City Budget, Lady Liberty, LCG agreement

During its regular Aug. 07, 2018 meeting, the Forney City Council met (official video) and in summary:

  • Budget Workshop - Ms. Woodham said staff has been working quite a while, budget presented is balanced.
        79% of money comes from taxes, property tax is the biggest portion. Property values have increased 60% over the last 6 years. A lowered tax rate (from .749 to .621) has saved average $200k homeowner $256 over 5 years, and cost city about 1.5mil. If the city had stayed just below the rollback rate, they would have added $2 million, costing the average homeowner $398 (total over 5 years). The average homeowner would pay $5,500 / year, $3,080 (56%) to FISD, $1,242 (23%) to the City and $1,178 (21%) to Kaufman County.
        The total tax rate will be 37% for debt, 63% for operations.
        69% of the general fund goes to salary and benefits. This budget proposes a 5% step for PD & FD, + 5% merit increase for other employees and 12% increase in insurance. Salary adjustments added $942k. The budget for medical benefits decreased $186k. Ms. Penn asked why the benefits decreased - the plan changed, now offers employees an HSA deductible. 17 new positions were requested - none of them are funded.
        HOT funds last year spent almost all the 232k, recommend this year allocate $60k in funds for Non-profits and use general funds for city events. Forney on Ice was almost revenue neutral.
        Capital funds - were used for equipment, not personnel.
        Could have 4.5mil reserve funds.
        NTMWD raising water rates 10% and sewer 31%, city will do 10% water and 20% sewer. Mr. Johnson pointed out one lift station is being used and funded by Forney only. This year will provide 5 new employees, $644k equip. Ms. Penn pointed out all these costs come from the fund, not from taxes.
        Clay Tile Pipe replacements be done at Houston & Austin, FM740, Cedar, ...
        The city has $38mil in active CIP projects.
        TIF fund has received payment from county, it will have $2.1 mil by end of year.
        City has $69.5mil in debt. They are using extra payments from TxDOT to pay down debt. That has saved $6.5mil.
        Mr. Johnson said re: sewer, the CMOM program prevents inflow, which increases costs. It's better to spend money this way than have issues w/ EPA. Mayor Wilson said infrastructure is old, which increases cost. Ms. Penn asked what average homeowner cost for FD - 191. She expressed concern about ETJ residents paying less. Ms. Woodham said FD cost is lowest in the county. Mayor Wilson suggested a future workshop.
        Mr. Myers asked about the server being delayed - Mr. Gonzalez said it was to virtualize servers, but have enough cushion to wait another year. Mr. Moon asked if could earn interest on GIF - yes, and are doing so. Ms. Penn asked if could amend budget later as revenue comes in, to add personnel - yes. Mr. Johnson said general rule is 1 employees / 100 citizen, which would be 200, we only have 160. Compensation plan last year needed to be done, and must be maintained. Can't deliver services unless employees are happy, must compensate in salary and benefits. Mayor Wilson said the rate study got raises the Chiefs need, but they do want more employees, raises put city in a holding pattern. Mr. Myers said must also compete with area cities (on salary).
  • Public Comment - none.
  • Appointed Ms. Penn as Mayor Pro-tem
  • Approved as one consent item:
    • the Quarterly Investment Report ending 6/30/18.
    • a preliminary plat for Hampton Inn, located south of U.S. Highway 80 and east of Regal Drive.
    • a final plat for Hampton Inn, located south of U.S. Highway 80 and east of Regal Drive.
    • a site plan for Hampton Inn, located south of U.S. Highway 80 and east of Regal Drive.

  • Approved the authorization to allow staff to seek bids for the maintenance and improvements to the Weaver Street Lift Station Project, and all related issues.
        Mr. Johnson asked if city engineer was comfortable w/ estimates; Ms. McQuiston said yes; he came up with them. Mr. Johnson said it affects said this was not maintenance, but a total reconstruction. They will dismantle old one, wants the statement to be accurate.
  • Approved Announcing public hearing dates for the FY 2018-2019 proposed budget on August 21, 2018, and September 4, 2018.
        Ms. Woodham said required to have one hearing, staff recommends having two so the public has a chance to speak.
  • Approved announcing public hearing dates for the FY 2018-2019 proposed tax rate on August 21, 2018, and September 4, 2018.
        Ms. Woodham said because higher than the effective rate, required to have two hearings.
  • Approved the proposed Thoroughfare Plan and the realignment of Reeder Road and other related issues.Watch Video
        Mr. Medford said great momentum on Gateway, working w/ Harris' for indoor sport facility, developer wants city to abandon some R.O.W. Mr. Craig Smiley representing developer said what they are proposing would curve Reeder around and align with 217, which will open property up for commercial. There are significant utilities in the existing in ROW, they have contacted utilities to notify them. Mayor Wilson asked if they would pay relocation costs; he expects no city costs. Mr. Smiley said he doesn't anticipate city costs. Mr. Blackburn said they are not asking city to do anything. Mayor Wilson wanted to be sure, having had recent issues moving gas lines and such. Mr. Smiley said they contacted utilities last year, they're into design process. Mr. Myers asked about traffic impact on apartments and entrance ramps - Mr. Smiley said it would be an overall improvement. Mr. Medford asked about time line - likely end of next year. Mr. Blackburn said they are way ahead, once approved by staff they are ready to start, they know city won't abandon old ROW until new is built, they want to get Fran & Alonzo in there. About 25 ft. square of TxDOT ROW will have to be dealt with, they believe it is prescriptive right-of-way.
        Mr. Medford asked Jody Short for his approval - yes. Mr. Thatcher said staff requests council to authorize staff to provide assurance city will abandon ROW . Mr. Blackburn said that is critical for the Harris' to get funding, Mr. Medford said would provide that on city letterhead.
  • Discussed the Lady Liberty Statue and Flag Poles Relocation Project, agreeing on option 4 w/ mix of cast and stone.
        Ms. McQuiston presented Mr. Zahra who showed the location map TxDOT has approved, the previous round design has been abandoned, they now have variations of the favorite design from previous meeting. The cost for all 4 options are basically the same. They will have ground lights to illuminate the whole structure, the torch will glow, and high intensity lights for each flag. Mr. Johnson asked about TxDOT green ribbon funding - it's in process, they asked for 135k, which would pay for landscape, irrigation, lights. Mr. Myers asked if 25% contingency was high; Ms. McQuiston said staff policy is to start w/ 25, likely would lower it to 15%. Luminant provided $400k, some could be used for this. Mr. Thatcher said that fund was at discretion of council, as long as Luminant staff was involved in ribbon cutting.
  • Approved a memorandum of understanding regarding police tactical operations with Terrell Police Department.
        Lt. Abernathy said have informal agreement w/ Terrell, this is formal policy. Two types of SWAT teams, this will allow sharing equipment and members. Ms. Powers asked where equipment would be - each team maintains their own equipment.
  • Tabled consideration of a final plat for Eagle Ridge, Phase 4, located southeast of the intersection of Ridgecrest Road and Longhorn Lane in the City of Forney, Texas.Watch Video
        Mr. Morgan said considering an appeal of P&Z denial. all lots do meet minimum, it exceed lot requirements. It has city water and sewer. It does not meet the preliminary plat, which assumed gas line could be relocated, which can't be done. It would have allowed park to be adjacent to drainage area. The easement will remain open space. This has established zoning, doesn't have to meet new park requirements. Originally proposed 4.2 acres along gas easement. The parks board considered accepting fees in lieu of (as the open space was not acceptable as park) which would be $300k. P&Z recommends requiring plat to be redrawn to meet preliminary plat, voting 7-0 to deny. Overturning P&Z requires super majority of council. This project has a long history, from 2001 - among many extensions, the 2008 plat is what they are developing under.
        Mr. James Harrington and Brad Williams gave the 30,000 ft view - in 2008 the previous owners believed could relocate the easement. 19 lots were lost due to easement. They would prefer to provide fees, do have another option if that is not acceptable. It would account for the gas easement, the street layout would match the preliminary plat - they passed out paper copies to council and staff. Ms. Penn wants to ask the attorney questions in executive session.
        Mr. Myers asked Mr. Curry if was 1st time he's seen this - yes. Was the issue that Atmos can't do it, or is just expensive. Atmos said it's an engineering issue, don't want to do it. Mr. Donnie Evans said been negotiating /w Atmos from day one, they were agreeable, went from 150k to 1.8+mil along with doubling easement width. Cost increases each time. They would love to change the line, get the lots back. Mayor Wilson asked if staff has been in contact w/ Atmos - no. Mayor Wilson is not happy w/ gas easement running through neighborhood. Mr. McGee said as presented, project looks incomplete. Across the street, easement was designed better. Mr. Moon asked how greenbelt works w/ concrete through it. A: it's common is other cities.
        Mayor Wilson asked if want to continue w/ appeal or table it. Council is mostly unimpressed with proposed. Mr. Myers asked Mr. Curry about Park Board accepting fees - he said two options to board are usually land or fees. As it goes back to older ordinances, wasn't really anything to negotiate. Mr. Thatcher recommended tabling the item, and applicant to waive the 30 day time limit. Mr. Williams was happy to do that, did ask what their main concern was: the gas line, or parks? It appeared to mostly be the gas line.
  • Approved a recommendation from the Forney EDC Board of Directors in regard to allocation of Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT) funds FY 2019.
        Mr. Ketteman briefed the council, $60k was available with $76k requested. What is provided meets the ch. 351 requirements. They couldn't see a way to provide funds for bike racks, but Lions club is interested in helping. Ms. Penn asked about funds for garden; Ms. Walker said they are asking for less than last year. Mr. Johnson mentioned the arboretum and botanical gardens as destination items, he can see that happening here with additional space. Kendall Milton spoke for arts council, said the 3k wouldn't have been enough for a project. The wine walk was very successful, they plan to do two this year. Ms. Penn said the process is very stream-lined from where it was. Mr. Ketteman said the Non-Profits come to the training and are very helpful, they are working to go digital next year. Ms. Penn expressed great pleasure with the park sign.
  • Approved an Ordinance amending Chapter 7, "Municipal Court," of the City of Forney Code of Ordinances to amend the year of appointment of the Municipal Court Judges.
        Mr. Thatcher said this was to clean up ordinances, to align them with current practices.
  • Considered a Resolution approving a Chapter 380 Agreement between the City of Forney and LCG Highway 80, LLC for development located at the southeast corner of the intersection of FM 548 and Highway 80.
        Mr. Thatcher said staff was directed to provide this draft, has been reviewed and would like to enter executive session.

  • Held an 83-minute executive session re:
    • SOAH Docket No. 473-17-4964.WS; PUC Docket No. 46662 -- Pet. of Plano, et al.
    • PUC Docket No. 47814 -- Pet. of Talty SUD, et al.
    • Growth Management Plan
    • Status of tax appraisals within the City of Forney through the Kaufman County Appraisal District.
    • City of Forney Chapter 380 Agreement with LCG Highway 80, LLC.

  • Approved 6-1 (Wilson nay) Chapter 380 Agreement with LCG Highway 80, LLC.
  • Adjourned at 21:33
Tuesday, 2018, August 7