What are our top issues?

By Ken Esten Cooke— Mayor Jeryl Hoover spoke to the members of Fredericksburg Rotary Club on Monday and had some interesting things to say about local government and what our priorities should be in the coming years.

A self-described fiscal conservative, Hoover said the average taxpayer whose home is valued at $175,000 (a modest abode in these parts) pays roughly $455 a year in city taxes. Yet that same taxpayer receives roughly $14,600 in services from the city — from roads, to water, to electricity, to leaf pick up, and more.

Of course, these are supplemented by business taxes, sales taxes, rental fees and police fines, he said.

Yet Hoover said city officials and voters will have to prioritize over the next few years.

He said his personal top three issues for today were:

• Fredericksburg’s transition from a small town to a small city.

• Staying on top of utility-related issues, such as LCRA wholesale power and wind power.

• Family life in town and the threat of bad influences like drugs.

Looking into the future, Hoover said his top three were:

• The town’s continued success. Being so close to two of the top five metropolitan areas means we need to plan for traffic relief, and look ahead to water needs as this town will continue to grow.

• Retaining the town’s uniqueness. Fredericksburg, like other Texas towns, is changing demographically. He did not say this was a bad thing, but pointed to the changes migration and immigration bring to this area. Keeping an open, inclusive mindset while continuing to take pride and keeping its past alive is our charge.

• Public investment in infrastructure. Yes, this means a relief route to get through-traffic around us. Our Main Street bottleneck will only continue to worsen as we wait. We can take pride in the fact that Fredericksburg is now a destination place, and we don’t need to rely on traffic passing through town to make up a huge portion of our sales tax base.

We feel other things to consider for this town, and perhaps slowly phase in, include:

• Walking and bike paths. A mini “River Walk” along Town Creek would be nice, but it must be balanced with maintenance costs of such an area.

• Marktplatz and Courthouse Square redevelopment. What should we do with the old jail once the new one is completed? Should we expand festival space into the Courthouse Square for huge-draw events, such as Oktoberfest?

• Zoning. What changes, if any, need to be made?

These are some food for thought.

Fredericksburg is a vibrant place that benefits from solid leadership, past and present. When we give thanks and count our blessings, let’s remember what we have as well as what we do not have.

What do you say?

What are the most important things you believe the city and county need to focus its energies on over the coming five and 10 years? Email us at fbgnews@fredericksburgstandard.com.

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