Engage D2: September 13, 2015 (City Budget & Taxes,Sidewalks for Students, Sales Tax Revenues, The First Amendment, Lawsuits Dismissed, District 2 Community Conversation 9/20/15)

Tuesday, September 15: Council Work Session, and Regular Meeting

To view the agenda for the upcoming council meeting click here. On Tuesday night we will be voting to approve our upcoming budget. I continue to have some general concerns with the tax rate, the proposed rate increases for city services, and our increasing payroll.

Sidewalks on East McKinney for Ryan High Pedestrians

It has been over 20 years and a lot of back and forth between the city, TXDOT, and the DISD yet still there is no sidewalk along on East McKinney (FM 426) for Ryan High students. As many of you are aware we have had two students struck by vehicles in the past year. Getting this sidewalk built was one of my campaign issues and getting traction has been a challenge. I think things are starting to move and hope to have some interim and long term solutions to report soon. Right now it is about getting the right people to the table and communicating. The fix will not come soon enough and I only hope that until a fix is in place that students and drivers along this stretch of road exercise extreme caution.

This long-running issue and the most recent accident have strengthened my belief that the City of Denton should be focused on effectively providing a solid, first class infrastructure for it’s existing citizens before putting forth so much effort toward growth for growth’s sake. Click here to view a CBS 11 story on the most recent accident.

Sales Tax Revenues Continue to Climb

Assistant City Manager Bryan Langley reports that:

“Earlier this week, the Texas Comptroller’s Office notified us that our July 2015 sales tax collections (10th month of FY 2014-15) are $2,458,493, which is $363,081, or 17.33% more than what we received in July 2014.  Compared to budget, the July collections are $253,749, or 11.51%, more than what we were budgeting.  Year-to-date, sales tax collections are now $2,433,673, or 10.84% more than last year, and $1,941,375, or 8.46% more than budget. 

Obviously, we continue to see very positive sales tax results.  In the recent budget process, we estimated sales tax collections to end the current year at $30,025,114, which is 8.14% higher than last year.  Based on our year-to-date performance, collections are on pace to slightly exceed this estimate, but we continue to believe this is a reasonable figure given that we have two months remaining in the fiscal year.”

First Amendment Rights for City Council

You are likely going to see the potential repeal of City Ordinance 2-30 Improper Disclosure of Confidential Information placed on an upcoming agenda item very soon. I was confused by the discrepancy between what I was told during new council member orientation at the city and what I learned during my training as a first time elected official with the Texas Municipal League. As a champion of open and transparent government I will be whole-heartedly supporting the repeal of this ordinance. You can read more about the issue in this article from the Denton Record Chronicle.

City of Denton Issues Statement on Dismissal of Hydraulic Fracturing Ban Lawsuit

From the city press release dated September 10, 2015:

“The Texas Oil and Gas Association (TxOGA) and the Texas General Land Office (GLO) both filed separate lawsuits on Nov. 5, 2014, challenging the City of Denton’s citizen-led initiative ordinance banning hydraulic fracturing. These lawsuits were later amended to challenge the City’s gas well moratorium ordinance.  The City Council voted 6-1 to repeal the hydraulic fracturing ban ordinance on June 17, 2015 while the moratorium ordinance expired Aug. 18, 2015. As a result of the initiative ordinance’s repeal and the moratorium’s expiration, the parties to the lawsuits filed joint motions to dismiss because the matters before the Court were moot. The judge signed the dismissal order for the TxOGA case on Sept. 4, while the GLO motion remains pending. It is anticipated that a dismissal order in the GLO case will also be signed in the near future.  The City of Denton believes this is the appropriate course of action and is pleased that the TxOGA litigation has been dismissed.”

I do not consider this a win. The State of Texas and the oil and gas industry got everything they wanted and more. I stand by my vote to not repeal our city’s hydraulic fracturing ban.

Sunday, September 20: District 2 Community Conversation
North Branch Library 2:00-4:00 PM

This will be the first in a series of open forums for District 2 citizens.  These conversations will be held at the wonderful North Branch Library here in District 2.  I would like to encourage you and your family (bring the kids) to attend.  It is a great opportunity to express your ideas, communicate your concerns, and to discuss the direction of the city with me and your fellow citizens.  Citizen engagement is a cornerstone issue for me.  I will remind you as we get closer to this date and provide some items and themes for the conversation just to get the ball rolling. Click here to view the Facebook event.

 That is all for now. As always, please let me know if you have any questions, comments, concerns, or ideas.  I am here for you District 2.

Your humble representative,

Keely G. Briggs

Council Member – District 2
215 E. McKinney Street
Denton, TX 76201
Phone: (940) 453-8377
Email:  keely.briggs@cityofdenton.com
Email:  briggsfordenton@gmail.com
Web:  briggsfordenton.org