HSB forum concludes long-range goals nearly met

Lew K. Cohn/The Highlander

Attentive to the Horseshoe Bay Citizens Forum, Oct. 10, are city staff members, from left, finance director Kristen Woolley, fire chief Joe Morris, assistant police chief Garth Davis, development services director Eric Winter and city manager Stan Farmer.

By Lew K. Cohn

Managing Editor

The Highlander

Horseshoe Bay has virtually completed everything on its long-range plan adopted last year with the exception of three things, all of which are currently in progress, Mayor Steve Jordan announced at a citizens' forum Tuesday at Quail Point.

Jordan, the Horseshoe Bay City Council and city staff held this first-ever forum to promote government transparency and open communication with residents.

One item on the long-range plan in progress is the widening of Ranch to Market Road 2147, which runs through the heart of Horseshoe Bay. While the Burnet County portion of the road is up to specifications, the Llano County side needs improvements to accommodate current and future traffic patterns.

“We have received a $2 million commitment from the Texas Department of Transportation to widen from the 7-11 to Bay West Boulevard,” Jordan said. “This will improve not only the quality of the road, but the safety of our citizens.

“It is going to take more than $2 million to do what is needed and to do it right and right now, TxDOT doesn't plan to start work on this until after next summer.”

Jordan said former Texas House Speaker and current state Rep. Tom Craddick of Midland owns a home in Horseshoe Bay in Blue Lake and was able to help convince TxDOT to add widening of RM 2147 to its priorities.

The city is also continuing to look at options to improve high speed internet in Horseshoe Bay. A committee appointed by Jordan has met many times and has spoken with several providers but “we have no definitive answer, but we know what is not working and what improvements we want to see made.

“We hope to come back to you in the near future to report a recommendation that will improve our service out here,” Jordan said.

The final long range goal still in the works is a land use map for Horseshoe Bay which shows the size and utilization of all properties within the city limits and extraterritorial jurisdiction.

“The Planning & Zoning Commission is going out and looking at every property to determine the size and usage of those properties,” Jordan said. “They are near completion and hope that by the end of the year, they will have a map which not only shows existing use but proposed use going forward.”

Jordan spoke of several recent amenities which have been added to the community, including the new Horseshoe Creek Hiking Trail, the Conrad Fuchs House and the two regulation, state-of-the-art pickleball courts being built at Martin Park.

Jordan also spoke about the city's financial condition, giving a glowing report to citizens about the fiscal strength of the city.

Jordan explained to citizens the city has two main budgets it operates within — the general fund and the utility fund. General fund revenues come mostly from property tax receipts and fund police, fire, animal control, street maintenance, parks, inspections, planning and zoning and code enforcement. The utility fund revenue comes from usage fees and includes water, wastewater, garbage and recycling.

At the close of fiscal year 2017, the general fund saw an increase in revenue over expenditures of $761,750, while the utility fund was up $1,558,500 in revenue over expenditures. Jordan said the general fund revenue needed to run all services and provide for capital purchase is about $7.6 million, while revenue for the utility fund is expected to be about $7.1 million. The city is expected to have a combined ending fund balance of $3,099,668, or the equivalent of about five months of operating expenses.

Property tax valuations for the city of Horseshoe Bay are a whopping $1.9 billion and this year's budget will raise an additional $378,089 in revenue from property taxes — an increase of 8.15 percent. The city also saw about 80 new residential building permits issued and new property revenue added to the tax roll this year totals about $131,110.

The city is one of only 14 small communities in the state to enjoy a AA+ bond rating, a source of pride for the City Council, Jordan said.

“Horseshoe Bay's future is bright,” he said. “Our challenge is to manage and control the growth that we know will continue.”

One resident asked Jordan if the city believes a traffic light is necessary on RM 2147.

“I'm proud to say that we don't have any traffic lights, which is a breath of fresh air,” Jordan replied. “The pace of everything here in Horseshoe Bay is different than what you see as you come down 71 from Austin.

“I know at certain times of the year it can be difficult to turn onto 2147 when we have a lot of visitors in town, but when we anticipate traffic problems, the police do a great job of getting out and directing traffic. I would like to see us hold off on getting a light for as long as we can.”

Former U.S. Congressman Jim Chapman, who now lives in Horseshoe Bay, urged the city to continue to support the fight against a proposed rock-crushing plant in Marble Falls that would be near Horseshoe Bay's extraterritorial jurisdiction.

The council did pass a resolution condemning the plant and asking the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to hold a contested case hearing about the merits of the plant.

Other discussion centered around the city's relationship with Llano County. Jordan noted Llano County receives more than 56 percent of its revenue from Horseshoe Bay, yet spends an inordinate amount of that revenue to provide a law enforcement presence in unincorporated Kingsland.

Asked what residents could do to keep pressure on Llano County to be responsive to Horseshoe Bay concerns, he said they can “make your presence known at their meetings to say you want a voice in how our money is used. Also, run for election.”

Rate this article: 
No votes yet