I didn’t plan on becoming Victoria’s mayor.
When Mayor Rawley McCoy passed away earlier this year, he left behind a vision that was only just beginning to be fulfilled: a vision of Victorians working together to build a city that we can be proud to call home. I decided to run for mayor because I wanted to be sure that our City Council would continue on the path that Mayor McCoy set forth.
During my State of the City address at the Victoria Chamber of Commerce luncheon earlier this month, I was pleased to share some exciting updates that bode well for the City of Victoria and the community as a whole.
The City Council recently approved a new budget for fiscal year 2022. We lowered the property tax rate to $0.5882, which is $0.0233 lower than last year’s rate.
This year’s budget includes our largest-ever allocation for the capital improvement program, which covers infrastructure projects such as roads, utilities and buildings. We’ve repaired 75 miles of roadways during the past five years, and we plan to fix 112 more miles in the next five years. You can visit www.victoriatx.gov/budget to learn more about this year’s budget.
We’re also seeing a multitude of new development around the City, from retail projects like the new shopping center next to Home Depot to new health-sector developments like Springwood Medical Plaza to the forthcoming FedEx distribution center.
This development is supported by cooperation between business and government entities, especially the group that Mayor McCoy referred to as the “big five”: the City of Victoria, Victoria County, the Victoria Sales Tax Development Corporation, the Victoria Regional Airport and the Port of Victoria. These groups work together and support each other because we understand that a thriving economy—in the city, the county and the wider region—benefits the community as a whole.
We’re also working to address Victoria’s housing crisis by attracting developers for new projects, such as the recently announced Odem Street Apartments on the southside. Revitalizing our southside was important to Mayor McCoy, and we will continue looking for ways to bring new opportunities to the southside and ensure that the neighborhood is included in the wider community.
We’ve had our share of bad news as well, especially with the ongoing challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic. City and County leaders have been meeting to discuss ways to address this crisis. Our hospitals tell us that about 98% of their COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated. We encourage residents who have doubts about the vaccines to talk to their health care providers, as they would with any medical concern. Beyond this, we will continue looking for ways to support our medical providers and protect our community’s health.
Serving as mayor has helped me to gain a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing our whole community. With the support of my fellow council members and community partners, I will continue to do my part to help our city grow and thrive.
Jeff Bauknight is the mayor of the City of Victoria.