Keeping Wimberley on Track with Financial Responsibility
The city’s budget is the engine that powers our city government. On a regular basis, City Council approves dollars for road repair, needed equipment and maintenance and all manner of expenses that are important to the smooth operation of the city.
Wimberley citizens expect our city leaders to be prudent with public funds.
What does it mean for a city government to be financially responsible? All financial matters should have these elements:
• Transparency – Frequent, clear and relevant reporting of the city’s spending gives our community confidence that its officials are allocating dollars based on its values;
• Good-quality information – Spending must be based on accurate, verifiable facts from experts and professionals; and
• Accountability – Our local officials answer to the people they serve. They must stand behind the financial decisions they make; that those decisions are efficient and cost-effective.
Here in Wimberley, we have a small staff. We engage contractors and consultants for specialty services such as building inspectors, engineers and attorneys that don’t justify full-timers.
Our City Administrator must receive council approval on certain spending decisions. This is an important check that ensures that public spending is monitored in an open setting.
Legal fees, because of their generally high per-hour costs, are of special concern. When the city becomes involved in lawsuits, legal fees skyrocket. And even routine legal reviews can burden a tight city budget. It makes fiscal sense for our council to be prudent in this area.
Over the past several months, the mayor and council have spent significant funds on issues related to ongoing changes in the wastewater treatment system, including bond counsel, and termination of contracts and grants. Money has been approved for crafting short-term rental ordinances, despite the fact that state legislation is likely to be passed that may require these documents to be revised within just 60 days. Is this prudent?
Open and frequent discussion of all spending is critical for our limited budget. Our Council needs to fully disclose estimated consultant fees and justification for those fees whenever it is proposing new projects or ordinances.
Good Governance is Good for Wimberley
Whether we’ve been here for 30 years or have just moved here, the citizens of this valley have this in common: a love of our community and our beautiful landscape.
How do we translate these common values into the governance of our little town? We do it through the practice of Good Governance by our elective body: Wimberley’s City Council.
A primary element of good governance is following the Rule of Law. As a “General Law Type A” City, Wimberley has a legal framework that has been established for the protection of our citizens by the State of Texas and the Municipal Code.
A second hallmark of good governance is that it is consensus-oriented. Consensus doesn’t mean everybody agrees, it simply means that community members feel their points have been heard by the governing body and that they can support decisions. Support results from decisions that have been made in a responsible, process-oriented way.
Accountability is a key tenet of good governance. Our council is accountable to those who will be affected by its decisions and actions. The use of public funds is a critical point in the responsibility our elected officials have to us. In addition to citizens, the actions of our council affect those outside our city limits, those in the county as a whole and beyond.
Transparency is also essential to good governance. This means that accurate, easily understandable information should be freely and directly accessible to citizens. Transparency also speaks to the rule of law as it applies to Open Records and Open Meetings requirements.
And finally, good governance means that the city will strive for efficiency and effectiveness in following established processes to produce favorable results to meet community needs and make the best use of available resources: human, technological, financial, natural and environmental.
A city government that adheres to the principles of good governance will serve the best interests of citizens of Wimberley and will lead by thoughtful consideration of the present and future needs of our town.
As your City Council Member, I will be committed to these elements of good governance and implement them in our city government.
Protect Our Parks, Protect Our Environment
The peacefulness and spectacular scenery of the Texas Hill Country drew all of us to this place and we each fell in love with it in our own way. Over the past year, we have been called on to defend the unique environmental treasure that is our beloved Wimberley Valley.
After trails were strewn with debris and unauthorized stone walls were put up at the Cypress Creek Nature Trail and Preserve recently, the community rallied. Neighbors joined together in calling for a preservation and maintenance plan and the Wimberley Valley Watershed Association has come forward to take on that task. The result is that the city’s first public land is back on track for the education and enjoyment of all.
But there are more, and greater, challenges ahead. The Blue Hole Regional Park, 126 acres of diverse natural and recreational area, is now at the center of the Wimberley City Council’s sewer plan. Running a raw sewage pipe under the creek presents serious problems including heavy construction equipment in the park and boring more than 600 feet across the creek along sensitive fault lines and karst formations directly below the iconic swimming area. Routing the sewer pipe in this specific place endangers Wimberley’s most treasured natural area.
Like 2005, when the Blue Hole was saved from residential development, the Blue Hole Regional Park is once again endangered.
Another massive environmental threat is looming across the Hill Country in the form of the Permian Highway Pipeline. This massive pipeline goes through the Wimberley Valley and very near the Jacob’s Well Natural Area. It crosses under the Blanco River twice. It runs through Hays County, the fourth fastest-growing county in the nation. The impact of this pipeline not only affects the safety and beauty of our Valley and county, it also imperils the tourism industry that fuels our economy.
It is time for our leaders to step up and stand up. Our elected officials need to be the stewards of our natural resources that we – and our children and their children – deserve. If they’re not up to the task, we need new leaders. I ask you to join me in electing new leadership.