How the bond packages were developed
The two county bond propositions on this year’s ballot have been years in the making.
Both Proposition 1 – public safety investments – and Proposition 2 – dealing with roads – were approved by the Commissioners Court on 5-0 votes in August, ensuring them a place on the November ballot.
But the roots of each proposition stretch back long before that.
Proposition 1: A decade of work on a HERO Center
The coordinated dispatch and emergency operations center – as well as the renovated and expanded jail that are a part of Proposition 1 – grew out of years of study and planning among emergency service workers across Hays County.
Recent record floods have heightened public awareness about the need for a high-tech communications system and more coordinated emergency dispatch between the 19 different agencies that support public safety across the county. But many emergency managers, including members of the Commissioners Court and the Hays County Sheriff, have been working on solutions since 2008 or before.
If the bonds pass, the result will be a modern Hays Emergency Response Operations (HERO) Center, unifying many of the operations from across the county and adding new technology.
Work on the best solution to Hays County’s overcrowded and outdated jail began about the same time. Jail administrators, the sheriff, the Commissioners Court, and representatives from the courts system worked together with nationally known corrections experts to improve efficiencies in the judicial system and current jail operations, and then to craft the plan (also part of Prop 1) that renovates and expands the current jail rather than building a new one.
Proposition 2: On the Road Again
Proposition 2 – roads, sidewalks, bike lanes, bridges, and related projects – reflect the changing nature of Hays County and its rise to become one of the 20 most populous counties in the state.
The projects included in this bond package were chosen by the Commissioners Court – one commissioner from each of the four geographic precincts in the county, plus the county judge, elected at large.
The final selections reflect a much broader process that has been underway since before the county called its last bond election in 2008. That bond package, also for roads, included extensive public meetings across the county, a citizen advisory group, and a landmark partnership with TXDOT and several cities to share projects and costs.
The 2008 road bond packaged passed, and the county was able to complete many of the projects under budget. (Click here for more information about the 2008 road bond package, and results.) While the last bond projects were still underway, the county updated its long range Transportation Plan.
The county has also been very active in several regional transportation planning groups, including the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO), of which Hays County is a member. The CAMPO plans also include a wide range of public comment and public input.
Priorities for this year’s Proposition 2 road bonds were developed from the planning that took place in 2008, the Transportation Plan update of 2013, and other regional planning – such as CAMPO – along with recommendations from citizens, the county’s road department, and engineers. Commissioners made the final selections based on safety, traffic counts, congestion, pedestrian access to trails and/or key public places such as schools, and an effort to balance the countywide road network for efficiency and fairness.
Another consideration for the Commissioners Court was a stated determination to provide road improvements without increasing the tax rate.
Commissioners Court assigned most of the money to specific road projects, but also put some money into a pool for emergency safety improvements and seed money when grant-matching opportunities arise.