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2014-01-30

- My View - The Community of Bandera

By Bob Grimes

By Bob Grimes
Bandera County Commissioner Precinct 1

I recently attended a Bandera City Council meeting. Actually, I try to go to all of them, not only because I am interested, but also because I was appointed liaison to the City of Bandera by the Bandera County Commissioners Court.
Schedule permitting, I also try to attend meetings of the Planning and Zoning Commission and Economic Development Corporation, again, because I am interested and also because the city is part of the county.
No, the city does not fall within Bandera County Precinct 1, whose voters elected me to office. However, as with the other three commissioners - also elected by only constituents within their precincts - we all look beyond our precinct boundaries when conducting the business of the county.
The council meeting on Jan. 9 was very well attended and City Hall was filled to capacity. For purposes of these comments, the agenda topics don't matter. But I heard an interesting exchange between two citizens in the audience.
One citizen raised her hand, wanting to make a public comment. The other citizen looked at her and asked, "Do you live in the City?"
Her response was, "No, but I WORK here."
We all need to understand that what happens in, or to the city or county, affects the other. The city comprises less than 5 percent of the population of Bandera County. The other 95 percent-plus residents don't vote on city issues in the traditional sense. However, they do vote (along with our tourists) with their dollars in supporting businesses within the city, attending local events and generating beneficial sales taxes for the city.
Our tourists, by the way, learn of and visit Bandera mostly as a result of the great marketing efforts by the Bandera County Convention and Visitors Bureau, which is funded primarily by HOT (Hotel Occupancy Taxes) funds collected from lodging businesses located outside the city.
The city and county both succeed by understanding their interdependence and by working together. That success already happens in how we attract, serve and successfully retain our tourist population.
Not too far down the road, I anticipate that we will begin to have meaningful and progressive discussions about the economic future and path for our broad community, and what challenges we may face in that regard. Only by working together - citizens and governments alike - can we hope to craft creative options.
Eliminating any "we-they, us-them" mentality relating to the city and the county, at any level, is a necessary step. This mentality is disruptive and divisive. All of us, I know, want the nearly 21,000-member community of Bandera to be successful.