Saturday September 10, 2016
A very big couple of weeks for Addison as we work thru our budget and property tax rate issues and carry our message to the Board members of DART.
I am going to make another attempt at brevity this week; last week was still a bit too long.
Many of you have let me know how much you appreciate having a newsletter that actually covers the details of what the council is doing and the important policy decisions that are contemplated and being made.
As you have said, that is the value of a newsletter written by our mayor. I believe this newsletter bears out that wisdom.
We have attached a link to the Special council meeting that we had on Tuesday afternoon into the evening, focused on our Budget and tax rate for FY 2017.
We had two Public Hearings with several excellent speakers who each offered the council very specific guidance.
Wrapped around the two public hearings were extensive discussion and a few decisions made about pieces of our Budget and the tax rate to be finalized next Tuesday evening, September 13, at 7:30 pm.
The council made several very important preliminary decisions that will affect this year’s budget and property tax rate for years to come.
I offered a motion to set our property tax rate at .550472 that would fully fund the City Manager’s original proposed budget with the exception of a small reduction in the amount reserved for library cards and with an increase to our Infrastructure Investment Fund.
Voting in favor of that motion, Wilcox and Meier; voting opposed Duffy, Walden, Angell, Hughes and Arfsten.
The council then took up a motion to set the property tax rate at .560472, one full penny or $430,000 higher than the previous motion.
This rate is a tax increase of just a small fraction below the rollback rate and thus just under an 8% increase in the M&O rate.
This would support increases in pay for all employees from an originally proposed average of 3.9% to be effective 1/1/2017, to an increase of just less than 5% that would take effect almost immediately on 10/1/2016.
This would also provide for a pay increase to our retired employees based on the TMRS COLA formula that added $55,000 to our budget and increased the current $4.5 million unfunded liability to over $5 million, which unfortunately required reductions in reserves for both our IT and Capital replacement funds.
This motion passed with Duffy, Walden, Angell, Hughes and Arfsten voting in favor and Wilcox and Meier voting opposed.
While these votes have been taken, our Budget and tax rate are not final until our next meeting this coming Tuesday, September 13.
At that meeting, we will hold one more Public Hearing to give you one final opportunity to give us your thoughts.
This final vote requires a 2/3 majority (at least 5 votes), and based on the above it looks very likely the rate of .560472 will pass with the proposed increases to the City Manager’s original budget.
How do you feel about that? What do you think?
Council Member Activities
Council member Hughes joined me on Tuesday morning wishing the students at Bush Elementary School all the best for their new school year.
Council members Wilcox, Hughes and Angell joined me for the Mayor’s Coffee on Wednesday morning at Dunn Bros.
Council members Angell, Walden, Duffy and Arfsten attended a WaterTower Theatre 101 business orientation on Wednesday evening hosted by WaterTower Theate Managing Director Greg Patterson and presented by the business side of the Theatre.
Council members Arfsten, Wilcox, Duffy, Walden and Angell joined me at the retirement event for Assistant City Manager Chris Terry on Thursday afternoon. More on that event below.
Q&A with the Mayor
Q: Mayor, have you received any response from former City Manager Ron Whitehead about how he missed the estimate on our Midway Road project by $22 million, or 140%?
A: No, I have not received any response to my invitation to Mr. Whitehead to come to a council meeting and explain to us his process for arriving at his $16 million estimate for a project we now know will cost $38 million.
Q: Mayor, will this council continue to fund our Infrastructure Investment Fund with the financial discipline necessary to accumulate dollars to avoid or reduce our dependence on debt in the future for looming large infrastructure projects?
A: This is still an open question. We will find out this Tuesday evening during our council meeting. Last week I made a motion to significantly increase this fund balance that did not pass. We will see what happens this week.
Q: Mayor, will this council increase a benefit and add to the already huge unfunded liability in our pension plan by giving retirees a COLA pay raise?
A: It looks like the answer to this question is “Yes”. The unfunded liability of our pension plan will increase to over $5 million, which of course is a responsibility of Addison taxpayers if this is approved. The move would put our retirees’ pension plan at risk. Future councils will have to deal with that.
Q: Will this council form a partnership with the private sector to explore the opportunities of realizing the long held aspiration of connecting East and West Addison?
A: Hard to tell how this will come out. We have spent over $250,000 of General Fund dollars under past city management to pursue various forms of this idea of connecting East and West Addison to no avail.
This current opportunity would leverage private dollars with a small portion of the excess reserves in the Hotel Fund to pursue this idea based on the lessons learned from past efforts.
Q: Mayor, will this council continue the recent fiscal practice of maintaining a reserve fund balance in excess of 30% in our General Fund to protect us and provide a financial safety net during volatile economic times?
A: Also unknown until the final vote on Tuesday evening.
Q: Mayor, will this council spend more than they take in, incurring debt to cover the expense?
A: The answer to this question also will be determined on Tuesday evening.
Q: Will this council make any reductions in costs in the budget?
A: It appears the answer to this is “No”.
Q: Will this council choose to spend the dollars saved in the last two years’ budgets, or instead save and add them to our Infrastructure Investment Fund or reserves?
A: At this point it appears these reserves will be spent. I made a motion to add these reserves to our Infrastructure Investment Fund but was voted down 2-5 with Wilcox and Meier voting in favor, Duffy, Walden, Angell, Hughes, Arfsten voting against.
Q: Will this council find a way to utilize the savings generated by our debt refinancing the last couple of years to minimize the impact on our tax payers of funding the large underfunded infrastructure projects (Beltline and Midway Rd)?
A: The final outcome to this effort is still unknown; however, I made a motion to utilize the savings from our debt refinancing to increase our Infrastructure Investment Fund that failed by a 2-5 vote, Wilcox and Meier in favor; Duffy, Walden, Angell, Hughes and Arfsten voting against.
Q: Will this council find a way to balance all of the needs and interests of our community to create a sustainable and fiscally conservative budget funded by a fair and reasonable tax rate?
A: I wish I could say Yes; however, it looks highly unlikely and this, too, is unknown until the final vote next Tuesday evening.
On Tuesday afternoon I traveled downtown to DART Headquarters to speak in support of our promised Cotton Belt Line as they decide whether or not to include the Cotton Belt project in their FY 2017 Financial plan.
I raced back for our council meeting that began at 5:00 pm at Town Hall and former mayor pro tempore Blake Clemens and current P&Z Commissioner Jim Robinson represented Addison at the full Board meeting that began at 6:30 pm.
Since I was unable to be in attendance for the Board meeting, Jim read the following letter on our behalf:
With a crowd of over 300 entrepreneurs, family members and interested investors, our Addison TreeHouse was packed for the “Soar to Success” business pitch competition launched by our TreeHouse and Southwest Airlines.
The competition was open to any minority/women entrepreneurs located in North Texas. Three of the five semifinalists either began their business in our TreeHouse or are currently based there.
After each semifinalist was given 5 minutes for their “pitch”, the judges selected the winner of the Business Pitch competition.
In addition to winning the admiration and hearts of those in attendance, they will be given a year of complimentary travel (up to 24 e-passes) on Southwest Airlines and share their year of business travel through online channels like blogs, videos, social media posts and more.
I am very pleased to report that TreeHouse based Addison resident Sunny Nadolsky, who owns a company called Medbookr, won the Pitch contest!
Congratulations, Sunny! We are very proud of you.
A great way to begin a week, as our Addison police officers and firefighters welcomed Bush Elementary School kids back to classes early Tuesday morning with wishes for a great school year.
I’m sorry I didn’t take more pictures of the very cute and surprised kids; however, once they started arriving, my hands were busy giving high fives to the nearly 650 Bush Elementary students.
We had a very nice sized group of about 35 Addison residents join us at Dunn Bros for the Mayor’s Coffee on Wednesday morning at 10:00 am.
Council colleagues Dale Wilcox, Ivan Hughes and Al Angell joined us for a well-informed conversation about a wide variety of Addison subjects, with the most emphasis and concern expressed about our employees underfunded pension plan and the proposed COLA increase for our retirees’ pension pay.
Dozens of former and current employees, council members and friends joined in the celebration of the retirement of Assistant City Manager Chris Terry on Thursday afternoon at our Addison Conference Centre, led by City Manager Wes Pierson and Deputy City Manager Cheryl Delaney.
Current Council members Arfsten, Wilcox, Walden, Duffy and Angell joined me in thanking Chris for his 22 years of service to our community and wishing him all the best in his retirement.
Metrocrest Services needs your Votes!
Metrocrest Services has some very exciting news to share – they’re a finalist to receive a $100,000 donation from the “Reliant Gives” campaign, sponsored by Reliant!
Now we need help from YOU to vote at reliant.com/vote. Voting is unlimited from September 7-16th. Funds will be used to stock the shelves of the Metrocrest Food Pantry, which has seen a 38% increase in visits.
PLEASE VOTE AS OFTEN AS YOU CAN. NO LIMIT; just be sure to click on the Metrocrest button as it moves its position on the page.
Metrocrest Services is the only organization in Dallas in the competition and the other two organizations are much bigger than we are, so we need all the help we can get!
Please vote as many times as possible every day and share this message with your contacts!
Today! Saturday, September 10, will be one of the most entertaining days of the year at our outdoor pool!
We celebrate the end of the pool season with Doggie Splash Day!
This year as an added bonus you will have an opportunity to help us raise money for our new Dog Park at Spruill Park with fun ways to participate.
You do not need to bring a dog to enjoy the fun; however, you may want to bring your camera for some really funny photo ops.
In fact, if you will send your favorites my way we will include them next week in our newsletter. Small dogs from 9:30-11:00 am, large dogs from 11:30 am-1:00 pm.
$5 per dog with proof of current rabies vaccination.
Monday, Sept. 12: Economic Development Luncheon at the Flying Saucer, 14999 Montfort Dr., 11:30 am-1:00 pm.
Tuesday, Sept. 13: Council Meeting 7:30 pm, Public Hearing and vote on final approval of a Budget and tax rate for FY 2017.
Thursday, Sept. 15: After Hours with the Mayor, Lion and Crown, Addison Circle, 6:30-8:00 pm.
Oktoberfest is here! Join us to “Tap the Keg” on Thursday evening in Addison Circle Park at 7:50 pm for the official opening of our final Special Event of 2016. Oktoberfest fun in the Park Thursday through Sunday.
There’s a very busy week ahead. I hope to hear from you, see you, or both as the council deals with big issues and as we have fun with Oktoberfest.
Thank you for the honor of being your mayor,