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Salado Board of Aldermen Candidates 2014 - Bryan Fritch

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Bryan Fritch

I was born and raised in Germany, immigrating to the United States in 1956 where I lived in Akron, Ohio and then in Brooklyn, N.Y. until I enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 1963.  I served a total of over 23 years and retired from the U.S. Army as a Chief Warrant Officer 3 in December 1986.  After retirement, I worked as a defense contractor in various capacities and locations until May 2007 until I again retired.  My last position was in Houston, Texas where I worked for NASA on the International Space Station Program for over 9 years.

I purchased property in Salado in 2001, built my home, and moved into the community in July 2005.  I have been married to his wife “Eve” for over 48 years.  We have two children and four grandchildren.  My son works for the University of Texas in Austin and my daughter is a school teacher in the Killeen Independent School District.  I hold a baccalaureate degree in business administration from the University of Mary Hardin Baylor.

I own and operate a local business. I am an active member within the community.  I am a member of the Salado Rotary Club, the Salado Village Artists, and the Tri-City Gem & Mineral Society.  I am also a member of the Chamber of Commerce, the Salado Ambassadors, and the Salado Community Foundation.

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)

Bryan Fritch Answer: The contract city administration program is working quite well.  The next step for the Village is to hire a full time city manager.  We should begin the advertising/recruiting process now.  There is no need to extend the CTCOG contract because it is written to go month-to-month after the six month period expires. I would like to see Mr. Reed become the full time administrator but I don’t think that is a realistic possibility. Once a full time administrator is hired it would be beneficial to have a transition period of several months where the parties work together to bring the new administrator “up to speed”.

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)

Bryan Fritch Answer: The Village made key inputs during the planning and design phase where we influenced, for example, the number and location of the on/off ramps.  Once the I-35 expansion project is completed, a period of accelerated growth can be expected.  The implementation of the West Side Overlay District will play a key part in managing that growth, which, in turn, will bring in additional sales and property tax revenues.  The Village is proactively engaged in assisting the business community during this difficult period.  Additional funding for advertising has been provided and the Tourism Department is working very hard to bring groups to town and has been quite successful in this effort.
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)

Bryan Fritch Answer: In my opinion, the mayor is the first among equals.  His function is to be the public voice of the Village.  His job, in conjunction with the Village Administrator, is to build and mold consensus between the members of the board and communicate that consensus to the department heads.  The members of the board develop the policies and procedures which are then implemented by the administrator and departments. I feel that I have a good relationship with the administrator and department heads.  I regularly provide input to Mr. Reed concerning ongoing issues/programs and visit with the department heads to discuss issues and concerns generally at least once a week.  Should a staff member wish to discuss an issue I am always only a phone call or email away.

 

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

Bryan Fritch Answer: The Village Comprehensive Plan is out of date and needs to be reviewed. A group of knowledgeable individuals, consisting of representatives from both the business and residential community needs to be impaneled to perform a full review and submit their recommendations to the BOA.  The board has looked at portions of the plan but a full review has not been conducted in several years.  The Village Administrator should chair this effort and a timeline for the completion of the effort needs to be established.

 
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)

Bryan Fritch Answer: The first priority should be the completion of the background work to educate the citizens and develop the engineering plans concerning the wastewater treatment system.  Assuming the bond issue is approved by the voters in November, the project for Phase 1 (the Main Street business district) should be completed within 3 years.  The second priority is advertising for and hiring a full time Village Administrator.  Salado has grown to the point that a group of volunteers can not effectively manage the affairs of the Village and provide the continuity necessary over the long term.  The third priority is road maintenance.  The village will not be able to do the necessary work with a budget of $200K per year.  Part of the Capital Improvement Bond issue should be dedicated to making major updates such as the Chisholm Trail loop through the Village.  Priority four is the review and updating of all the Village ordinances to eliminate contradictions and streamline them.  Fifth is to fairly and impartially enforce those ordinances for the benefit of all the citizens of the Village.  I am ready, willing, and able to be a part of that effort as an alderman or as a private citizen to serve on boards and commissions to make these priorities come to fruition. 

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)
Bryan Fritch Answer: The lack of a Village waste water treatment facility has, in my opinion been a drawback for development especially as far as attracting businesses such as restaurants are concerned.  Also, part of the slowdown, I believe, has been the uncertain economy since 2008.  The I-35 expansion has had a negative effect and I think that some developers are waiting until that is completed before committing themselves to action. I do see some new construction underway which leads me to believe that the tide is starting to turn.  Bush’s Chicken and CEFCO are examples along I-35.  I have noted that quite a few houses are now under construction in the Hidden Springs subdivision and four houses are completed or nearing completion in Mill Creek.  Finally I feel that Salado is something of a hidden gem.  Many visitors to Salado are not aware that much of our residential areas even exist.  They see the downtown area but are not aware of the beautiful homes and desirable lots that are available within the Village.  I think that, for example, we could look into expanding the Jewel and Visitors Guide to have a section that highlights our residential communities.  Our exemplary school district and extremely low tax rate should also be emphasized.  This effort could be funded jointly by the Village and the real estate agencies that also call Salado home.

 

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

 

The Village roads are in overall poor condition and need major work.  Since FY2008 the Village has had an annual road budget of $150K.  That was increased to $200K for FY 2013-2014.  That sum is obviously not enough.  To resurface roads in this day and age, including curbing, costs approximately $1 million per mile.  In addition the BOA needs to re-look the road evaluation and develop a list of priorities that all can agree on.  For this reason, when I introduced the action for the bond election this coming November, I presented it as a “Capital Improvement Bond.” It was, and continues to be, my objective to present a bond issue to the voters that will encompass both the costs of Phase 1 of the wastewater treatment system and also provide additional funding to accomplish some major roadway renovations along the main arteries of the Village.   

 

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

 

Pace Park does not get a lot of visitors, partly because it has been allowed to deteriorate and damages that occurred during the last two major floods were never repaired.  The park is supposed to be a place for members of the community to meet and for their children to play in a safe and appealing environment.  I know that the Rotary Club of Salado is looking to, again, add additional mulch to the playground area.  I think that the Village could, and should, do more to enhance the appeal of the area such as replacing the benches and tables destroyed in the floods.  Some barbecue pits, a volleyball court, some swings for older children are all things that can be done to enhance the area and be accomplished at relatively low cost. 

 

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).

 

The bond election has already been called for.  I have always been in favor of developing a new waste water treatment facility for the Village which is why I introduced that action a couple of months ago. It was passed unanimously by the BOA.  An undertaking of this cost and magnitude is something that should be decided by the residents since they are the ones that will pay the bill.  I expect that in the next four months the Village Administrator and BOA, working together and with the support of our engineering firm, will have gathered enough information concerning treatment plant location options, collection lines, and costs and be prepared to present that data to the voters through board meetings, press releases, handouts, and town hall functions so that the citizens will be able to make an informed decision when they go to the polls in November.

 

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)

Bryan Fritch Answer: In my opinion, the greatest weakness within the village government is the lack of continuity.  Mayors and Aldermen come and go, each with their own vision and agenda.  Projects and programs championed by one individual or group are abandoned by their successors. The Comprehensive Plan, supposedly the blueprint for the future, is not looked at by the board as a whole, let alone discussed and updated.  We have a village run by volunteers, many of whom have full time careers.  This was effective in the early days after incorporation but as we have grown in size and added staff this is no longer a viable scenario.  We have embarked on the path towards the solution, namely to engage the services of a full time, professional city manager.  Secondly, I feel that the village should consider increasing the terms of office for the Mayor and Aldermen to three years from two which would also provide more continuity in those positions.

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

Bryan Fritch Answer: In a word, the answer is Integrity.  What I tell you today is the same thing I will tell your neighbor tomorrow.  I will never change my position on an issue for the sake of personal or political advantage but I will change my position if I was wrong, and will admit to my mistake.  I will continue to press forward with the initiatives I have previously proposed.  I will continue to do whatever I can to ensure that the Capital Improvement Bond is on the November ballot and that the citizens get enough information to make an informed decision.  I will continue to support the hiring of a full time city manager.  I will continue to push for either taking over the Civic Center as the new city hall or starting a fund dedicated to the purchase of real estate and the construction of a new facility since we have outgrown the current space.  I will continue to push for the transition from a Type “B” to a Type “A” municipality, something that is necessary in order to finance the projects that are envisioned over the next few years.  Finally I pledge that I will do all I can to foster a sense of cooperation and mutual respect between all members of the village administration.  We can agree to disagree with one another but that should not preclude us from working together for the good of the village as a whole.