By: Councilman Shane R. Saum
Lago Vista City Council Place 1
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Local Preference Program Passed!
(February 17, 2024)
I am excited to share my first ordinance I drafted and had passed by City Council this week. I am proud to help support our local businesses by creating the Local Preference Program. Businesses in Lago Vista will now receive a slight edge when competing for city procurements, ensuring a fair playing field and encouraging their continued growth.
Benefits of a local preference program:
My 2024 Resolution to Lago Vista
(December 31, 2023)
Dear Fellow Residents of Lago Vista,
As we stand on the cusp of a new year, I am filled with gratitude for the privilege of serving you as a City Council Member. It is both an honor and a responsibility that I take to heart, and as we embark on 2024, I want to share with you my New Year's resolution—a commitment to amplifying your voices and addressing the issues that matter most to our community.
Lago Vista is more than a collection of homes; it's a vibrant community, shaped by the dreams, concerns, and aspirations of its residents. As one of your representatives on the City Council, my foremost goal is to serve as a conduit for your wants and needs. I firmly believe that the strength of our city lies in the unity of its people, and your input is invaluable in steering our shared destiny.
In this spirit, my resolution for 2024 is centered around active engagement and responsiveness. I am not here to dictate, but rather to listen and advocate for the changes you wish to see. I recognize that as one of six council members and the Mayor, my role is collaborative, requiring consensus and shared vision. Together, we can create a community that reflects the values and priorities of each and every one of us.
In the coming year, I am eager to address key policy areas that I have identified based on your continued feedback and community needs. These include a commitment to increase transparency in our local government, working diligently to expand our water and road infrastructure, supporting our local businesses and enhancing the functionality of our City Council. These are not just my priorities—they are a reflection of the concerns I've heard from you, my fellow residents.
I understand the significance of community input, and I pledge to be a steadfast advocate for your concerns. While I am just one voice among the others on the City Council, I promise to tirelessly work towards consensus, ensuring that your collective wishes are at the forefront of our decision-making process.
As we embark on this journey into 2024, I invite you to actively participate in shaping the future of Lago Vista. Your engagement is the cornerstone of our success, and together, we can build a community that we are all proud to call home.
Thank you for entrusting me with the privilege of representing you. Here's to a year of collaboration, progress, and a stronger, more vibrant Lago Vista.
Shane R. Saum
City Council Member Place 1
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In my ongoing efforts to enhance transparency within the City of Lago Vista, I am committed to implementing innovative measures that promote open dialogue and collaboration. Recognizing the constraints posed by the Texas Open Meetings Act and its walking quorum provisions, I am proposing the establishment of an online message board in accordance with Section 501.006 of the Act. This platform will allow City Council members to openly discuss public policy and city agenda items, fostering a collaborative environment crucial for the development of well-informed and thoughtful decisions. All discussions on this board will be published on the City website, ensuring that our deliberations are part of the public record, promoting accountability and transparency in our decision-making processes.
Furthermore, I am dedicated to being more accessible to our residents. In addition to remaining available by email, phone, social media and by appointment, I am committed to holding at least one in-person event each month at a local business. This initiative aims to create a welcoming environment where citizens can comfortably share their opinions and concerns. I believe that face-to-face interactions are invaluable, and this commitment reflects my dedication to being physically present in our community, actively engaging with residents in a group setting to better understand their perspectives and address their needs.
As our city embarks on significant infrastructure projects, such as the expansion of water infrastructure and road improvements, I want to ensure that our citizens remain actively involved in the planning and monitoring processes. I will explore and propose ways to facilitate public participation, keeping residents informed and engaged in shaping the future of Lago Vista. I would like to explore a program similar to this program (CLICK LINK HERE) which encourages ownership of roads by the citizens by involving them directly in the process of monitoring of road construction through training, observing and reporting. Through these transparent initiatives, I aim to strengthen the bond between the City Council and our community, building trust and collectively working towards the betterment of our beloved city.
I will also advocate the City enter into a Water System Partnership with other Municipal water systems in the central Texas area to share training, resources and help during times of need. This is a growing practice across the country. According to the EPA:
“Drinking water systems across the country face unique challenges to provide safe drinking water and operate often with limited resources. Specific issues with the water system’s technical, managerial, and financial (TMF) capacity could become a catalyst for beginning a water system partnership. Water system partnerships are a problem-solving and program enhancing tool to address the multi-faceted challenges water systems face. The impact of water system partnerships encompasses a broad range of issues and requires collaboration across a wide spectrum of stakeholders to address and provide solutions. This increases the capacity and enables systems to sustainably provide safe and affordable water to their communities.”
When I toured our water infrastructure this month I broached the idea of this concept and heard from staff that they had reached out to other communities to problem solve similar water systems. Formalizing this practice can have a great impact on our community and provide our staff extended resources they may not currently have. Additionally, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) grants the “Water Partners: Water Systems Helping Water Systems Award '' each year and I would love for a goal of Lago Vista to be to some day win that award or help a neighboring community win that award for helping us.
Furthermore, the Legislature this year passed a bill to help get more high school students interested in careers in water and wastewater careers. Previously, students had to wait until their graduation to obtain a license. Under the new law, students who complete the required training and pass an exam are eligible for provisional licenses. Once the student turns 18 and receives a high school diploma or GED, they can obtain a permanent license. I would like to see the City opt into programs like this and others to ensure we have the workforce needed in the coming years, but to also give our local students an opportunity to stay and work in their community.
Supporting our local businesses is not just an economic strategy; it is a commitment to the heart and soul of our community. As a City Council member, I am dedicated to championing initiatives that foster the growth and prosperity of our local enterprises. One key proposal is the establishment of a local preference program within the city's procurement processes. This program would provide a valuable advantage to businesses rooted in Lago Vista, ensuring that our city spending contributes to the vitality of our local economy. Additionally, I aim to explore ways to streamline and support local businesses in our permitting processes. This could involve options such as pay-for-expedited-processing or providing additional educational resources to guide businesses through the intricacies of city regulations, fostering a more business-friendly environment. We all want to see Lago Vista characterized as a staunch “Pro-Business” city.
Furthermore, I recognize the importance of seeking input from our local businesses on matters that directly impact them. To achieve this, I propose initiatives to actively engage with the business community, seeking their perspectives on issues like infrastructure development, tax policies, tourism strategies, and more. By establishing channels for open communication and collaboration, we can ensure that the City's decisions align with the needs and aspirations of our local entrepreneurs. Additionally, I aspire to explore creative ways to market and promote our local businesses, leveraging city resources to boost their visibility and contribute to their success. Together, these initiatives underscore my commitment to building a thriving local economy that benefits both businesses and residents alike.
Ensuring Sure City Council Works FOR YOU
Ensuring that the City Council works for you, the residents of Lago Vista, is a fundamental aspect of my commitment to transparent and responsive governance. One crucial step in this direction is addressing the accessibility of council meetings. It is imperative that citizens who wish to participate in local government have the opportunity to do so without the inconvenience of late-night sessions. I propose measures to prevent council meetings from extending too late on weeknights, recognizing that citizens should not be required to wait until midnight to express their comments. This initiative is part of my commitment to fostering an environment where community engagement is not only encouraged but made feasible for all.
Equally important is the need to ensure that agenda items are thoroughly and thoughtfully considered. Rushing through important decisions is counterproductive to good governance. To address this, I advocate for providing City Council members with adequate time to review background documents and ordinance drafts before they are posted to a public agenda. This ensures that our council members are well-prepared to deliberate on policy matters and hear from citizens effectively. Additionally, I am dedicated to reordering the sequence of meetings to prioritize citizens' comments and align with their schedules. This includes avoiding scheduling executive sessions on topics that the public deserves to hear about and, in my opinion, placing citizen comments ahead of executive sessions. Through these initiatives, I aim to create a City Council that truly serves the needs and interests of the residents it represents.
In conclusion, I embark on the journey of 2024 with a profound sense of duty and commitment to the citizens of Lago Vista. While I am just one voice among seven on the City Council, I want to assure you that your needs and desires are at the forefront of my priorities. These resolutions to enhance transparency, support local businesses, and improve the efficiency of our City Council meetings are ambitious but essential for the betterment of our community. I recognize the weight of this elected position as a sacred honor, and I pledge to give my utmost effort to fulfill the responsibilities entrusted to me. Your input is invaluable in shaping the direction of our city, and I encourage you to continue informing me of your thoughts and concerns. Together, we can build a stronger, more vibrant Lago Vista that truly reflects the aspirations of its residents. Thank you for the trust you've placed in me, and I look forward to the collaborative efforts that lie ahead. Bring on 2024!
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
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