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Wastewater, workforce housing focus of Dripping Springs candidate forum

Wastewater management and workforce housing were two of several topics addressed by six Dripping Springs City Council candidates during an April 6 forum.

Approximately 35 residents attended the event, which was held at the Dripping Springs Ranch Park and was hosted by the Dripping Springs Chamber of Commerce.

All six candidates took on issues ranging from workforce housing and wastewater management to transportation and growth.

Three of the six candidates are political newcomers, while the others are incumbents on the dais. All six are vying for three seats that are up for grabs May 6.

Candidates first discussed workforce housing, which city councilmembers recently tried to address by supporting two possible apartment complexes that applied for federal tax credits.

The median price of a home in Dripping Springs is over $390,000, said incumbent councilmember Charlie Busbey, who’s been on the council for six years.

“Workforce housing is something the council has been trying to address for many years,” said Mayor Pro Tem Bill Foulds, who’s been on the council for 16 years.

Taline Manassian, an attorney who has lived in Dripping Springs for nine years, said there could be some “creative ways” to encourage rental properties.

“Maybe we encourage home owners to have garage apartments or additions to homes that can serve as rentals,” Manassian said.

William Travis Crow, who is self-employed and has lived in Hays County for 45 years, said he believes de-regulating development would result in more affordable housing.

Harrison Thomas Schultz, Dripping Springs resident of two years, said city officials should be collaborative with developers, relax impact fees and allow for higher density development.

Schultz said he knows of two local churches with sizeable land holdings interested in partnering with the city to build workforce housing.

“We just a need city council that appreciates the benefits associated with these sorts of creative approaches and has both the desire and the willingness to make it happen,” Schultz said.

But reactions were mixed when it came to Dripping Springs’ wastewater discharge plan. While some of the candidates supported the permit, others opposed it.

“I agree with the plan,” Busbey said. “It’s making the best of a very tough situation. With the reuse that we have planned our intention is to sell every bit of that processed water that we possibly can.”

Crow said city officials are moving in the right direction, as not having a waste water system would slow down growth.

“In order to keep Dripping Springs growing, you need a waste water system,” Crow said. “But I think we need to look into other options besides dumping in Onion Creek.”

Foulds said city council is moving on the right track, although the permit is “not perfect as written.”

Schultz said discharging “poorly treated” wastewater in Onion Creek is “simply not the right thing to do.”

“While it’s clearly the cheapest and easiest solution, I believe our elected officials need to be much more responsible stewards for the citizens and to the environment they represent,” Schultz said.

Schultz said he would consider the cost-benefit analysis of acquiring additional storage and upgrading the existing wastewater treatment facility.

Councilmember Santos Alba, who’s been on the council for 24 years, said he supported the plan.

“I think the city is going the right way about it,” Alba said.

Residents can vote early in-person from April 24 to May 2 at the Dripping Springs ISD Administrative Building.

Residents can vote on May 6 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Dripping Springs ISD Administrative Building or at the Sunset Canyon Baptist Church.

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