San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas
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EDITOR’S NOTE: The San Marcos Mercury asked city council candidates to answer a few questions about their positions on issues. We are publishing them as they come in. Texas State advisor and grad student Chris Jones, the Place 4 incumbent, is running against retired banker Wayne Becak. Early voting started on Monday; Election Day is Nov. 8

Chris Jones

Chris Jones, 27

Occupation: Council member, Texas State University career services advisor
How long have you lived in San Marcos? 10 years
What part of town do you live in? Blanco Vista

Will you vote to further restrict smoking in public places or put the measure on the ballot for a citywide vote?

I would have no problem restricting smoking in public places. I would support a measure on the ballot for a citywide vote once we have determined and defined what restricting smoking in public places means for San Marcos and the citizens know what they are going to get when they cast a vote against or in favor of such measure. When this issue came up this year it was not clearly defined and we as a council could not come to a consensus as to what the citizens would get if they voted in favor or against such measure. Since this vote I have contacted the mayor about outlining clear and concise language for next year.

There has been a lot of talk this election season about how the city and school district are going to sink or swim together. What specifically can a city council member do to improve the school district and the school district’s image?

As a city council member I brought to San Marcos a program called InternInSanMarcos. InternInSanMarcos is a collaborative effort between the San Marcos School District Mayors’ offices and Chambers of Commerce from six Cities in the region, and campus2careers to encourage the use of internships and connect the nonprofits and small businesses along the I-35 Corridor with high school and college talent.

Programs like this help high school students associate classroom activities with real world application. The goal of this program was also to get SMCISD high school students excited about finishing school. Programs like this bring the community to the table to help encourage young people to finish and pursue higher education.

I am sure, given the opportunity, many of our San Marcos High School students will impress small business participants thus expanding the list of San Marcos CISD advocates, which in turn can improve our school district’s image in the region. San Marcos cannot go wrong with small business owners speaking positively about the quality of our school district. Furthermore, we can use city press releases, our website and meeting time to celebrate the success of our school district.

The Hays Caldwell Public Utility Agency is locking down a future water supply for San Marcos and surrounding areas but it isn’t going to be cheap. The first phase alone is expected to cost $109 million between now and 2020. Do you support continued funding of HCPUA?

We are beyond the point of saying we support or don’t support continued funding. Our current water supplies can serve a population of 90 – 100,000 people – about two times our current population.

Securing future water makes the water rate model more complicated and quite frankly kind of scary. Currently we pay over $586,000 per year for participation in the HCPUA water project. Our rate model assumes that this project will begin costing the City significantly more when construction begins in a few years. How long will it take to double our population thus requiring this new water? Do we even want to or need to go past that population? If we do, how much more water will we need to serve the ultimate build out? How much of that build out will be supplied by other CCN holders? Are cities in a ‘panic mode’ for future water? How much of the cost for the future water should the “poor people of our community” have to pay now for that future water that she’ll never use? Until we answer those questions, we should be careful about committing to building that (or any) system.

Hopefully, we will have a better sense of those answers later this year when we complete our “Big Picture Infrastructure” program and Community Vision. If we choose to stay on the path we are following, the rate increases will need to continue for multiple years. Water rate increases are a burden to our citizens but investments have consequences. Tune into the P&Z, council joint meeting on November 16 as we dive into and answer many of these questions.

Do you support forgiving property tax over a set period as a way to encourage companies to relocate or expand in San Marcos? If so, what kind of companies do you support giving economic development incentives to?

Yes I support forgiving property tax over a set period of time to encourage companies to relocate and especially expand in San Marcos. I support giving these incentives to small and medium size business operating in high tech and medical industries. In addition, I think we must pay more attention to international companies seeking to go global. 

Police and firefighters won a controversial three-year contract in 2009 and will be back for another round of negotiations next year.

What are you willing as a council member to offer them in terms of changes to present deal?

I am not sure what changes I would make to the present deal. However, I think that brining the community to the table through the City Manager’s level of service survey will have a substantial impact on any decision made related to the contract. I don’t feel as if police and fire won a contract in 2009 but the City of San Marcos won. As a result of this contract our retention rates have increased. One major issue we sought to address with this contract was keeping the young officers and fireman we invested substantial financial resources training. Why spend money training officers and fireman and then allow other cities to recruit them once they are trained. In that case we had little to no ROI!

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