Last year, we “weathered” some intense storms as historic rains and destructive hail hit our town. As a community, we stood together helping our neighbors in need, a wonderful reflection of our “can do” attitude.
Our local economy remains strong. In 2015, our local sales tax revenues increased 5.7%, outpacing the state average of 3.6%. Tarleton State University, our community’s largest employer, continued to see record enrollment. While a downturn in the oil and gas industry left a significant impact, we are fortunately blessed with a diverse economy comprised of agriculture, education, manufacturing, medical, and retail sectors.
The city council is tasked with serving our community by providing services for our citizens in three key areas: Public health and safety; infrastructure; and community programs.
The city council has worked diligently with city staff to find innovative ways to improve the services provided to our citizens. It is noteworthy that your local government has worked diligently to “live within our means”, providing a balanced budget without raising taxes.
Over 25 years ago, Texas provided legislation for economic development corporations to be formed by local governments. Today, based on overwhelming community support, we now have the Stephenville Economic Development Authority to help guide our economic development. Improving our economy is to find what’s best to support them and our local citizens, people who call Stephenville “home.”
More and higher paying jobs, more places to eat and shop, better streets and parks all result in a higher overall quality of life. We are off to a good start and there are some exciting additions currently being planned for our community. Stay tuned, as details develop.
Another key responsibility of local government is to plan for the future and the council has taken some historic measures to begin to address long-standing infrastructure issues with our streets, water and sewer.
This month, the city staff will provide to council the city’s first ever pavement management plan. The purpose of the plan is to provide a coordinated and comprehensive approach to fix our city’s streets. The strategy will define a “worst, first” approach and ensure our tax dollars are spent wisely. We have also funded $100,000 in street repair design. As funds become available, these designs will support much needed street repairs.
We are also seeking to better understand and address the impact of increased traffic on our roads. The city is updating our “Thoroughfare Plan” for the first time in over twelve years. The plan will help inform Planning and Zoning, SEDA, and local development.
I share the concerns expressed by many with the existing (2004) plan. My desire is to refocus our efforts to the current traffic issues facing our community, primarily within the city limits and existing county roads impacted by our growing community.
At this time, I don't believe it is necessary to plan for a loop. I agree that we should acknowledge that we live, together, in a rural community and should work, together, to preserve this way of life. By addressing the concerns within our existing plan we will help to work toward a solution that preserves our rural community for the citizens who choose to call Stephenville their home.
To meet the needs of our community, we should never settle for “good enough” or turn in fear from difficult or complex issues. We live in a great community, and together, we will continue to preserve, promote and celebrate Stephenville, today and tomorrow.
As the city council turns toward the upcoming budget cycle, I hope our efforts will continue to be on a conservative, yet innovative, approach to provide outstanding services to our community.
I would appreciate your feedback, your ideas, and your participation, as together we promote and preserve the uniqueness and value of Stephenville.
Kenny Weldon is the mayor of Stephenville. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.