Keeping an Eye on the Budget

in Addison Texas Council by

On Monday the City Manager presented his proposed budget to the Council (a full download is available on the Town’s website).  Looking through the 59-page document, FM has highlighted a few proposed budget items you may want to give attention to:

Tax Rate

To begin with, City Manager Wes Pierson proposes reducing the Town’s tax rate from $0.560472 in fiscal year 2017 to $0.55000; a reduction of more than one penny.  Pierson states that the proposed tax rate allows the Town to continue to provide quality services to our customers and further states that at a property tax rate of $0.55000, the municipal tax paid on the average single-family home will be approximately $1,650 annualized, an increase of $40.77 over the previous year.

Attracting and Retaining Talent

In order to achieve the Council’s goal of compensating Addison’s employees better than the average of our comparator cities, this budget recommends $800,000 to fund a 4% merit increase and an additional $233,000 for the implementation of a certification pay program.

Property Values

Total assessed property values for fiscal year 2018 equal $4.5 billion, which equates to an overall increase of approximately $150 million or 3.5% over the previous year.  The average taxable value for a single-family home in Addison is $299,911, an increase of approximately $12,878 or 4.5% from the previous year.

General Fund

General Fund revenues total approximately $36.5 million for fiscal year 2018, an increase of 2% over last year.  We project property tax revenues of $15.7 million, an increase of approximately 6% over the previous year and sales tax revenues of approximately $13.4 million, a conservative estimate that holds sales tax revenues at the same level as last year.

This budget proposed to fund the following in the General Fund:

Fire, Management Assistant – 1.0 FTE:  This is the only new FTE [fulltime employees] proposed for fiscal year 2018.

Utility Fund

Notable items in the Utility Fund this year include:  Pending “pass through” cost increases in water and sewer rates of approximately 5% or $2.17 per month for an average residential user of 5,000 gallons of water.

Stormwater Fund

Fees for the Stormwater Fund will increase this year by 5% in each of the rate classes per the Council-approved rate schedule instituted at the time of passage of the enabling ordinance.

Addison Grove Escrow Fund

I am recommending that we change our original funding schedule for the escrow fund and not make the scheduled $750,000 contribution from the General Fund.  The reason for this change is the delay in the Addison Grove project.  It is expected that the first incentive payment for the Addison Grove project will be paid in fiscal year 2019.

Lively Coffee With The Mayor

Wednesday’s Coffee with the Mayor began with a presentation by Dallas Central Appraisal District (DCAD) Chair, Mike Hurtt.  Of particular note:  This year, between April 15 and July 15, 120,000 tax protests were heard; 50.5% being residential.

The most lively interactions came during a presentation from City Manager Wes Pierson following his reporting that suburban mayors and city managers had met to discuss their thoughts re DART and that all suburbs are united to finding regional solutions to support both the Cotton Belt and the D2.  Pierson noted that the first time the entire new DART Board is scheduled to meet on August 8.  That happens to be the night of an Addison City Council meeting.

Previously it had been stated that when the Council felt it necessary they would move a council meeting if it conflicted with an important DART meeting.  Thus it was questioned whether the Town’s August 8 Council meeting would be rescheduled.  The answer was “NO.”  Pierson advised that he had assigned a staff person to attend.  That response only triggered more concerns from residents.

Homeowner Billy Dries didn’t appear to be totally pleased with that response and said, “No one is more knowledgeable with the DART Board than Todd Meier and I’m abundantly befuddled why we’re not making him more a part of the discussion.”

Pierson’s response to this was that in lieu of having someone represent Addison, the Council wanted to speak for itself at these meetings.  As for not moving the meeting on the 8th of August he said that just to go, in lieu of doing our business that has to be done here in Addison, was not viable.

It has been pointed out on other occasions that committee meetings, like the one’s scheduled on August 8 before the full DART Board meeting, is actually where decisions are made.  Thus, some residents feel it is actually very important for Addison to be represented at those meetings—for optics if nothing else.  But apparently the Council doesn’t see it that way.  Thus, the discussion didn’t end there.

Another homeowner, June Cooper, said that she had sent a letter to the Mayor and all of the Council members suggesting similar representation to what Billy Dries had mentioned.  She said only the Mayor and three (3) Council members responded to her.  “I think you’ve missed a golden opportunity,” she said.

“My point was, we don’t work together –wouldn’t it be wonderful if this group of City Manager’s invited these people (former mayors and city council members)?  Nobody seems to get that!  You’ve missed the boat.”

There was really no response to Cooper’s plea and the conversation was quickly diverted to another topic when someone asked for an update on the Addison Grove project.  Pierson explained that the developer has now presented their seventh set of plans, making changes to meet Town requirements and meet guidelines established by the Town.  Once presented plans are approved by the Town the project will move forward. The developer has, however, identified an apartment developer and it is anticipated that approval for that developer will come to the Council sometime in late August or September.

Pierson was also asked about the AMLI project and advised that it was anticipated they would be breaking ground by the end of the summer.

Police Chief Paul Spencer provided a brief update next.  He pointed to the body camera he was wearing and advised that the police force has now transitioned to the new body cameras which are integrated with the in-car cameras and that is working well.

Chief Spencer commented on the recent postings of potential criminal activity on the Nextdoor website.   Making these postings on this site, which is not monitored by the police department, does little to resolve a situation he advised.  He urged anyone with suspicious activity to call 911 and report it so that actual response can be made.

Spencer also announced that on September 6 at 6:30 p.m. the department will be presenting a Crime Watch program at the TreeHouse and urges everyone to plan to attend.  A similar program was conducted last year, which was extremely interesting and valuable so this is definitely one you will want to put on your calendar.

Speaking of interesting programs…..

On a personal note, we, along with a dozen or so others, attended Tuesday nights Addison Dementia Support Group meeting at the Addison Athletic Club.  We have a friend who has been diagnosed and wanted to become better informed so that we will be able to respond to situations in a responsible manner.  One woman said she has attended each and every program and that it has been a real lifesaver for her knowing how to now deal with various situations.  We found the program extremely helpful and highly recommend it to anyone who may be impacted by Dementia with a family member or friend.  It certainly dispelled some wrong information and brought clarity to a very timely and growing issue.  Nelly Garcia conducts the free program and is highly credentialed in the subject.  She has a BA in psychology from SMU and a Masters in neuroscience in cognition from UTD, as well as being a Certified Dementia Coach.

Not to recap the entire program, but you may find it interesting, as we all did, that according to Garcia, Dementia is not the disease, but the various symptoms, which impact diseases such as Alzheimer’s Diseases.  She also advised that the term “Dementia” is being changed to Major Neurocognitive Disorder.  Her program meets the first Tuesday of the month at 6 p.m. at the Addison Athletic Club.

Upcoming Activity

Tuesday, August 8

City Council Meeting

Council sets “not to exceed” tax rate

7:30 p.m.

DART Planning Committee

3 p.m.

DART Budget & Finance Committee

4:30 p.m.

DART Board Meeting

6:30 p.m.

Thursday, August 10

Council Budget Retreat

4-8 p.m.

Friday, August 11

Council Budget Retreat

4 p.m.

Publication of notice of proposed tax rate