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 6 council member Shane Scott and his opponent, Greg Frank, take our questions. Early voting starts Oct. 22. Election Day is Nov. 6.
Occupation: Owner, German Elite Autos and BCSFilm Studio, both in San Marcos
How long have you lived in San Marcos? 25 years
Where in San Marcos do you live? Mill Street neighborhood
San Marcos Mercury: 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?
Shane Scott: As a business owner, I have leadership, managerial and common sense. As a filmmaker, I can see an idea and know how to put each person and working part together to complete complicated tasks.
This city has been behind on its CIP projects long before I was elected to council. San Marcos projected growth has made the CIP projects a priority now that there is a clear picture of what our future looks like as one of the leading growth corridors in the United States.
Unfortunately the lack of federal funding has forced council to be creative and find ways to fund these projects from within. Council has pushed staff to not spend money on outsourcing and supports hiring talents from with in. Although our past two budgets have increased the road and sidewalk maintenance to above $800,000, we still need to find solid funding sources to help meet the demand.
A few ideas that I have been thinking about are to re-establish paid parking. Students currently use our downtown for free parking to attend the university. Putting meters of some type would generate a substantial amount of money. Secondly, our budget is very conservative and staff only budgets for around 2 percent of sales tax. In reality we get around 4-6 percent and sometimes more. I would advocate using at least one percent of this just for CIP projects.
Mercury: 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?
Scott: San Marcos is known as the oldest inhabited area around the United States. The river no doubt was the reason early peoples lived and thrived here. I have raised a daughter on and around the river and we both know how important it is to protect it. I currently serve on the Texas Rivers Institute board that is conducting clear scientific data collection that will help create a base line used as a standard of measurement on what effect the river and in what order of severity.
Current data shows that the right kind of development actually protects our river better then being left in a natural state. This is due to better filtration and met water quality standards.
As for the ballot referendum? I as a current council member cannot answer until everything is laid on the table and all facts and parties involved have been addressed.
Mercury: 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 spear fishing. Did the council get the new rules package right?
Scott: Yes and No. There were many good things adopted in the packet of info that was passed, no tobacco in or around children’s parks to more fines for litter. The one issue I had a problem with was the banning of alcohol in all parks. I feel that the issue to remove alcohol was placed in only to control behavior.
I do not feel you should take rights away from everyone when there are only a few causing problems. Enforcement and manpower would have achieved the same result without punishing everyone. I am a huge advocate for individual rights.
Mercury: Will you vote to further restrict smoking in public places or put the measure on the ballot for a citywide vote?
Scott: As someone who hates smoking and smelling like smoke, I would love for it to no longer exist in our society, but at the same time I would not support something that forces business that want smoking in their establishments to stop. I believe that business should decide how and when they run their establishments, not government. The customer can always go somewhere else and supply and demand will dictate if the business survives or not.
Mercury: 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?
Scott: I feel that the current CUP ordinance is working at the current time. There are flaws with it. I find it inconsistent that we have an ordinance that can be by-passed by just saying it is for economic development. Our downtown needs to attracted a wide demographic and not become 6th street. The community should have input and all small business down town should benefit from each other. Do not limit a potential fit in limited space with rules that cannot be tailored to help support a new idea. Flexibility is important in a growing and changing city.
Mercury: 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?
Scott: Yes I do. Of course all companies looking to move in this area would be very different from each other, so each deal should be based on what the company needs. I always support small business. Everyone wants the Dells and Samsungs, but they are fewer and far between then the smaller companies moving to this area. I think many should be considered for economic incentives as long as they create jobs with good wages.