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. Today, Place 5 council member Ryan Thomason and his write-in challenger, Melissa Derrick, take our questions. Early voting starts Oct. 22. Election Day is Nov. 6.
Ryan Thomason, 34
Wood and Thomason Construction
How long have you lived in San Marcos?
Where in San Marcos do you live?
The city’s Capital Improvements Program has identified tens of millions of dollars in infrastructure investments that city officials say need to be made in coming years. Many of these projects are underway but every year many more are deferred for lack of money. Do you have anything concrete to offer in terms of special skills or ideas that will help the city identify more funding so streets and public works projects can be completed sooner?
I’ve been working very hard along with other council members to get more money in the maintenance budget for roads, sidewalks and other infrastructure in order to avoid these enormously expensive and time consuming projects whenever possible. If we can better fund street maintenance we will not have to accrue as much debt to rebuild failed roads. In the past two budgets we’ve increased the road/sidewalk maintenance budget from $300,000 to $835,000, however we still have a ways to go in order to have adequate funding for as many miles of pavement that we have to maintain.
You are sharing the ballot with a nonbinding referendum on whether the city should step in to buy property along the San Marcos River known locally as Cape’s Camp. At the same time, a developer is proposing an apartment complex that would include giving 20 acres of riverfront property to the city for a park. Do you think the city should buy Cape’s Camp and adjoining property upfront or take the developer’s donation offer?
For legal reasons as a current councilmember I can’t answer this question.
This year, the San Marcos City Council voted to outlaw the display or consumption of alcohol in any city-owned park, including those along the San Marcos River. The alcohol ban goes into effect Jan. 1. New park rules approved by the city council also increase littering fines and ban tobacco, Styrofoam and spearfishing. Did the council gets the new rules package right? Please explain your answer.
I thought the parks ordinance was far over due in many aspects such as banning Styrofoam however I think an all out ban on alcohol is over reaching. I thought there should have been at least one park where someone could have a beer and grill a burger with out breaking the law. After all, this is Texas.
Will you vote to further restrict smoking in public places or put the measure on the ballot for a citywide vote?
Over the past 3 years whether I believed in the initiative or not I’ve consistently supported the citizens right to vote on an issue that impacts the city as a whole and plan to continue to.
Under current law, the city can issue only about a dozen conditional use permits to operate a bar in the Central Business District. All the allotted permits were claimed years ago. The current system does allow entrepreneurs to serve alcohol at restaurants but the legal definition of “restaurant” has been in a constant state of flux under city law for the last decade. Do you support changes to the city’s CUP system for bars? If so, what changes do you suggest? If not, please explain why you think the current ordinance is good policy?
I was a part of the creation of that ordinance and actually wanted to restrict the number of bar licenses more than we did. A certain number of unrestricted bar permits are good but too many would allow our square to become a small ‘6th Street’ and no one wants that. The council put measures in to require new alcohol serving businesses to prove their existence in other ways first. The desire to diversify the downtown business types has been seen and heard in all areas, including many bar owners.
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?
We have looked at many different types of tax credits over the years and will continue to see different requests based on the economy and type of business. Some companies look for property tax exemptions while some look for sales tax and yet others look for personal property tax exemptions. In a competitive market place we must look at all options and decide what is best for the city and allows us to best compete for jobs. San Marcos is diverse enough to where we seek manufacturing, distribution, technology, medical etc. There’s not a one size fits all model for economic development and there shouldn’t be a one size fits all model for incentives.