Category Archives: Local Issues

Issues faced by the City of Kerrville, Kerr County, and surrounding communities.

On the agenda: Tuesday, January 22 | Kerrville City Council

The Kerrville City Council will convene a regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, January 22, at 6 PM in the council chambers at City Hall. Here are some of the notable agenda items:

  • Police commendation award to Officer Tyler Cottonware
  • Design services contract to Hewitt Engineering for $102,980 for design of the River Trail extension to Schreiner University
  • Final reading/approval of the closure of Hays Street for HEB project
  • Final reading/approval of the zoning change required for the HEB project
  • Final reading/approval of a Planned Development District for 318 Leslie Drive
  • Contract with J3 Construction for $285,000 for removal of damaged water lines along Loop 534 that cross the Guadalupe River
  • Discussion of a possible Music Festival
  • Appointments to Recovery Community Coalition
  • Appointments to Kerrville Youth Advisory Committee
  • Executive session to discuss the Lotus Peer Recover lawsuit

Find the full agenda of Tuesday’s meeting at this link:

http://kerrvilletx.granicus.com/DocumentViewer.php?file=kerrvilletx_a003668206adc13ea6df8aac3d99cb0c.pdf&view=1

Gillespie County in the news: pipelines, relief routes, and cost of living

Although these events don’t directly affect Kerrville or its citizens, we believe it is useful to keep abreast of issues that affect nearby communities so that we may learn from their efforts, successes, or mistakes. Our neighbors to the north are exploring (or bracing for) the possibility of two new rights-of-way that would require purchase or acquisition of private land or easements across private lands: 1.) a highway “relief route” to divert traffic around the core downtown; and 2.) a new natural gas pipeline planned by Kinder Morgan. As these two infrastructure deals take shape, the city of Fredericksburg is also in the news for being named the “least affordable” place to live in the state of Texas.

Highway Relief Route

According to the fact sheet, “The City of Fredericksburg and Gillespie County, acting through the Gillespie County Relief Route Task Force and with support from the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), are conducting a feasibility study to explore a potential US 290 relief route around Fredericksburg. The relief route would give people the option to travel around,
rather than directly through, the city.”

Study area for Fredericksburg’s “relief route” for Highway 290

According to the support materials, high traffic volumes and downtown congestion have increased in recent years, and the need for an alternate route has been an important issue for the community. The Fredericksburg Relief Route Study would identify route options for construction of a loop or alternate route for through traffic. This alternate route would be constructed in cooperation between the City of Fredericksburg and TxDOT, and would require significant purchases of private land.

However, realization of this idea is still a long way off. If it proceeds according to plan, the actual construction of this project might be 7+ years off. Several meetings have already been hosted by the City of Fredericksburg and TxDOT, including meetings on May 31 and September 24. Another public workshop will take place on January 24, 2019, at the Pioneer Museum Sanctuary.

Although a number of routes are being considered, the most cost-effective route may be the one that is closest to the city, requiring the fewest number of miles for easements, acquisitions, and construction. Some of the conceptual routes are pictured below.

Conceptual route options for relief route. Source: http://ftp.dot.state.tx.us/pub/txdot/get-involved/aus/fredericksburg-relief-route/092418-conceptual-routes.pdf

For more information about the relief route project, visit the following links:

Kinder Morgan natural gas pipeline

A project that is not looked upon nearly as favorably as the relief route is the proposed Kinder Morgan natural gas pipeline that is planned to traverse Gillespie County along its route that starts in west Texas and ends near Katy.

Approximate route for Kinder Morgan natural gas pipeline. Source: https://www.braungresham.com/condemnation/active-pipeline-companies-texas/permian-highway-pipeline/

Kinder Morgan, one of the largest pipeline companies in the US, is currently surveying the route and seeking contractual agreements with property owners along the way. Construction could begin as early as this fall and the pipeline would be operational by 2020. These companies are authorized by the State of Texas to seize private land through eminent domain, as long as the property owners are “fairly compensated.”

Some property owners near the proposed route are calling this plan “another assault on one of the most iconic regions of the state,” and some property owners also recall the recent electric transmission lines that came through this part of the hill country.

The proposed route through Gillespie County would be south of Fredericksburg, cutting perpendicularly across State Highways 16 and 87. See the approximate route in the graphic below, or visit this link for a more accurate map of potentially affected lands.

For more information about this proposed pipeline project, visit the following links:

Fredericksburg: Least affordable city in Texas?

A website known as Walletwyse studied the relationship between the minimum wage and the median-priced housing market in various cities across the country, and computed the relative affordability of living in these places as a minimum-wage earner. Fredericksburg was listed as the least affordable city in Texas using this metric, which assigned debt-to-income ratios based on those minimum wage rates and median home prices.

Map of affordability, with green being most affordable, and red being least affordable, according to walletwyse.com.

The minimum wage in Fredericksburg is $7.25 per hour, as it is in every city in the state of Texas. The median home price is listed at $305,600. In comparison, Kerrville’s median home price is listed at $206,700.

While we know that median housing prices are not a perfect model for overall affordability of living in a place, this study provides an interesting set of metrics to compare across the country.

See the study here: https://www.walletwyse.com/analytics/min_wage_affordability_jan2019

Conclusions

As we mentioned at the outset, these events have little impact on the average Kerrville resident, but we feel that it’s a good idea to look to neighboring communities and examine how they deal with challenges such as transportation, infrastructure, housing, costs of living, etc., because our community must also deal with those issues on an ongoing basis. Fredericksburg and Gillespie County will have a lot on their plate in the upcoming year as they deal with rapid growth, increases in tourism, and economic development issues.

Council’s first meeting of the new year

The Kerrville City Council met for the first time in 2019 this past Tuesday evening at Council Chambers within City Hall. The meeting lasted from 6 PM until almost 9 PM with a jam-packed agenda contributing to a longer than average meeting. Some of the highlights of the meeting included the following:

Support state tax rebate to help fund hotel/conference center

Council passed a resolution supporting state legislation to allow Kerrville to become eligible for a tax rebate that would be used to support the funding of a hotel/convention center. City Manager Mark McDaniel explained that this legislation would allow Kerrville to receive a rebate from existing taxes, and that no new taxes are proposed, nor any increase in taxes.

This program is part of the Texas Tax Code Chapter 351 Section 102b, which allows eligible cities to receive these rebates to support specific hotel/conference center projects. The rebate comes from the 13% hotel tax that is currently collected. Currently, 6% of the hotel tax goes to the state, and 7% goes to the city. Under this plan, the 6% going to the state would come back to the city for up to ten years to help pay for a public/private partnership for a hotel/conference center. 39 other Texas cities have taken advantage of this tax program.

Council and McDaniel were careful to explain that no specific site or project has been committed to at this time. A developer would partner with the city to construct such a project. McDaniel also reminded council that a study was conducted in 2018 that researched what Kerrville could support as far as a hotel/conference center. The study concluded that a large demand for space is currently not being met in Kerrville, and visitors and conferences that would prefer to be in Kerrville are actually forced to go to other locations since we do not have the facilities in place. Since that study was completed, the City has worked to develop funding measures to implement the recommendations from that study.

Council voted unanimously to approve this resolution.

HEB plans move foward

Council held public hearings for a zoning change on the HEB Main Street property as well as on the closure of Hays Street between Main and Jefferson — both items to facilitate the construction of a new HEB building oriented facing Lemos Street, and new gas pump stations on the property.

After hearing citizens’ concerns regarding legacy oak trees that would be removed, and concerns about closing Hays Street, the council voted unanimously to pass both the zoning change and the street closure ordinances.

Site plan for new HEB building

River Trail extension to Schreiner University receives EIC funding

Council considered a request to use EIC funds for about a mile of new River Trail that would extend from G Street to Schreiner University north of the Guadalupe River. The route is pictured below.

Proposed River Trail extension to Schreiner University

In the agreement, the EIC would provide $1.5 million in funding in two installments to allow the city to construct this portion of the trail. Schreiner University would contribute $50,000 in cash, provide a public trail head, and would construct public restrooms near the trail head. The project would be complete by 2020.

Council voted unanimously to approve this funding agreement.

Contract to construct Legion Lift Station

Council unanimously authorized a construction contract with Keystone Construction for $5.5 million dollars to build a new Legion Lift Station. This sewer infrastructure project has sought for many years and will alleviate the wastewater bottleneck that hampered new development in that portion of the city. This project will be paid for with monies from EIC, the Texas Water Development Board, and the city’s water and sewer revenues.

Board Appointments

Council appointed new members to the following boards:

  • Charter Review Commission
  • Animal Services Advisory Board
  • Recovery Community Coalition
  • Senior Services Advisory Committee
  • Planning & Zoning Commission

The next regularly scheduled City Council meeting will take place on January 22.

Council Agenda for January 8, 2019

The Kerrville City Council will convene for the first time in 2019 tonight for a regular meeting at 6 PM at City Hall. A busy agenda awaits the council’s consideration. Tonight’s meeting can be viewed live at this link.

Links:
Full Agenda
Agenda Packet
Watch Live at 6 PM

Here are some of the highlights:

Set Election Date

Council will officially declare May 4, 2019, as the official election date for municipal elections. As we’ve reported, Place 1 and Place 2 are up for election this year — places currently held by Vincent Voelkel and George Baroody, respectively.

Executive Session for “Hotel/Conference Center”

The council is scheduled to adjourn to executive session to discuss a business prospect for economic development described as a hotel/conference center. Because of the sensitive nature of negotiations and business proprietary information, the council will discuss these matters in a meeting room that is not open to the public. No immediate action is posted on the agenda following this session, so it’s unclear if any action will be taken after this secret meeting.

Zoning and Street Closure for HEB

The council will consider changing the zoning classification for the current HEB site. In addition, council will discuss the closing of a portion of Hays Street to allow the proposed new 100,000 square foot building to be constructed as pictured in the site plan below. The changes will also allow for an expanded fuel station and car wash at this site.

The portion of Hays Street that would close is valued at $250,000. HEB will incur the costs to relocate certain infrastructure relating to storm drainage, and will compensate the city with $102,000 in addition to the value of those infrastructure changes.

Proposed site plan for “new” HEB on Highway 27 in downtown Kerrville.

The proposed HEB development sits within the TIRZ that was established in late 2018, so any increase in property values will begin to add to the “TIRZ piggy bank” that will be used for future downtown development and enhancements.

PDD for 318 Leslie Drive

Council will consider creating a Planned Development District at 318 Leslie Drive for a proposed office plaza at this location.

Site Plan for 318 Leslie Drive.

City staff is recommending approval of this PDD.

Funding for River Trail Extension to Schreiner University

Schreiner University is requesting $1.5 million in funding from the Economic Improvement Corporation (EIC) for the construction of about a mile of River Trail that would extend the path to the Schreiner campus.

Schreiner makes their case for this funding by pointing out that the university seeks to expand their enrollment to nearly 2,400 students by 2024, and each student has a local economic impact of about $52,000, contributing to a current economic impact of $63 million per year. The increased enrollment is projected to add 60 new jobs at Schreiner at an average annual wage of $54,000. The university contends that extending the River Trail to the campus would assist them in marketing the school to prospective new students.

As part of this proposed agreement, the City would provide design and engineering services, acquire the easements, and construct the trail. Schreiner, in turn, would provide public access to this portion of the trail, construct a trailhead, and build bathrooms near the trailhead.

The proposed section of trail would connect to the existing river trail near the G Street bridge. It would cross the river at that point and travel along the northeast side of the river until it reaches Quinlan Creek. The new trail would follow the west side of Quinlan Creek generally north to the new trailhead. See diagram below.

Contract to replace Legion Lift Station

Council will consider authorizing a contract with Keystone Construction for a $5.4 million project to replace the Legion Lift Station. This project has been contemplated since 2008, confirmed as a priority within the 2050 Comprehensive Plan, and would provide much-needed upgrade to the capacity for sewage collection on a large portion of the city’s service area.

Board Appointments

Council will make appointments to the following city boards:

  • Charter Review Commission
  • Animal Services Advisory Board
  • Recovery Community Coalition
  • Senior Services Advisory Committee
  • Planning and Zoning Commission

Electronic sign requests postponed

Kerrville’s Planning and Zoning Commission was scheduled to hear variance requests for two proposed electronic signs on Thursday, January 3, 2019, but both requests were postponed or removed from Thursday’s agenda.

For the Chamber of Commerce sign along Sidney Baker Street, the agenda item was removed at the request of the applicant. No information about that variance request was presented at Thursday’s meeting. P&Z Chairman Bob Waller indicated that the item would likely be revisited at a future meeting.

The variance request from Calvary Temple Church was presented, but no action was taken. Instead, the committee voted unanimously to table the matter and to hear recommendations about possible amendments to the sign ordinance at the next meeting on February 7.

P&Z considers electronic signage requests

The State of Texas grants cities the ability to regulate quite a variety of activities within the city limits. The City of Kerrville enforces building codes, fire regulations, development codes, sidewalks, and signs, among other things. At the staff level, our city’s administrators consider applications and review design criteria, and they approve or disapprove these proposals based on the city’s Municipal Codes. 

One of these codes is known as the “Sign Ordinance.” This lengthy set of rules and regulations sets forth criteria for the placement, materials, and size of various types of signage, including the types illustrated below.

Diagram taken from the City of Kerrville’s Sign Ordinance

Our current sign ordinance was written in 2012 and was amended in 2013, 2014, and 2018. Any person, business, or organization that wants to erect a new sign has to meet the guidelines specified in this ordinance. If they wish to go above and beyond what the rules normally allow, they must apply for a “variance” — basically a specific exemption from the rules. All variance requests must be approved by the city’s Planning & Zoning Board.

A specific portion of the city’s sign ordinance deals with electronic signs, which have gained in popularity since the sign ordinance was first adopted. These signs can be seen throughout town at places like the Convention & Visitors Bureau, Cailloux Theater, various banks and restaurants, and car dealerships. All of these current signs, unless grandfathered, have met (and continue to meet) the city’s requirements set forth below. Our city’s rules for electronic signs, which were written with help from sign vendors, regulate electronic signs as follows: 

  • May not exceed 32 square feet
  • May use color images
  • Must operate in a way that its message remains static for a minimum of four seconds
  • Must operate in a way that all screen transitions occur within one second such that the initial message does not fade, dissolve, or travel
  • May not use motion, such as a scrolling message
  • May be allowed as a wall sign or window sign instead of a freestanding sign
  • May not exceed a light intensity of 500 NITS at night or 7,000 NITS during the day
  • Operating within 200 feet of a residential area must be turned off from 8:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.

This Thursday, January 3, the city’s Planning & Zoning Commission will hear from two local organizations that wish to utilize signage that exceeds these stipulations. The first group seeking a variance is Calvary Temple Church, located along Loop 534. The second is the Kerrville Area Chamber of Commerce, located along Sidney Baker Street, aka Highway 16. 

Calvary Temple’s proposed electronic sign would measure approximately 72 square feet — more than double the maximum allowed size of 32 square feet. A diagram of this proposed sign is shown below.

Proposed signage along Loop 534 for Calvary Temple Church.

The Chamber’s sign has already been constructed and is in use currently, and they seek a variance to allow an electronic sign measuring approximately 79 square feet — again, more than double the currently allowed square footage. Because of a mistake made by the city’s planning department during the permitting stage, the sign was erected and activated, but the city has now told the Chamber that the sign cannot be used in its entirety without a variance from the P&Z. A diagram of the sign is shown below. 

Proposed signage along Sidney Baker Street for Kerrville Area Chamber of Commerce.

According to Drew Paxton, City of Kerrville’s Executive Director for Development Services, the sign should have been compared against three sections of the sign ordinance, but was mistakenly only compared against one section of the regulations. When the error was discovered, the city informed the Chamber that a variance would be necessary to use the entire surface area of the electronic portion of the sign.

The full agenda and information packet for Thursday’s P&Z meeting is available here: https://www.kerrvilletx.gov/ArchiveCenter/ViewFile/Item/3234

Dr. William Rector, president of the Kerrville Historic Downtown Business Alliance and one of the authors of the original sign ordinance, has expressed opposition to these variance requests. Writing specifically about the Chamber’s electronic sign in a guest editorial that is scheduled to appear in Thursday’s newspaper, Mr. Rector stated: 

“…[T]he current Sign Code does state that any place an electronic sign is utilized its size is limited to 32 square feet.  The sign to be considered by P&Z is nearly 80 square feet (per side) and is one of the first sights to greet tourists and prospective new residents on Sidney Baker.  Many, including members of the current P&Z, worked diligently to create, as a wide community effort, the Kerrville 2050 Comprehensive Plan.  The submission of this sign request and the request for this variance reminds each of us that this 2050 Plan can’t just be enacted then put on a shelf and forgotten.  It will require each of us to show up at meetings, like Thursday’s P&Z Meeting, to remind our officials that this is OUR PLAN for OUR FUTURE KERRVILLE and it must not be derailed even for the best of intentions.”

The P&Z will consider both of these variances, along with other business, this Thursday, January 3, at 4:30 PM. City staff has not provided a recommendation to the commission on how to proceed, because staff has historically not commented or provided such a recommendation for sign ordinance variance requests. Thursday’s meeting is open to the public and is held in the council chambers on the first floor of City Hall.

If the commission approves these variances, the owners can proceed with their plans. If the commission denies these variances, the parties do have the right to appeal the decision to the City Council.

What do you think? Should exceptions be made for these two organizations? What type of precedent, if any, does this set for future variance requests? What do you want your community to look like in the long-term? Should large electronic signs be allowed? Sound off in our comments section on Facebook, or attend Thursday’s meeting to make your voice heard.

Proposed TIRZ Plan for Downtown Revitalization

Kerrville’s recently approved Comprehensive Plan (Kerrville 2050) calls for numerous steps to be taken to revitalize and enhance our downtown. Several studies were pointed to in the plan that conclude that a vibrant downtown contributes to a thriving community.

In order to achieve the goal of a vibrant downtown, funding sources must be created or identified to make those objectives a reality. One such plan to set aside revenue for revitalization is the proposed TIRZ (Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone). According to the State Comptroller’s office, approximately 313 TIRZs have been created around the state, but the number may be much higher, since not all communities report their TIRZ zones to the comptroller. The goal is to set aside “incremental revenues” for specific types of projects that would benefit the downtown area.

Please see our video that explains what a TIRZ is and how it will benefit Kerrville. All of our source material and citations are linked in the bullet points below.


Useful Links:


Additional information is available in the extended article below:

The City Council meeting on Tuesday, September 11, focused on several important topics including a proposed “Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone” incorporating all of downtown Kerrville. The proposed ordinance passed with a 3-1 vote of the council, with Blackburn, Eychner, and Sigerman voting in the affirmative, and George Baroody voting “no.” Vincent Voelkel recused himself citing a possible conflict of interest — his father owns property within this designated zone.

Council chambers hosted a lively discussion between Baroody and the city’s consultant, but a lot of misinformation and confusion was also spread. Let’s dig down into this TIRZ business and see what it’s really about.

This TIRZ proposal comes in response to and in coordination with the city’s Kerrville 2050 Comprehensive Plan. This plan, which was created with input from hundreds of citizens over the course of dozens of meetings over nine months, prioritizes the improvement of and reinvestment in our downtown. Establishing a TIRZ is a concrete step toward that goal. The TIRZ will provide a funding mechanism to carry out the mandate created in the comprehensive plan.

So, what is a Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone, or TIRZ? Let’s start with a quick review of how the city collects money to do its jobs. As you’ll remember from our previous videos, the city gets its revenue from three primary sources: property tax (also known as ad valorem taxes), sales tax, and service revenue. Property tax is assessed on all taxable properties within the city limits. In the 2018 budget, the city plans to receive about $10.9 million in property taxes, or about 19% of its total revenue.

When a TIRZ is implemented, this is what happens… The city draws an imaginary line around a certain area of town, and they take note of the total tax revenues that are currently coming in from the property owners within that zone. That’s called the “snapshot” of today’s revenues for that zone. After the TIRZ is approved, any “extra” money above the snapshot amount is applied to a special fund. The tax rate doesn’t change at all, so there are no new taxes being applied to these property owners. But through natural appreciation of values, plus the appreciation that happens when new buildings are built or remodeled, the revenues from that zone start to naturally increase. So everything before the snapshot still goes to the city’s general fund, but all of the extra (or “incremental”) revenues from that zone go into a special fund called the TIF, or Tax Increment Financing fund.

Here are a few other facts to remember… A TIRZ does NOT affect the tax rate within the zone — it has no impact on the taxes you pay if you own property within this zone. The TIRZ does NOT change the zoning requirements within the zone. All it really does is say, ok, for all the dollars we collect over and above the snapshot amount, we’re going to apply those to a new economic development plan WITHIN that zone. The goal of these projects is to revitalize the area in the zone, which is Kerrville’s downtown, thus supporting the mission set forth in the Comprehensive Plan.

How common is this type of funding mechanism? According to the State Comptroller’s office, approximately 313 TIRZs have been created around the state, but the number may be much higher, since not all communities report their TIRZ zones to the comptroller.

Another reality to keep in mind about this funding mechanism is that it grows very slowly. The real benefits of this program may not be realized for another decade or more because of the incremental nature of the growth of the fund. The duration of this TIRZ is proposed to be thirty years, and projections show that the fund won’t even surpass a million dollars in annual revenue until at least 2027. By nature, this is a method of accumulating funding over a long period of time without incurring any debt, and without increasing the tax rate.

In addition to serving as a piggy bank to fund long-term economic development in the downtown area, the very establishment of a TIRZ is attractive to potential developers that want to invest in the downtown area. This type of funding mechanism tells potential developers that Kerrville is committed to the ongoing revitalization and improvement of our downtown, making Kerrville an even more attractive place to invest.

The TIRZ serves not only as an inducement for new businesses, it also benefits existing downtown businesses in many ways. By committing to the improvement and enhancement of our downtown infrastructure and spaces, existing businesses stand to benefit thanks to an ongoing commitment to the infrastructure that helps business get done — communications, transportation, water, sewer, and more. Existing local businesses depend on sustainable infrastructure just as new businesses do.

So what does the TIF money get used for specifically? The Texas State Legislature sets out the rules for this in Chapter 311 of the Tax Code. Projects can include roads, sidewalks, public infrastructure, demolition, building facade preservation, affordable housing, school buildings, and a few other public good projects. In Kerrville’s case, the plan includes a mixture of the following:

  • Water facilities and improvements
  • Sanitary sewer facilities and improvements
  • Transit and parking improvements
  • Street and intersection improvements
  • Open space, parks, and recreation facilities and improvements
  • Economic development grants
  • Administrative costs

The estimates shown here are just that — estimates. The city has said that these amounts and percentages may be revised in the future.

One question that has been raised is this: Why aren’t there more specific plans so that we can understand what types of projects will actually be implemented with this TIF money? The city’s consultant, Mr. David Pettit, answered that question in the council meeting on September 11.

Another term that’s been thrown around during this discussion is “eminent domain.” What role does eminent domain play in a TIRZ and TIF? The correct answer is that there is no additional threat of eminent domain under a TIRZ. You see, the city council ALWAYS has the ability to invoke eminent domain if they so choose. Adding a TIRZ does not increase that constitutional authority in any way. The bottom line here is that a TIRZ has nothing to do with eminent domain — it neither increases or decreases the ability of a city to use eminent domain.

And finally, many opponents of the TIRZ ask, “What’s the rush? Why now? Why can’t we study this further and wait to pass it after it’s been more thoroughly vetted?” The reason we should act quickly is because if we pass this TIRZ this calendar year, the “snapshot” is set at the beginning of 2018. Why does that matter? Well, the snapshot is the basis for how much money can be collected for the TIF. If we wait another year or another two years, all of that natural appreciation money is not being collected and saved for downtown revitalization. If a large building is constructed or if land values appreciate considerably, we would miss those gains and not have access to those funds for downtown enhancement or economic development. Also, as City Manager Mark McDaniel stated at the last regular city council meeting, there is no risk in implementing this now.

In summary, we believe that the Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone is a positive step in the right direction for Kerrville. During the Comprehensive Plan process, the citizens stated that downtown revitalization is a priority, and this TIRZ is a step in that direction. Without a funding mechanism, there is little that can be done to help achieve the goal of a vibrant downtown. But with the TIRZ in place, existing taxes will be used more effectively toward this goal. We encourage council members and voters to support the TIRZ.

KEDC Impact Study Released

Almost a year ago, the Kerrville City Council was shaken up by the 2017 election. Two new councilmembers were sworn in: Vincent Voelkel and George Baroody. Together with Mayor Bonnie White, this three-person majority began making sweeping changes to the way the council and its boards work, and made changes to the makeup of those boards. For example, in one of the very first meetings of the new council, the White majority removed a member of the Economic Improvement Corporation that was eligible to serve an additional two-year term, and also replaced the city council liaison to the EIC with newly elected councilman George Baroody.

Mr. Baroody, from his chair on the EIC board, was dismissive of the efforts of the Kerr Economic Development Corporation, or KEDC, an private nonprofit corporation made up of representatives from the City of Kerrville, Kerr County, and other stakeholders. The KEDC is a “one stop shop” for economic development, interfacing with businesses and investors to assist them with incentives from the various government agencies. Also, importantly, the KEDC is not a government entity, per se, and therefore they are not subject to open records requests, which allows them to maintain the privacy and confidentiality that these businesses need when negotiating new business deals. The KEDC is funded primarily from EIC funds.

In one meeting last year, Mr. Baroody even went so far as to suggest that the KEDC should be closed down entirely and its functions brought in-house to the City of Kerrville. This comment immediately spurred a backlash from community leaders and KEDC supporters, and the idea was spiked. But that comment caused widespread confusion and concern, and led to the immediate resignation of one of KEDC’s employees. Then, months later, led to the resignation of the Executive Director of the KEDC, Brian O’Conner.

The current council majority continued to be critical of the KEDC, attempting to reduce its budget, and challenging the corporation over the role it has played in economic development over the past few years. Baroody and White have been especially skeptical of the role of the KEDC, and have questioned whether or not the entity is even necessary, and whether or not the city is getting a good return on its investment.

So, recently, the KEDC hired an independent firm to evaluate its impact on the local economy. Impact DataSource, an Austin-based consultant group, evaluated the role of the KEDC over the past four years on four specific projects: Mooney International, Fox Tank, James Avery, and Nature Blinds. Their findings are surprising and impressive.

These four projects pumped over $1.4 billion into the local economy, and added a total of 672 jobs, directly and indirectly. The total workers’ earnings created by these projects over the past four years is a whopping $89.3 million.

And most importantly, to counter the argument that the KEDC is not providing a worth return on investment, the study concludes that the City of Kerrville is receiving a 255% ROI based on its investment in these projects, and the EIC is also receiving a 23% ROI based on its large investment in the KEDC over the past four years.

Although the report does not state the KEDC alone was the sole driving force behind these projects, the consultants do state emphatically that the KEDC is critical to a good economic development program:

“…Impact DataSource believes that such one‐stop center for economic development services is critical to a community’s economic growth and many of these investments may not have occurred without the efforts of KEDC.”

Read the full report via the City of Kerrville’s web page at this link: https://legistarweb-production.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/attachment/pdf/172135/KEDC_performance_report.pdf

Fact Check: Sports Complex

What questions do you have about the sports complex? We’ll be happy to answer them or find someone who can. Shoot us a message on our Facebook page or comment on this post: facebook.com/KerrvilleUnited


The brand new Kerrville Sports Complex opened this week on Holdsworth Drive. The ribbon cutting ceremony was held on Wednesday, January 17, and the ceremonial “first pitch” and “first kicks” were held on Saturday, January 20. Lots of news coverage has focused on the complex this week.

In an article authored by Zeke MacCormack and published in the San Antonio Express News about the ribbon cutting ceremony at the new sports complex on Holdsworth Drive, the author writes about issues connected to the complex that are several years old and have a confusing history. Here are some of the statements from the article and our fact-checks and context that should help inform readers about the new facility.

Please note that we have not addressed the purely political aspects of the article and have instead chosen to focus on the hard facts.


TRUE: “The city estimates that each six-day tournament involving 500 players or more will generate $1 million in local economic spending — at hotels, restaurants, gas stations and such.”

  • This was stated by Ashlea Boyle, director of parks and recreation, City of Kerrville.
  • This estimate relies on official estimates from the Convention and Visitors Bureau that states at least 3 visitors accompany each player in a multiday baseball tournament

 

NEEDS CONTEXT: “The city issued $9 million in debt to cover the remaining costs of putting in the sports fields. The debt will be paid off using local sales tax proceeds.”

  • The debt service will be paid using 4B sales tax revenues, which are required to be spent on economic development projects.
  • The funds do not come from the general sales tax revenues that the city relies on for its operating budget.
  • The EIC approved the funding for this project, and council blessed it, in 2015.
  • See our white paper on the city’s finances for more context.

 

FALSE: Mayor White was quoted in the article: “I wasn’t opposed to the project at all. I was opposed to how it was funded and how the contracts were structured.”

  • Mayor White voted against the project five separate times in 2015 and 2016.
  • She also voted numerous times against the water reuse pond and reuse distribution lines that were a critical element to the success of the sports complex.

 

NEEDS CONTEXT: According to Mayor White in the article: “[DBAT] have two years’ free rent, and we have the debt service and maintenance costs to cover… We may never receive any lease revenue if they have 20 or more tournaments a year, the way the contract is structured.”

  • The lease contract with DBAT includes a clause that DBAT pays no “rent” on the building as long as they continue to host at least 20 baseball tournaments per year.
  • As stated above, each baseball tournament has the potential to generate $1 million in local economic activity, so up to $20 million annually.
  • DBAT’s rent would never be as high as the economic potential of 20 baseball tournaments.
  • Therefore DBAT is incentivized to do even more public good for the community and host as many baseball tournaments as possible.
  • This incentivization has the potential to greatly exceed any potential rent revenues the city could extract from the building.

The sports complex is officially open for business. Soccer and baseball events, games, and tournaments are already filling up the calendars for the spring and summer. For more information about the sports complex, visit the following websites:

https://www.kerrvilletx.gov/1461/Sports-Complex

http://www.dbatkerrville.com/

Sports Complex Grand Opening

The brand new Kerrville Sports Complex is officially open for business. The ceremonial ribbon cutting ceremony was held on Wednesday, January 17, and another ceremonial opening will be held on Saturday morning at 10 AM, including a ceremonial first pitch and first kick.

Despite many on social media that urged Mayor Bonnie White to “recuse” herself from the ceremony, she, along with former mayor Jack Pratt and Cailloux Foundation representative Ben Modisett performed the ceremonial ribbon cutting.

Mayor White repeatedly voted against various measures related to this complex and was asked by former Mayor and Councilperson Stephen Fine to step aside to allow those that were actually in favor of the project to be the ones to cut the ribbon.

The new sports complex will have an economic impact of about $1 million annually. An estimated 3 visitors accompany each player for a standard baseball or soccer tournament, bringing visitors to Kerrville, heads in beds at hotels, filling chairs at restaurants, and a huge boost to local sales tax revenues.

This complex was built without a bond issue and without raising taxes. A large portion of the cost, including the land, was donated by the Cailloux Foundation. The Kerrville Economic Improvement Corporation (or EIC) provided the remainder of the funding through 4B sales tax revenues.

The city’s Parks Department will maintain the grounds and oversee the soccer field administration, while DBAT, a tenant within a large indoor practice facility, will coordinate the baseball tournaments.