, who was re-elected as mayor last month, discusses the effects of Texas State on the city.
KP: What is the relationship between San Marcos and Texas State?
DG: Back when I was an undergraduate at Texas State, those were some really difficult times between the university and the city combating over water rights and well rights. Since then, I think there’s been more of a focus on what can we do to work together to improve economic development. Texas State is undoubtedly a huge economy injector in San Marcos, not only from a sales tax perspective, but it is producing talented people and useful data and products that are valued globally, and it’s happening right here in San Marcos. The focus on what mutually benefits the city and the university has made us a greater partner. Do we still have challenges when it comes to culture clashes between young citizens and residential citizens? Well, yeah, but I don’t think that’s different than any other community.
KP: Are there any other challenges of having a university in San Marcos?
DG: The biggest challenge we have is that as a state institution there is no property tax value assessed on the university’s property. The amount that we don’t get from the school is roughly $1.4 billion. That’s a huge hole to try to fill when you are serving an entire community. On top of that, because they’re within our municipal jurisdiction, we, as the city, are still responsible for ensuring they have fire protection and EMS protection. When you look at where the partnership initiated, it was a granting of land, 11 acres from the City of San Marcos to Southwest Texas State Normal School that got it started. I think that partnership has flourished. It has had its challenges, but if the university were not here, this community would not be what it is today.
KP: Should city government monitor or limit the growth of the university?
DG: No, I don’t. For one thing, it is a state institution, and we are a municipality. That’s the fundamental aspect. The other thing is that when it comes to growth with the university, we typically are trying to find reasonable means of compromise between its growth and the city’s needs. Not to mention, a lot of the businesses in San Marcos, small businesses and outlet mall retailers, are dependent upon the students not only to be customers, but to be employees. So there are a lot of benefits of having a university here, and it’s one of our major employers.
KP: What’s the situation with the construction around town?
DG: We are way behind on improving our streets and roadways. Our transportation infrastructure is the most important aspect to our economic development and we’ve had plans in the works for 12-15 years that had not been executed because the cost of materials skyrocketed after Sept. 11. Right now, these costs are beginning to level out, so basically we are getting them done while we can afford it. The number of drivers in San Marcos is increasing every day, and we’ve got to get it done before the costs go back up.