August 19, 2019 Newsletter
First Public Hearing on the Tax Rate is Tuesday Evening
The proposed tax rate by the city manager is $0.624, a drop of over a penny from the current rate of $0.6348. That rate is a lot closer to the rollback rate ($0.629839) vs. the effective rate ($0.580544). [The effective rate is the rate that generates the same amount of money on the same properties as the year before. With greatly increased tax evaluations the effective rate is considerably lower than current rate, some 5-6 cents. The rollback rate is 8% higher than the effective rate.]
Arlington is a city where citizens are relegated to being spectators rather than players. The SPECTATOR helps citizens know what is happening on the field. Only the few on the in-house team are allowed to play ball in Arlington. The SPECTATOR helps citizens understand the game.
August 19, 2019 – Volume 12 Number 31
Monday, August 19: AISD starts classes.
Tuesday, August 20: City Council meetings, 101 W. Abram Street, times TBA. First Public Hearing on the tax rate.
Wednesday, August 21: P&Z meeting, Arlington City Hall, 101 W. Abram Street, 5:30pm.
Thursday, August 22: AISD Board Meeting, 1203 Pioneer Parkway, 7:00pm.
Tuesday, August 27: District 1 Town Hall, Lamar High School Auditorium, 1400 W. Lamar Boulevard, 6:00pm.
Wednesday, August 28: District 4 Town Hall, West Arlington Police Service Center, 2060 W. Green Oaks Boulevard, 6:00pm.
Thursday, August 29: Budget Town Hall #1, South Police Center, 1030 S.W. Green Oaks Boulevard, 6:30pm.
Monday, September 2: Labor Day.
Thursday, September 5: Budget Town Hall #2, City Hall, 101 W. Abram Street, 6:30pm. Second Public Hearing on the tax rate.
Tuesday, September 10: City Council meetings, 101 W. Abram Street, times TBA. Only Public Hearing on the budget.
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From THE LOCKER ROOM
Arlington City Council Update
The Arlington City Council met this past Tuesday, August 13, for a work session on the budget. Council member Moise was absent. They will meet again this Monday and Tuesday, August 19 and 20 for regularly scheduled meetings and more budget talks. They had so much to discuss they decided to add Monday to their schedule. The evening meeting will contain the first public hearing on the tax rate.
On Tuesday, August 13, the city council met at 1:00pm for more work on the budget. Structurally there was talk of rearranging their reserve funds [which will require more discussion—at Monday's committee meeting].
When the city manager mentioned that this is the fourth year they will be lowering the tax rate, the over-the-top mayor had to stop and make a big deal. The last two budgets have seen such gigantic increases in value from TAD, if the tax rate was not decreased it would be higher than the rollback rate, something sane finance directors, city managers, and city councils avoid at all costs.
Quite frankly, it appears that Marvin Sutton is the one and only council member who is really concerned about the taxpayers and what they must pay.
A lot of time was spent on firefighters' staffing. It seems that since going to civil service, there has been a lot more unscheduled leave usage.
Committee meetings are scheduled for both Monday and Tuesday, August 19 and 20. There are two meetings on Monday and one meeting is on Tuesday.
The first meeting on Monday is at 1:30pm with no time estimate. They will discuss the city reserves, possibly changing the format/process where most are combined into one.
The second meeting on Monday is at 3:30pm, again, with no time estimate. They will discuss naming of facilities. The city is getting ready to print signs for the new facilities (East Arlington and Southeast Arlington), but there was quite a bit of negative reaction when names were selected, the city manager wanted to make sure the names were going to “stick”, prior to the printing of the signs.
The lone meeting on Tuesday is at 8:30am. It is scheduled for an hour: 45 minutes on 2020 Neighborhood Matching Grants, and 15 minutes on block parties (neighborhood engagement).
Arlington Tomorrow Fund
The City Council, acting as the Arlington Tomorrow Fund Board will meet on the 3rd Floor of the Downtown Library, 100 S. Center Street, at 9:45am. They will meet in the Arlington Tomorrow Foundation Board Room.
The highlight of their agenda is approving their FY20 agenda.
The afternoon session begins in executive session at 11:00am. The open portion of the afternoon session will begin no sooner than 1:45pm.
There are eight items on the executive session agenda. The first two are consultations with the attorney, 2.2) being legal discussion of the Fair Housing Act [my guess is that the low-income apartments that were turned down by P&Z and are on the end of the evening agenda to consider having a public hearing have probably threatened a lawsuit based that subject].
The next five items deal with real property deliberations: 2.3) dedication of 13.597 acres [no address given] of the William D. Lacey Survey; 2.4) disposition of 2251 Randy Snow Road; 2.5) sale of 498 Debbie Lane; and a couple of drainage easements along Country Club Road.
The final item on the executive agenda is the always popular offer$ of incentive$ to bu$ine$$ pro$pect$.
The open portion of the afternoon session will commence no sooner than 1:45pm. The agenda includes four work session items and four informal staff reports.
The four work session items:
3.1) Emergency Management Accreditation Program [https://legistarweb-production.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/attachment/pdf/408768/EMAP_Council_Presentation.pdf];
3.2) Arlington Urban Design Center 10 Year Update [https://legistarweb-production.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/attachment/pdf/411487/Presentation_-_2019_AUDC_Update.pdf];
3.3) Design Criteria Manual Updates; and
3.4) Post-Production Gas Well Discussion (no presentation available)
The agenda for the 6:30pm evening meeting includes two executive session items (drainage easements), two sets of minutes, 22 consent agenda items, two public hearings, two separate ordinances, two budget resolutions, and consideration of public hearings for the three cases P&Z denied on August 7.
Consent agenda item 8.6 is $340K for equipment and software for active traffic management on Cooper Street.
Consent agenda item 8.16 is for $1.1 million for Randol Mill Park Pond improvements.
Consent agenda item 8.17 is the second reading for the 5-story independent senior living facility at the northeast corner of Bowman Springs Road and I-20.
Consent agenda item 8.21 is to hire two outside law firms to represent two different police officers in a lawsuit brought by Selina Ramirez.
The first public hearing (11.1) was the zoning case for Twin Hills continued from the last meeting; they wish to build houses on land where a plugged drill site is located.
The second public hearing (11.2) is the first public hearing on the tax rate.
Items 14.1, 14.2, and 14.3 is to consider holding public hearings for the three zoning cases P&Z denied on August 7. We suspect the mayor is a driving force behind this. The lawyers have informed the city council during executive session about the Fair Housing Act and will probably tell them to ignore comments regarding “projects” or low-income projects affecting schools. (14.1 is at 6011 New York Avenue, 14.2 is on Harris, just east of Cooper, and 14.3 is at 3104 West Division)
P&Z will meet again this Wednesday, August 21. The meeting should be considerably shorter than the four-hour, 45-minute marathon on August 7. There are two replat public hearings (Pecandale Drive & Bowen Road, and 4040 N. Collins Street at Viridian).
The public hearing for 1001 W. Mayfield Road, changing light industrial to a PD-RM-12 will be continued and heard on September 4.
The zoning case was tabled from August 7 for more apartments on the northwest corner of Bardin Road and Matlock Road.
P&Z will also hear a public hearing for a specific use permit for a drive-thru at 1910 E. Sublett Road.
The board met for their special meeting on Tuesday, August 13, to place the $966M (that’s MILLION) bond package on the November ballot. It passed, 7-0.
Several years ago (I think two, but maybe four) the Texas legislators approved attending meetings by telecommunications, as long as a quorum was in actual attendance. Board member Hogg was a few blocks away but voted and attended the meeting through audiovisual equipment. [So much for the $10Ks for expensive electronic voting equipment, they voted by showing hands.] It was interesting.
Their next meeting/work session will be Thursday, August 22.
TEA Releases Grades
The Texas Educators Agency has released the grades for school districts, including individual schools. The AISD received a “B”, an improvement over the “C” from last year. The Arlington Voice story: [https://arlingtonvoice.com/arlington/education/2019/08/15/aisd-sees-improvement-new-accountability-scores].
Fielder Road I-30 Bridge
A portion of the Fielder Road Bridge over I-30 will be closed for repair at least through August.
Levitt Pavilion Construction
VIA by the Numbers
On December 11, the VIA pilot program began its second year. The City Council approved the second year of the pilot program [for $2.1 million] on December 4.
VIA's August 2019 Service Update to the city council shows that over 1/3 (37%) of the survey participants thought their experience was POOR or NEEDS IMPROVEMENT!!!
When the pilot began, the staff report stated it expected to reach I-20 within four to six months of the pilot’s initiation. That did not happen until September 20, more than nine months after the pilot began. The project has been a disaster and a major waste of taxpayers' dollars.
Even with its newly expanded area, it only covers about 30% of the city, meaning most of the taxpayers have to pay for VIA, but receive no benefit from it. All those taxpayers are subsidizing something that competes against the private sector Lyft and Uber services.
The Spectator . ...ArlSpectator@yahoo.com
The Arlington Voice (online newspaper covering Arlington) www.arlingtonvoice.com
City of Arlington website www.arlingtontx.gov
e-mails of mayor and council
mayor = jeff.williams
district 1 (north) = helen.moise
district 2 (sw) = sheri.capehart
district 3 (se) = marvin.sutton
district 4 (west) = andrew.piel
district 5 (central/east) = ignacio.nunez
district 6 (all) = robert.shepard
district 7 (all) = victoria.farrar-myers
district 8 (all) = barbara.odom-wesley
city council grades:
AISD website ....................... www.aisd.net
e-mails of the AISD board .....
whole board ..................... - firstname.lastname@example.org
Hogg ......................- email@example.com
Reich......................... - firstname.lastname@example.org
Walton ............. - email@example.com
Wilbanks .......... - firstname.lastname@example.org
Mays ............ - email@example.com
Chapa........... - firstname.lastname@example.org
NW Arlington Newsletter:
SE Arlington Blog
Texas Legislative Online
The Texas Bond Review Board ....