SALADO — The Salado board of aldermen met with residents Monday night at the Salado Civic Center to dispel rumors circulating in the village in recent weeks.
Much of the meeting focused on the controversial issue of the proposed sewer system.
Jim Reed, village administrator, displayed a map highlighting possible routes the sewer system could take.
“These are just conceptual lines on a map,” Reed said. “So don’t ask, ‘Will this go by my house,’ because we aren’t there yet.”
Reed and the board were unable to answer many of the detail-oriented questions posed by the crowd of 100-plus village residents, including inquiries about how much commercial businesses and homeowners will have to pay to use the sewer system and if businesses and residents will be required to pay to connect to the system.
The board was unable to answer questions about cost and service because the village hasn’t finished the phase-one engineering studies, Reed said. He told the crowd the village is still trying to determine how to “get the most bang for the buck” with its sewer system.
He said he planned to ask the board for $10,000 at its May 1 meeting for a study of the various phase-one options.
“We’re trying to capture the most users in the first phase,” Reed said.
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Local restaurateur Johnny Bratton asked about a time frame for the project’s completion.
“So are we 10 or 15 years away from the entire village getting sewers?” Bratton asked. “How long before they reach Mill Creek?”
Salado Mayor Danney McCort framed the sewer system as an economic development issue, describing conversations he’s had with commercial and residential developers who aren’t interested in coming to the village because it lacks a sewer system.
McCort tied the sewer system to anticipated commercial development along the west side of Interstate 35. He argued that extending the sewer system into the village’s proposed West Side overlay district allows for quicker development and shifts any future cost burdens of the sewer system off homeowners and onto businesses.
“You start developing the west side (of I-35) and you’re bringing in more stores and that’s more stores and more homes,” McCort said. “That’s more ad valorem taxes and sales tax to pay for it. Who do you want to pay for it? Do you want to pay for it or do you want to bring in stores and have them pay for it?”
Bratton also gave voice to a concern that had been expressed by the large segment of the village population who live outside of downtown or the west side by claiming that the board asked residents to vote for a sewer system “knowing that they won’t get service.” Reed responded in stark economic terms.
“If sales tax goes away the economic basis of this town disappears,” Reed said.
He warned residents that if sales taxes dry up the village will be forced to raise property taxes to provide services.
“You can vote for yourself,” Reed said. “But think about what happens if sales taxes go down; it’ll put pressure on property taxes.”