Get to know your Wimberley candidates

Wimberley City Council members for places 1, 3 and 5 were asked the following questions.
Candidates that did not submit a questionnaire as of press time are Eric Wollam (Place 5)  and Tim Dodson (Place 1).

Rebecca Minnick, Pl. 1

What is the best approach to Wimberley’s wastewater issues – a third-party operated facility or a city-owned facility and why?
A city-owned plant is the best approach because the size of the plant will serve to manage future development and will be less expensive to both users and the city in the long run. No discharge is easily accomplished with the city plan. The Aqua Texas option doesn’t provide water to Blue Hole Park and it creates additional costs and environmental risks boring under the creek. Costs will rise as levels of usage rise and Aqua Texas’ environmental and customer service track record is dismal. However, we need a sewer ASAP and I will work to ensure it happens.

How should Wimberley address state officials directives of incorporating a property tax?
I oppose a property tax for an Aqua Texas system. No Council member – ever – can guarantee that a property tax set at zero will stay at zero – especially one that will be in effect for 28 years. We can’t predict the future: How much revenue will the sewer generate? How many users will be served? Or, how will FUTURE council members vote? Currently, we do not even have costs on boring under the creek or up-to-date costs of what has been spent to switch. There are still many unanswered questions and unverified claims.

What are your thoughts on the recent de-annexation of properties in the city?
A dangerous precedent has been set and, if elected, I will NOT vote for any further disannexations. Disannexations forfeit our zoning, our strongest tool to manage growth, protect our environment and retain our character. City processes to achieve this include comprehensive reviews of potential development by the City Staff, our Planning & Zoning Commission and the Council. Public hearings are required where citizens and neighbors can provide input. County requirements require NO such public review. This could have a devastating effect on our charming town and our city finances.

What does Wimberley lack and how would you go about fixing that issue?
Traffic congestion, parking and pedestrian safety are serious issues in the commercial areas at the Square. We need directional signage, lighting, sidewalks and parking. I believe that we can address some of the challenges with short-term strategies such as temporary parking areas and shuttle buses. I propose creating a task force to explore solutions, timelines and funding options including grants. Since our city runs on sales tax, we need to support our merchants because they support us. We need to work together to make our Square as safe, economically viable and charming as it can be.

What was the last movie you saw in theaters?
Mary Poppins. I took my granddaughter during the holidays!

 

 

Christine Byrne, Pl. 3

What is the best approach to Wimberley’s wastewater issues – a third-party operated facility or a city-owned facility and why?
Last May, the City plan was on track to be completed – on budget and on time with 160 users. The state-of-the-art system would have allowed us to keep local control, re-use the effluent in an environmentally responsible way to enhance our park and decrease the demand on our precious aquifer. The City plan is an investment in our future and the best choice. Ten months later, we have a half completed system to nowhere, skyrocketing legal fees, broken contracts, money and time wasted, grants declined and an impending city-wide ad valorem property tax. 

How should Wimberley address state officials directives of incorporating a property tax?
The change of scope to Aqua Texas will necessitate a property tax pledge. It may be set at “0” initially, but there is no guarantee it won’t increase. This could be hanging over our heads for 28 years. I do not trust that Aqua Texas rates won’t skyrocket in the future, necessitating a tax above zero. Ad valorem taxes should be brought to a vote before the people. 

What are your thoughts on the recent de-annexation of properties in the city?
It is NOT in the best interest of the City for any council member to vote to disannex property. This has set a dangerous precedent and will open us up to more disannexation requests and future litigation. We are giving up our controls on growth, zoning and future tax base when we allow properties to disannex.  Our citizens will no longer have input on future development. As your council member I will not support future disannexation requests. 

What does Wimberley lack and how would you go about fixing that issue?
Wimberley’s challenges include road repairs, traffic, parking and sidewalks. I would collaborate with local groups and explore various grants for sidewalks (especially along 2325 and Old Kyle Road). Traffic issues during Market Days and peak season Saturdays could be alleviated with help from our Constables. Parking could be expanded to near by lots with a shuttle service. Finally, the transportation advisory board can help develop a comprehensive road plan, that prioritizes needs and offers recommendations.  

What was the last movie you saw in theaters?
My daughter and I saw Crazy Rich Asians. 

 

 

Susan Jaggers, Pl. 3

What is the best approach to Wimberley’s wastewater issues – a third-party operated facility or a city-owned facility and why?
We need to complete the sewer system as currently planned and approved. Why? It’s the most environmentally sound and financially responsible option. No City-owned plant at Blue Hole means no discharge of sewer effluent into the Blanco River, a potential environmental catastrophe for our river and aquifers. Unlike the City, Aqua has a land application permit and cannot discharge. The economics are simple. The City could build a $3.1 million plant and spend $214,000 annually to operate it. The other selected option is to spend $0.2 million to connect to Aqua and pay them an annual cost of just $53,000.

How should Wimberley address state officials directives of incorporating a property tax?
This assertion is incorrect – there are no directives for a property tax. The TWDB loan is currently secured by a pledge of sewer revenues, including a City subsidy. Recognizing lack of sufficient collateral, TWDB also requested it be secured by a pledge of property taxes as well –- but only if needed. In fact, there currently exists a similar pledge in our original, but still existing TWDB loan – with a zero percent tax rate. Actually the risk of property taxes required for the sewer are diminished since Aqua processing costs would be one-fourth the cost of a City plant.

What are your thoughts on the recent de-annexation of properties in the city?
Obviously we cannot dismember the City piece by piece through disannexation. However, there are times when disannexation is appropriate. These should be decided on a case-by-case basis. For example, the City’s desire to add land at the time of incorporation may have resulted in gerrymandered boundaries or other fairness issues that forced certain properties to be included that should not have been. Also, keep in mind that there are Texas laws that guide the different processes and circumstances for disannexation that must be considered and followed.

What does Wimberley lack and how would you go about fixing that issue?
The City needs to have a plan that helps ensure that Wimberley stays Wimberley – the reason most of us want to live here. We cannot help but experience growth and change here in one of the fastest growing counties in the country. However, we can still protect the City from rapid and unbridled growth that could change our unique character forever. We need to do this through updating the City’s Comprehensive Plan and reviewing and revising City ordinances to support our objectives.

What was the last movie you saw in theaters?
I wish I had time to go to the theater.

William Bowman, Pl. 5

What is the best approach to Wimberley’s wastewater issues – a third-party operated facility or a city-owned facility and why?
I have always favored a locally managed, publicly owned, zero discharge sewer system.  My problem with Aqua Texas (AT), is that it is an IOU (investor owned utility). This means that there will always be pressure to send excess revenue to shareholders rather than making investments for preventative maintenance and system upgrades.  The AT plan will also require the implementation of a long-term city property tax.

Unfortunately, the original city plan has been delayed almost a year and would be difficult to pursue due to contract cancellations and recent engineering changes.

How should Wimberley address state officials directives of incorporating a property tax?
As part of the planned switch to Aqua Texas, the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB), our lender, is requiring us to change to a bond that is backed by a property tax.  The current city council voted last week to pursue a 28-year property tax plan to help pay for the system. I am disappointed that the public did not have a chance to comment, or possibly vote, on the change.  In my time campaigning around Wimberley, I have encountered a great deal of resistance to any additional property tax being levied at this time.

What are your thoughts on the recent de-annexation of properties in the city?
In my opinion, one of the primary roles of any city official is to protect the boundaries and territory of the city.  If I am elected to the city council I will never vote to de-annex property from the city. I think it was a huge mistake for the current city council to allow it to happen.

What does Wimberley lack and how would you go about fixing that issue?
My biggest concern for Wimberley at the moment is the lack of sidewalks along the 2325 corridor.  Every afternoon, a large number of students from Danforth Middle School and Wimberley High School walk to local eating establishments like Subway, Mima’s, and Odie’s.  The route along 2325 is rocky and uneven and places students dangerously close to the heavy afternoon traffic flow. I would like to see the city pursue state and federal grants to begin planning a sidewalk from Carney Lane down to Green Acres.  In addition to helping students it would make Market Days easier to navigate as well.

What was the last movie you saw in theaters?
The last movie I saw was a scary one “Pet Semetary.” My favorite movies are “Forrest Gump” and the “Star Wars” movies.

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