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Salado Board of Aldermen Candidates 2014 - Merle Stalcup

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Merle Stalcup

I am age 68. I  was previously elected to the Board of Alderman in May 2005 and re-elected in May 2007.  In May 2008 I was elected Mayor for the Village of Salado and served four years.  My wife Karen and I have lived in Salado for 16 years.

If elected Alderman, I would provide leadership and direction, plan for the well-being of the citizens, i.e., roads, waste water plant, and protect the property value and rights, and still maintain a unique way of life.

I have a Degree in Finance and Accounting from the University of Texas in Arlington and also completed graduate work at SMU School of Banking and Texas Tech School of Banking.

I have chaired the Economic Development committee for the Village and I am on the Planning & Zoning Board at present.  My past endeavors, while in office, include bringing Brookshire Bros Grocery, Scott & White Clinic, Brazos Collections and Ace Hardware to the Village of Salado.  I led the effort to replace the bridge destroyed by flood at Hester Way by obtaining a Federal Grant.

I am past Chairman of the Board of Trustees at Salado Methodist Church and also served on the Finance Committee and Building Committee.  I currently serve as President of Salado Rotary Club and have received the Paul Harris Fellowship of Rotary International.  I am also active in the Salado Chamber of Commerce.

I am retired from the U.S. Navy Reserve after 21 years where I served as air crewman for VP and VR squadrons.

My wife Karen and I are currently retired and are devoted to our blended family of six children and many grandchildren.

I have a degree from the University of Texas at Arlington in finance.

Question 1: The village entered into a contract with Central Texas Council of Governments (CTCOG) to provide city management/administrative duties. In your opinion, is this arrangement working well? Should the village extend this contract beyond the current period ending in October? Why or why not?  (200 word limit)

Merle Stalcup Answer: The contract with CTCOG is, in my opinion, working extremely well for the Village.  It keeps the Council in focus and brings it back to the point that it is a body of vision. I am of the opinion that as soon as the election is over that we need to focus on the process of hiring a City Administrator. Our contract with CTCOG goes until October; our budget process starts in June; and the timing would be good to put a CA on in September. I do believe that we are not using CTCOG to the fullest. The contract is not with an individual- it is with CTCOG, and we need to use all of its strength. It is an asset that we are a member of CTCOG and can continue to use all it resources. 

Question 2: Texas Department of Transportation estimates that the expansion of I-35 through Salado will be complete in late 2015. What, if anything, can or should the Village be doing to prepare for this? What, if anything, can or should the Village be doing now to bolster businesses that have been affected by the construction project? (150 words)

Merle Stalcup Answer: With the thought that I-35 is to be completed by the end of 2015, the Village needs to start immediate work on infrastructure of downtown – roads, parks, music system, sidewalks….. Now where is the money??? A master plan with efforts to get grants from a number of sources should be implemented. A marketing effort with the $20,000 that the city uses to market the Village needs be put into effect.   One time we used TV and radio advertising; however,  why not make a plan to do it again. We currently do not a have group that makes visits to other towns to inform the merchants about the qualities of the Village of Salado.  

Question 3: What is -- or should be -- the role of the board of aldermen  in terms of setting goals and policies and enacting the  goals and policies of the Village? What is -- or should be -- the relationship between the aldermen and the mayor, between the aldermen and the city administrator and between the aldermen and the other staff?  What will you do in terms of these relations? (200 words)

Merle Stalcup Answer: The Aldermen and Mayor should at all times maintain a decorum and politeness on the dais. The Alderman is there to give advice in a professional manner using their past experiences as a tool for a good decision. The Mayor and Aldermen are there for guidance into the future not day to day operation or crisis management. No Alderman or Mayor should tell an employee what to do or where to go. The CA directs the Tourist Bureau, Police Department, City Secretary, Maintenance Department with staff meetings jointly and separately for budget, direction, goals, etc.

Question 4. What are your thoughts on the Village Comprehensive Plan?  (200 words)

Merle Stalcup Answer: Yes, we should have a comprehensive plan. We, the Mayor, Aldermen, and the people of Salado need to know the direction that the Village is going. It will serve as a roadmap to assist future city staff, and office holders to lead. The issue is how do we get them to read it. 

Question 5. What are your top five goals for the Village that you would like to see accomplished in the next five years? How would you help to accomplish those goals? (200 words)

Merle Stalcup Answer: I only have 3 priority goals for the Village. 1. A wastewater plant (it will take about 3-4 years to have the lines, grinder, and discharge in place) 2. Paving the downtown roads to make it look like a new Village, inviting to tourists as well as to new retailers. It is a must that the Village increase its retail area. I would help to accomplish this by focusing on getting a timeline for the roads, a clear plan of when and where. The funding would come from some of our reserve and the rest from the bond money. This is going to require a strong City Administrator to keep us on track. 

Question 6. Why do you think development within the Village and its ETJ has been slow in recent years in terms of new housing starts, new businesses, etc.? Do you think the Village should be growing? If not, why not? If so, what, if anything, can the Board of Aldermen do to improve this (200 words)

Merle Stalcup Answer: The Village has very little area to grow into. It only has about eight lots inside the city limits for residential development. It will have about 20 commercial lots to build on when the wastewater plant is complete. Our current city limits has hurt development. Now that we have been able to extend our city limits north and south along I-35, we can get additional development. The economy has hurt the retail stores as well as I-35 construction. We have been going though this for about five years. You can see that residential developers are beginning to start new areas around Salado in our ETJ. There are three developments currently under construction. Why have they selected Salado ETJ – because our schools are the best in the country.

Question 7: What are your thoughts on the conditions of the village roads? (200 word limit)

Merle Stalcup: The roads continue to deteriorate because of the weather as well as traffic. We have had very little road repair with the exception of roads that have little to no traffic. What good has that been? The roads into and out of the Mill Creek area need to have work done on them as well as the side roads off Main Street in the downtown area.  We have to rebuild the downtown area for continual growth. 

 

Question 8: What are your thoughts on the maintenance and operations of the village park? (150 word limit)

 

Merle Stalcup Answer: Pace Park has been maintained on a regular basis however, it is time for a paint job as well as more ground cover around the play grounds. The last time renovations were done was about 6 years ago under the direction of Susan Terry.  We installed protective ground cover and with the help of the senior high school volunteer day. They painted the road barriers as well as the pavilion and bathrooms….. Let’s have a volunteer day with each civic group taking a responsibility. 

 

Question 9: Will you as an alderman vote to call for  a bond election for sewer? If called by the board, will you personally advocate for approval of a bond election for a sewer system?  (300 word limit).

 

Merle Stalcup Answer:

Yes, I do think that the Village of Salado needs a wastewater system with tap fee according to the usage of the users of the system and then a lower fee for the nonusers. I think the only way to cover the expense is with a bond election; however, I am like the rest of Salado – how much is it going to cost and what areas are provided services. I have always advocated a bond issue to cover the cost; however, there are a lot of unanswered questions at this time

 

Question 10: What do you consider to be the greatest weakness or flaw in the Village of Salado government and what can you do to change it? (200 words)

 

Merle Stalcup Answer: The greatest weakness that the Village of Salado government has is no city manager. We have people elected that had been successful in their respective fields however they are not professional city managers. In just the last 8 months with CTCOG acting city manager one can see the success. 

 Question 11:  Why should anyone vote for you? (200 words)

Merle Stalcup: I have experience of 3 years as alderman and 4 years as mayor. I know the ordinances and have read several times the comprehensive plan.