs that prepare for the future, like our parks and road bonds, and sound financial management, give me hope that Hays County will continue to be a great place to live and work throughout the next decade and beyond.

Hays County Pct. 3 Commissioner WILL CONLEY was  elected in 2004 and re-elected in 2008. He can be reached at and (512) 847-3159.

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