ROUND ROCK, Texas (KXAN) — The campaign headquarters for Round Rock councilman Carlos Salinas is upsetting some taxpayers.
On March 1, the incumbent councilman’s headquarters was set up inside the historic Nelson Hardware Building on Main Street in downtown Round Rock.
The questions stem from a 2012 agreement the city council passed to help bring dining and entertainment to the stretch of Main Street. Per the agreement, a $400,000 loan was given to Lewis Properties to assist with the purchase of the historic building.
Because of the intent and purpose behind the loan, Holly Hansen, a Round Rock citizen, does not believe the headquarters is appropriate.
“This arrangement clearly gives him a very visible campaign office,” said Hansen. “I do not think a political campaign office meets the criteria laid out in that agreement.”
Kip Lewis of Lewis Properties, the owner of the building who received the loan, told KXAN there has been no tenant in the building since January 2013 and no new deal was imminent. Because of the circumstances he decided to rent the space to Salinas only for a short-term lease.
Because the headquarters did not fit into the city’s ultimate plans for the building, Lewis sought the approval of City Manager Scott Norwood before leasing to Salinas. Norwood told KXAN he approved the lease because it was only 90 days long.
Campaign finance records show Salinas paid $1,000 a month in rent for the space.
That amount is also troubling to Hansen who wonders if the councilman is paying what another tenant would for valuable space on Main Street.
KXAN talked to Lewis by phone on Friday and he said comparing what another tenant might pay for the space is not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison. Because of the amount of investments and improvements a restaurant would have to make to occupy the building, rent could fluctuate anywhere between $1 and $2 a square foot for the facility which could hold multiple tenants. The building is listed at 1,343 square feet, but also offers more space.
The Salinas headquarters is only open a few days during the week. KXAN’s attempts to reach the councilman on Friday were unsuccessful.
Salinas is opposed by Will Peckham on the May 10 ballot.