Many important decisions face Addison residents at this point in time: The first Town Master Transportation Plan since 1998, the proposed Annual Budget, the Town’s Housing Policy and reducing the Town’s Debt just to name a few. Engagement by citizens is important at decision-making time, yet citizen engagement isn’t always a priority among life’s every-day routine. As one resident put it at this week’s Mayor’s Coffee, “For a long time we took everything for granted. I’m embarrassed about that now.”
Master Transportation Plan
A good example of lack of engagement was expressed at Wednesday’s coffee when the subject of the Town’s Master Transportation Plan meetings was discussed. Mailings were sent out from the Town announcing two public meetings—one on Thursday, July 28, the second one this past Tuesday, August 2. Approximately 25-30 residents showed up at each respective meeting to hear about the draft concept from staff. Participants were invited to visit the stations around the room before and/or after the presentation to review and comment on information provided. Among topics discussed were:
- What does the proposed Master Transportation Plan include?
- What do the Cross Sections include?
- What has been updated on each since the last plan (1998)?
- What is a Connectivity Plan?
- What elements are considered in the design of streets?
- What is a Corridor Case Study? Which corridors were chosen and what challenges did each present?
Significant growth regarding issues of connectivity, pedestrian, vehicular, transit and key corridors spurred development of the new master plan. The Advisory Committee reported on a strong desire from the community for East-West connectivity, support of walking and biking opportunities, better pedestrian accommodations and a more efficient transportation system. The Plan defines the opportunities to refine existing elements as well as present potential expansions to accommodate multiple modes of travel. All future development is dependent on funding in order to move forward on any one aspect of the Plan.
There are five (5) Case Study Corridors included in the Plan: Addison Road, Quorum Drive, LeGrande Drive, Montfort Drive and Belt Line Road.
An example of lack of knowledge was evidenced when one woman at Wednesday’s coffee said she was unaware of the Le Grande Drive plan, which impacts her. Many homeowners of Midway Meadows may be totally unaware of the plan, which calls for adding sidewalks to each side of the street South from Beltway to the intersection of Le Grande and Winter Park. The sidewalks would take five feet out of each side of the two 17 foot-wide traffic lanes, narrowing the space for vehicular traffic of this only entrance and exit for Midway Meadows.
As the saying goes, “Forewarned is forearmed.” The plan is tentatively scheduled to be the subject of a Public Hearing before the Planning & Zoning Commission in September and tentatively scheduled for a Public Hearing before the Town Council at an October Council meeting.
The proposed budget is available to all citizens on the Town’s website. The Council’s work sessions, while not public input meetings, are open to citizens also. Ultimately there will be two (2) public hearings regarding the budget, but attendance at the two Council work sessions will certainly provide valuable insight to those who have a sincere interest of what is eventually approved in the budget.
City Manager, Wes Pierson has written an 8-page Summary that highlights specific areas of the budget. Among those highlights are:
- Total assessed property value for fiscal year 2017, according to the Dallas Central Appraisal District, equates to an overall increase of approximately $264 million or 6.5% over the previous year.
- The proposed budget reduces the Town’s tax rate from $0.579150 in fiscal year 2016 to $0.564131. Of the total tax rate, $0.381215 is dedicated to operations and maintenance in the General Fund and $0.182916 is dedicated to general obligation debt services.
- General Fund operation expenditures total $35.3 million, reflecting a 6% increase from the estimated fiscal year 2016 budget. The available ending fund balance for the General Fund is projected to be $11,147,999 leaving 31.2% of operating reserves, which exceeds the Town policy of 25%.
- The budget proposes merit increases of between 0% – 5% for a total average increase of 3%.
- The town currently funds capital improvements on a year-to-year basis. While there are a list of known capital needs across multiple Funds and departments, it is not comprehensive and the majority of the projects are not funded. With an incomplete project list and no identified project funding for the majority of the projects, it is hard to say we have anything more than an ad-hoc capital improvement program. In fiscal year 2017, staff will begin to develop a true five-year capital improvement program so that we can address our infrastructure and facility needs in a systematic and intentional manner.
This by no means begins to address the numerous areas included in the proposed budget. But it does begin to provide a picture that should reinforce one’s need to become more engaged in decisions before, rather than later. While the first budget review work session has already been held (check the Mayor’s Newsletter for insights from this meeting), there is still time to attend the second work session scheduled for Monday evening, beginning at 4 p.m. at the Addison Tree House.
On the Record
Given that there is NO documentation to explain why or how the Midway Road project was projected by past administrations to be $22 million short of the recent estimate of $38 million, the staff has recommended that Council’s work session discussion of this shortfall—scheduled for Monday, August 15—be held in the council chambers so the entire discussion can be documented on video tape.
Here We Go Again
So you thought the issue of the Mayor’s newsletter was finalized? Think again. Council members Paul Walden and Jim Duffy have once again requested that the topic be placed on the Tuesday, August 9 Council agenda. Thus, it is currently on the draft agenda.
Several much more substantive issues are expected to be on the Council’s agenda for next Tuesday so you may want to consider attending.
Photo courtesy of Mark Strozier
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