Mayor talks trust, transparency at chamber luncheon

Melissa Crowe By Melissa Crowe

Oct. 9, 2013 at 5:09 a.m.
Updated Oct. 10, 2013 at 5:10 a.m.

From setting the budget to deciding which streets are repaired first, Victoria Mayor Paul Polasek wants residents to know the inner workings of city government.

"It's to inform the citizens, to give them a chance to hear straight from me," Polasek said. "Facts change people's points of view."

Polasek spoke to 157 people Wednesday at the University of Houston-Victoria Multi-Purpose Room for the Victoria Chamber of Commerce's October luncheon.

In his position as mayor, Polasek has made a consorted effort to build public trust through transparency.

"We can't get anything done if we don't have your trust in what we're doing," Polasek said. "I'm asking this group to help us with that."

Lauri Voss, career and technical education coordinator for the Victoria Independent School District, was a first-timer at the chamber luncheon.

She said from zero to 100, she rates her trust in local government at an 80.

"That may go back to transparency," she said. "Not that I distrust them, but I would like to increase my awareness."

She said the discussion helped.

"I didn't know the inner workings of developments and the long-range process of the strategic planning," she said.

Along with a budget summary, the mayor spoke about a retail study the city is undertaking.

The city relies more on sales tax than property tax for its general fund, which covers emergency responders and other city departments.

Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Randy Vivian said he is eager for the study's outcome.

"I think it's wonderful," Vivian said. "We've known for a long time that we're lagging behind in retail."

While the study's results could mean competition for existing business owners - who already pay taxes - Vivian said regardless of the study, anytime there is new business there is competition.

"We serve a large metropolitan area of more than 200,000 people," he said. "To give them more options is something we need to look at as a retail community."



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