Hays County Judge: Becerra, Velasquez vie for Democratic nomination

Ruben Becerra

SMDR: What are your top three priorities for the coming years?

Becerra: My priorities are to make our county government accessible and transparent, control taxes and debt, and to protect our environmentally sensitive areas.

SMDR: What is your strategy concerning spending and debt?

Becerra: In 2017, over 5,000 additional households, have come forward disputing their taxes. This tells me people are worried about their rising tax burden. I plan to go over the County’s budget and make cuts to frivolous spending. Additionally, I would like to scrutinize the current bidding process to make sure it is being used in a fair and equitable way to maximize our tax payer’s money.

SMDR: What is your strategy for the region’s long-term water needs?

Becerra: I would like to see us incentivize conservation. San Marcos gives a price break to households that consume less water, they also offer rebates for installation of rainwater collection systems. I will partner with our municipalities to help initiate or reinforce regional conservation programs and other incentives like these. Some of the cities in Hays County have already solidified their water resources. For those that have not, I will work with them to identify resources ensuring the Hays County citizens are informed and involved in our plans eliciting dialogue from them.

SMDR: What is the county’s/region’s best strategy in dealing with fl oods?

Becerra: There are discussions regarding a partial Blanco River bypass east of I-35, and regional discussions of creating additional flood control dams in Blanco County.

Both of these would be expensive as well as engaging many jurisdictions, state and federal agencies, including Army Corps of engineers. As these studies are completed and results are made available regarding the cost effectiveness versus the results of flood control from these projects, we will need to evaluate those results. In the meantime, we must continue to be cautious as we develop in areas known to be susceptible to flooding. We should also have regional discussions with our surrounding counties and municipalities to communicate about developments upstream that create additional impervious cover and what the cumulative effect is for the communities downstream.

There are many attainable interim solutions we can reach through collaboration and communication with all our regional partners.

Abel Velasquez

SMDR: What are your top three priorities for the coming years?

Velasquez: Restoring Honor, Dignity and Integrity to our Commissioner Court, Fiscal Responsibility. Transparency.

SMDR: What is your strategy concerning spending and debt?

Velasquez: Foremost, I will be a far more Fiscal Conservative than the people who currently sit on the Commissioner’s Court. First we must hold each Elected Official and Director responsible for their fiscal year submission. There can be no changes to the Fiscal Year Budget unless it is a true emergency and that will be decided by members of Commissioner Court. A supervisory failure on the part of Officials and Department Heads does not necessarily constitute an Emergency. Requested changes to the current Fiscal Year budget will only be accepted for consideration at mid-year review. That is not to say requests will be automatically approved.

When considering debt, my focus will be on unnecessary projects that are currently on the table. Each project will be reevaluated and those found to be in excess or are not practical.  These types of projects may either be taken off the table, bonds cancelled, or money returned to the General Fund. It may be more feasible to use these funds in parts of the county where rapid growth has congested main arteries of our current infrastructure.

Holding Elected Officials and Department Heads responsible and accountable is a main focus of my administration and it is my belief that this is what is expected of me by the people of Hays County.

SMDR: What is your strategy for the region’s long term water needs?

Velasquez: During my first run for County Judge in 2014 I asked the people of Hays County to be bold and to look beyond today’s water needs and made mentioned of desalination as a solution to our water shortage. We need to work with Cities and Counties from North Texas to South Texas whose populations are out pacing current water supply.  

Cost estimate for a 100 MGD (million gallons per day) seawater desalination plant in Texas is about $658 million dollars (Texas Water Development Board). Payment for these services could come from the cities and counties along the I-35 corridor and bordering communities as far away as 30 miles (as an example) to include any Federal and State funding.

This method allows for our aquifers to recharge themselves at a gradual rate as nature intended them to be.

SMDR: What is the county’s/region’s best strategy in dealing with floods?

Velasquez: To begin with, we should use the After Action and analysis reports created by or Emergency Management Team after the last two devastating floods, to include reports and data from the Texas Division of Emergency Management and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

At this time, I am unprepared to answer this question until I have read and reviewed the Hays County Emergency Management Teams Reports and analysis as noted above.

San Marcos Daily Record

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P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666