I take this job seriously. I put the taxpayer first. I have over 30yrs managing people and projects. The past 15yrs have been managing real estate and development for my company. I've been there a total of 28yrs. I've been married for 20yrs. I own, with my wife a couple of small businesses. I'm an Eagle Scout (1994) and father of two children. I've lived in 4 major metropolitan areas, as I relocated from market to market with the same employer over the past 28yrs.
I'll compromise on a lot of things, but not on these things below. I've learned a few things:
1) Accountability doesn't always make friends or make people happy with you. We deal in MILLIONS of dollars at Hutto, you HAVE to be accountable for that.
2) Ethics/Morals. Doing the right thing is the most important to me. Laws and Ordinances are not always in the best interest of taxpayers. That's where we need to look at issues and decide if it is the right thing to do or not. If the Ordinance needs to be changed, then we should do that! Google "Newspaper Test". That is the best way to lead in this area.
3) Accounting and money management. Some call it "getting into the weeds", but wouldn't you do that at a city where a) you are responsible for the budget and b) the city laid off almost 1/3 of the workforce a couple of years ago? Asking the tough questions is what a Mayor should be doing.
4) Leadership style. I generally do not "micro" manage. The City Council's job is to manage 1 person, the City Manager. That's it. I believe in meeting with the City Manager and letting him/her manage the city. I believe in staying off the "2nd" floor of City Hall and letting the employees do what they are paid to do. I do NOT believe in constantly meeting with the City Manager's employees to get questions answered. To me, that is what the City Council meeting is for. Over time, employees will have great presentations that will help guide the City Council and the public in the decision making process.
5) Backroom deals do NOT benefit taxpayers and DO benefit special interest. We just had a meeting where a member of the City Council wants the City Council to meet with developers on their own and not discuss projects during City Council Meetings. I can't do that. I believe that the public has the RIGHT to the SAME information as the City Council persons (unless its confidential as part of a big economic deal). Private meetings do NOT benefit citizens.
6) Transparency. EVERYTHING should be in the open. The good, the bad and the ugly. The people that I meet, they WANT to "see the sausage made". They know that they will not always like what they see, but they want to see it. We should have most of the City's information readily available to the public. The emails going back and forth where people are trying to make decisions behind closed doors will not help anyone!
2018 Roads bonds. The bond audit was just finished in February 2022. It was determined that almost $4,000,000 of our bond money is unaccounted for. My opponent was "pleasantly surprised" by the results. I was not. I will continue to hold Accountable those that misspent, miss-appropriated and wasted bond and tax dollars. The voters spoke loud on what that money was to be spent on. 1st and foremost, the money is to be spent on 1660N/Limmer Loop, 1660N/Hwy 79 and 1660S/Hwy 79 road improvements BEFORE spending on any other projects. So, we need to keep pushing to get those projects designed and in construction so that we can then move on to Live Oak re-construction, Limmer Loop/Ed Schmidt and CR137/1660. Staff changes were made during the 3Q of 2021. Updates are now monthly, but updates alone will not get the job done. We need someone to continue to hold people accountable so that the work that was approved in 2018 GETS DONE!
2018 Parks Bonds, when fiscal year 2021 came to an end, over $1,000,000 in park money allocated in the budget was not spent. That is unacceptable. Our new interim City Manager has hired a dedicated Parks Superintendent to make sure that our parks are kept up to the standards that we, the taxpayers, deserve and expect. Our Parks Advisory Board is currently working on a detailed list of improvements for our Parks. They are being empowered to go "line by line" to look at every aspect of our parks so that we can provide the quality of life that Hutto residents expect.
Money was budgeted this year for a laser mapping of every city road in Hutto. This is being done so that the roads are mapped, and graded so that they can be ranked, without politics being involved. That way the roads most in need can be improved, without special interest moving the money to other projects. Drive through Old Town and you will see many roads that need improved drainage and paving.
Hutto's sidewalks will be mapped as well. Why? Because some like those along Carl Stern by CVS, need repair, while the lack of others, in Lakeside Estates need to be built. The reason for the mapping is so that we can inventory our sidewalks, or lack of sidewalks and budget money each year to improve our walkability.
Money for long over due drainage projects in Legends of Hutto was allocated. The talking needs to stop and the building needs to start. Once this project gets to where it needs to be, staff will bring recommendations for the rest of Hutto.
How does this get paid for? By making sure that development "pays for development". The push for this type of thinking started over a year ago, and I promise to continue to be the advocate for the citizens and make sure that infrastructure burdens are born by new developers and not current residents.
Water/wastewater, Hutto was able to reduce water rates due to the infrastructure burden being placed on new development and not current people. Hutto city residents are seeing close to a 35% water rate reduction. We've made steps to continue to improve our water and wasterwater LUEs so that we continue to keep up with the growth.
Accountability. Continue to hold each other accountable, IN THE OPEN, and not in the back. The desire to do "backroom" deals will never go away. The open government system provides the most effective way at making sure that our City Council works for YOU, and not special interest.
Open Dialogue. Continue to allow discussion from ALL viewpoints, not just the ones that fit a certain group. There are over 30,000 residents in Hutto and they ALL deserve a voice.
Continue to build relationships with ALL parties and work towards solutions that benefit BOTH sides. Hutto AND the other party. Respectful dialogue is very important. These deliberations should be IN THE OPEN, and again, not in the back or at a private meeting. Too many times, the Hutto citizens have taken a back seat to others. The best "deal" is one where both sides "win".
Hutto should continue to strive to have a well balanced city, with a mix of residential, commercial and industrial. Doing so diversifies our tax base and ensures that we have consistent revenues with the highs and lows of our economy.
To do so, we need to continue to:
Diversify our housing. Types and sizes are important as well as rental variations that include apartments, duplex and the rental home market. "Executive" housing is important as we also need to have housing for those who own the businesses in Hutto.
Continue to keep Hutto "open for business". Less regulation, less fees, continued focus on keeping taxes lower. Commercial businesses follow rooftops. BUT, they won't if the city has the highest taxes or has multiple fees and permits to build in or operate in Hutto.
Continue to push for a "No New Revenue" rate. Continue to look at our budgets on a "line by line" approach. The City Council has (2) main jobs, manage the City Manager and budget appropriations.
Hutto was named, just over a year ago as "Safest City in Texas". We are growing extremely fast. So should our law enforcement. I will continue to push (3) things, that are LEOs are well equipped, well trained and WELL PAID! I have been pushing a goal to have HPD be paid in the top 25% of the Austin market. A starting off officer makes $58,000/yr. Even after a double digit % increase in 2021 and an 8% increase in 2022, more must be done. Currently we are EAGLERLY waiting on a compensation study, so that we have the backup to what we already know. Our cops DESERVE and EARN a living wage. They constantly put THEIR family 2nd, to put YOUR family 1st.
I will continue to work with the HPOA (Hutto Police Officer's Association) to recognize their desires for a better working environment. The HPD has made several MUCH NEEDED improvements over the last few months, BUT they NEED to be included in an Ordinance. WITHOUT doing it in this direction, changes can be made against the HPOA's wishes without any input from the City Council or the public.
Over the past year, City Hall has gotten out of the Economic Development business. The Hutto Economic Development Corporation (EDC) has taken over and has been led by an Economic Development Director. The EDC board was reorganized to include members from different professional fields who ALL live and call Hutto home.
The result? Hutto is pushing forward with a plan to attract a diversified group of businesses that are in the "Established Industries, with new technologies" category. The Chairman of the EDC coined that term. What does it mean? Instead of attracting one BIG company, that may leave at some time in the future, we are focused on many companies that are expanding with new tech, but building things that are used everyday. Companies like Kval and Ovivo to name a couple. We also have 500 acres under contract with Project Acropolis and another 150 acres under contract with Project D-12. These projects have limited incentives during a short period so that they are accretive to the Hutto tax payer TODAY and not sometime in the future.
We MUST continue to push for increased Commercial Growth. We need a diversification of restaurants. And I'm not talking about fast food chicken places. We need to work to encourage "sit down" type restaurants to call Hutto home. We need to work to encourage small business owners to start up a new restaurant. We need a grocery store on the north side of 79 to better serve the upper half of Hutto. We need entertainment offers so that our families can stay in Hutto. AND, with better entertainment options, Hutto can attract $$ from other cities.
I am also pushing for the formation of a Downtown/Main Street Advisory Board. Keeping our business interests in mind will allow them to grow and succeed. When they do well, Hutto does well and other businesses will follow. This board, if approved by the City Council as presented, will work a lot like our Parks Advisory Board. They will give the City Council and City Hall clear directives on what is needed to make our businesses successful. Having direction from business leaders and not bureaucrats ensures that the RIGHT decisions are made that help local small businesses.
Many cities forget about our residents that are growing older. Just over a year ago, there was a fight at City Hall to put a Senior Tax Ceiling on their property taxes. Disabled citizens were added as well. I am very proud to have helped with this much needed tax relief. But, MORE, must be done!
We NEED a Senior Activity Center so that those over 55 can have a place to talk with others and engage in social activities. We NEED increased medical care. We NEED alternative transportation methods so that those who cannot drive can get to the grocery store, dr appointments, etc.
Currently, a plan is on it's way to work on the activity center problem!
Our Seniors are probably the MOST important part of our community. They volunteer, they babysit our children when we are at work, they eat at our restaurants and they keep an eye on our neighborhoods while we are away.
To make Hutto great, we have to have the ability to have a diverse population.
The best city, is one that is diverse in thought, age, race, religion and abilities. So, what does this mean?
It means that we don't have ONE city park that is accessible to those that are disabled, we have EVERY park accessible to ALL.
It means that we work to have housing for all walks of life, not just those that make over $100,000/yr. Our teachers and Police should have housing that they can afford to live in. Our Seniors should not be made to move due to the ever-rising rent and mortgage bills. Our lower income residents should not be forced to move due to the housing markets crazy climb.
It means that when we look at issues, we include ALL viewpoints, not just the popular ones.
It means that we look out for those that like to read (better Library), those that like to walk (trails), those that work close to home or far away, EVERYONE. We strive to take ALL viewpoints into account when making decisions. Decisions should not be just about what neighborhood you live in, or what your family likes, but what about your neighbor's family? Or your child's classmate's family?
It means making sure that HPD polices our people by Protecting and Serving in a manner that the public wants them too. I've talked to many of our LEOs and they want to be a bigger part of our community. Staff changes are allowing this. Our cops love Hutto. It's a partnership to make Hutto safe AND great. We need to continue to nurture this so that the citizens understand the concerns of our Police and the Police understand the concerns of our citizens.
To sum it up, JEDI is really about listening. Then acting.
Thanks for reading this to the end. Please vote. Local elections are the most important. We handle your parks, roads, water, sewer, Police and taxes. I'd love your support for this election. The next 3yrs are EXTREMELY important. If you have not already done so, I could use your support by allowing me to place a sign in your yard. It does a couple of things. It shows your support and reminds you to vote.
The best is yet to come for Hutto!!