Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Economic Development Corporation

     Why do we want one of these things?  This is what will fund projects like the Senior Center and the Multi-Generational Facility.  Essentially most of the 2014 Bond package went to improving roads in our city.  $166 million of the $234 million went to improving our roads.  That coupled with the 1/4 cent road repair tax that was approved on the same ballot puts over $47 million in Arlington roads each year.  Couple all that construction with the I-30/360 project for the next five years and you have yourself a mess.  But I digress.
     Since the Senior Center nor the Multi-Generational Facility made it on the bond package, and their is truly a need for both, it should be on the ballot for the voters to decide.  So there will be a Proposition on the November ballot to allow a 1/4 cent sales tax increase to fund these facilities.  The money will go into, you guessed it, an Economic Development Corporation, comprised of 3 civilians and because it is tax money it must have elected oversight.  So four members of the Council will also serve on the board.  The civilian members will be Kevin McGlaun, Juan Fernandez and Laura Capik, while the Council members will be, Jeff Williams, Michael Glaspie, Jimmy Bennett and Me.  As the monies come to the Corporation they will be directed to projects that are high priorities but didn't make it on the Bond election.  This path will get you a Senior Center and a Multi-Generational Facility before the next Bond election. 
     So it looks like the issue will be on the ballot in November and it will be up to the voters to decide the fate of the Senior Center.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Council Meeting 6-16

HOORAY!!  The afternoon meeting was extremely important yesterday.  After 7 months of dragging the Senior Center horse out of the barn, I finally got a commitment from Council to go ahead with the establishment of a stand alone Senior Center.  The center will be constructed with the Summit over in Grand Prairie, as an example.  But Arlington should communicate and find out the pitfalls and attributes of their success.    The construction and programming will be dedicated to active seniors of 50 years or older.  The importance of this decision by Council is that it will not be competing with a Multi- Generational facility, for funding or getting lost in the operation of a larger recreation center.  In this operation seniors come first!  I want to thank Alva Roy and her Age Friendly Arlington group that has supported this idea since their formulation in November of 2014.  There is strength in numbers and although our seniors are polite and respectful of the process their diligence and presence was noticed and appreciated by Council.  This is a big win for Arlington.  We currently have 54,000 seniors capable of using this facility in Arlington, and more baby boomers become eligible everyday.  It is about time that we filled this void in our city services.  My hat is off to my colleagues on Council and Parks and Recreation for their tolerance of my actions in pursuit of this project. 

Now comes the task of funding these projects.  It was discussed that since the Senior Center and the Multi-Generational facility are now on the Master Parks Plan, and we will not have another bond election for about five more years, this can be funded by an election to increase sales tax by 1/8th or 1/4 cent.  The tax would amount to 6.9 million or 13.8 million per year respectively.  The money would go into an Economic Development Corporation with a board comprised of citizens to make the proper expenditure decisions.  With a 1/4 cent increase, the Senior Center could be paid off in two years.  The funding avenue decision could be made as soon as next week during the budget meeting.  When the time comes we will call for the item to be put on the November 2015 ballot election.  Then the people can make the final decision.  

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Council Meeting 2 June

Tonight was an very interesting meeting.  Let’s start with the good stuff.  The Chick-fil-a is going to expand.  They are going to tear down the store on Collins and buy the building to the east of their property and demolish it.  This will allow for an expansion  and increased parking.  Carmenza Moreno will continue to use her parking lot to benefit charitable organizations by using it for event parking on Sundays when Chick –fil-a is closed.  She is investing heavily in north Arlington and it is much appreciated.  We need more business owners like her.

Next was a senior living facility by Grey Star.  This will be a much needed 176 unit complex across the street from the Highlands shopping center.  This is an untapped market and these types of facilities need to be replicated throughout our city.

The third item was a bail bonds issue that was very difficult for me to decide.  The Unified Development Code, UDC, was adopted in June of 2014.  In January 2015 an individual put in for a bail bonds business in an area next to the jail.  The current zoning under the new UDC does not allow this use.  But the certificate of occupancy was issued by the city.  In March the city revoked the CO, bringing attention to the zoning error.  The applicant had spent tens of thousands of dollars and now had to shut down his business.  So he appealed to the Planning and Zoning Commission, P & Z.  The vote to deny was split 4-3.  So he appealed to the Council to hear his case.  The lawyer for the applicant pointed out that the attorney opposing the case was in fact a part owner in a bail bonds business.  I can’t tell you how polluted it made the case for me.  I had decided that I was going to rule in favor of the applicant, but when I heard this it made my decision very easy.  The vote was 8-1 in favor of the applicant.

Lastly, was Kelly Canon and Richard Weber.  Mr. Weber stated that the minutes of previous meetings were illegal because Citizens Comments were not televised nor were the comments published in the minutes.  Kelly Canon stated that she was taking this issue to the State Attorney General because we were conducting illegal meetings in violation of the Open Meetings Act.  Ms. Canon gave us a sheet that stated that a “deliberation” is being conducted and needs to be recorded either by video or in the minutes.  That’s all well and good except that there is no deliberation!  The Council cannot not speak because the subject that the citizen brings before us is not on the agenda, ergo no dialogue and no deliberation.   The purpose of Citizens Comment is to allow access to the entire City Council at one time in an effort to hear any subject that is on the citizen’s mind.  If there is something that can be fixed, we send a staff member to the address to solve the issue.  The problem, according to several Council Members is that certain people were using the city videos to post on You Tube to further their issue, without Council D-E-L-I-B-E-R-A-T-I-O-N.  The definition of deliberation is – a verbal exchange during a meeting between a quorum (a lot of Council Members) of a governmental body and a person.  Well we had the person, and the quorum, but no exchange.  The right to address the Council is covered under the 1st Amendment and I love to hear from the citizens in case we can do something for them.  There is no right to be on TV.  It is a shame that certain folks abused the privilege to further their personal agendas.  They can still post on You Tube but they have to make the recordings themselves.