Listen to the interviews with Councilman John Thomaides and Mayor Susan Narvaiz, followed by the Mayor’s State of the City Address.
“We hope that recent congressional actions to rescue Wall Street will enable people on our Main Street to hold a steady course, maintain jobs and services, and keep our local economy prospering,” said San Marcos Mayor Susan Narvaiz. She said that despite the national economic downtrend, San Marcos must continue forward towards a prosperous future.
In the past year the city has seen growth in jobs, businesses and people. Narvaiz said that in 2008 the city’s population had reached to 50,373, and about 85,000 people came in to the community daily. She said this growth will allow for more extraterritorial jurisdiction, better access to grants and funds, more responsibility to state highways in the city, and most importantly it stops encroachment.”We must continue to encourage investments in our city and we must be prepared and open to the changes that may lie ahead, but may be necessary as a nation, a city, and as individuals,” said Narvaiz.
Narvaiz said the city has seen 6,900 new jobs since 2004, and added that the per capita area income has increased by $10,000 within the same period. She said this is a reflection of the city’s economic development and of the economic climate that attracts people daily. The Mayor highlighted the decrease in crimes. She said violent crimes have decreased by 23 percent and property crimes went down by 22 percent.
“A decline in crime rate is good news, especially during a period of growth,” said Narvaiz.
She said the lower crime rates can be partly attributed to the increase in public safety staffing, including police, fire, code enforcement, and the park ranger program. Narvaiz said the insurance fire rating went down as well, from a four to a two, with one being the best, resulting in a $10,000 reduction in insurance premiums.
Narvaiz said the city’s tax base grew 5.4 percent in the 2008-09 fiscal year because of new valuations totaling over $117,000,000. She said the city’s property tax rate and electric rate remained the same as last year, and added that after much discussion, the water/waste water rate did not increase either. She highlighted the sales tax collection of $18.3million for fiscal year 2007-08, a new record in retail sales. Narvaiz said the 2009 budget increased as well. It totals $149.7million, an increase of 5.4 percent from last year. She said the increase can be attributed to the rise in cost of wholesale electric power, fuel, pay roll cost, and debt service payments.
Transportation was a key issue in the address. Narvaiz said the Wonder World extension project will improve traffic to and from western Hays County, by linking Ranch Road 12 to Interstate Highway 35. She also highlighted the McCarty Lane improvements and the future loop 110 project. Narvaiz said the $207million Hays County Road Bond is important and added that San Marcos residents will have to decide if they want to match $74million of the city’s money to a $133million reimbursement match from Texas Department of Transportation, TxDOT.
“That doesn’t seem like a hard decision to me,” said Narvaiz. “I encourage you to become familiar with the bond and also with the 22 proposed amendments to the city charter and the non-binding proposition for extending hours of on premise alcohol sale in San Marcos; and then vote on November 4.”
The Mayor mentioned the city’s future goals, which included expanding economic development, improving the image of San Marcos, enhancing the region’s transportation grid, and improving connections and communication with regional organizations. She said economic development is important for the city, adding that San Marcos will be a huge competitor in the I-35 corridor. Narvaiz said the city is undergoing a branding that will advertise the community to outsiders in efforts to attract them. Regarding transportation she said more can be done, such as road improvements which include making the city pedestrian and bicycle friendly.
The State of the City Address was the first event held at the San Marcos Conference Center. Narvaiz said the building of the Conference Center and the hotel is a cornerstone for the city.
“The breaking of this ground plants the seed for prosperity for our next generation. Look and behold the magnitude of this endeavor and know that more will come.”
by Andy Sevilla
News Section Editor
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