Q&A with Maddie Smith, candidate for Stephenville City Council.
Q. Stephenville has seen tremendous growth over the past several years. Tarleton’s planned rapid growth is expected to place more strain on city resources while providing additional commerce for local business and sales tax revenue to the city. Do you think the city should embrace the growth or attempt to slow it and how do you plan to act on your opinion?
A. I think we have to embrace the inevitable growth. I know that isn’t always a popular opinion but if we don’t then we’ll be leaving tax dollars on the table and will eventually get left behind. Added commerce options and a larger student population attending Tarleton will allow the city to be less dependent on property taxes to provide the necessary city services and maintenance of our city infrastructure.
Q. Municipal employment has become very competitive making it more challenging to hire and retain quality employees including police and firefighters. What tools does the city have in its box to fund the needed raises for city employees?
A. Accept growth. If we don’t then it will not only remain difficult to retain employees, it will be even harder to add new employees to support the challenges associated with said growth.
Q. What do you perceive to be the biggest challenge the city faces today, and how do you propose that challenge be addressed?
A. After meeting with several city staff and department heads, including the City Manager, Mayor, Chief of Police, and a few others, I feel the largest current challenge the city faces is funding for infrastructure. Before any decisions can be made, we need to keep our eyes on SB1110 in Austin. This bill would prohibit municipal utility funds from being transferred general funding accounts. If this bill passes it would negatively impact not only Stephenville’s general fund, but others across the state.
Q. Property taxes are a hot topic in Austin this legislative session. Do you believe past city councils have been reasonable and responsible with property tax policy?
A. I do. Former councils have reduced property taxes by more than 16% over the last 4 years. All tax relief measures were unanimous votes by current council.
Q. What educational and career experiences in your background make you the most qualified candidate for this position?
A. I have worked at Barefoot since 2010. In that time, we have grown from one store here in Stephenville (across from TSU Admin) to currently 16 retail stores and 3 coffee shops across the country.
I know it takes countless hours, working with multiple people or organizations to accomplish ambitious goals. I also have management experience from a former municipal employer that helped me understand all the business aspects of a functioning organization.
I am not afraid to ask questions, express my concerns, or give opinions. More importantly I understand that with each decision we make it effects the whole community and not just the council.