By Samantha Smith
The Buda city council June 21 approved moving forward with the application process for the Texas Main Street program.
Council received a presentation from Planning Director Chance Sparks about the program, which is a state-sponsored initiative to provide Texas towns resources to assist in preserving and revitalizing their downtown districts.
Local Buda business owners who attended the June 7 council meeting requested council consider joining the program in the current fiscal year.
Sparks’ presentation consisted of explaining why a city’s ‘Main Street’ is important as well as the costs and benefits associated with joining the program.
During the city’s second budget meeting on Saturday, the city approved the additional money for the potential of a Main Street program into the fiscal year 2016 funds.
One of the main benefits member cities gain from the Texas Main Street Program is state grant funding to assist in the financial responsibility of maintaining downtown Buda, said.
According to Sparks, membership into the program is based on an application process and does require significant funds and cooperation from residents.
The benefits for a city in a Main Street Program include a boost in tourism and staff assistance for the city from the program itself.
Sparks argued the benefits of membership to the program could outweigh the costs involved.
Sparks mentioned financial options available to council for sources of funding the program, which included sales tax as a possibility and the Hotel Occupancy Tax fund. Sparks said there were enough HOT funds for Main Street to be feasible.
Although she stated she supported the program, council member Eileen Altmiller asked how aggressively Buda could use Hotel Occupancy Funds.
Sparks said 50 percent of HOT funds could be used for the program.
With 87 cities currently in the program, the competition for admittance is steep, Sparks said.
Buda had previously applied to be a member of the Texas Main Street program.
In 2009, the city’s application process had to be put on hold due to financial issues.
Three years later, in 2012, the city’s application was accepted, but out of all the applicants only three cities were chosen. Buda ranked fourth.
Sparks said being a successful member of the Texas Main Street program not only takes a financial commitment but a commitment from all of Buda’s residents to work together to make it succeed.
Buda Mayor Todd Ruge said he has been in favor of the program since he was first elected to the dais.
“If the application were to be accepted, it would be a major win for the city of Buda,” Ruge said.