Engage D2: Downtown TIF; Renewable Denton Plan; Gas Wells; STOKE; Auditor Search

City Council Work Session – Tuesday, October 23, 2017 1:00PM

Below are thoughts on a few items of note from the agenda for the upcoming City Council work session.  The full agenda is linked HERE.

  1. ID 17-860 Receive a report, hold a discussion, and give staff direction regarding Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone Number One (Downtown TIF), City of Denton, Texas.

    This will be a report and discussion only. As it sits right now the Downtown TIF has my support for either scenario A or B. I would like to hear your feedback. The reinvestment grants that can be funded through this TIF make a big impact in this targeted area.

    B. ID 17-1278 Receive a report, hold a discussion, and give staff direction regarding the initial report from Enterprise Risk Consulting regarding the Resource Planning and Power Supply Strategy for Denton Municipal Electric.

This report will reflect the strategy for making the most of the Renewable Denton Plan.  I am glad to see a plan and look forward to a detailed discussion.  I am disappointed though that what we were told over a year ago regarding the Renewable Denton Plan and the Denton Energy Center is not holding up under scrutiny, which was my concern all along. Reliable energy and fair rates will be the goal, it looks like we may actually have a path toward these and 100% renewable energy a lot sooner than we thought was possible just a short while ago.

C. ID 17-1407 Receive a report, hold a discussion, and give staff direction regarding an overview and options for gas well inspections performed under the City’s regulatory authority.

There are over 200 gas wells in the City of Denton.  It is imperative that we conduct inspections of these wells within our city to ensure that our ordinances and minimal setbacks are being honored.  Right now we have one gas well inspector on staff.  There are simply too many gas wells for one person to inspect.  One possible remedy is to hire an outside firm to do our gas well inspections on our behalf.  While this outsourcing would quickly increase the volume and frequency of gas well inspections I have some serious reservations.  I need to know that the people we hire for these inspections will indeed truly work for the city and not the oil and gas industry.  I am concerned that any firm that we would hire may be closer to gas well operators than to they are to the City of Denton and that our inspections would become a rubber-stamping exercise.  I want to see options for staffing up our own gas well inspection team… these wells aren’t going away any time soon.  We are scheduled to vote to approve a contract for gas well inspection services in a special session of the City Council after this work session.  I would prefer that we hold off on voting until we have fully looked into alternatives to the contract.  For the reasons stated above I am not in support of outsourcing gas well inspection at this time.

For context as to why inspecting gas wells is so important in Denton, take a look at the count of wells found within a one mile radius of our public schools:

  • Guyer HS: 12 wells
  • McNair Elementary: 21 wells
  • McMath: 8 wells
  • Rivera: 2 wells
  • Borman: 15 wells
  • Nelson: 11 wells
  • Sam Houston: 4 wells
  • Ryan Elementary: 13 wells
  • Newton Rayzor: 3 wells
  1. ID 17-1454 Receive a report, hold a discussion, and give staff direction regarding options for management of the Stoke Denton Entrepreneur Center.

    STOKE has been a bit of a hot button issue.  When council decided not to renew the contract with the previous management firm for STOKE, there was wide speculation and criticism that council was working to kill-off this entrepreneurial incubator and co-working space located in the Rail Yard Development.   I cannot speak for the rest of city council, but I can speak for myself and have remained consistent all along that killing-off STOKE was not my intention.  I am glad to see that an established and successful tech entrepreneur from our community has stepped up with a proposal to manage STOKE.  I am in favor of this arrangement and feel that it represents the best opportunity for the success of STOKE and the many emerging entrepreneurs that call STOKE home.  We will be going into a special session of the City Council after the work session to vote on this contract.

    F. ID 17-1471 Receive a report, hold a discussion, and give staff direction on the City Auditor recruitment process.

    Our city auditor – less than a year on the job – gave notice of his immediate retirement and resignation last Monday.  This was a shock.  In his short time in office the auditor has proved to be a valuable position reporting directly to council.  This position is not a luxury, it is a must have.  While we do not know the reasons that our previous auditor stepped down (and I am working to find out), we will immediately begin the search for his replacement.  This is very important to me.

    PUBLIC HEARINGS
    We will have three public hearings, two of which relate to development guidelines in the city.  I look forward to hearing public input on these items as we consider adoption of ordinances for each.

    B. ID 17-1435 Hold a public hearing and consider adoption of an ordinance of the City of Denton, Texas, regarding amending the City’s Transportation Design Criteria Manual by adding new subsection 1.3 (“Guidelines for Perimeter Street Improvements”); providing a severability clause and an effective date.

    C. ID 17-1436 Hold a public hearing and consider adoption of an ordinance of the City of Denton, Texas, regarding amending the City’s Water and Wastewater Design Criteria Manual to update it; providing a severability clause and an effective date.

    That is all for this week.   Please reach out if you have questions, comments, concerns, or ideas for this place we call our town.

    Be good to one another.

    Keely G. Briggs
    Denton City Council Member – District 2
    Keely.Briggs@cityofdenton.com
    940-453-8377

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