|City Manager Scott Sellers|
He did acknowledge that 80 percent of those workers commute to jobs outside the city limits "and it’s our goal to get better jobs here so that we don’t have to do that."
Speaking about his budget recommendations he will officially present to the city council Saturday morning, Sellers said "We tried to focus this year on those quality of life issues while preserving the same level of service. The great thing is almost across all departments we are reducing our expenditures this year which leads to a lower tax rate being proposed. We are able to do more with the same or less (amount of money)."
He also said his budget will not advocate for any increase in city-mandated fees, outside of a 4 percent increase in sanitation collections fees, but that, he said, is the result of action taken by Texas Disposal Systems, the private contractor who holds the city’s residential sanitation services franchise.
He spent a significant amount of time talking about the city’s growth.
‘If any of you read the Community Impact about two weeks ago you saw a story that said Kyle will reach 100,000 population in 20 years," he told the luncheon audience. "That’s actually realistic. Today we’re probably 42 to 43, maybe 44,000. We anticipate another 1,500 to 2,000 (new residents) just his year alone. So the end is not in sight."
He offered a map depicting projects already in place for development that, by themselves, represented 47,000 units. He also said the city’s recent annexation makes Kyle, geographically, "about the same size as San Marcos. You don’t feel that because San Marcos seems so lengthy when you drive the interstate, but Kyle is more spread out east to west."
At the same time, however, Sellers said Kyle bests San Marcos in new home starts by a ratio of close to three to one. But he also acknowledged San Marcos has had more commercial, particularly retail, growth than Kyle.
He also said Kyle is being branded "as a very up-scale community. Our average income rate is, I think, three times that of San Marcos," although he acknowledged the numbers in San Marcos could be skewered by the significant student population there. But, he said, major retailers look at numbers such as those when they decide where they will locate outlets.
"One of our big focuses is to get retail, large retail, industrial development jobs to the Kyle area," he said.
He noted that earlier in the day the city issued a permit for 225-employee linen service company located in the HPI Industrial Park immediately north of the Home Depot. He also said a parcel of land between EVO and Home Depot was recently acquired by the Endeavor Real Estate Group, the developers of the Domain, a high-density office, retail and residential center in Austin. "They are very skilled at developing and we are working together," Seller said, adding he last met with them on Friday to go over their plans for the development, plans Sellers described as "really good." He said those plans include pad sites for a host of "sit-down" restaurants.
"So I am very excited to see what we have in store there within the next year," the city manager said.
He also said that while Plum Creek has the reputation for being "a very residential dominated neighborhood," there’s a section of the community known as Plum Creek Uptown, at the northwest corner of FM 1626 and Kohlers — "all that area behind the PAC," he said — that’s in store for some major commercial development.
"The Plum Creek Uptown actually went to the legislature this session and were approved for a Municipal Utility District," Sellers said. "That will allow them to borrow for their internal infrastructure. Their plan is to do a walkable mixed-use, multi-use type development. It will be almost Domain-esque but on a very smaller scale. It will be a new town center, if you will."
Back on the subject of the upcoming budget, Sellers said he will be proposing a $15 million Certificate of Obligation bond, a funding mechanism cities use to issue debt without the need for voter approval on a shorter time line than is the case with general obligation bonds like the kind the city used to fund its current road improvement program. The proceeds from these bonds would be used to pay for needed improvements in the city’s wastewater infrastructure.
"The growth in our utility service will actually pay the debt service on that bond," Sellers said. "So we can do the bond without increasing utility rates. That’s a really good deal."
He also said the budget will include items designed to create tourist destinations, including an upscale resort in the Blanco River Ranch development and a convention/tourist center.
He also said the budget will fund council member Travis Mitchell’s "First Year’s On Us," economic incentive program which would allow the first year’s property taxes of any new business to be completely rebated. "That is a big hurdle for a start-up business or a relocating business," the city manager said. "This is a very pro-business program we’re going to start."
He said the budget will contain the money for council member David Wilson’s proposed Veterans’ Memorial and "a million dollars out of the Park Development Fund for a large park on the northeast side" apparently close to the Science Hall Elementary School at Bebee Road and Dacy Lane.
"If you’ve been to Buda and seen their big basketball pavilion, we’ve got one of those in our budget," he said "We looking at locations on the east side of town for a dog park. We will be starting a community garden on land right next to the library (presumably the land the council authorized purchasing following the executive session of its last agenda meeting). There’s also money in there for a potential skate park and a splash park."