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Nash: Hays bonds mean better roads, safer community, no tax hike

Hays County’s population has doubled in just 15 years, from 100,000 to 200,000 residents. Fast growth puts great strain on essential county functions, like roads and emergency services, and threatens the safety and quality of life of every Hays County family.

That’s why our county leaders developed Propositions 1 and 2 on this fall’s general election ballot. These propositions present a thoughtful and responsible plan to protect Hays County’s public safety and quality of life as we grow, and they will not require any increase in the tax rate.

Proposition 1 is a $106.4 million public safety facilities bond that addresses three critical needs for Hays County’s first responders and law enforcement.

It will replace our outdated 911 dispatch center, which lacks capacity for our surging population, leading to dangerous communication gaps in our 911 system. It will also expand our law enforcement center with space for new officers, an officer training center and crime labs to process evidence faster for investigations and prevent backlogs in our courts.

Proposition 1 will also fix overcrowding at the county jail. Our current jail was built in the late 1980s, when Hays County was one-third our current size. Today, the jail is over capacity, which forces the county to house inmates elsewhere at great expense to taxpayers and takes officers off our streets to transport them. Proposition 1 will solve this problem and give our first responders and officers the tools they need to keep us safe.

Proposition 2 funds a comprehensive plan to address critical road improvements, including $98.9 million for safety upgrades to roads throughout Hays County and increased capacity for our most traveled and congested roads. In the Buda/Kyle area, for example, two new schools have opened on a crowded two-lane road, and a new high school will soon be built on another. In the Dripping Springs area, fatal accidents along Highway 290 are far too common. In San Marcos, traffic congestion is a growing problem, and major roads in the Wimberley Valley require thoughtful safety improvements that also preserve the area’s rural charm.

Proposition 2 will also provide $22.5 million for low water crossing and drainage improvements, which will improve emergency access during floods and also address pedestrian, bike and conservation needs. Finally, $10 million will address small-scale safety improvements, such as intersection improvements.

Over the past 10 years, Hays County has kept a watchful eye on its budget, paid off bonds early and refinanced bonds at historically low interest rates. Thanks to good planning and financial management, the county’s 2008 bond funds brought more than twice their value in road improvements. Hays County also received a stellar AA bond rating and recently reduced its tax rate with the biggest cut in 10 years.

As a local community, it is our responsibility to prepare for the future and protect our citizens’ safety and quality of life. With their proven track record, we can trust Hays County’s leaders to implement Propositions 1 and 2 on time, on budget and while also maintaining the county’s lowest tax rate in a decade.

Nash is a Hays County business owner and resident, and treasurer of the Committee for Better Roads and a Safer Community.

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