Eye On Williamson Recommends…for May 9th Elections

Posted in Georgetown, Hutto, Leander, Local Elections, Round Rock, Uncategorized, Williamson County at 11:16 am by wcnews

With the start of early voting for the local elections across Williamson county, Eye On Williamson is releases our recommendations for certain local races.

Georgetown City Council District 1:
Patty Eason

Hutto Mayor
Steven “Bear” Salfelder

Hutto City Council Place 1
Tina Slayton

Hutto City Council Place 5
Jason Wirth

Leander Mayor
Vic Villarreal

Leander City Council Place 2
Carl Wake

LISD Place 2
Nacole Thompson

Round Rock City Council Place 5
John Moman

Round Rock ISD Place 2
Chad Chadwell

Round Rock ISD Place 7
Antonio Champion

Click here for expanded commentary and recommendations, in these and other races local races throughout Williamson County.


Report from Leander City Council Election Forum

Posted in Leander, Local Elections, Uncategorized, Williamson County at 2:14 pm by wcnews

Via the Hill Country News, Leander city candidates promote their vision of the future.

Battle lines were drawn on Wednesday, at the Leander City Council Election Forum sponsored by the Greater Leander Chamber of Commerce and the Hill Country News. Growth, the Transit Oriented Development (TOD), bond debt and water rates were among the hot topics as incumbents touted their accomplishments and opponents offered their challenges. Candidates answered questions from a three-member panel and from the audience.

Taking part in the forum were incumbent Mayor John Cowman and his challengers Victor Villarreal and Iris Davis; Place 1 city council candidates Mark Kronkosky and Andrea Navarrette, who are competing for a seat Villarreal vacated in order to run for mayor; Place 2 incumbent Kirsten Lynch and challenger Carl Wake; Place 4 incumbent Michell Cantwell and challengers Cathy Broun and Matt Fish; Place 6 incumbent David Siebold and challengers Josh Payne and David Steele.

Challengers Rob Lederman in Place 1 and Don Oxman in Place 6, were absent.

Click the article link to read excerpts from the candidates in each race. Early voting starts tomorrow.


Busy week, local election forums, and the lege

Posted in 81st Legislature, Hutto, Leander, Local Elections, Road Issues, Round Rock, The Lege, Transportation, Williamson County at 8:39 am by wcnews

Hutto City Council candidate forum, Tuesday:

There’s a public forum for the candidates in Hutto coming next week. It will be at Hutto Middle School on Tuesday April 21. Doors Open at 6:00, Forum Starts at 7:00pm. There will also be an opportunity to meent HISD candidates at 6:45pm. See the event poster [.pdf].

RRISD candidate meet candidate forum, Wednesday:

Wednesday, April 22 at Round Rock High School Lecture Hall from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Leander City Council candidate forum, Wednesday:

Their first - and only - forum will be at 7 p.m. on April 22 in the Leo Center conference room, located at 300 S. West Dr., next to Leander Middle School and behind the Leander ISD Administration Building.

Leander ISD candidate forum, next Monday:

There will be another LISD candidates forum on April 27th.

Also on Tuesday there will be some interesting bills before the House Transportation Committee. There’s more information on that here, More on April 21 hearing on HB 11 to kill the Corridor.

We need folks to testify or at least register in support of HB 11 and HB 13 and AGAINST HB 9/HJR 9 at the House Transportation Committee hearing Tuesday. Unfortunately, emails and phone calls do not make it into the official record (though they certainly let our representatives know where we stand). So if we don’t show up for the actual hearing, our voices will be drowned out by the heaps of lobbyists who are paid to oppose the citizens’ agenda.

The Committee office believes these bills will be taken up in the afternoon when the House adjourns. Plan to get there around 12 noon. If not at noon, come as soon as you can to register FOR HB 11 and HB 13 & AGAINST HB 9/HJR 9.

Hearing location: RM E2.014 in the Capitol extension building.

It’s a busy time, with local elections and the end of the legislative session approaching. Show up and take part it you can.


Only candidate forum for Leander candidates will be Wednesday

Posted in Leander, Local Elections, Take Action, Uncategorized at 9:54 pm by wcnews

Via the HCN, Leander candidate forum set for April 22.

Their first - and only - forum will be at 7 p.m. on April 22 in the Leo Center conference room, located at 300 S. West Dr., next to Leander Middle School and behind the Leander ISD Administration Building.

The Greater Leander Chamber of Commerce and the Hill Country News are co-sponsors of the event. The forum should last about two hours.

Candidates in the upcoming election are: Mayor - John Cowman, Vic Villarreal and Iris Davis; Place 2 - Carl Wake and Kirsten Lynch; Place 4 - Matt Fish, Cathy Broun and Michell Cantwell; Place 6 - Josh Payne, Dave Siebold, Don Oxman and David Steele; Place 1 (special election) - Mark Kronkosky, Rob Lederman and Andrea Navarrette.

A panel consisting of three Leander residents will have pre-determined questions for the candidates and they will take questions from the audience. The panel will hand questions to the moderator, who will ask each particular race.

The article states that there will be time for questions from the audience and time to mingle with the candidates after the forum.


Local election news and the road fairy

Posted in Around The State, Cedar Park, Commentary, Hutto, Leander, Local Elections, Privatization, Road Issues, Transportation at 10:10 am by wcnews

EOW is back from some time off with family and friends over the past Easter weekend. To ease back in here are a couple of articles worth reading.

The HCN has an article on a LISD candidate forum, Leander ISD candidates square off. And a Cedar Park city council candidates too, CP council candidates speak up at forum. There will be another LISD candidates forum on April 27th.

There’s a public forum for the candidates in Hutto coming next week. It will be at Hutto Middle School on Tuesday April 21. Doors Open at 6:00, Forum Starts at 7:00pm. There will also be an opportunity to meent HISD candidates at 6:45pm. See the event poster [.pdf].

Ben Wear had an article that does a great job of pointing out the childish place of our tranportation financing debate at the state level has become, Lege is missing a road fairy.

In fact, the salient characteristic of the road fairy seems to be doubt about its existence. As in, “There’s no road fairy, so we have to build toll roads.” Or, for those on the other side of the debate, “Unless you believe there’s a road fairy somewhere out there, we need to increase the gas tax.” Or for the truly confident and ecumenical: “There’s no road fairy to save us. We need to build tollways and raise gas taxes.”

State Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, was the latest to cite the highway sprite, this time during a debate last week over legislation to allow localities to raise the gas tax or fees to pay for transportation projects. Wentworth supports the idea. But some conservatives, you see, don’t like the bill because it would allow the public to vote to tax themselves. The Legislature for 18 years has resisted raising the state’s 20-cent-a-gallon gas tax.

Recall that last session, a majority of lawmakers rebelled over private toll road leases. And toll roads in general are not real popular across the state. But then again, neither is sitting in traffic going nowhere, spewing out pollution and stewing over missed appointments. So: Don’t toll me, don’t tax me, but by God build me some roads and rail lines.

That leaves us with the engineering elf.

If it wasn’t so sad it might be funny. Isn’t making the tough choices why these people want to be elected in the first place? That’s rhetorical. Oh well, it’s obvious that we must have roads, and that we must pay for them. It would sure seem that a skilled leader and politician would be able to explain that to their constituents, and not fear they wouldn’t get reelected. Maybe they’re right and the voting public has been conditioned to believe they can have everything and not pay for it for too long.


Leander Approves Transit Oriented Development (TOD) plan

Posted in Commentary, Leander, Transportation, Uncategorized, Williamson County at 9:46 am by wcnews

Via the Hill Country News, Leander approves TOD plan.

Leander citizens packed the Pat Bryson Municipal Auditorium last Thursday to see if fireworks would happen over the concept plan for Transit Oriented Development. The plan went before the Planning and Zoning Commission at a special-called meeting at 6 p.m. and then before the council’s regularly-scheduled meeting at 7 p.m. Both the council and P and Z passed the plan with only one dissenting vote each.

A few residents spoke out against the concept plan during the council meeting, saying there are no connector roads between Old Town Leander and the TOD.

Dr. Frank Stiles said that although he wanted to see the area around the TOD “succeed and develop,” the council should listen to those who show concern about projects. He waved his arm and said, “See all these people out here? This is Old Town Leander. This is who’s on the seal,” referring to the city seal on the wall behind the council.

The TOD is an area between U.S. 183 and 183A around the Leander Park and Ride. It will be north of CR 269. The area will have mixed use development that will include eight-story condos, businesses, shops, restaurants and entertainment, and everything will be within a 10-minute walk. The concept is to have everyone within walking distance to mass transit.

The City of Leander’s web site has more information on TOD. This is part of the concept of “New Urbanism”. To learn about it go here (Wikipedia page), and to Congress for the new Urbanism. Here’s a humorous take on the concept.

This concept, like any other, has good and bad points. It’ll be interesting to see how the concept goes over in Leander where it will be tied to a transit hub. The jury is still out on it around the country, and much less is known about if it will be embraced in places like suburban Texas, where automobiles have reigned supreme for so long.


Local Filings - Leander & Cedar Park

Posted in Cedar Park, Leander, Local Elections, Uncategorized, Williamson County at 9:15 am by wcnews

Elections in Leander this year have drawn quite a crowd. 15 candidates for mayor and city council and 6 for two, (one open), LISD board seats. For a “blow by blow” on the filings in Leander and Cedar Park check this link to the Hill Country News, they did a great job covering all the filing news in those areas.

Leander City Council

Mayor: John Cowman(i), Iris Davis, and Vic Villarreal.

Place 1 : Mark Kronkosky, Andrea Navarrette, and Rob Lederman. (This is for a one-year term, unexpired term, seat vacated by Vic Villarreal to run for mayor).

Place 2: Carl Wake v. Kirsten Lynch(i).

Place 4: Michell Cantwell(i) vs. Cathy Broun and Matt Fish

Place 6: David Steele, Josh Payne, Don Oxman, Dave Siebold(i)

LISD Board of Trustees

Place 1: Lisa Mallory, James Spires, Dustin Weibel.

Place 2: Nacole Thompson, Don Hisle(i), Nathan Deckinga.

Much less Action in Cedar Park where there is only one contested race for city council.

Cedar Park City Council

Place 1: Matt Powell
Place 3: Scott Mitchell(i) v. Joe Rogers
Place 5: Stephen Thomas


Sales tax receipts dropping statewide, down 2.6% from 2008

Posted in Around The State, Cedar Park, Commentary, Georgetown, Hutto, Leander, Liberty Hill, Round Rock, Taxes, Uncategorized, Williamson County at 12:19 pm by wcnews

Via the AAS, Sales tax revenue falls sharply for most Central Texas cities.

Sales tax collections for most Central Texas cities fell in January, with a 23 percent drop in Round Rock and a 13.8 percent decline in Austin, according to a new report from the Texas Comptroller’s Office.

Georgetown had the biggest percentage drop, down 27.3 percent from a year ago.

Of the region’s 10 largest cities, only Cedar Park, Lakeway and Kyle had increases. San Marcos was essentially flat from a year ago.

Here’s the full list from the Comptroller of Cities by County - March 2009. Of the large counties Harris seems to be faring the best.

Bexar -2.00%
Dallas -2.74%
Harris 7.11%
Tarrant -3.63%
Travis 10.36%

Here’s a link to Top 20 Cities. Definitely the Houston, Southeast Texas, and the Corpus Christi seem to be doing the best. Also West Texas Midland, Amarillo, and Lubbock are on the plus side.

Williamson cities,and county total are listed below:

Bartlett 0.53%
Cedar Park 1.54%
Florence 28.13%
Georgetown -12.11%
Granger -7.51%
Hutto -0.31%
Jarrell -1.99%
Leander 4.76%
Liberty Hill -3.40%
Round Rock -16.87%
Taylor -33.41%
Thrall 11.96%
Weir 20.91%
County Total -13.90%

Without a state income tax in Texas and so much of our state government funded by the sales tax this is going to cause serious problems at the state level too, not just the local level.

Here’s the press release from the Comptrollers web site.

Texas Comptroller Susan Combs today announced state sales tax revenue in February totaled $1.74 billion, down 2.6 percent compared to February 2008.

“State sales tax collections declined in February as important sectors such as retail trade and construction continue to struggle,” Combs said. “While state sales tax revenue has grown 2.8 percent through the first half of fiscal 2009, further declines are expected as the economy continues to weaken.”

Combs delivered $433.4 million in March sales tax payments to Texas cities, counties, transit systems and special purpose taxing districts. Local sales tax allocations are down 0.6 percent compared to March 2008. So far this calendar year, local sales tax allocations remain up 2.2 percent compared to the first three months of 2008.

State sales tax revenue for February and March payments made to local governments represent sales that occurred in January.

Combs sent March sales tax payments of $291.1 million to Texas cities, down 0.7 percent compared to March 2008. Since Jan. 1, city sales tax allocations are 1.5 percent higher than the same period last year. Texas counties received sales tax payments of $27.5 million, up 2.5 percent compared to one year ago. Calendar year-to-date, county sales tax allocations are 7.2 percent higher than last year.

The 150 special purpose taxing districts around the state received $17.3 million in sales tax revenue, up 21.6 percent compared to last March. Ten local transit systems received $97.4 million, down 4.3 percent.


Candidate filings in Leander

Posted in Good Stuff, Leander, Local Elections, Uncategorized, Williamson County at 4:54 pm by wcnews

The Hill Country News has all the candidate filing news from Leander. Wake files for Leander Place 2.

Carl Wake has filed for Leander City Council Place 2 as of Wednesday afternoon. Wake will run against incumbent Kirsten Lynch. The vacated Place 1 race so far will be between former council members Rob Lederman and Andrea Navarrette. Vic Villarreal will run for mayor against incumbent John Cowman. Incumbents Michell Cantwell (Place 4) and Dave Siebold (Place 6) have filed for reelection but are unopposed. The filing deadline is at 5 p.m. on March 9. The general and special election will be May 9. Early voting begins April 27.

This from earlier in the month on Vic Villarreal filing for mayor.

Vic Villarreal on Monday filed to run for the office of Leander mayor in the upcoming May general election. Villarreal, a Place 1 council member since 2001, has served as Mayor Pro-Tem and on several boards as a city representative.

“My main focus is to create fresh momentum, draw new attention and fresh interest towards our city,” Villarreal said Monday. “As mayor I will work hard to bring fresh business prospects while protecting our already established record of success.”

Find out more about Villarreal at www.vicforleander.com.

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