Bus service will change for WSISD

school-buses1

A State Senator plans to introduce legislation this week that would do away with Dallas County Schools (DCS) and their bus service. Currently, 12 school districts use DCS for bus transportation including White Settlement ISD. Continue reading “Bus service will change for WSISD”

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Humbug… Gas prices on the rise

Gas-Prices3

Gasoline prices around the area as well as Texas have started 2017 on a higher note. AAA Texas on Thursday reported the average price at the pump statewide rose a nickel this week to reach an average $2.16 per gallon. The average gasoline price across the U.S. increased 6 cents to reach $2.36 per gallon. El Paso has the cheapest gasoline in Texas this week at an average $2.08 per gallon. Drivers in Dallas face the highest retail gasoline prices statewide at an average $2.21 per gallon.

Sales tax numbers get big audit bump, business growth updated

John Bitter, owner of Frontier Veterinary Hospital, accepts the Business Incentive grant check from EDC Director Kyle Reeves (left) and Mayor Ronald A. White (right).
John Bitter, owner of Frontier Veterinary Hospital, accepts the Business Incentive grant check from EDC Director Kyle Reeves (left) and Mayor Ronald A. White (right).

by A.C. Hall

After thirteen straight months of sales tax revenues coming in below projections, the White Settlement Economic Development Corporation received good news at their May meeting.  Finance Director Phil Bray informed the EDC that sales tax revenues for April 2016 came in 136 percent above April 2015, hitting $153,441 instead of the $64,809 collected during April 2015.   Continue reading “Sales tax numbers get big audit bump, business growth updated”

Splash Dayz waterpark budget approved by councilmembers

WS City Logo

by A.C. Hall

At Tuesday evening’s White Settlement City Council meeting the budget for the Splash Dayz waterpark was unanimously approved.  With council members Elzie Clements and Mike Arnold out with approved absences, the remaining three members heard from city staff members who have been working diligently on preparing the budget for the waterpark.  Finance Director Phil Bray addressed the council about the proposed budget. Continue reading “Splash Dayz waterpark budget approved by councilmembers”

Citizens discuss street maintenance tax in town hall meeting Thursday

Lake Worth Logo

by A.C. Hall

On Thursday the City of Lake Worth held a town hall meeting to give citizens information and allow them to ask questions about the upcoming vote on the street maintenance tax.  In place since 2004, this tax collects .25 of 1% of sales tax and puts it into a fund that is used to repair and maintain streets within the City.  The tax requires a new vote every few years and is back on the Lake Worth ballots this year.   Continue reading “Citizens discuss street maintenance tax in town hall meeting Thursday”

Council approves budget and property tax increase

WS City Logo

by A.C. Hall

After more than a month of budget workshops and public hearings, the White Settlement City Council considered passage of the final 2015 – 2016 budget at their Tuesday meeting.  Prior to voting on the budgets, council held one last public hearing for the Crime Board budget, the Economic Development Corporation budget, and the City budget.  No one spoke regarding the crime board or EDC budgets, but several individuals addressed the council regarding the City budget. Continue reading “Council approves budget and property tax increase”

Sales tax revenue continues to fall for White Settlement

WS City Logo

by A.C. Hall

Finance Director Phil Bray had more bad news for the White Settlement Economic Development Corporation at their latest meeting as he informed them that sales tax revenue continues to fall.  The EDC board relies on sales tax revenue to fund their annual budget, getting half of one percent of sales tax that is collected in the city.  After coming in 17 percent below estimates in March and 36 percent below estimates in April, Bray told the EDC that sales tax revenue came in 26 percent below estimates for May.   Continue reading “Sales tax revenue continues to fall for White Settlement”

Business update: Hawaiian Falls

 

Hawaiian Falls will re-open on Saturday, May 23.
Hawaiian Falls will re-open on Saturday, May 23.

by A.C. Hall

At the March White Settlement City Council meeting, a routine annual audit report included a major revelation about the first year struggles of Hawaiian Falls.  Their first lease payment of $500,000 was due to the City in October of 2014, but Hawaiian Falls only made a partial payment of $125,000 and has made no additional payments since.   Continue reading “Business update: Hawaiian Falls”

Council talks trash fees, library fees, fire fees for year

WS City Logo

By A.C. Hall  

The White Settlement City Council held their regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday and considered a request from the city’s trash collection company Progressive Waste Solutions to increase their collection fee by 1.6%.  City Manager Linda Ryan stated that this would translate to a 19 cent increase for customers.   Continue reading “Council talks trash fees, library fees, fire fees for year”

Budget talks continue as City waits on property tax numbers

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By A.C. Hall

White Settlement City Council budget workshops continue to take place at City Hall several times a week as the council looks to lock down the fiscal year 2014-2015 budget.  The proposed budget contains $9.5 million in total expenditures, with an estimated $8.9 million in total revenues.  That leaves a $600,000 deficit.   Continue reading “Budget talks continue as City waits on property tax numbers”

Budget workshops begin by discussing gas revenues

Chesapeake Energy has wells on this site near Las Vegas Trail in White Settlement.
Chesapeake Energy has completed drilling on this site near Las Vegas Trail in White Settlement. File Photo Grizzly Detail Newspaper.

By A.C. Hall

On Tuesday, the City Council and city staff started the long process toward setting up next year’s budget with the first of several budget workshops.  Things are still being worked on and gone over, but there were some items highlighted on Tuesday as council engaged with the staff about the proposed budget.

Council member Danny Anderson questioned gas royalties, asking how much gas was being pumped out of the city.   Continue reading “Budget workshops begin by discussing gas revenues”

Budget talks underway with local crime board

crime budget

By A.C. Hall

The White Settlement Crime Board met last week to discuss their upcoming fiscal year 2013-2014 budget.  This budget funds a portion of the White Settlement Police Department, with the general fund taking on the larger part.  The budget is projecting $1.12 million in expenditures and $1.2 million in revenues with an ending balance of $432,819.   Continue reading “Budget talks underway with local crime board”

Workshop discussion includes sales tax, fire department and memorial wall

ws logo

By A.C. Hall

Since taking office, new council member Danny Anderson has spoken about his desire to have a workshop where the council can discuss several issues, and on Friday he got his wish.  Council members, city department heads, and a handful of citizens all gathered in a city conference room as the workshop got underway.   Continue reading “Workshop discussion includes sales tax, fire department and memorial wall”

Benbrook passes budget, tax rate to stay same

By A.C. Hall

The Benbrook City Council brought their budget season to a close last week as they unanimously passed the proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year.  The proposed budget calls for revenues of $16.1 million and expenditures are almost identical.  The budget does use some reserves, with $1 million going toward the utility relocation project along 377, and $300,000 from reserves going to the debt service fund.  At the end of next year, the city expects to have around $5 million in their general fund. Continue reading “Benbrook passes budget, tax rate to stay same”

Council approves budget, lower tax rate

By A.C. Hall

The long budget season finally came to an end on Tuesday night as the White Settlement City Council considered approval of all City budgets as well as the proposed tax rate.  Before any action could be taken, a public hearing was held where anyone with questions or concerns about the budgets could address the council. Continue reading “Council approves budget, lower tax rate”

EDC approves 2012-13 budget, speakers voice concerns

by A.C. Hall

The White Settlement Economic Development Corporation met Thursday night to address their proposed budget for the upcoming year.  Before taking any action on the budget, a public hearing was opened where anyone with questions or comments on the budget were allowed to speak.  

Continue reading “EDC approves 2012-13 budget, speakers voice concerns”

Budget workshops continue: No paid fire department for now

The White Settlement City Council and city administrators met on Thursday evening in what they hope will be the last budget work shop of the year.  One topic that has dominated several of the budget meetings was the plan brought forward by Fire Chief Brian Thompson to go to a combination department, hiring six full time firefighters to man the station 24 hours a day in addition to having volunteers.  After meetings with Thompson, City Manager Linda Ryan spoke frankly to the council about the proposal to start paying firefighters.

Continue reading “Budget workshops continue: No paid fire department for now”

Council votes to lower taxes by 13 cents

At a special meeting last night, the White Settlement City Council talked a lot about their budget, but they also took important action regarding next year’s tax rate.  The council voted unanimously to approve a tax rate of $0.614715, down from the current rate of $0.742135.  This was possible in part because of an increase in values within the City.

“Last year’s values were $508 million; they increased to $610 million this year,” City Manager Linda Ryan said.  “The increase in the values is twenty percent.” Ryan said another thing that helped them achieve such a low rate was some old debts falling off.

By approving this new lower rate, the council won’t be required to hold the two public hearings that are usually needed to pass a tax rate.  They also won’t be required to post legal notices in the local papers.

Police Chief Jack Ely was on hand at this meeting to field questions from the council regarding the Police Department’s budget.  Ely gave information on ammo costs, the K-9 unit, and the need for new vehicles.

“We had some really austere years a couple years there, and so we really couldn’t fund a whole lot of anything,” Ely said.  “This year is much better.  We played a little catch up ball here on the Crime District budget.”

Fire Department, city leaders engage in tough budget talks

Fire Department, city leaders engage 

As a part of ongoing budget discussions, the White Settlement City Council and city leaders met with representatives of the White Settlement Fire Department last Thursday evening at City Hall.  Fire Chief Brian Thompson presented a fire department budget that if adopted would institute paid firefighters in what has long been a volunteer department. Continue reading “Fire Department, city leaders engage in tough budget talks”

WS City Council holds work sessions to discuss 2012-2013 budget

In one of three budget work sessions held last week, the council met Wednesday evening at City Hall along with some city administrators to look at the proposed 2012-2013 budget.

Water and sewer issues were discussed at length, with the first item being a sewer lift station that needs major upgrades.

“If that sewer lift station goes down we’re in all kinds of trouble,” City Manager Linda Ryan said.

The cost estimate for this issue is anywhere from $700,000 to $1.1 million.  Ryan stated that there is a sewer account with $500,000 in reserves in it, and that the city can also carry over money from the sewer interceptor bond that was leftover once that project was completed.

The state of some other pipes in the city was also discussed, with several different individuals speaking about the sad state of many of the pipes.

One of the city’s water wells, well number ten, is having problems due to a short at the pump, which lies at the bottom of the 964 foot deep well.

“It’s something we really need to take care of,” Project Administrator Jack Bell said.

The estimated cost to replace the pump is between $50,000 and $75,000.  The city produces 4.3 million gallons of water per month out of well number ten.

“If it has to be done, it has to be done,” Council member Elzie Clements said.

His statement was echoed by Council member Paul Moore.

“We’ve got the money in the budget to fix it,” Ryan said.

Another item discussed was the upcoming 29% sewer rate increase from Fort Worth.

“That doesn’t mean I’m going to take your rate and add 29% to it,” Ryan said.

Ryan said she’s looking for ways to lessen the increase, but that there’s “no way around” the fact that some sort of an increase to the sewer rate will have to be made.

 

Hotel/Motel tax

Following up on something she mentioned on Tuesday during budget talks, Ryan told the council that there’s less money coming in through the hotel/motel tax than anticipated.  The budget projects $150,000 from that tax and there are expenditures to spend most of that money.  According to the discussion it looks like the hotel/motel tax revenue won’t reach the projected amount of $150,000.

One thing that money goes towards is the White Settlement Historical Museum.  In recent years the City has budgeted around $25,000 for the museum, but this year the museum is looking for an increase to $31,000 to make some improvements.

Ryan had one suggestion that could lower how much money the museum needs on a yearly basis.

“I just suggested we cut back the hours,” Ryan said.

She threw out the option of having the museum open only on the weekends.  According to their website, the museum is currently open 25 hours a week, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.  It’s closed on Sunday and Monday. “Do the amount of people using it justify the hours?” Mayor Jerry Burns asked.

There was also some confusion as to whether or not the council had a say in the hours the museum kept.  The consensus was that they do control the money, which in turn governs how many hours the museum can operate.

While no definitive conclusion was reached, the council seemed to be leaning toward leaving the museum with their usual amount of money, and considering an increase at mid year.

Another item that gets funding through the hotel/motel tax is the White Settlement Area Chamber of Commerce.  The City pays the rent for the chamber, which is located in the Zeig Electric building across from City Hall, as well as puts $30,000 toward it each year.

The status of the Zeig building, which is currently in foreclosure, was also discussed. It is currently unclear if that means the Chamber will be forced to move, but the council seemed open to the idea of moving it, as relocating it to somewhere inside City Hall would save around $10,000 per year.

Burns recalled discussions to house the Chamber with the museum, but several council members reacted favorably to the idea of moving the chamber to a room inside the Senior Center.

“Why don’t we just do that?” Council member Mike Arnold asked. No decision was made on this during the workshop.

The funding for the Miss White Settlement pageant was also called into question.

“Do you want to continue the pageant?” Ryan asked.

Burns and Arnold both said they’d like to see it continue.

“They seem to be doing a professional job,” Burns said.

The idea of funding them for $5,000 instead of the requested $8,800 was discussed.

The Community Chest was also an item the council touched upon while discussing the hotel/motel expenditures.  There were many positive comments about the work the Community Chest does in the city and for some citizens in need.  The council appeared to be in favor of raising the funds for the Community Chest from $1,000 to $1,500.

 

Crime District Budget

The high amount of revenue in the crime board budget became a source of discussion toward the end of the workshop.  The crime board already gives over $500,000 to the general fund each year, but agreed to give an additional $250,000 this year.  The stipulation was that the extra money be used on something police related.

“We have very little turnover in our police department,” Ryan said.

While studying the budget, Clements had a theory on why that is.

“It’s easy to see why looking at these salaries,” Clements said.

The council doesn’t have the power to change the crime board budget, but can only approve or not approve it.

 

Budget discussions are ongoing, so be sure to keep reading The Grizzly Detail for comprehensive budget coverage you’ll find only here.

EDC holds first budget talks of the year

by A.C. Hall

The White Settlement Economic Development Corporation met on Thursday to begin early discussions about their budget for 2012-2013.  City Manager Linda Ryan was on hand presenting the proposed budget to the EDC members, though she cautioned that it was still early in the process.

“They’re not set in stone yet,” Ryan said of the numbers in the budget.

The estimated revenues for next year’s budget from sales tax sit at $1.5 million, which is up $300,000 from the 2011-2012 budget’s number.  According to the proposed budget, sales tax is up twenty percent in White Settlement, which is in part what led to the higher estimate on sales tax revenue.

“We are doing well guys, financially,” EDC Director Jim Ryan said.

There was some discussion over the lengthy Lockheed strike and the effect that might have had on the local economy.  While confirming that some local businesses did feel the effects of the strike, Ryan said that the loss of sales tax was factored into the budget and the estimated sales tax revenue might have been even higher than $1.5 million if it hadn’t been for the strike.

Another aspect of the budget that was highlighted early in the discussions was the fact that as it currently stands, it will end the year $114,516 in the black.  That would be in addition to the between $800,000 and $1 million that the EDC will start this budget year with.

Board member Alan Price spoke about how some people have spread rumors that the EDC is broke.  Mayor Jerry Burns responded to this.

“You get to tell them that this year we’ll have a positive fund balance,” Burns said.

The budget does include a $280,000 debt payment to the White Settlement General Fund.  This is the first payment to cover the $1.4 million dollars that the general fund loaned to the EDC for the comprehensive Central Park overhaul that is currently underway.

When asked how the Central Park work will impact next year’s budget, Linda Ryan had encouraging news.

“We look for everything to be finished by October on Central Park,” Ryan said.

Income from concessions was also discussed, with Parks and Recreation Director Rich Tharp saying that they currently take twenty-six percent of the concession money from Veterans Park, after sales tax.

This was part of a discussion about how the concessions were going to be handled at the new Central Park.  Currently, the White Settlement Youth Association runs those concessions and keeps the money.  “That’s where they make their money,” Jim Ryan said.

It’s unclear if that is how things are going to continue to be done at the revamped park.     “It was never really part of the negotiations with the youth leagues,” Jim Ryan stated.

The youth associations have indicated a willingness to talk about the way concessions are handled, but those talks have not happened yet.

Also on the subject of Central Park, an attempt will be made to have the football field area of the park tended to first so it could possibly be ready in time for the youth football season.  The possibility of opening up the back gate to central park to allow access just to that area was mentioned.

Linda Ryan said that detailed salary numbers and insurance numbers aren’t available yet, but she did mention that the budget did have one new employee added in.  This is a position that was frozen two years ago.

Board member Pat Wirsing voiced concern over this, asking why EDC is paying parks employees when Central Park isn’t even open right now.  Tharp spoke about the many things going on at the other parks, and it was also mentioned that upon re-opening, Central Park will have even more fields for Tharp’s crew to take care of than it did previously.

“Our fields don’t sit idle very much,” Mayor Burns said, speaking about the many events and things that go on in the parks.

Price asked if there are going to be any security cameras at Central Park.

“I truly believe that the park is going to need some security,” Price said.

He spoke of vandalism problems from the past while voicing his concern that the even nicer new park will be targeted for vandalism.  Linda Ryan pointed to $50,000 that is in the budget for “other professional services” as a place that could be looked to if the board was interested in cameras.

Another board member asked why the city pays the sanction fees for umpires who work in the city, saying the umpires should pay that themselves.  Tharp explained the new approach that the city has undergone in how umpires are paid.

“We’re kind of out on a limb right now,” Tharp said.

He said that the league fees were lessened and in return the teams who play games pay the umpires in cash before each game.  Mayor Burns got involved in this discussion, talking about the potential for the revamped Central Park to draw in more and bigger tournaments.

“You build it, they will come,” Burns said.

The Mayor did acknowledge that there would be some bumps in the road as they adjust to how to best use the new park.

“There’s going to be growing pains,” Mayor Burns said.

Continuing the discussion of parks related expenditures, Linda Ryan said that even though Tharp didn’t ask for it, she put $18,000 into the budget for a new parks utility vehicle.

“It might make it easier in the parks,” Linda Ryan said.

She also said that there was $25,000 budgeted for park improvements.

“If there’s something you really want done, this is where it could be done,” Linda Ryan said.

Jim Ryan also spoke to this item, saying that if any board member felt that the new Central Park or one of the other parks was lacking something such as enough picnic tables, this is a budget item they could use to make minor improvements.

One item that was approved several months ago that has finally moving forward is the purchase of a house by the EDC on Wilbur.  The house is near Saddle Hills Park and will be used as a new Parks building.

“They lost their building in Central Park,” Linda Ryan said.

This house will double as both a storage area for parks supplies as well as a place for parks employees to clock in.  The possibility of setting up a break room where they could eat lunch was also discussed.  Tharp’s office will remain in the Animal Control building by the post office.

Bike paths and walking trails were another item mentioned.  Jim Ryan said that this is something that has been emphasized lately and could be done at reasonable prices.

“These bike paths are pretty cheap,” Jim Ryan said.

He estimated around ten to fifteen thousand dollars could bring in bike paths running along Las Vegas trail and linking Central and Veterans Parks.  A way of bringing bike paths and walking trails over near the base was also mentioned.

Other items that are a part of this early budget are $105,000 for the BIG grant program.  That’s enough for three maximum amount BIG grants, which are awarded to local companies that do upgrades to the functional and visual aspects of their businesses.  There’s also still $100,000 in the budget for small business grants.  This amount was in last year’s budget as well but went untouched, as no plan has been put together as to how to utilize the money.  Jim Ryan mentioned the need for a workshop to put that program into action.

$25,000 is in the budget for signage.  This could include another entry sign, this one over in the Ridgmar area.  It would also cover other signage that may need to be put up over the year.

One thing touched upon during the talks was the advantage of putting some money into these items, as it made it easier to do things later in the year if there was at least some amount dedicated to it in the budget.

“Just because it’s there doesn’t mean you have to spend it,” Jim Ryan stated.

He also reiterated that even budgeted items still came before the EDC for a vote before the money was spent.  At the close of the meeting, Linda Ryan spoke about her serious approach to the budget.

“I promise not to let you go in the red,” Linda Ryan told the EDC.

She said that if revenues are lagging in the new year she’ll look to lessen spending to compensate.

Mayor Burns also had some closing words as he expressed his gratitude to the EDC for their efforts in making the Central Park overhaul happen.  He said that they may come under fire for taking part in passing the project, but that what they did took courage.

“Be proud of it,” Mayor Burns said.  “I’m very proud of y’all.”

Board members were asked to look over the budget and to bring any questions or concerns they have to their July meeting.  At that time they will call a public hearing on the budget for their August meeting, where they’ll look to adopt the budget.

Council makes mid-year budget adjustment

The White Settlement City Council met thirty minutes earlier than usual on Tuesday night to hold a work session regarding possible budget amendments.  City Manager Linda Ryan presented this to the council, as she gave a list of items for the council to consider adding into the budget via an amendment.  First, she explained how any new items added into the budget could be paid for.

“We’re here about seven months into our budget and we have a surplus in oil and gas royalties of $359,000,” Ryan said.

She also said that sales tax is up and looks like it will come in $725,000 above what they had budgeted.

“So the revenue is there if you choose to amend some of these line items,” Ryan said.

From there, Ryan began speaking about the different things that have impacted the budget and items that she wanted the council to consider.

“The main thing that has effected the mid year budget is the unemployment tax rate,” Ryan told the council.

The current budget was set to mirror the amount of unemployment the city had paid out last year, but the amount for 2012 shot up.

“This has made a $22,700 difference in general fund and a $3,025 difference in water and sewer fund,” Ryan said.

She said the unemployment was a Texas law and there was no way around it.  Several other items were discussed, many of them fixing or replacing items that were said to be in bad shape such as the City Marshal’s current vehicle and the decade old bucket lift.

Another thing that Ryan brought to the council’s attention was the vehicles used by the senior center.

“We’ve got two of them, both of them are not in good running condition,” Ryan said.  “It’s hard to get parts for them.”

She originally suggested this be considered later in the year at budget time, but the council seemed interested in adding it into these mid-year adjustments.  Council member Paul Moore spoke on this matter.

“I’d hate to see a busload of seniors broken down on the side of the road,” Moore said.  “Those buses are pretty bad.”

The estimated cost of a new senior vehicle was $58,000.  That would bring the capital items included in the proposed ordinance up to $180,395.

“One thing that you need to consider at mid-year is often when you wait until budget time to come for October’s budget, what gets cut are capital items,” Ryan said.  “This city has bought very little capital items in the last three years because we just haven’t had the funds for it.”

The total amount of all of the budget amendments being considered added up to just shy of $400,000, but Ryan assured the council the money was available.

“There is enough money in the oil and gas royalty,” Ryan said.

Before any motions could be made, a public hearing was held.  There were two citizens who chose to speak.  The first spoke in favor of repairing the signal lights, but said they felt that the rest of the money should go toward fixing the streets and repaying debts.  They also said they are against the council approving a loan to the EDC to fund half the Central Park improvements.

The second citizen who spoke voiced support for the Central Park upgrade, calling the project long overdue.  They also spoke in favor of providing the City Marshal with a new vehicle.

With no one else wishing to speak, the public hearing was closed.  A motion was made to pass the budget amendments, including the new senior center vehicle, and that motion passed unanimously.

Being considered separately was an ordinance to loan $1.4 million to the EDC from the general fund unrestricted balance to cover fifty percent of the central park improvement project.  The terms call for the EDC to reimburse the general fund in five annual payments of $280,000 beginning in their 2012-2013 budget.

Council member Mike Arnold told a brief story about speaking to a child at Central Park recently, and how excited the child was to hear about the proposed upgrades to the park.  A motion was made to pass the budget ordinance to fund fifty percent of Central Park, and that motion passed unanimously.  This drew applause from many of those in attendance.

Finalizing their approval for the Central Park project, the council also unanimously approved the plans and design of the park.

COUNCIL MEMBER ADDRESSES HAWK RIDGE

Earlier in the meeting, council member Elzie Clements made a brief comment about the proposed low income Hawk Ridge apartment complex.  The complex has become a hot button issue in the city, but Clements said he no longer supports the project.

“In the beginning I was for the Hawk Ridge Apartment complex, but after some things have come to light and things that have not come to light, I wanted to tell you now that I wanted to withdraw my public support and my city council support on the Hawk Ridge apartments,” Clements told the audience.

PRESENTATIONS

There were three presentations made at the meeting, the first was made by White Settlement Masonic Lodge No. 1372, as they bestowed the Community Builders Award to White Settlement resident Jim Weaver.

Next, Senior Center Director Lydia Neece showed a Powerpoint presentation as well as a video about the work going on at the Senior Center and the many ways in which they are helping the seniors in the community.

Lastly, Elizabeth Beck-Johnson from the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) gave a presentation about a HUD grant that will partially be used to aid White Settlement and their comprehensive plan.  The grant was received by NCTCOG on behalf of the member cities of the Regional Coordination Committee (RCC), a group that is made up of municipalities surrounding the base.  Born from a joint land use study several years ago, the RCC works to ensure that development around the base is compatible with the base’s mission.

Beck-Johnson spoke about the formation of the RCC, saying that this grant will help them fulfill some of the principles that the RCC set out to accomplish.  Beck-Johnson spoke of the desire to help support the communities around the base by using the grant to help with their comprehensive plan updates.

“The project goal is to support sustainable communities while considering land uses and development options that are compatible with military operations,” Beck-Johnson told the council.

She also assured the council that the grant was going to take into consideration the unique needs and situation of White Settlement.

“We will work with the cities to determine what part of your comprehensive plans need updating, and we’ll go from there,” Beck-Johnson said.

The process will include an economic market analysis, housing and retail feasibility study, an enhanced transportation options study, and an ordinance compatibility review.  Community participation will be sought out through the process, which looks to have final results ready early in 2013.

EXECUTIVE SESSION

The council held a closed door executive session for “pending or contemplated litigation or to seek advice from attorney” and for “discussion regarding possible sale, lease or acquisition of real estate.”

When they returned to open session, a motion was made to “direct staff to proceed as directed in executive session.”  That motion passed unanimously.

 

Complete List of Budget adjustments approved by council:

  • Air/heat unit repairs for Animal Control Facility $15,000
  • New vehicle for City Marshal $32,455
  • Food for WSPD Jail prisoners $3,000
  • Crime lab analysis funds $12,000
  • Unemployment rates total for general fund $22,700
  • Dog/Cat food, kitty litter for Animal Control Facility $2,500
  • Janitorial supplies for Animal Control Facility $1,500
  • Part time temp salaries for summer months $25,000
  • Demolitions and lot clearing $88,000
  • Signal light (Silver Creek and Las Vegas) $44,845
  • Signal Light (1400 S. Cherry Lane) $35,470
  • Bucket Van/lift $42,080
  • Unemployment rates total for water $3,025
  • Meter data software upgrade $5,575
  • Data processing equipment $5,650
  • New senior center vehicle $58,000 (estimate)

  total amount of amendments = $396,800


Portion of Farmer’s Branch flood project moving forward

by A.C. Hall

A project dating back to 2005 is moving forward, albeit only in one portion.  Project Manager Jack Bell presented the news to the council at their meeting last night.

“We were informed this past week that the bid for the flood project from Meadow Park east to White Settlement road came within budget,” Bell said.  “In fact it was under their anticipated budget.”

The Farmer’s Branch Flood Control project was approved via a bond in 2005, but work in earnest on it didn’t begin until recent years when the Army Corps of Engineers (CORPS) funding became available.  The project turned controversial due to a series of events, the latest being a citizen petition. The petition put the power back in the hands of the people to decide whether or not to further fund the project.  Voters defeated the bond, leaving the council to pursue just one portion of the creek project.

The partial portion will now become a reality, as the news came from the CORPS that they are ready to award a contract.  Bell suggested that a possible use of the surplus money would be to clean up the reflecting pool section of the creek in front of City Hall.

City Manager Linda Ryan addressed the council regarding the financial side of the partial project.  She reminded the council that on Aug. 10, 2011 the council sent $1.5 million to the CORPS in order to secure the federal funding.

“Since then they’ve been going out for construction bids,” Ryan said.  “What they finally got was a construction bid that came within budget.”

Ryan informed the council that this new bid falls within the money that is available for the project.

“The funds are there and possibly we could get back around $500,000,” Ryan said.

She mentioned the amount of money that was spent by the city on buying easements and partial easements, many of which won’t be needed now.  The total cost for this partial portion of the project from Meadow Park to White Settlement Road is $11.5 million, a cost shared between the CORPS and the City, but Ryan said that doesn’t include the “million plus” that was spent on easements.

“All said and done I still believe that we will come out with around $500,000 to $600,000,” Ryan said.

Another thing mentioned by Ryan was the possibility of stopping the project.

“If you want to stop now, I guess you could, you might not get a federal loan again, but if you want to go forward we need to let them [CORPS] know,” Ryan said.

This led Mayor Burns to speak about the history of this project.

“We sold bonds with the good faith effort we were going to build that creek.  This money will build this much of it, and if we’re going to tell the people we’re going to spend their money on the creek we oughta build all the creek we can,” Burns said.  “I think that’s what we’ve done here.”

Council member Gene Hatcher questioned why the CORPS was claiming no part of the expense when it came to money spent by White Settlement purchasing and demolishing properties along the creek.

Burns explained that the properties they weren’t sharing the cost of are properties along portions of the creek that aren’t being addressed in this partial project.  Hatcher called it a “shame” that the city spent so much money while following the CORPS’ design, and now was out the money spent on those properties.  Bell called it a “good faith effort” between the two entities at the time as they tried to do the entire creek.

The possibility of doing something with those now city owned properties was discussed.  Prospects are limited since they fall within the flood plain, but things such as parks, bike trails, or even raising the elevation were mentioned.

After the discussions were completed, a motion was made to approve and move forward with the project.  That motion passed unanimously.

“That has been a long arduous battle and I commend the council for sticking with it as far as they did, because it would’ve been easy anytime to just throw up your hands and say to heck with it,” Mayor Burns said.  “It shows a lot of courage.”

CENTRAL PARK PRICE TAG

The price is now in for the Central Park overhaul, and Bell was pleased to announce that it came in under the $3 million budget.

“Staff spent six and a half hours today with the contractor negotiating and we have hammered down to a very reasonable figure. I’m proud to announce that it is below 2.8 million dollars,” Bell said.  “That also allows us the amenities that we were looking for, not every one of them, but the amenities that will serve the leagues and serve the city for quite a few years down the road.”

Bell said that the next stop is to get a finalized drawing and a breakdown on the prices.  He hopes to have that ready for the next council meeting so the council can review it and decide what to do next.  He spoke highly of Heartland Parks and Recreation, saying that it has been a pleasure working with them.

When asked how far under budget the price was, Bell rounded the final price to $2,780,000.

VETERAN’S PARK MEMORIAL DESIGN APPROVED

The design for the Veteran’s Park Memorial Wall was revealed, as it came before council for their approval.  Bell stated that this project is something that has been discussed for several years. “We were fortunate enough in this current budget to set aside funds to fund the project,” Bell said.  “We’re under that budget.”

This is an artists rendering of the Veterans Park Memorial Wall. The wall will span 100’ and include each branch of the armed services.

He presented the picture of the wall, which is six foot, six inches tall and is in two separate sections which together are one hundred feet long.  There will be individual panels on the wall for each branch of the armed services, and a pedestal will be erected on the existing pavilion that juts out into the water to honor fire fighters and police officers.

“I think it’s going to be something we can be very proud to see here in our city,” Bell said. Bell did say that staff would need help with determining the criteria for what names get engraved onto the wall.  Mayor Burns suggested speaking with the base for assistance in that matter.

The council voted unanimously to approve the design.

“We’ve been dreaming about this for a while,” Burns said.

When asked by a council member about the cost of this project, Bell stated that the budgeted amount for it was $125,000, again saying that the final cost came in under budget.

PUBLIC HEARING SET FOR BUDGET AMENDMENTS

The council voted unanimously to set a public hearing where budget amendments will be discussed.  That public hearing will be held on Tuesday, April 24 at 6:30 p.m., and the council will be meeting first in a work session before the public hearing is opened.

City Manager Linda Ryan explained this item to the council.

“What’s happened this year is that we’ve got extra revenues through our oil and gas money and there are some things that we left out of the budget,” Ryan said.

One item that she mentioned was the need for a new vehicle for the City Marshall.  Ryan explained that some items were more pressing than others.

“There are some things that I would like for you to consider.  Some are ‘have to’ and some are ‘maybe’,” Ryan said.

OTHER BUSINESS

At the close of the meeting, council member Elzie Clements spoke highly of the White Settlement Volunteer Fire Department, praising them for their great work while dealing with a house fire earlier in the day.  The entire council gave the department a standing ovation.

Earlier in the meeting, Frank Molinar of the White Settlement Independent School District was on hand to present a plaque to the White Settlement Police Department.  He thanked the City and the police department for their partnership and support.