Council holds public hearing on budget with tax rate decrease

During its regular Aug. 20, 2019 meeting, the Forney City Council met and held Budget/Tax hearings, including input from STL regarding loss of funding; plats for Lakewood Trails; Hall of Honor committee, city library, dog park; limited annexation of 34 acres.(watch official video)

  • Public Comment - none.
  • Approved as one consent item:
    • a preliminary plat for Woodlands Crossing, located southeast of the intersection of the Union Pacific Railroad and F.M. 548.
    • a revised preliminary plat for the Lakewood Trails Addition, consisting of 203.851 acres of property located south of F.M. 741 and west of High Country Lane in the City of Forney extra-territorial jurisdiction.
    • a final plat for Lakewood Trails Phase 3, a residential subdivision located south of F.M. 741 and west of High Country Lane in the City of Forney extra-territorial jurisdiction.

  • Held Public Hearings -
    • the proposed budget for fiscal year 2019-2020 and take any action necessary. This budget will raise more total property taxes than last year's budget by $621,719 or 6.49%, and of that $579,885 is tax revenue to be raised from new property added to the tax roll this year.
          Ms. Woodham stated changes since last meeting: Major changes: TMRS rate update, added $62k expenses; transferred $200k to CIP, added $148k to Capital Purchases, added $20k to Special Events for advertising.   Mayor Penn asked about increase in TMRS; Ms. Woodham said they change the rates in Jan.
          Ms. Woodham said emergency districts agreed to provide full 3 cents.   Capital purchases - FD requesting two more items.   Operating reserve - will transfer $510k to increase it.
          HOT funds - expect $160k, at council's direction, only funding city events (all non-profit org. funding was shown as zero).   Expanded events with new Oct. Brews on Bois d'Arc, NYE ball drop; expanded Christmas in Park and Independence Day, removed BBQ cookoff.   Utility fund - NTMWD water rate increase 2.4%, sewer is 32%.   Previously presented a 16%, have used funds to reduce that to 10%.   Utility fund purchases: backhoe, dump truck, excavator for $220k all in water dept.   Cap improvements - same as last meeting, about $3.2 million.
          Ms. Marian Stewart from Sharing the Love (STL) spoke regarding the letter from city regarding removal of their HOT funds.   Turkeytrax is in 12th year, has been expanding, outgrew downtown and moved to park.   She requests them to look at letter provided with application.   They have expanded marketing to bring more people to Forney.   KYTL was involved.   This is their #1 fund raiser, without city support, they wouldn't be able to put event on.
          Hannah Mendoza spoke requesting support for STL which helped her immensely with support and guidance, gave her a scholarship to college.
          Allan Porterie is president of alumni group, STL gave him opportunity to be a leader in Forney, helped him get into Cornell, also helps fund summer camp for students
          Mike Rock, commander at VFW, spoke on behalf of STL which helps them a lot, got many new members from veterans day event.
          Mayor Penn asked Ms. Stewart what radio and billboards cost - 4500 + 1500.
          Ms. Miriam Monroe spoke, stating STL beneficiaries were many, she asked all the members present to stand.   The event brings in about 2,000 people that spend money in Forney.   Not being able to do the event would impact many people.
          Mr. Johnson said he should have been more vocal before, he is not happy with what going on w/ HOT funds - every city he's been affiliated with distributed money to Non-Profit Organizations, for promoting the city.   At no time did a city take the money for themselves, instead used budget money.   City has provided majority of HOT funds to Non-Profits.
          Mr. Thomas said they discussed this, groups most affected would be STL and FAC. They told Mr. Carson to pass along that even though not providing money, would be providing city services such as Police and Fire.   The city events will bring 100k people.   They will help with $1k or $1.5k sponsorships, they haven't just turned off the spigot.   Mayor Penn said that's why she asked what STL spent on advertising.   She said they will have to decide on sponsorships - Mr. Thomas asked Mr. Carson if he had spoken with the groups- Mr. Carson replied he had.   Mr. Thomas said they would likely not be able to meet the $10k request, but help with sponsorships.
          Mr. Myers asked Ms. Stewart how they raise funds - she listed some, said marketing was never part of their budget.   That will take away from their proceeds.   Mr. Myers asked if car show is part of event that city pays for, would that allow them to reach their goals.   Ms. Stewart said with help of HOT funds, they did.   Mr. Myers said they will bring in 25k people to the all-day event.   Stewart said their event is in a couple of months, what they were told last week really impacts them.  
          Mayor Penn asked if they should decide on sponsorship money now.   Mr. Thatcher said if they request City Manager to change budget, can do so now and be on second public hearing.   There was no such motion made.
    • 1st public hearing on a proposal to increase total tax revenues from properties on the tax roll in the preceding tax year by 3.5%
          Ms. Woodham presented info on tax rates - 55% increase in property values over last 5 years, 16% increase this year, allowing 4-cent decrease in tax rate.  
          There was no public input.
    • Approved an Ordinance for a Cabinet Shop (Manufacturing) to operate as a conditional use at 11578 Industrial Park, Suite B.
          Mr. Morgan said this is back row of Antique Row, building has two spaces, 'B' was a pool and billiards company, 'A' currently used for cabinet manufacturing, two different businesses.   P&Z approved this request.   Mr. Thomas asked why CUP required - Mr. Morgan said any manufacturing use requires it.
          There was no public input.
    • Approved an Ordinance for a Conditional Use Permit for a new building at 204 F.M. 1641 to exceed 36 feet in height.
          Mr. Morgan said 20k sq. ft. expansion, 2nd building behind existing.   Request is for 47 ft height.   Staff required no public response to notices.   P&Z approved the request.   Mr. Johnson asked if need to specify only building height, as P&Z did - Mr. Morgan said it's in the ordinance.
          There was no public input.
    • Approved an Ordinance for outdoor commercial amusement (pickleball court) to operate as a conditional use at 204 E. U.S. Highway 80.
          Mr. Morgan said property is 1 acre, will be fitness facility, outdoor courts require approval.   Temporary fencing will be provided.   Staff received no response to notices. Mr. Thomas asked about lighting; Mr. Morgan said temporary LED lights.
          There was no public input.
    • Approved an Ordinance amending the Zoning Ordinance to define and provide regulations for variety stores and grocery stores.
          Mr. Morgan said this was requested by Mr. Myers.   Generally known as Dollar Stores, provide no substantial economic or health benefit to the city.   Other cities restrict these type of stores.   Proposal is to require CUP in all not-residential areas.   Prohibited in Office: try to restrict retail in office district.   A variety store may not be within 5,00 ft of another, even if outside city limits, and 10% of floor area must have fresh produce or meat products.   Staff received no response to public notices.
          There was no public input.
    • Took no action a proposed Strategic Partnership Agreement between the City of Forney and Kaufman County Fresh Water Supply District No. 6 and the voluntary annexation for limited purposes of collecting sales tax on a tract of land consisting of 34.263 acres, situated in the Martha Musick Survey, Abstract No. 312, Kaufman County, Texas, KCAD Property ID No. 9714.
          Mr. Thatcher said this is adjacent to Vintage Meadows, near Mesq ETJ.   This was approved by district in 2015, does not bring property into city limits, just to allow collection of taxes if commercially developed.
          There was no public input.
          Mr. Thomas asked if this was last chance, due to changes in laws- Mr. Thatcher said not involuntary annexation, but is prudent to take action.   Mr. Thomas said development is coming, once TxDOT finishes access road work.

  • Vision 2025 -- Goals and Initiatives -- Discussion and direction in regard to economic development projects located in the Forney Extra Territorial Jurisdiction (ETJ).
        Mr. Ketteman said EDC was approached with a request from a small business in the ETJ, decided not to move forward.   He has spoken w/ Mr. Thomas.   State law allows EDCs to work in ETJ w/ council approval.   Mr. Thomas said size of project would dictate if city would put money into ETJ, something providing a lot of jobs.   Not appropriate for small projects while city has available land to develop.   With law changes to prevent the city from annexing without petition, could be something benificial.   Mr. Myers agrees should be a large project that provided day-time lunch business.   Mr. Ketteman said should agree on what size project he should bring to council; Mayor Penn said it can't be based on dollar amount.   Mr. Johnson agrees should decide case by case, he believes most county commissioners will understand. Mr. Thomas said should come to council before boards vote; Mr. Ketteman said could be done in executive sessions.
  • requesting board and committee input on various city matters including a city library and dog park; take possible action on the creation of a citizens committee, “Hall of Honor,” providing for member appointment procedures and charge of the committee.
        Mr. Thatcher said discussion about Hall of Honor lead to this option for council to take action.   Mayor Penn said she initiated this, they have discussed the city library to give the board direction.   They also want input for dog park.
        Mr. Myers asked if there would be one board for both the Hall of Honor and dog park.   Mayor Penn said some existing boards should be working on these items.
        There was a discussion about dog park, Mr. Thatcher said council may just need to provide recommendation to the Parks Board.   Mr. Curry explained the excellent work the group FIDO is doing towards a dog park.   Staff has identified Eastside Park as the best location.   Mayor Penn asked if FIDO was concentrating on a dog park; Mr. Curry said they were planning to build one until found out how expensive land is; they are working on grants and sponsorships.
        Mr. Thomas said council needs to decide what want to do with Booker T. (Washington building) then let the library board decide.   Mayor Penn said she thought they were talking about creating a new library; Mr. Myers said would be no reason to keep one at the FISD.   Mayor Penn said at the time, having it at FISD was beneficial.
        Mr. Thatcher said staff would produce an item for next meeting to allow creating the committee and allow appointing members.
  • appointments to various boards and commissions including the TIF Board.
        Ms. Brooks said a member resigned, need to hold a meeting soon, have several applicants.   Peter Hervey was appointed.
  • City Manager's report - TX A&M rain barrel class thurs 6-8; Micah will be new PD Chief on Oct. 7; Acting Chief Eudy said speed monitor has been used to collect data; at Enos, 740 ; only 1% were over 10 mph over; will continue to use the monitor; Mr. Johnson said people fly past him on 740.   Mr. Thomas asked if measures speed in both direction - yes - monitors both lanes, Mr. Thomas said on 740, 1,032? vehicles were excessively above speed limit.   Mr. Thomas suggested changing several speed limits, he doesn't want to use it for enforcement.   Mayor Penn asked if could use in residential areas - yes, if find a good location.   Mr. Myers was curious about the difference between to and from numbers.   Mr. Myers said wide roads in developments encourage faster driving.
  • Council Comments - Mr. Myers thanked those who expressed comments about HOT funds.
  • Held a 1-hour 35-minute executive session re:

    • PUC Docket No. 46662; SOAH Docket No. 473-17-4964.WS Petition of the Cities of Garland, Mesquite, Plano and Richardson Appealing the Decision by North Texas Municipal Water District Affecting Wholesale Water Rates.
    • PUC Docket No. 47814; SOAH Docket No. 476-18-1344.WS Petition High Point Water Supply Corporation, Talty Special Utility District, and Markout Water Supply Corporation Appealing the Decision by the City of Forney Affecting Wholesale Water Rates.
    • Deliberate the appointment, employment, evaluation, reassignment, duties, discipline, or dismissal of a public officer or employee: City Manager, City Attorney, City Secretary, Police Chief.

  • Took No Action
  • Adjourned at 2148
Tuesday, 2019, August 20