Wednesday, February 24, 2016

TCAP (Texas Coalition for Affordable Power)

Tonight at the Council meeting there was an interesting development that may save the City tens of millions of dollars.  Arlington is the largest of 171 members of TCAP (Texas Coalition for Affordable Power).  Although we are the largest player we get no discount for the volume of electricity that we use.  I believe that the citizens of Arlington should get the lowest price per kilowatt hour.  That is my goal.  Electricity prices are linked to the price of natural gas.  Therefore, if natural gas is at a low then so is electricity.  Energy prices are as low as ever, and the way to get the lowest possible price is not to use a sole provider, but to enter a competition with several providers.  That is why I voted to table the continuation of talks with TCAP. 

Currently we are paying 7.4 cents per kwhr.  With the add-on charge it is 7.5 cents.  We are caught in a 5 yr. contract with an energy provider where we are paying twice the amount of today’s going rate.  With todays cost of energy we should be paying approximately 3.6 cents per kwhr for the same 5 yr. deal.  My proposal at this evening’s meeting will put the providers into a bidding war for our contract, and instead of coining a 5 yr. deal we should extend the contract to 9 yrs.

Our current 5 yr. contract cost is about $12 mil a year.  At a cost of 4.1 cents the cost is $6 mil per year.  TCAP states that they can coin a contract for the 4.1 cents or lower, 4.2 with the add-on charge.  I believe that the competition will give us a cost of 3.7 cents on that 9 yr. deal.   This will save the city approx.. $7 mil. per/yr. and $63 million over a 9 yr. period.  Every contract that the city has is bid through the RFP process. (Ready For Proposal)  This process is awarded to the lowest bidder.  There will be a bidding war for our contract, and the Arlington Tax Payer will be the ultimate winner.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Arlington Commons Groundbreaking

Yesterday at 4:00 people gathered to celebrate the groundbreaking of the Arlington Commons.  Now the removal of apartments and the improvement of the neighborhood was one of my campaign resolutions.  I promised that I would do something about the apartment problem in and around the Collins/Lamar Overlay.  This is my answer. 

I have worked closely with Bob Kembel, the Viridian developer, to insure that this project is a success, and that a quality product would be assured.  At one point the project was in severe jeopardy, and during and Executive Session of Council, the former Mayor and I had some words that were not pleasant.  The result of that exchange resulted in a groundbreaking ceremony yesterday.  Another controversy of this project dealt with the narrowing of Lamar by one lane going west.  The picture below  is one of the original pictures that was shown to the citizens at the at the Apartment Town Hall Meeting at the Convention Center.  You can plainly see that the traffic going west on Lamar is depicted as one lane.  There is a linear park and also parking in front of the complex.  This lane reduction was also depicted in the original 380 agreement that was approved by Council unanimously.  At some point in the process the Thoroughfare Plan had to be amended to coincide with the 380 agreement.  That amendment occurred about two months ago. 

We have said all along that this investment in our community would spur other investment.  The mini center across the street from the complex has been purchased and redeveloped already.  The renovation is estimated at around $1 million, and new businesses are already opening their doors.  AISD will spend $7 million in redeveloping Roquemore Elementary School, into the Jimmy and Laura Jones Fine Arts Academy.  Parkway Central’s park will get a facelift, and a linear park will run down the middle of Lamar.  It is hard to believe that the metamorphosis is here.  But when you think back to the slums that were there just a year ago and what is about to happen, you have to be excited for North Arlington.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Jimmy Bennett

Yesterday afternoon Jimmy came into my office and let me know that he had pulled his name from the May 7th ballot, and that he would not be seeking a fifth term in office.  Jimmy has served his city for the last eight years and done so with class and humility.  I consider Jimmy one of my closest friends on Council.  Someone who's door is always open, and no matter how elementary the question, he always treated you with respect and sincerity.

A position on Council is not the most rewarding of jobs.  It seems that no matter what position that you take, on any given subject, you are always 49% wrong.  The people that you represent on that side of the fence will let you know in no uncertain terms what they think of your position and the horse you rode in on.  Financially, there is no reward, so you do this for the sake of your community, with a servant's heart.  Jimmy epitomizes this virtue, in that all of his campaigns were run unpretentiously and a genuine respect for his opponent.   Jimmy's financial expertise has been something that Council has come to depend on.  He has served on our Economic Development Committee, Financial Committee and also as the Treasurer for the Arlington Tomorrow Foundation.

Yesterday I spent the afternoon and part of the evening with Jimmy and we talked about his decision.  He feels that it is time for him to step down from his obligation and pass the baton to someone that has fresh ideas and a passion for community service that would compliment Council.  Personally it frees up time for a passion that he would like to pursue.  All in all Jimmy is in a good place with removing his name from the ballot.  His body of work has been beyond reproach.  He can be very proud of the legacy that he has left behind.  Adios buddy!  See you on the golf course and at the cigar shop.