In yesterday’s The Kerrville Daily Times, the editorial board attempted to fact check a number of claims made at the Tuesday evening City Council meeting regarding the proposed Vintage Heights subdivision south of River Hill. Unfortunately, a number of misrepresentations made by the developer and Council were left uncorrected as well as a claim made by myself being misrepresented as false.
When speaking to Council, I stated the rate of population growth in Kerrville has been declining over the prior few decades. In its editorial, KDT claimed my statement was false. Ironically, KDT also posted online, the Census numbers showing Kerrville’s growth rate for the most recent three decades to be 1990s-17.5%; 2000s-9.4% and 2010s-4%. Obviously the data confirms my original claim of slowing growth rate.
The point being made is that while Texas overall population continues growing at a rapid pace, research shows that the majority of that migration is focused in large metropolitan areas such as Dallas, Houston, Austin and San Antonio. Kerrville is currently positioned outside of these metro areas and therefore can expect very modest or flat growth in the upcoming years.
Another claim made by the developer, Council, staff and KDT is that the proposed development represents workforce housing, a product that Kerrville desperately needs and could be incentivized as such. The definition provided by staff for workforce housing is housing that is affordable for households with income between 80% and 120% of Kerrville’s median household income.
City Council is answerable to City of Kerrville residents and is using City taxpayer dollars to incentivize this development. Therefore it is not appropriate to focus on the median household income within the broader Kerr County but should be more narrowly focused on City of Kerrville incomes.
The most recent housing study conducted by the City of Kerrville puts the 2019 median household income at $46,215 within the City. That median correlates to a range of housing affordability of $111,000-$184,000. The Vintage Heights developer has stated publicly the homes being built will range in price from $185-227,000. In other words, the lowest price house in this development is not even attainable by the high end of the affordable range for the Kerrville workforce. Need not met.
One speaker at the meeting pointed out that this new development would be affordable and necessary to be able to retain school teachers within KISD. In a two earner household, this might be accurate. However it glosses over the fact that currently over 60% of the students within KISD qualify for subsidized meal program. In other words, while teachers may be able to afford these new homes, the overwhelming majority of the student families will not. Need not met.
The housing study and the comprehensive plan both refer to infill development. Infill development is desirable to take advantage of the pre-existing infrastructure and avoid costly expansion of service area for the city. The proposed development is obviously expanding the outer boundaries of the Kerrville development pattern and contrary to infill development. Need not met.
The development agreement being proposed contemplates providing a tax rebate to the developer that could potentially amount to $5 million over 20 years. In a city where our property tax is the main funding source for services provided and where the street maintenance program alone is currently deferring almost $2.5 million per year, creating a tax rebate to pay for new development is an unsustainable financial position for the City and makes the transaction financially unbalanced. Need not met.
Obviously, the needs of the community are not being met by any facet of this development. This is not to say that Vintage Heights is a bad project, only that the development agreement with its corresponding tax rebate is bad for Kerrville. If the developer wants to build these homes in this location then they should do it, just not on the taxpayer dime.