Saturday, August 27, 2016
More rain relief on Monday and a big sigh of relief heard from Addison Moms as school resumed this week!
Be sure to respect those school zone speed limits or you may be coming to visit our Municipal Courts building, so please Drive Carefully.
As you may recall, last week on August 15 in a videotaped and live online meeting, the council saw a recent staff presentation that the estimate given to us by our former City Manager in 2012 of $16 million, to fully reconstruct Midway Road from Spring Valley to Keller Springs, was woefully inadequate.
In fact, the current estimate for a reduced scope of work is for $38 million, $22 million more than the estimate in 2012. It is small wonder that the Dallas Morning News ran a front page story in their Metro Section covering some of the issues related to this 140% missed estimate.
One of the looming and obvious questions is, “How did this happen?”
Since the meeting on August 15 I have heard at least two possible explanations:
In the Dallas Morning News story council member Paul Walden offers an explanation that the previous City Manager used the work completed in 2010 on Spring Valley as the basis for his estimate.
Then last week during our Third Thursday of the month “After Hours with the Mayor” event, a neighbor of former City Manager Ron Whitehead told the group that Ron told her that Halff Associates helped him develop that estimate.
Both explanations are good reason I heeded the suggestion made by one of the other attendees at last week’s event to extend Mr. Whitehead an invitation to come to a council meeting and share the process that he used to give the council, the bond committee and our community his $16 million estimate.
Rather than have council members speculate in the newspaper or rely on neighbors’ third-hand explanations, it seems the best source to help us understand, move forward and take our next steps on the Midway Road project, is to hear from the actual person that gave us his estimate.
I dropped this note in the mail to our former City Manager Ron Whitehead on Monday morning August 22 with copies to my council colleagues and our current City Manager:
Regular Council Meeting Tuesday, August 23
All council members were in attendance for our Regular council meeting on Tuesday evening, August 23.
We began at 5:30 pm with an extensive Executive Session receiving legal guidance from our City Attorney pertaining to correspondence received regarding the Addison Grove project.
Our Work session followed with a review of the current status of the Les Lacs Lake projects. Jason Shroyer, Assistant Director of Infrastructure, reviewed the status of the two projects that are related to the infrastructure of the Lake designed to improve the water quality.
The first project is the relocation of the transfer piping that will promote better flow. This project is substantially complete. The original projected cost was $265,450 and the actual final cost will be $190,325.
The second project designed to improve water quality was the rebuilding of the water well. The 1980’s vintage pump, the enclosure and infrastructure are being replaced.
The recent rains have delayed completion of this project and yet it likely will be completed by the end of next month. The original projected cost of this project was $379,940 and the actual completed cost will be $301,597.
The final infrastructure project will begin after the first two have been completed and will be the development of a standard operating procedure for the best use of the pump and/or chemical treatment process for the Lake. The original projected cost of that project was $154,923 and the final cost will be $93,000.
Michael Kashuba, our Director of Parks, gave us an update on the project designed to improve the aesthetics and the lake edge. He reviewed all of the various plans to make progress and shared the limitations inherent in the project caused by concerns for damaging the liner of the lake.
Michael shared that we are still working on this project to develop viable solutions, yet at this point we do not have a good process to address the aesthetics or repair the lake edge. Most importantly, our entire staff remains committed to completing this project.
If you recall, the original budget for addressing all of the issues related to improvements for the lake was between $1.2 and $1.3 million. So far expenditures total $584,922; therefore there is a sizeable portion of the original budget available to address the lake edge and aesthetic issues once our staff finds a process that will not cause damage to the lake liner.
We began our Regular Session with our pledge and followed with two folks taking advantage of our Public Comment section.
Resident Neil Hewitt shared his continued opposition to adding stop signs to the intersection of Beltway and Les Lacs.
Resident Sheila Barkofske shared her eloquent comments about the need for us to create an important culture of accountability.
The council unanimously approved the minutes of our last meeting, a renewal of a conventional hangar lease on our airport, the termination of a ground lease on our airport and the approval of a contract for custodial services in several of our Town facilities.
Item 9 was a discussion and consideration of an ordinance change that would authorize our City Manager to erect and maintain traffic control devices he deems necessary. The current ordinance requires City council approval of any new traffic control devices.
Our staff reported that we have 17 locations where traffic control signs have been erected previously without council approval. Our staff also did a survey among our benchmark cites and reported that of the 17 cities, only one other requires council approval of traffic control signs.
The council voted unanimously to revise our ordinance to authorize our City Manager and staff to make these decisions.
The next Item was an extensive discussion and consideration of changing our current and adopted 2015 Housing policy.
Assistant Director of Development services, Charles Goff, gave an excellent historical presentation of how the past council researched, deliberated and developed our current housing policy.
I encourage you to watch the video of this discussion and I believe you will see how each council operates differently dependent upon the members of that council and their process.
After a fairly brief conversation, council member Walden made a motion to remove the language in our current housing policy that limits the development of apartment-only rezoning. The motion failed for a second.
Immediately following that motion council member Duffy made a motion not only to remove the limitations on apartment-only rezoning, but also to eliminate the requirement that new housing enhance neighborhoods of urban character rather than locate on a stand-alone, non-integrated property.
That motion also failed with council members Walden and Duffy voting in favor and council members Arfsten, Hughes, Wilcox, Angell and Meier voting opposed.
Following those failed efforts, I made a motion to ask staff to review our current policy and current feedback from council to develop policy revision options for council’s future discussion, as well as include an important community input component. That motion passed unanimously.
What do you think?
Do you think the council should approve the rezoning of currently zoned commercial property for apartments only?
Do you think our current housing mix of 77% apartment to 23% home ownership is about right?
Do you think we need to add more apartments?
These are very important questions that our previous council spent many long hours researching and deliberating.
Agenda item #11 was a discussion of options to address flooding at the intersection of Sherlock Drive and Winter Park Drive.
Our staff reported that one of the homes in that intersection experienced some serious flood damage in 2015 due to high water following a particular heavy downpour. Staff also noted that 2015 was the wettest year on record.
The council was provided with 4 options that ranged in price from doing nothing at zero cost, up to $1.3 million for buying and tearing down the homes and replacing them with a park.
The council asked that the staff go back for more review of all options to be certain we have explored every reasonable possibility that could be cost effective.
Our final agenda item for the evening was the review of our Quarterly reports for March 31, 2016 and June 30, 2016.
While these reports were reviewed in detail by the Finance Committee last week, this was an opportunity for the entire council to make their own independent review and ask whatever questions they deemed appropriate.
Our interim CFO Scott Neils presented the reports with the summary being: “Overall financial condition of the Town is in good shape. The revenue and expenses are tracking on budget.”
We adjourned at a very reasonable 9:45 pm.
Budget Retreat Session #3, August 24
On Wednesday afternoon we began our 3rd Budget Retreat session at 4:00 pm with an increasingly more challenging agenda and all council members present.
For our first almost 2 hours we reviewed the 31 questions that were submitted to staff since our last meeting.
Here are those questions and the responses provided by staff and reviewed by council in detail on Wednesday evening during our Budget retreat. Charts and graphs to support these can also be found here.
Our next discussion topic was the tax rate.
The council agreed to postpone any further discussion of the tax rate, suggesting that we will fund whatever we need to do based on the requirements and needs of the Town, so the tax rate will just naturally follow that discussion.
We then began the extensive conversation about compensation for our employees.
We started an analysis and debate over increasing the pay benefits of the folks that have retired from Addison with a conversation about a COLA and whether it should be included in this year’s budget. This discussion was not concluded.
However, our City Attorney did let us know that simply because council member Paul Walden’s brother is a retired Addison police officer, Walden would not be required to recuse himself from voting on this increased benefit for retirees.
We did not conclude this matter other than to learn that the increased benefit would add $55,000 to our budget this year and increase our unfunded pension liability by over $500,000, for a total unfunded liability of over $5,000,000 based on an assumed rate of return of 6.75%.
Our compensation discussion then turned to current employees and their benefits.
An average 3% merit increase originally proposed by our City Manager was potentially increased to a 4% full year increase, depending on other issues being resolved in the budget.
There was an extensive discussion about the Infrastructure Investment Fund and a very clear difference of opinions emerged.
The original purpose of this fund was to build large reserves for future large Infrastructure projects so that we would not be entirely dependent upon debt for every project.
The currently proposed budget does not increase this fund. In fact, it depletes the fund to its lowest level ever with proposed expenditures on small projects.
This matter was not resolved; however, I encourage you to watch this discussion as the differences of opinion were well articulated. The relevant portion starts at minute 6:30.
The council received a brief explanation of the need for the inclusion of $500,000 for an “Asset Management Study” from our City Manager.
It was concluded that this extensive study would take 18-24 months; therefore the cost could be spread over that time. Thus the amount proposed was reduced to $250,000 for this budget year.
Council encouraged the staff to increase the amount of funds utilized from the now very financially healthy Hotel Fund to improve our Summer Series in Beckert Park so that we can attract more visitors to our hotels and restaurants in the area.
The staff will bring a new plan to council later this fall after the budget is complete.
Council decided to end our support of the Addison Business Association efforts with our new business Welcome Program by taking those efforts in-house to our own Economic Development staff.
During the course of the evening the council also reviewed the need to add a number of items that had not been included in the original proposed budget, including an increase in legal fee reserves for current pending actions, and new HVAC for our Athletic Club.
We concluded the evening at 8:00 pm with our staff committing to update the entire proposed budget with the new revisions.
We will take up the revisions and other agenda items at our next session, working through the unresolved issues on Tuesday evening at 5:00 pm at Town Hall before our 7:30 pm meeting.
That Special Meeting includes an opportunity for you to come give us your thoughts about our budget and tax rate for this next year in a Public Hearing.
I hope to see and hear from you then. We need and want your input!
Council Member Activities
All council members attended the Regular Council meeting on Tuesday, August 23.
All council members attended the Budget Retreat session #3 on Wednesday, August 24.
Council members Arfsten, Hughes, Walden and Wilcox joined me on Thursday evening representing Addison at the Cotton Belt meeting.
Council member Bruce Arfsten joined me for the Addison Legacy Foundation board meeting on Thursday afternoon.
Q&A with the Mayor
Here are a few of the questions you have been asking me. We will have answers in the next couple of weeks when we conclude our Budget and Tax Rate process on September 13:
Will my Addison property taxes go up?
Will Addison spend more than we take in?
Does our budget add to our reserves to protect us from future market volatility?
Does our budget create any new liabilities?
Several of you have asked me those very good questions and others, however, I do not have the answers.
The answers will come in the next few days from the council as a whole through our deliberations and the final vote on September 13.
If you have thoughts about how we should answer these questions let me know–and just as importantly let my council colleagues know.
On Tuesday morning Director of Economic Development Orlando Campos, Manager Drew Dietrich and I made our annual visit to see the good folks at United Surgical Partners International located at 15305 Dallas Parkway on the 16th floor of our Colonnade Building.
We met with CEO Bill Wilcox, President and Chief Development Officer Brett Brodnax, Chief Legal Officer Brad Bickham and Mia Perry Jones, Vice President of Government Relations, to discuss their business and provide an Addison update.
Since their merger with Tenant a few months ago, many of the Tenant folks that were in downtown Dallas have moved out to join us here in Addison, putting the USPI population of folks in the Colonnade at over 350!
Obviously their business is doing very well!
We discussed their expanding business opportunities as well as all of the great things going on here in Addison.
They were all particularly pleased to hear about our potential progress with DART on getting the Cotton Belt project coming our way sooner rather than later, and very excited to hear that we are exploring creative ways to link east and west Addison.
One final thought here: USPI was one of our very first economic development incentives that we put together back in 2011. We have made a trip each year to visit and present them their incentive check.
This year we arrived without a check because we are at the end of their incentive agreement and as all of their top folks said, “We are not anywhere near the end of the relationship between Addison and USPI; we are just getting started.”
Now that is a good investment!
Speaking of good investments: A very large turnout of Addison residents, business folks and very helpful neighbors from our surrounding cities came to the very important Cotton Belt Regional Rail Corridor Community Meeting on Thursday evening at our Addison Conference Centre.
This was our very important opportunity to share our thoughts with the top level of DART management as to how we feel about the Cotton Belt line.
I was proud of council colleagues Bruce Arfsten, Ivan Hughes, Paul Walden and Dale Wilcox who joined me in expressing our very strong united support of the Cotton Belt and I thought quite effectively communicated our community feelings.
In addition to my council colleagues, several of our most well-spoken Addison neighbors helped make it very clear that our entire community is united with our expectation that our patience and our investment of over $250 million will finally pay off with the Cotton Belt coming to Addison very soon.
The DART presentation included a history of the efforts to bring the Cotton Belt into reality as well as the most important current status.
The very good news is that DART management has recommended that the Cotton Belt project be advanced from its current 2035 time frame to service from Plano/Richardson right through Addison all the way to DFW airport by 2022.
Two key dates and meetings in September will determine the outcome of that recommendation: The DART Board Budget committee meets on September 6 to approve their 2017 Financial Plan and then the entire DART Board meets on September 27 to take action!!!!!
One of our particularly bright Addison residents suggested that we show the DART Board our support for the Cotton Belt with our presence. Maybe this would be another good opportunity to use those hats and yellow t-shirts once again to show our united support?
What do you think?
Would you be willing to join us in a show of united support if we organize a trip to DART HQ for the Board meeting on September 27?
Pei Wei, located at 4801 Belt Line Road at the northeast corner of Belt Line and Addison Road, is giving back to the community.
Enjoy their bold Asian inspired flavors this Tuesday, August 30, and the 30th of every month thereafter! On the 30th of each month the Pei Wei Addison location will contribute 20% of the day’s sales (minus alcohol sales and tax) back to the community.
The proceeds will funnel through the Addison Legacy Foundation and will be used to restore the Addison Fire Department’s 1930 Seagrave fire truck. Customers simply need to mention ‘Give Back to the Community’ at the point of purchase.
You can learn more at the Addison Legacy Foundation Facebook page or the Addison Legacy Foundation Instagram page. Thank you Pei Wei!
The Addison Legacy Foundation held their monthly board meeting in the beautiful Addison offices of JJ Horan and his South and Western Insurance Agency at 15835 Quorum.
Chair Blake Clemens led board members mayor pro tempore Bruce Arfsten and Addison residents Janelle Moore, Chick Martin, Bob Kantner, Marlin Willesen and me in a review of our agenda.
We spent time reviewing the financial status of the Foundation, administrative issues and the progress on the restoration of our old Engine No. 30 Fire Truck.
We also discussed and continued the planning for the exciting “Run for the Lights” fund raising event that will take place on December 2 at 6:00 pm in Vitruvian Park.
Some of our most exciting discussions took place surrounding our Big Idea, the connectivity project recently proposed to council. The CEO of the noted consulting firm that works with high profile not-for-profit clients all over the country gave us a presentation on their prospective skill sets in helping the Foundation with fund raising for our Big Idea type projects.
This conversation obviously folded right into our current effort to advance the development of our Big Idea with the help of the council. We will hopefully have more exciting news to report on that subject very soon.
This morning, Saturday August 27, come join us for “Coffee with a Cop” at Dunn Bros. at 3725 Belt Line Road from 9:00-11:00 am.
Tonight, come join us at Beckert Park for the final evening of our summer series with very special performers from the incredibly talented cast members of the WaterTower Theatre. We will begin at 8:00 pm.
Monday, August 29, is your FINAL opportunity to share your thoughts with us about our Master Transportation Plan. 6:00-8:00 pm at the Addison TreeHouse at 14681 Midway Road.
Tuesday, August 30, Special Meeting of Addison City Council for a Public Hearing and more work on our Budget.
Make your plans to join us for Oktoberfest, coming up very soon, September 15-18. Check out this link for tickets and other cool information.
We have so many critical opportunities coming together right now! Our budget, the potential of our Big Idea connecting East and West Addison, our united effort to finally bring us the Cotton Belt–and plenty of fun along the way.
Thank you for the honor of being your mayor,