This is always one of the most exciting weeks of the year as we make final preparations of our biggest party of the year!
Our 33rd KaBoom Town was ranked by the Dallas Morning News as the Festival of the Week and by numerous other media outlets as a top ten fireworks event in the country.
Kudos to all of our Special Event folks, First Responders and Staff that make this event so special for all that attend, as well as create a tremendous boost to our overall brand and PR level on a very large scale.
The park opens at 4:00 pm and spots are available on a first come first served basis.
- Live Music begins at 5:00 pm
- Historic Warbird Flyover at 7:15 pm
- Fireworks at 9:30 pm
- After Party featuring Party Machine at 10:00 pm
Please be aware that we will have over 400,000 visitors, residents and of course business folks in our town celebrating with us so there will be serious traffic delays.
We hire over 300 extra police officers and sheriff’s deputies to help us manage the traffic yet our infrastructure is certainly not built to handle this flow and amount of traffic every day, so please be patient or stay in one of our area hotels and beat the traffic altogether. Check out the hotels and their special rates here, addisonkaboomtown.com.
We began our evening’s work on June 28 at 5:00 pm with an excellent presentation from our Economic Development Director Orlando Campos during Executive Session that resulted in a a unanimous public vote from council to approve his recommended incentive agreement for a new business relocating to Addison that will bring us over 200 new jobs! The name and timing will be announced by the new business very soon.
Our work session began at 6:00 pm with the sole topic being an update, presentation and discussion regarding the Texas Municipal Retirement System (TMRS).
Executive Director Eric Davis and senior regional manager David Rodriguez came up from the Austin headquarters of TMRS to share their Powerpoint presentation with us and make themselves available for questions.
Most of the council members were fully engaged in the conversation as we reviewed that while the TMRS has 866 cities as participants, our Addison funds, employees and retirees are protected and separated from the other plans, as each city is funded as a separate entity with its own assets, liabilities and funded ratio.
The TMRS system is a “hybrid” cash-balance defined benefit plan with an investment return assumption of 6.75% and a guaranteed return of 5%. If there is a shortfall on the 5% return, the shortfall becomes a liability of the taxpayers of Addison.
Several changes have been made since 2007 to ensure long term, advanced funding of all benefits except Ad Hoc adoptions of Updated Service Credit and COLAs.
Recent and soon to be adopted Government accounting rule changes intended to create more transparency with respect to the true cost and liabilities associated with these government employee retirement programs, will require all municipalities, including Addison, to report their unfunded liabilities in their financial reports. As you will see, this unfunded liability is a large dollar amount.
Eric and David shared with us that our plan is very competitive in our market place and does serve as an important tool in attracting and retaining excellent, well compensated employees.
The chart that was presented shows that our Addison retirement benefit package is more generous than all but three of the cities in our 14 city comparison set. Our Addison plan matches each employee’s 7% contribution with a 2/1 ratio so that approximately 21% of our employees compensation is set aside for retirement each month, with 5 year vesting and survivor benefits.
Our employees may retire at 20 years of service with full benefits or at age 60 if they have at least 5 years of service. A number of other complicated but important benefits include restricted prior service credit, buy back, military service credit, supplemental death benefit for actives and retirees, updated service credits – 100% with transfer, annually repeating, and COLA – 70% CPI, ad hoc last adopted in 2015.
As of 12/31/2015 the actuarial value of assets in our retirement fund for our employees is $111,498,184. The unfunded actuarial accrued liability is $4,542,059, giving us a funded ratio of 96.1%.
As Eric and David said, “The goal is to get at least 100% funded” which means at the end of last calendar year we are over $4 million short of our goal.
Their presentation included a chart that showed we were almost totally funded in 2014 at 99.7% and just $307,535 short of 100%. The chart also showed that if the council elects to fund the ad hoc COLA adjustment in this next budget year we will be at about 95.6% funded and our unfunded liability will grow to over $5 million.
There was some confusion last summer and fall about the impact of the council not approving the COLA adjustment for our retirees.
First of all it is important to remember this is not a promised benefit increase. In fact the council in 2007 specifically removed the annual repeating component of this benefit with the expressed intent to reserve that judgement to the council each year. That was communicated to our employees in an effort to properly inform their expectations in 2007.
Secondly, while the potential cost last year of approving the COLA increase would have been relatively small at about $27,000, the impact on our unfunded liability would have been very large.
If the council chooses to grant the COLA increase in 2017 it will likely be a bit more cash up front and will increase our unfunded liability by $532,575. So what may look minimal on the surface is actually rather significant as we drill down into the details and numbers.
The council will likely consider this COLA issue again this year as part of our budget conversations or in a separate agenda item as we have in the past.
Our Regular session began with our pledge and 4 speakers during our Public Comment Section.
One accused staff of violating the Open Meetings Act for the way they handled the speakers and comments at the January 26 meeting that we held at the Conference Centre; one accused the council of secrecy and falsehoods with respect to the way the requested Lea Dunn memo was handled; one speaker wanted to leave the current yield signs in place and not install stop signs at the corner of Les Lacs and Beltway, and one very articulate well-spoken woman asked for us to become united in our efforts to do what is best for Addison.
We received the recognition from the North Texas Council of Governments for our collaboration with Carrollton, Farmers Branch and Coppell and our work together on our new combined radio and dispatch center.
The Consent Agenda approved the minutes from June 12, a resolution appointing three of our staff members to the board of the North State Dallas County Water Supply Corporation and the appointment of Gary Slagel to a two year term to continue as our representative on the DART Board of Directors.
The council pulled the item amending our public information policy for further review since the three newest council members had not been party to the development of the new policy that would create a presumption that the requestor be given the requested information in Freedom of Information requests. This matter will be reviewed at a later session.
Council member Paul Walden pulled the resolution appointing the council members to serve on the Finance Committee for further study since he was not aware of the council adopted policies regarding the finance committee. We will have a future meeting to review that for him later this summer.
We began our Regular Items with a Public Hearing, discussion and consideration reinstating the Addison Mayor’s Newsletter.
There were 24 speakers, all of whom had very strongly held and expressed opinions and most of whom did so in a very respectful manner. In fact there were several eloquent speakers quoting history, our Constitution and general good governance guidance.
I encourage you to watch the video. Speaker Carol Blair presented to the council petitions signed by over 330 residents in support of reinstating the Addison mayor’s newsletter. We have inserted a link here so that you can see your neighbors in action! http://addisontx.swagit.com/play/06282016-1014
After this very lengthy Public Hearing was concluded, I made a motion to reinstate the Addison mayor’s newsletter and that motion was seconded by council member Dale Wilcox.
I suggested that the council was in the very rare situation where we could make a decision that would please everyone. Since so many folks liked the new staff newsletter and so many folks liked the mayor’s newsletter, we could have both!
The new staff newsletter had 2 very good weeks of production that seemed to please several of the subscribers and speakers from the evening, the mayor’s newsletter has over 2,000 subscribers, and over 330 citizens from all parts of Town signed petitions asking that the mayor’s newsletter be reinstated, so it seemed like the resolution was obvious: Have both!
After a lengthy debate the motion failed 2-5, with council members Wilcox and Meier voting in favor of reinstating the mayor’s newsletter, council members Ivan Hughes, Walden, Jim Duffy, Bruce Arfsten and Al Angell voting against.
Council member Hughes then made a motion to create a “council members’ corner” in the staff newsletter permitting the mayor and any of the council members to use that space to write what they choose each week.
I seconded that motion and again, after lengthy debate that motion failed with council members Hughes, Wilcox and Meier voting in favor and council members Walden, Duffy, Angell and Arfsten voting opposed.
Finally I made a motion to request the use of the subscriber list of over 2,000 email addresses that I have worked the last 5 years to build for the limited purpose of a one-time per week use for distribution of the Addison mayor’s newsletter.
The council’s action would apply to all of the council members equally going forward and make the subscription email list available to each council member for purposes of communicating with their constituents as a policy. The motion was seconded by council member Wilcox.
After more debate and a brief executive session with our City Attorney, council members Walden, Hughes, Wilcox, Angell and Duffy voted in favor of the motion and council member Arfsten abstained without providing a reason for his abstention.
According to Roberts Rules, “You should abstain from voting whenever you have an interest in the outcome that directly affects you personally or monetarily in a manner not shared by other members of the group.”
Arfsten did not share any comments that would indicate his interests are not shared by the rest of the council. The general municipal and Addison practice has been that unless someone has a stated conflict or reason for abstention they are obligated to vote in favor or opposed. Otherwise we might have situations where elected officials only voted when it was comfortable or non-controversial.
I then added that I would review the options open to me as mayor and make a determination how the Addison Mayor’s newsletter would be distributed in the future and that, in the meantime, I have continued to write the Addison mayor’s newsletters which is now available at addisonmayorsnewsletter.com.
Council member Walden requested that we table Item 11, a presentation, discussion and review of The History of Transparency for the Town of Addison, until our next meeting on July 12.
We also tabled the Public Hearing discussion and consideration of approval of the rezoning case involving Trinity Christian Academy’s 39.4 acres, also to be heard on July 12.
The council unanimously approved two contracts that will dredge and desilt the Winnwood Ponds totaling $1,161,245 that will begin in August, take 6-7 months and is in our stormwater fund budget.
The first part of the project will be performed by Halff Associates as required by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission. Halff will preserve the wildlife in the ponds with an aquatic relocation plan that will cost $64,600.
The council unanimously approved a resolution approving a contract with Stripe-A-Zone for the 2016 annual street pavement markings project in the amount of $91,380 that will take 3 months to complete.
They will work on Quorum from Landmark on the south all the way north to Westgrove including numerous crosswalks; there will also be other parts of the Town restriped as the project unfolds, with a keen eye for an improved quality of work over what we have had in the past.
Director of Special Events and Services, Mark Acevedo, brought us a presentation on our recent Taste Addison special event. He shared some of the lessons learned and ideas for improvements next year.
Our attendance over the three days topped 15,000. Thirty Addison restaurants participated including 9 separate chef demonstrations. Safety and scrutiny were very good with only minor incidents to report.
Thanks to the amazing pre-event work performed by our entire Finance team, most especially Ashley Boatright, the internal controls, accounting and cash management systems put in place were consistent with the recommendations from the Kanter report and worked well.
While the event fell short of our attendance and financial expectations, the staff does feel like we accomplished our principal objectives of promoting tourism and our restaurants.
The council unanimously approved a resolution authorizing our City Manager to sign an agreement with the State Comptroller of Public Accounts for repayment of sales tax in the amount of $827,540.76 allocated to the Town of Addison in error.
This is a huge hit to our revenue and will be paid back in installments over the next 49 months. It is important to note that this was not an error on the part of our staff; rather the company or tax filer failed to notify the Comptroller’s office that they moved in 2011. As a result the sales tax that company paid was incorrectly credited to Addison.
Agenda item #19 for the evening was the unanimous approval of an amendment to the Town’s budget for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2016, adding an expense increase of $150,000 to accommodate cost overruns associated with the delayed implementation of the radio functionality of our new North Texas Emergency Communications Center.
The staff anticipates a very high likelihood of obtaining a reimbursement of these costs at some point in the near future from the radio supplier.
As we approached 11:30 pm our Police Chief Paul Spencer presented proposed changes that are not subject to council approval in their hiring practices for new officers.
We learned through extensive research over the last 10 years that there is no correlation between excellent performance as an officer and their graduation from college with a 4 year degree. Our current policy of requiring a 4 year college degree is limiting the pool of applicants for new hires.
As such, the Chief, his staff and our City Manager agree and plan to revise our hiring policies to permit consideration of qualified applicants that have 60 hours of college and military or at least 2 years of police work experience.
The Chief went on to say that the morale of the department is the “best it has ever been”. He attributed the high morale to the good work staff and council have done over the last couple of years dealing with the compensation issues along with an overall improved management effort.
We adjourned for the evening at just after 12:00 am.
On Thursday evening we met for the 6th time to work on and finalize our Vision and Strategic Planning process for 2016-2017 at our TreeHouse. Council member Duffy was unable to attend.
We worked very effectively to finalize our plans that we will share in one final council meeting later this summer. However our City Manager and staff now have the input they need to develop a draft budget for council to be presented by July 31.
On Thursday morning City Manager Wes Pierson and I headed to downtown Dallas to meet for what was now becoming quarterly meetings with our fellow DART member mayors and City Managers.
Mayor Rawlings and City Manager AC Gonzalez from Dallas, Mayor Van Duyne, City Manager Chris Hillman of Irving, Mayor LaRosilliere of Plano, their City Management team and mayors and city managers of all of the other DART member cities were present.
We met at DART HQ to discuss a variety of topics including a service update from DART president and CEO Gary Thomas. As part of his service update it was very encouraging to hear him discuss that the Cotton Belt Line running thru Addison is now being advanced from a 2035 time line to much sooner, possibly with an in service time of 2020-2023.
It’s starting to sound like all our hard work is beginning to pay off. Most of the meeting was spent discussing how to encourage new cities and towns to join DART and therefore create a larger, more inclusive and robust transportation system for our entire region.
It was a very good meeting and I expect our group will get back together at least one more time before the end of this calendar year.
You may wonder why I put this article in the Business Development section of our newsletter. Very simply, our monthly sales tax contribution to DART represents the single largest investment we make, by a wide margin, in economic development.
Our current monthly tab to DART is about $1,000,000. Add that to our now over $250 million paid in over 30 years, and we have every right and reason to be pretty pushy about getting that Cotton Belt Line with us here in Addison.
So DART and the Cotton Belt are a very important part of our Economic Development investment and strategy, at least for now.
You may have received a post card in the mail this week from our Infrastructure and Development Services department. This is an excellent information piece designed to introduce you to our new Code Enforcement Program.
This educational piece explains our Property Standards Specialist responsibilities and outlines the parameters of the possible enforcement actions. The piece also lists a variety of common residential violations such as high grass, junked cars, recreational vehicles, trees, shrubs and plants, irrigation system regulations, signs in yards, protective treatments on the outside of our homes, storage of recycling containers, outside storage and portable storage structures.
Most of these are really just good common sense and obvious ways to help keep our Addison looking nice and high quality.
Those of you familiar with the “Broken Window” law enforcement and policing philosophy will also note that keeping our properties nice deters crime. Urban decay and high crime go hand in hand.
While we have an excellent team of Code Enforcement and Property Standards Specialists (Gilbert Fernandez at 972-450-2804 and Beatriz Faustino at 972-450-2805). the best practices and best results come from community pride and individual pride in our respective residential neighborhoods.
This is a situation where all of us have a responsibility to maintain our neighborhoods and encourage our neighbors to become aware of some pretty basic courtesies that will help us continue to make Addison a nice and beautiful place to live.
This morning I accepted the invitation to come and speak at the Social Media Conference being held at our Addison Conference Centre as part of the seventh annual Social Media Day celebration.
Lissa Duty and her team went all out on their event that included workshops and free flow exchange of information and great ideas. Over 250 attended.
I was honored to again be invited to be part of their event where I had the chance to share my enthusiasm about our Addison. We hope to have this high intellect and creative group back with us next year utilizing our Conference Centre for their event.
I hope you have a great weekend celebrating our Nation’s birthday party! I hope to see you Sunday evening at KaBoom Town.
Thanks and see you soon,