City Councilman Garth Hinze is seeking a third term representing the Northeast Ward.
A Nacogdoches native, Hinze is CEO of Ark Pharmacies, which includes M&S Pharmacy and Stripling’s Pharmacy locally.
Q: What difficult decisions do you think the city will face in the coming two years? How do you plan to approach those decisions?
Hinze: The city has a large bill coming due on our deferred infrastructure maintenance. Infrastructure is incredibly expensive and will cost more than $100M over the next ten years. There is no room in the budget for projects of that scale, so we must cashflow it with bonds and tax revenue growth. Due to some significant bonds that will be paid off in the next 18-24 months, that will create some room financially to begin taking action on the deferred maintenance.
However, the city population and employment have been stagnant for 30 years, so there must be growth to increase the tax revenue with a multi-faceted approach to economic development. I have served on the NEDCO board for four years, and we have made significant progress in the last year to determine what specific barriers are keeping strong businesses that provide good living-wage jobs from moving to our community. Three of the bottlenecks that we hear consistently from employers are the lack of good single family housing options, the lack of a trained labor force, and the improvement needed of our public schools. Each of those are addressed in the strategic plan the city formalized in February.
Q: What do you think are the most pressing issues affecting the Northeast Ward?
Hinze: Regardless of whether Nacogdoches does or does not grow in population and employment opportunities, the necessary infrastructure maintenance does not go away and must be capitalized through increased tax rates. If Nacogdoches achieves intentional and sustainable growth, the tax base is increased, and the tax burden is lessened across the board.
Without an increased tax base, those that own businesses and properties are disproportionately impacted because of the additional taxes they pay on their business personal property and buildings, in addition to their homes. This makes it more costly to do business in our city at a time when many business owners and managers in the Northeast Ward who run businesses have struggled through the 2020 pandemic. We simply cannot afford to remain stagnant.
Q: What goals would you set for your term in office?
Hinze: My goals for the next two years include removing the barriers we consistently hear from employers who want to bring jobs to Nacogdoches. One of those barriers, the lack of quality single family home options, can be addressed directly by incentivizing home renovation and new construction in the vacant lots and neighborhoods that need revitalization. This effort toward infill costs the city nothing because the infrastructure (roads, water, and sewer) are already there. I also believe we would greatly benefit from offering incentives for developers willing to build neighborhoods in the community.
The other two barriers, improvement of our public schools and creating a trained labor force, require collaboration with the leadership of SFA and NISD. Both entities have excellent new leadership and are eager to work with the city to “row in the same direction.” These partnerships are critical and will also require individuals and private companies to step into the conversation to bring solutions.