Saturday, December 17, 2016
The three month conversation and debate about increasing the benefits with raises for Addison retirees ended in dramatic fashion on Tuesday evening.
After numerous work sessions and presentations from the Texas Municipal Retirement System (TMRS), extensive feedback from our community, and in-depth analysis and thought by some of our council members, I offered and council member Dale Wilcox seconded the following motion which the council approved by a 4-3 vote:
“I move to increase the sustainability of our employees’ pension fund by declining the ad hoc COLA pay increase for current retirees and instead, redirecting the budgeted $55,000 to a one-time payment this year to TMRS and our employees’ pension fund, to reduce our current $4.5 million unfunded liability.”
Voting in favor of this motion were council members Dale Wilcox, Ivan Hughes, Bruce Arfsten and Todd Meier; voting opposed were Paul Walden, Jim Duffy and Al Angell.
If you have followed this conversation and debate over the last several months, you know this was a very big decision, with the potential for an annual budget cost of $55,000 totaling over $835,000 over the next 15 years and adding $500,000 to our already unfunded pension liability of $4.5 million, for a benefit increase that was not promised.
The council’s decision goes a long way to begin to shore up the current unfunded liability by redirecting the budgeted amount for the pay raise for retirees to a direct additional contribution to their retirement fund. This council action benefits all of our Addison retirees, current and future, by reducing our unfunded liability and improving the sustainability of our pension fund.
I encourage you to watch the video that follows. I believe you will see a debate that will enlighten you about the political views, philosophies and efforts of your council members. I believe this is an example of where some of your council members listened to the unanimous voices of our residents and some did not.
Those of you who spoke up, wrote emails or made phone calls truly made a difference in the outcome of this important vote. Thankfully, the council members who did listen were in the narrow majority.
When watching the video you may find a significant difference between what campaign materials promised and how, once elected, council members cast their votes.
In other important council actions the council approved the final draft of our new Master Transportation Plan with a 6-1 vote. Voting in favor, council members Bruce Arfsten, Dale Wilcox, Jim Duffy, Paul Walden, Al Angell and Todd Meier; voting against, Ivan Hughes.
This process took place over the last 9 months and included numerous public engagement opportunities in addition to excellent work from our Master Transportation Advisory volunteer committee comprised of residents Gail Cook, Michael Delima, Richard Teza, Tom Souers, Elliot Moore, Gary McIntyre, Ilene Cohen, Jay Ihrig and John Morgan, with local business representatives Heather Ferry, Denise Witry, Josh Yahoudy and Mark Ford.
A big Addison “Thank You” to each of our volunteers and to the over 200 of you that participated in our numerous public input opportunities.
The council completed our evaluation and annual review of our City Manager, Wes Pierson, in an almost 2 hour, in depth, very positive executive session.
We began our Regular Council session a bit late since we went slightly overtime on our Executive session items.
We recognized outgoing Vice President of UDR , Tom Lamberth, for his exemplary work over the last 10 years, working with various councils and staff in the development of the Vitruvian Park project, as well as his generous civic and volunteer work, by proclaiming December 13th, as Tom Lamberth Day in Addison.
The council voted 5-1 to permit three of our neighbors to speak during the Public Comment section on items on the agenda. Voting in favor of letting them speak: Ivan Hughes, Dale Wilcox, Bruce Arfsten, Paul Walden and Todd Meier. Voting against letting our neighbors speak: Jim Duffy. Al Angell abstained.
The speakers, Fran Powell, Christen Eddens and Sheila Barkofske, followed with their 3-minute comments on the proposed COLA issue and the housing policy.
Our Consent Agenda included:
- The approval of final payment for the work on the dredging of the Winnwood ponds
- An amendment on a ground lease at our airport for Key Development
- Final payment to Groves Electric for their work on the Beltway/Proton Pedestrian Connectivity project
- A resolution adopting our 2017 Legislative agenda
- A resolution permitting an extension of installation and removal times for commercial Holiday Decorations
- An assignment of our economic development grant for Addison Grove redevelopment to Beltline Beltway Investments and Texas Capital Bank
- A resolution approving consulting services with Solutions for Local Control to assist us during the upcoming legislative session in Austin
- Authorizing our City Manager to enter into an agreement with Charter Communications for the installation and maintenance of a network for Wifi in 13 public locations here in Addison, and
- A resolution approving a slight fee increase for our City Attorney.
In addition to the Regular items mentioned above, the council approved a professional engineering agreement with Kleinfelder for materials testing associated with the construction of Vitruvian Phase 5, as well as a contract with UDR for construction management services for Phase 5 of the Vitruvian Development at the corner of Marsh Lane and Vitruvian Way.
The council also approved a contract with Icon Consulting engineers for public Infrastructure design services related to Phase 8 development of Vitruvian Park.
The council reappointed Judge Larry Dwight to continue to serve as our Municipal Judge after serving for 28 years, or 14 2-year terms. Judge Dwight recently received very high marks in his annual review with council.
The council reviewed our Finance Department’s quarterly financial report for the quarter ending September 30, 2016. Overall it was a favorable report with revenues on budget, expenses slightly under budget, and reserves all above the minimum guidelines.
This link will take you to the report for your own review. The staff also presented hot-off-the-press copies of our 2016-17 Budget Book entitled “Building a Solid Foundation”. That book is now available at our Finance Building or online.
After we completed the extensive debate and final resolution of the issue of COLA, it was almost 11:30 pm. While we still had two items left on our agenda, I asked council to consider a motion to adjourn since our staff had been at work since 7:30 am and the council had been in session since 5:00 pm.
Thinking I was doing everyone a big favor since the remaining two items were not time sensitive, I was very surprised when council member Duffy protested so strenuously with an ardent push to consider changes to our current housing policy.
Mr. Duffy did not share his reasons for his sense of urgency and ultimately the council voted to adjourn, with further consideration of our current housing policy and separation agreement policy to come in January.
Voting in favor of adjournment were Bruce Arfsten, Ivan Hughes, Dale Wilcox and Todd Meier; voting against adjournment, Jim Duffy, Paul Walden and Al Angell.
Council Member Activities
On Saturday, December 10, council members Bruce Arfsten, Ivan Hughes and Al Angell joined me for the Firefighters annual Christmas party and award presentation at Fire Station #1.
All council members were in attendance at the Tuesday Council meeting and work session on December 13.
Council members Dale Wilcox, Ivan Hughes and Al Angell joined me for the grand opening of the newly remodeled lobby at Greenhill Towers on Wednesday afternoon.
On Thursday morning council members Dale Wilcox, Ivan Hughes and Al Angell joined me for the press conference at our WaterTower Theatre announcing the new Artistic Director.
On Thursday evening deputy mayor pro tempore Ivan Hughes filled in for me at our Third Thursday of the month “After Hours with the Mayor”. Al Angell joined the small group at Lion and Crown in Addison Circle.
Q&A with the Mayor
All of the questions and comments this week were related to the issue above concerning the proposed pay raise (COLA) for Addison retirees. 100% of the feedback I received was opposed to the council’s approval of any increase in benefits not previously promised to retirees.
On Monday afternoon Director of Economic development Orlando Campos, Manager of Economic Development Drew Dietrich and I dropped in on the folks at Hitachi Consulting located in their US headquarters at 14643 Dallas Parkway on the entire 8th floor.
We met with Chief Operating Officer Charles Cochran, Global Facilities and Environmental Manager David Smith and Vice President of Quality Assurance Rick Wells, and we met some of their 40 staff who have been based here in Addison for almost 5 years.
We reviewed various opportunities to connect here in Addison including our WaterTower Theatre and our Special Events. They have a great view all along the tollway to north Addison!
Early Tuesday morning City Manager Wes Pierson, Deputy City Manager Cheryl Delaney and I helped host our monthly Metroplex Mayors Association meeting at our Marriott Quorum hotel.
Dr. Richard Benson, president of the University of Texas at Dallas, spoke to our group about the amazing success of UTD and its achievement of Tier 1 status as a university.
With almost 27,000 students in the undergraduate and graduate school programs and majors in highly technical fields including molecular biology, and Masters and PHD programs in sophisticated and technical fields like neuroscience, Dr. Benson’s remarks made me even more appreciative of the connectivity to this intellectual capital that the new DART/Cotton Belt line will bring as it runs right from the UTD Campus to Addison!
On Wednesday afternoon council colleagues Dale Wilcox, Ivan Hughes, Al Angell and Economic Development Director Orlando Campos, Economic Development Manager Drew Dietrich and I stopped in to see the amazing remodel of the 12-story, 260,000 square feet of office space at Greenhill Towers, located at 14131 Midway Road right next to Greenhill School.
Property manager Tracey Pals gave us a quick tour of their all new lobby area. Building owner Johnny Winton, whom we visited with right after he purchased the building several months ago, was effusive in his praise of Addison.
As a result of his enthusiasm they have spent well beyond their original budget to fully upgrade the building, bringing new exciting tenants including a new retail location for the soon to be famous Ascension Coffee!
Johnny and his team have great plans for their investment in Addison and we look forward to helping in any way we can to make their success possible.
Just a few minutes later I was at the restaurant Ida Claire on Belt Line Road to provide a mayor’s greeting to the nearly 20 HelmsBriscoe associates and representatives from Visit Dallas who were on a “Hotel Crawl” that had been organized by our Economic Development and Tourism team Orlando Campos, Drew Dietrich and our Tourism coordinator Alisha Holmberg.
The crawl was a very successful showcasing of the Intercontinental Hotel, the Marriott Quorum and the Crowne Plaza to the folks from HelmsBriscoe and their large international meeting planning group.
The tour included site tours with samples from the respective chefs of each hotel, guest room and meeting space tours along with a review of the available amenities. They received a tour of our Conference Centre and then to Ida Claire for me to thank them for their time with us here in Addison.
The finale for their “crawl” was a hot chocolate tour of the beautiful Vitruvian Lights! Their rave reviews will no doubt turn into bookings for hotel rooms with us here in Addison. Well done, Economic Team!
On Thursday morning council members Dale Wilcox, Ivan Hughes and Al Angell joined me at the WaterTower Theatre along with close to 100 media and supporters for the exciting announcement and celebration of their new Artistic Director, Joanie Schultz.
Ms. Schultz will be joining the WaterTower leadership team along with Managing Director Greg Patterson, who will continue to lead all of the business aspects of the Theatre.
Ms. Schultz, who will be joining the Theatre in January, has an extremely impressive resume of professional work over the last 20 years based mostly in Chicago, which made it fairly easy for the search committee to select her from over 100 applicants from all over the country.
We wish her the very best of luck as she builds on the very solid 20-year artistic foundation that has led Addison to recognize the Water Tower Theatre as our crown jewel of artistic and creative expression.
The Theater is not only a wonderful amenity for all of us; the Theatre also serves a very important role in our business development strategy by helping to be that “glue” that creates the important connection with our business and visitor community.
Congratulations to Joanie, the WaterTower Theatre board and Greg Patterson for helping us build on the Theatre’s next 20 great years for Addison.
The trash and recycle schedule will remain in effect during the upcoming holidays. Trash and recycle will still be picked up on the Mondays following Christmas and New Year’s Day.
On Thursday evening deputy mayor pro tempore Ivan Hughes filled in for me at the Lion and Crown for the third Thursday of the month “After Hours with the Mayor”.
Al Angell joined Ivan along with former mayor pro tempore Blake Clemens for a nice informal visit with several of our local Addison Circle neighbors, including long time Addison Circle pioneer Gloria Rentschler wishing all a very Happy Holiday! Thank you, Ivan, for filling in for me!
As we approached the holidays, I thought you would enjoy these pictures of a few Addison trees that show the man-made spectacular light show available in the evening, and the daytime beauty of color to celebrate thanks to God’s hand during the day.
Monday, December 19. P&Z meeting, 6:00 pm. Recognition and thanks to outgoing P&Z Commissioners: Chair Skip Robbins, Commissioners Jason Ennis and Randy Smith.
I am very proud of the work our council did this week. With real political courage, I believe three of my colleagues, Dale Wilcox, Bruce Arfsten and Ivan Hughes, took the long view and an important step to protect the pension plan of our employees as well as the financial future of our Addison.
I hope you enjoy this very mixed-weather weekend.
See you soon,