Analysis of COVID-19 Stimulus Bill

I received a legislative update and analysis from the Dallas Regional Mobility Coalition (a board that I serve on) on the stimulus package passed by the federal government. A section by section breakdown is linked here: SECTION BY SECTION ANALYSIS COVID-19 STIMULUS BILL


“Today Congress approved and the President signed the $2 Trillion Stimulus Package.  The federal government has passed a $2 trillion stimulus package — the largest in American history —  aiming to implement the bill’s provisions within weeks. The deal includes $250 billion for direct payments to individuals and families, $350 billion in small business loans, $250 billion in unemployment insurance benefits, and $500 billion in loans for distressed companies.

The plan would more than double the $800 billion appropriated in 2009 to prevent the so-called Great Recession from spiraling into depression. Under the deal, the federal government would begin cutting checks to American taxpayers at a rate of $1,200 per adult and $500 per child, with payments phasing out at individual incomes above $75,000. The package also includes a $150 billion coronavirus relief fund for state and local governments, offers up $55 billion to boost hospitals, and includes additional tens of billions of dollars in emergency funding for schools and transit.

Unemployment insurance would be extended from six months to more than nine months. For those who lose their jobs due to the coronavirus, they would receive an additional $600 per week on their unemployment check. Currently the maximum benefit in Texas is $521 per week.

Businesses with fewer than 500 employees would be eligible for $300 billion in business interruption loans from the Small Business Administration. The loans are capped at $10 million per business and would be forgiven if the business meets certain conditions, such as not laying off their workers. The loans can be used to pay staff and make mortgage and utility payments. The package also includes $10 billion for small business emergency grants of up to $10,000 to cover operating costs. And it includes $17 billion for the SBA to cover six months of payments for small businesses with existing loans.

For large businesses, the stimulus package provides $500 billion in secured loans to affected business. Airlines would receive at least $25 billion of that, and $17 billion would be set aside for companies deemed critical to national security. The remaining $454 billion would be available to other affected industries.”

Stay safe, healthy, and take care of each other.

Keely Briggs

Denton City Council Member – District 2

Kickoff Speech from January 26, 2020

For the record provided below is a transcript of the kickoff speech I gave on January 26, 2020.  

Good afternoon. From the bottom of my heart let me say thank you very much for being here today to help me kickoff this campaign to be your next Mayor of Denton, Texas.

I would like to say a special thank you to the fine folks here at Dan’s Silverleaf for opening their doors for today’s kickoff party. Dan and Pam have been friends of mine for many years. And for so long Dan’s has been a vital part of our notable arts and music community. This has always been a friendly place to hear great music and support the arts.   I thank them for their support and hospitality today.

I would also like to thank the Raised Right Men for entertaining us!

And of course, I would like to thank those volunteers that have pitched in and are helping.

 To get elected I have to have help. To see you all here today and to have people already stepping up to donate their time, their talents, and their treasure tells me that we can do this!

I was going to be quick, say hello, and thank everybody but I realized that during the campaign I might only get one or two minutes to answer questions in upcoming forums. So, for those of you who may not know me very well, I am going to take a few minutes here to highlight what is important.

As a city council member I strive to be a hands-on leader who is approachable, and responsive to the needs of our community. Government is not perfect. Government is not always right. But government is better when residents and stakeholders are engaged. I count on you.

That is why, from day one as a council member, I have put so much emphasis into improving Citizen Engagement. D2 meetings, newsletters, social media, my website, answering emails and calls, and meeting people and stakeholders where they are… these are fundamental to how I work and I will continue to do this as Mayor.

I want to talk about Public Safety and Health. Of course we need to keep our Fire, EMS, and Police supported.   They need people, they need competitive compensation, and they need the tools and continued specialized training to handle domestic violence, people with mental health issues, and trafficking. As Denton continues to grow, the demands on our first responders will increase in frequency and complexity. I have a track record of support and leadership when it comes to putting these departments in a position to meet our growing needs, and that is not going to change.   But there is more to public safety than our Fire and Police departments. Public Safety and Health should be factors in every decision we make at City Council. And I don’t think enough leaders understand that. There is no greater influence on public safety and health than our built environment. And we control the built environment through zoning, through policy, through code, and through the development of infrastructure. You need people on city council who get that. You need a Mayor who gets that. If this city does not put a priority on the health and safety of our citizens in all policy decisions then we are not doing our job right and we are not building a city of quality that truly values its people.

Fiscal Responsibility.   I voted against the first budget that was ever put in front of me on city council, because the development of that budget was not transparent and lacked accountability. I worked alongside the Mayor and two other very special ladies on council the following year to get council to work with our city management to completely revamp the way we budget. We now start at zero and we use the Effective Tax Rate as our guide. I am frugal and I am thrifty when it comes to spending tax payer dollars – but I don’t compromise our level of service and vital programming. I want accountability, and for expenditures and investments be tied to key objectives with measurable results.   I also understand that giving away un-targeted, non-strategic, and reactive incentives is bad policy and nothing but a race to the bottom that ultimately strains our tax payers. Our Economic Prosperity and ability to create and attract quality jobs will be driven by continuing to work to improve the quality of life we can offer our citizens. We need to be focused on retaining and attracting people. We do that with great neighborhoods, available and affordable housing, amplifying our unique culture, and with infrastructure that better connects our neighborhoods and amenities. And we have to be better partners in the success of local small businesses across Denton – because those are the true drivers of our economy.

I believe that mankind can and should be better Stewards of the Environment.   Cities have a duty and the great capacity to drive improvement of our environmental conditions. While the action of no single city can change the world, several cities stepping up and leading the way in sustainability can. I believe that Denton has been one of those leading cities. We need to build on that strength and environmental leadership. And I believe that that leadership will continue to set us apart and make us an attractive destination for people and businesses.  Caring for our natural resources is very important to me.

I have mentioned Infrastructure quite a bit. That is because infrastructure influences everything. When I first joined council our roads were bad, neglected, and largely left unmaintained for decades. We were sitting on bonds that were supposed to be funding road repair, construction, and other significant projects. Early on in my tenure we reset a tone of urgency. Now, I know the whole town feels like it is under construction… that feeling is pretty accurate. But there is a lot of work to do. And we can’t put it off any further. We have to get the job done or we will fall further and further behind. We are the Denton that is going to fix Denton. We are doing it to build a better future. And infrastructure isn’t just roads. It’s water, utilities, drainage, it’s parks, it’s trails, it’s green space, it’s sidewalks, it’s proper bike lanes. It is everything that defines our built environment. We are under construction. We will be for while. We have to catch up and we have to start getting ahead.

This is an overwhelmingly good community. We have so many caring and decent people that we are fortunate to call our neighbors and friends.   And we benefit from the positive work of our numerous non-profits and charitable organizations. They make us better. They make Denton a place that cares about people. And we have to make sure that the efforts of our City, our non-profits, and charitable organizations continue to improve their coordination and integration in addressing the challenges we have in homelessness, housing, population-health, and the protection of at-risk children and families. We have to be vigilant in our work to make Denton a place that works for all of us and to make sure this is a place that extends fair opportunity, respect, and human decency.

Finally, I want to talk for a moment about the campaign ahead. I want us to stay positive. I want us to stay focused on how we work together to address the opportunities and challenges that our community faces now and in the future. As Mayor I will be working for and serving all of Denton and I don’t want us to lose sight of that in this campaign. Above all else, above politics, above who does or does not sit on city council… we are community. Let’s not let partisanship and national politics overtake a non-partisan race for a non-partisan office. As I have served on council over the past five years, I have listened to and respected the views of all constituents – because that is what we are supposed to do in a representative government.

We have a bright future that can be realized and shared if we choose to acknowledge, respect, and understand that people come first. I will work hard to do the right things in the right way. I will continue to lead with strength, integrity, and dedication and I am asking for your support and your vote on May 2nd. My name is Keely Briggs and I intend to be the next Mayor of the Great City of Denton, Texas.

Thank you.

District 2 Conversation on Parks: Sunday, November 17, 2:00 PM at the North Branch Library (3020 North Locust)

In this month’s District 2 Conversation we will be joined by Denton Parks Director Gary Packan.  Mr. Packan will be discussing the current projects, programs, and initiatives that his team is working on as well as providing an update on the Parks Master Plan.  CLICK HERE FOR FACEBOOK EVENT.

This is a great opportunity to learn more and provide input on the future of our parks system.  I will be available after the presentation to take your questions, hear your concerns, and discuss your ideas related to the City of Denton and our community.

District 2 Conversations are family friendly and open to anyone who calls the City of Denton their home.  Refreshments provided as well as a children’s activity station.

I hope to see you there!

In your service,

Keely G. Briggs
Denton City Council Member – District 2

District 2 Conversation: Sunday Oct 20 – Unhoused In Our Community

Sunday October 20, 2-4 PM at the North Branch Library (3020 North Locust Street)

Please attend this month’s D2 Conversation, “Unhoused In Our Community.”  Dani Shaw from Denton’s Community Development Department will be presenting on the results of our most recent Point In Time Count (PIT Count) of unhoused individuals and discussing continued action by the City of Denton in conjunction with partnering organizations to help make homelessness rare, brief, and non-reoccurring.

District 2 Conversations are hosted by City Council Member Keely Briggs as part of an ongoing effort to increase citizen engagement and awareness of key issues facing Denton and District 2. This is a family-friendly event.  Snacks and water provided.  Council Member Briggs will be available for discussion on any Denton or District 2 specific questions, concerns, ideas after the presentation.

Facebook Event Invite:

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Engage D2: Early voting begins Monday for 2019 City Council elections; A note for D2 Constituents.

2019 City Council Elections

  • Early voting runs from Monday, April 22nd thru Tuesday, April 30th

  • Election day is Saturday, May 4th

Details on polling places, dates, and times available at:

Denton City Council elections are underway and early voting begins on Monday, April 22nd.  (Details and links to more information provided above.)  This is an odd-numbered year, which means each of the four district council seats are up for election (in even number years the Mayor and the two at-large council seats are up for election).  I encourage you, no matter what district you are in or who you support, to get out and vote this year.

To District 2 Constituents: 

I am running for reelection this year without an opponent.  Even though I do not have an opponent I would sincerely appreciate your vote as a show of support.  I will be entering my third and final consecutive two-year term as your District 2 representative on Denton City Council.  Serving as your representative over these past four years has been a tremendous honor and is a responsibility that I have not taken lightly.  I have been working hard to keep you involved in the processes of our city government.  Voting – contested or not – is a part of that process.  Any vote cast in this election is greatly appreciated.  I want you to know that.

Have a wonderful week ahead.  As always, if you have any concerns, ideas, or questions about our community just let me know.

Yours in service,

Keely G. Briggs
Denton City Council Member – District 2

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Engage D2 February 4, 2019

Engage D2 February 4, 2019
This week City Council returns from a two week break from work sessions and regular sessions.   A full schedule of the week’s work sessions and various committee, board, and commission meetings and agendas is provided below.

Meeting Date & Time Links
City Council on 2019-02-04 11:00 AM  2/4/19 11:00 Agenda 
Committee on the Environment on 2019-02-04 1:30 PM  2/4/19 13:30 Agenda 
 Traffic Safety Commission on 2019-02-04 5:30 PM 2/4/19 17:30 Agenda 
Parks, Recreation and Beautification Board on 2019-02-04 6:00 PM  2/4/19 18:00 Agenda 
 City Council on 2019-02-05 1:30 PM 2/5/19 13:30 Agenda 
 Planning and Zoning Commission on 2019-02-06 5:00 PM 2/6/19 17:00 Agenda 
Public Art Committee on 2019-02-07 4:00 PM  2/7/19 16:00 Agenda 
Development Code Review Committee on 2019-02-08 11:00 AM  2/8/19 11:00 Agenda 

This Week’s Items of Note

Monday Council Work Session (Monthly Lunch Meeting at 11:00 AM)

Cultural District Discussion: We will be discussing the creation of a cultural district in Denton.  In early 2018, Council directed staff to look into Denton’s participation in the Texas Commission on the Arts’ (TCA) Cultural Districts Program. Between May and August, an informal group of stakeholders met several times to discuss the idea of a cultural district in Denton and some of the details necessary for formation. The 2019 cultural district application cycle began in January with the submission of a letter of intent and ends in June with submission of the full application. While staff can complete portions of the application, a consultant will need to be engaged to assist with certain critical components. Prior to work beginning on the application, staff needs further direction from Council on the boundaries of the cultural district, the composition and structure of the cultural district committee, and a budget for startup costs.
Staff is seeking Council direction on the boundaries of the cultural district (Exhibit 3) and whether the cultural district governance should be handled by the existing Public Art Committee or a new cultural district committee.  Full agenda item and backup material.

City Election Polling Locations Discussion: City staff contacted the May 2018 election day polling locations to confirm availability to serve as a polling location for the May 4, 2019 municipal election. All locations, with the exception of Ryan High School are available to serve as a polling location on May 4. Ryan High School is not available because several student activities and sporting events are planned for May 4, which will severely limit parking availability for voters. The Denton Independent School District (DISD) Annex Building, located at 230 N. Mayhill Road is available to serve as a polling location on May 4. The DISD Annex has ample parking and, is located in very close proximity to Ryan High School, and would cover the same precincts that voted at Ryan High School in 2018.  On February 5, 2019 City Council will consider adopting an ordinance designating the polling locations in the table below for the upcoming May elections.  Full agenda item and backup material.  I would also like to continue our discussion and consideration of establishing – at a minimum – one additional early voting location at the University of North Texas for the over 1,000 employees there as well as full time and part time students who reside within Denton and are registered to vote in the City of Denton.

Monday Committee on the Environment (1:30 PM)
Conservation and Landscape Code: While the current tree preservation regulations served to protect some of the existing tree canopy, more is needed to manage and maintain essential tree canopy and to provide clear guidance for tree preservation and mitigation within the city for all stakeholders.  Public hearings before the full City Council will follow at a future date. This update is important to me and something that I have been working toward since I was first elected to City Council in 2015.  Full agenda item and backup material.

Sustainability Events for the Public:  I encourage citizens of all ages to consider participating in the upcoming sustainability education and outreach events.  Volunteers and staff are working hard to help our community.

To register for an event visit our facebook page ( or the website ( You can also subscribe to our newsletter by emailing or by checking the newsletter box after registering for a workshop.

Tuesday City Council Work Session and Regular Meeting (1:30 PM)

Work Session Discussion – Cole Ranch and Hunter Ranch Master Planned Communities: 
This is a proposed 6,000-acre master-planned development located within southwest Denton. Both Cole and Hunter Ranches are located within the city limits and are designated as Master Planned Community Districts under the Denton Development Code. The proposed project would require significant public infrastructure such as water, wastewater, drainage, and road facilities, which would be paid for up front by the developers. The developers have requested that the City of Denton consider the establishment of a municipal management district (MMD) to enable recapture a portion of the cost of construction of the public infrastructure. A number of questions arose during the January 15th work session on this topic including but not limited to: the documents required to create an MMD; conformation to the Denton Plan 2030; use of tax incentives by and within the MMD; infrastructure costs for the project; determining what parts of the potential development would be served by Denton Municipal Electric; establishment and management of park land; land for public safety facilities; tree preservation; affordable housing; managing gas well sites and setbacks.  Full agenda item and backup material.  There is a lot to work through on this potential development and the long-range fiscal impacts on revenues vs. operating costs to serve the development over time have to be modeled, understood, and fully considered.  I have my concerns setting up an MMD, which is an extra taxing jurisdiction, within the City of Denton.

Regular Meeting – Tyson Sales and Distribution Inc. Incentive (6:30 PM)
Tyson Sales and Distribution Inc. is a subsidiary of Tyson Foods, Inc.  Tyson Foods Inc. is a very large and well-established U.S. company that sits at number 297 on the Fortune Global 500.  With revenues over $38 Billion and Profits over $1.7 Billion, it is hard to fathom a legitimate need for Tyson to receive an incentive package from the City of Denton, Denton County, or the State of Texas to offset risk and development costs for this 350K square foot cold storage and distribution facility.

My bottom line is that the project doesn’t warrant an incentive. There is no substantial risk for the operator.  If there was some risk, Tyson wouldn’t want to locate here because no incentive (no matter how big or small) can overcome the long-term negative impacts a bad location decision will have on a company.  We have already put in the transportation and utility infrastructure to develop this industrial corridor for uses such as what Tyson has proposed. We made this investment to make this area attractive and project-ready – not so that we would have to offer incentives to attract business. We have seen similar cold storage and distribution facilities come in and operate successfully. We have the transportation access at the I-35 east/west split that Tyson needs in this region.  We have the workforce access they need to staff their 100 full time employees.

Further, even without granting Tyson the 25% annual tax abatement they are requesting, they would still qualify for the Economic Growth Rider from Denton Municipal Electric (DME).  Denton’s 2018 Policy for Tax Abatement and Incentives identifies “significant consumers of municipal utilities” as a recruitment target because large customers in sectors like manufacturing and refrigerated/frozen food distribution use energy consistently around the clock. Steady industrial users allow DME to purchase power at a lower price and receive a better rate of return overall, which helps keep rates steady for all ratepayers. DME’s Economic Growth Rider (EGR) is an economic development tool used to recruit customers like Tyson to Denton. Available only to qualified customers, the EGR is a five-year, sliding scale reduction to a customer’s demand charge (50% down to 10%). Based on preliminary calculations, Tyson will be eligible for an estimated $449,886 EGR if it meets the qualifications. The demand charge over the ten-year period is $2,549,354.

The site, the market access, the existing infrastructure, and the EGR from Denton Municipal Electric should be enough to land Tyson.  I want us to start playing more aggressively  to our strengths (of which we have plenty) and not be in the game of doling out corporate handouts to global companies with over $38 Billion in revenues.  Let’s use incentives as a tool in a more targeted manner to develop and recruit smaller, established and emerging businesses from around the world and in our own backyard.
District 2 Conversation – Community Development Programs and Services

Sunday, February 17, 2019 2-4PM at the North Branch Library

The City of Denton Community Development Department uses citizen comments, local government and service agencies guidance, to develop and implement programs and projects that provide decent housing, a suitable living environment and expand economic opportunity, principally for persons of low to moderate income.  Facebook Event Linked Here:

Coyote Sighting Map
There have been a lot of recent coyote sightings and encounters across the region.  And District 2 has had its share of sightings and killed outdoor pets.  In response, the City of Denton has launched a new map to track coyote sightings. Residents can report sightings via the Engage Denton app (available at, which captures the location of the sighting. Sightings are then loaded into the interactive map where they will remain posted for 90 days. The coyote sighting map is available by going to and clicking on “Wildlife” under important resources.

While the map will help residents identify areas where sightings occur, residents are also encouraged to get information about what to do if they encounter a coyote.

“Coyotes are extremely adaptable and are often able to survive when their wildlife habitat becomes an urban environment,” said Director of Customer Service Tiffany Thomson. “It’s important that residents be aware of what attracts coyotes and take precautions to help protect themselves and their pets.”

Residents are encouraged to remove and limit coyote food sources, keep small pets indoors or under close supervision, and properly dispose of or store all garbage, compost, pet food, and grill drippings which attract rodents, rabbits, and other coyote prey. Residents can also make their yards less inviting by cutting back brush and sealing off crawl spaces.

If residents encounter a coyote, they can attempt to scare them away by making loud noises and waving their arms. Remember to take a whistle or tennis ball on walks, as these can also be used to scare coyotes. Never approach a coyote, and immediately report any coyotes displaying abnormal behaviors or illnesses to Denton Animal Services at 940-349-7594. For any attacks or aggressive animal sightings, call 911.

Keely G. Briggs
Denton City Council – District 2

Engage D2: Your Input on Conservation & Landscape Standards and Landfill Expansion; Thanksgiving Holiday Food Resources

Engage D2 November 17, 2018

FYI on District 2 Conversations
Due to the holidays there are no District 2 Conversations scheduled for November or December.  We will renew these monthly meetings at the North Branch Library in January of 2019.  I am already at work on the programs for January and February and look forward to sharing the details with you soon.  As always, if you need any information, assistance, or need to discuss ideas or concerns as they relate to the City of Denton please to not hesitate to contact me.  email: phone: 

There are two items I would like for you to review and provide input on:

Our current Tree Preservation and Landscape Standards, a component of the Denton Development Code, were adopted in 2004 for the purpose of promoting tree preservation and to facilitate site design and construction standards that would allow for the long-term viability of Denton’s trees.

Over time it has become evident that while the current regulations protect some of the city’s existing tree canopy, more is needed to manage and maintain essential tree coverage and to provide clearer guidance for preservation and mitigation efforts.

The proposed Conservation and Landscape Standards are intended to replace the existing Tree Preservation and Landscape Standards and offer a more comprehensive set of regulations that address landscaping, tree preservation and loss mitigation, and environmentally sensitive areas.

The City is currently seeking public input on the proposed Conservation & Landscape Standards.  Citizens can review the proposed draft and provide feedback using the form at the bottom of this linked page: CONSERVATION & LANDSCAPE STANDARDS CITIZEN FEEDBACK

A broad spectrum of citizens and stakeholders within our community have made calls for improvment to our Tree Preservation and Landscape Standards since 2012.  Improving on this code and creating easier to understand, easier to enforce, and more effective policy for tree canopy protection and loss mitigation was an important issue to me personally well before I took office.  It has taken time to build the momentum in City Hall necessary to address the shortcomings of the current Tree Preservation and Landscape Standards.  While this proposed code does not reflect everything that I advocated for, I am proud to have served as the Chair of the Committee on the Environment alongside fellow council members both past and present to help develop these proposed Conservation and Landscape Standards.  We look forward to your feedback.

The City of Denton has applied for a permit for landfill expansion.  During the permit review period you have the ability to provide feedback by visiting and entering permit # 1590B.

You can learn more about the city’s requested permit by watching this City Council work session discussion from February 20, 2018 (Item C in the work session should play from the link):  DISCUSSION ON LANDFILL HEIGHT AND BUFFER

We need to continue support the development of more efficient and effective landfill divergence.  This includes our recycling programs where we as citizens need to reduce the amount of non-recyclable contaminates we place into our recycling bins while increasing the amount of recyclables we put into our bins.   We as a city need to expand our recycling collection to include both commercial and multifamily residential service.  We need to look at ways to develop a composting program for food waste.   We also need to put an end to the policy which allows other communities and commercial waste companies to dump their waste in Denton.  I know that we (the City Council) need to have very real policy discussions on each of these items.  We should be spending more or our time and energy developing plans and policies that will significantly reduce the amount of additional waste that we put into our landfill rather than solely rely on a plan which would allow us to expand the height of the landfill up to 213.5 feet above ground level.  Please note, that even though the proposed TCEQ permit would allow expansion up to a height of 213.5 feet after the year 2028, it doesn’t mean that this City Council or future City Councils have to allow our landfill to maximize to that height (we can put tighter restrictions on ourselves).  I have hundreds of letters that have been sent to me from citizens, many within District 2, who appear to agree with taking an approach of maximizing strategies of landfill divergence.  This can make economic and environmental sense. Let’s do what we can to make it a community goal to not have a 200 foot mountain of trash as a landmark on our horizon.

Below is a list of Food Resources and Thanksgiving meals available in the community.  Please share this information with those who may need assistance with meals during this Thanksgiving holiday.

Thanksgiving Community Banquet – Calhoun Middle School, 709 Congress Street, Denton Thanksgiving Meal served Thursday, November 22, 2018, 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM.  All are welcome! Phone: 940-382-8888.

Thanksgiving Community Dinner – First United Methodist Church Denton – Thanksgiving meal served on Thursday November 22, 2018 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m at 201 S. Locust St. For more information, call 940-382-5478.

Asbury United Methodist Church, Location – 117 Hercules Lane, Denton, TX 76207, Phone number – (940) 387-6487.   Open on Mondays 10am-12pm and 6pm-8pm.

Amazing Love Ministries – Feed My Sheep– Provides hot meals to anyone in need 5:30-7:30pm Wednesdays.    819 E. McKinney St., Denton TX 76209, 940-381-5190
Denton Community Food Center, Inc., Address: 109 W Sycamore, Denton, TX 76201, Primary phone number: (940) 382-0807.   Provides meals, free food and groceries, perishables items, and aid to the Denton Texas community.  Monday-Friday, except on holidays- 1pm-3pm

Our Daily Bread. Lunch provided Monday- Friday 10:00 am – 1:30 pm, Dinner Mondays 5:30-6:30pm, Saturday lunch 10:00 am – 12:45 pm  Phone: 940-382-5604  Location: Kitchen and Fellowship Hall of Saint Andrew Presbyterian Church, 300 W. Oak St., Suite 100 in downtown Denton, TX.

Singing Oaks Church of Christ , 101 Cardinal Drive, Denton, Texas 76209

Call the church at (940) 387-4355.  Provides a food pantry

Salvation Army 940-566-3800, 1508 E. McKinney St., Denton Provides a food pantry Wednesdays and Fridays from 1:00 p.m. to 3:45 p.m.

Vision Ministries– Provides Food Pantry. Phone: 940.297.6860 Location: 626 Wainwright St. Denton, TX 76201

Mr Chopsticks – On Thanksgiving Day from 12 to 2 pm Mr. Chopsticks staff members are going to be cooking free meals for those who are hungry and in need. So if you know someone who might be hungry and have no place to go, tell them to come over for a hot meal for free. Mr. Chopsticks is located at 1633 Scripture St.

Backyard on Bell – Friendsgiving hosting a free lunch. Event link here:

That is all for now.
Please have a safe and happy Thanksgiving.  

Keely G. Briggs
Denton City Council Member – District 2

Big Ideas and Better Ways for Denton? A challenge…

We have so many smart and innovative people in our community. So many people with the capacity to initiate positive momentum and create positive impacts against the challenges (big and small) that face our community.  I’m concerned that not enough of these people and their ideas are being heard.

If you have BIG IDEAS for our city, if you see BETTER WAYS for policy to be shaped and sharpened to address our challenges and opportunities YOU NEED TO STEP UP. Don’t let your ideas die in silence. Don’t let your positive ideas turn into jaded, unactionable commentary online. Please don’t ever assume that nobody cares if you haven’t stepped up to share your idea or shine light on an unnoticed or neglected issue in our community.

One of the great tools at our disposal to bring big ideas and better ways forward in Denton is through CITIZEN REPORTS to City Council. When individual citizens and/or groups of citizens come forward and give well thought out, prepared, and fact driven testimony, with a clear call to action or next step I have seen the ideas (both big and small) turn into real action that benefits our community. Your ideas and calls to action go on the record. It puts council members in a position to hear in a public setting a new issue or perspective on an issue. It gives council members the opportunity to call for additional information from staff and to schedule the item for a future work session.

It’s a process. And it’s a process that you can use as a member of this community to help constantly improve our Denton.

So, I challenge you to step up to the mic. Share the ideas. Show the better way. Pull this lever of local government and representation and put the process to work.

More information on scheduling and preparing a Citizen Report can be found at this link on the City of Denton website:

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Affordable Housing: We have to get it right.

Protecting and increasing our community’s inventory of affordable workforce housing is very important to me. During my tenure as a city council member I have had the opportunity to approve housing developments that have helped us to meaningfully tackle this issue. Projects like the Veranda where, in 2016, council partnered with the Denton Housing Authority to add 322 units of housing for low income and very low-income households. I gladly supported that meaningful and substantial project and it’s full property tax exemption. And there have been projects like the Palladium where, by working directly with the property developer, council was able to secure a development with 93 below market rate units (57 units at market rate, 45 units for households below 60% area median income, 38 units for households below 50% of area median income, and 10 units for households below 30% of area median income) with absolutely no property tax exemptions – we merely needed to endorse the project as a council so that the developer would qualify for a federal tax credit.

With both examples above, we have had the opportunity to structure and approve ordinances that effectively increase our affordable housing inventory and provide a benefit to all in our community.

Despite my record of support of affordable housing initiatives in Denton, I recently voted against a proposed affordable workforce housing development called the Enclave at Brinker. It’s not a good deal and I am very concerned that deals like it will become the new template for affordable housing development in Denton.

The Enclave will be located along Brinker Road on the land behind Walmart near Loop 288 and will provide up to 270 additional apartment units to Denton’s housing inventory. The Enclave will set aside at minimum 51% of its units (138 units) at below market rental rates in a partnership with the Denton Housing Authority. (The Denton Housing Authority is an agency that operates independent of the City of Denton with authority granted by the State of Texas, where the only influence the city of Denton has is that the Mayor appoints the governing board of directors.) In exchange for at least 138 below market value rental units, the Denton Housing Authority has granted the developer of the Enclave a 100% property tax exemption for the entirety of the development. Once the property is developed the exempted property tax is estimated to be about $1M per year. That means that the Enclave will not contribute anything to the city, the county, or the school district in terms of property taxes.

If you are an advocate for affordable housing, you may be inclined to take this deal at face value and see that it is expanding the stock of affordable housing. But are we really and to what degree?

What constitutes affordable housing?

HUD is the federal agency that sets the guidelines for subsidized housing. The minimum guidelines to qualify for subsidized housing are based on AMI (area median income) for the greater area in which a subsidized property is situated. For Denton, the AMI is currently set at $77,200 per year (note that this is not Denton’s median household income, it is the greater Denton area). Based on AMI HUD spells out the following income categories:

  • Middle Income – Households with income that is at least 80% of AMI. HUD considers middle income in the Denton area to be a household with income of at least $61,700
  • Moderate Income – Households with incomes between 65% and 80% of AMI. HUD considers households with incomes between $50,180 and $61,700 to be moderate income.
  • Low Income – Households with incomes between 50% and 65% of AMI. HUD considers households with incomes between $38,601 and $50,180 to be low income.
  • Very Low Income – Households with incomes between 30% and 50% of AMI. HUD considers households with incomes between $23,160 and $38,601 to be very low income.

As part of its agreement to be property tax exempt, the Enclave will provide at least 138 of its units at below market value for persons of Moderate Income or lower. Unlike previous affordable housing projects that I have supported and that council has passed, the Enclave offers no guarantees that a certain amount of housing will be set aside for Low Income or Very Low Income households. The only guarantee is that at least 138 units will be rented to households making Moderate Incomes ($61,700 a year) or lower. The developer provided a draft schedule (see below) of a potential allotment of the below market value units. This schedule does not appear to be binding in the ordinance that was passed. All the Enclave is bound to do is provide at least 51% of its units at or below the Moderate Income threshold of 80% AMI. The schedule is telling in how the “affordable” housing units may be allocated at the Enclave. It would suggest that in a “best case scenario” we may (but no guarantee) see this development provide 28 units for Low Income or Very Low Income households. And the number of bedrooms in these units does not appear to support many family households. In exchange for at least $1M per year in property tax exemptions this “affordable housing” development might (again, might, there is no guarantee in our ordinance to approve this development) help 28 Low to Very Low Income households. The value of the property tax abatement sits at nearly $36K per year per potential low-income dedicated unit in this suggested scenario.

rent schedule

But what about the other 110 units set aside for below market rents targeting moderate income households? Remember that moderate income is defined by HUD in the Denton area as any household with incomes between $50,180 and $61,700 (65% to 80% of AMI). I won’t suggest that households making a moderate income would not benefit from subsidized housing. But let’s put that moderate income range into local perspective.

According the U.S. Census 2017 American Community Survey, Denton has the following median income levels:

  • Median Household Income = $51,004
  • Median Family Household Income = $76,653
  • Median Non-Family Household Income = $28,633

Every way you slice it, the HUD standard for greater Denton AMI (area median income) is higher than the median household incomes within the City of Denton (overall, family, and non-family households). Granted, Denton is a college town with two universities. There are 8,020 students living off campus inside the city and they do impact our median income values. For that reason, we need to look at our household incomes split out by age of head of household and isolate our workforce – head of household between the ages of 25 and 65. This definition of workforce reduces the influence of college aged off-campus students and those who are more likely to be retired. Key findings on our workforce incomes are:

  • There are an estimated 32,757 workforce households in Denton. These are defined as households headed by individuals that are aged 25 up to 65 years old.
  • Over 50% (16,473) of our workforce households have incomes less than $60K per year. Over 50% of our workforce households would qualify for subsidized housing according to HUD standards based on AMI in the Denton area.
  • Over 34% (11,267) of our workforce households have incomes less than $40K per year. 34% of our workforce households are at or below Low Income according to HUD standards based on AMI in the Denton area.
  • Over 16% (5,241) of our workforce households have incomes less than $20K per year. 17% of our workforce falls BELOW Very Low Income according to HUD standards based on the AMI in the Denton area.

workforce incomes

Using this more detailed analysis of income in the City of Denton, it is clear that using the HUD guideline of moderate-income as the threshold to qualify for subsidized housing at the Enclave (80% of AMI which for the Denton area means a household income less than $61,700 per year) does not serve as the best and most impactful threshold for adding affordable or workforce housing for the citizens of our community. This affordable housing project will subsidize at least 110 households with incomes that are higher than over half of our already existing workforce households. For an estimated $1M per year property tax abatement we could have endorsed a project that would have guaranteed targeted assistance aimed at the 11,267 workforce households in Denton that are making at or below HUD’s Low Income threshold (below $50,180 income in this area). Instead the we have heavily subsidized what amounts to a standard apartment complex with the chance to perhaps set aside 28 of its 270 unites for low-income households.

The property tax abatements make this a very lucrative project for the developer. According to the memorandum of understanding for this deal, the developer stands to make over $17M once the Enclave is built. The memorandum indicates a 10-year exit plan for the developer. $10M over the 10 years coming from the exemption. Without the abatement the developer would only net just over $7.5M. The Denton Housing Authority will earn $5M. From the developer’s perspective they did a very good job structuring this deal and will profit well from it. From the standpoint of affordable housing, the bang for the buck on this project is not good and it appears that the Denton Housing Authority failed to negotiate effectively for a more impactful affordable housing development.

The project at the Enclave is a done deal. Council approved the Special Use Permit allowing the project to move forward. My hope is that future city councils faced with similar projects will get past the “affordable” housing label and dig into the numbers with their eyes wide open. When built, I am sure that the Enclave will be very nice, with great amenities, and may prove to help a small percentage of our low-income households. But we can do better. It’s not the intention that counts, it’s the results, and the results are lacking at the Enclave. If developments like this become the template for affordable housing in Denton, we will not be putting ourselves in a long-term position of strength for our citizens.

Engage D2: Mobility, Budgets, A New Police Chief, Tax Rate and Budget, District 2 Conversation, and More

A look at the week ahead and few other items of note…

Mobility Committee, Tuesday 11:00 AM
The agenda is linked HERE.  In concluding items I am going to request that we prepare information and schedule discussion on protected bike lanes in some key corridors as well as an evaluation of and discussion on pedestrian mobility and safety in the downtown area.

Council Work Session (2:00) followed by Regular Session (6:30), Tuesday 
The agenda is linked HERE.  Two items of note.  First, in the work session we will be discussing our current setbacks on gas wells.  This will be the first discussion we have had in a while on this topic. I’ll be most interested to learn what other communities are doing as best practices since the passing of HB40 a few years ago (HERE is the back up material for the agenda item).  Second, we will be holding a public hearing on the proposed tax rate, revenue, and proposed budget for the coming year.  There will be an opportunity for citizens to address the council during this hearing.  The budget presentation on the proposed tax rate ($0.620477 per $100 valuation) and the proposed 2018/2019 budget is linked HERE.

Economic Development Board Meeting, Wednesday 11:00
The agenda for this meeting is linked HERE.  Of note in this EDP meeting is that we will receive an updated July STaND report (Statistical Trends and News of Denton).  That report is linked HERE.  You will see the latest demographics, labor, residential development, commercial development, crime, and road construction information in this report.

New Police Chief in Denton!
Please welcome aboard our new Chief of Police, Frank Dixon.  HERE is a link to the press release announcing his hiring.  I look forward to working with Chief Dixon and will be working to schedule him for an upcoming District 2 Conversation.

District 2 Conversation, Sunday, September 16 2-4:00
This month the topic is Denton’s Tree Code.  Richard Cannone, Deputy Planning Director, will be present on the current and proposed revisions to the Denton Tree Code.  You can find the Facebook event invite HERE.  This will be held at the North Branch Library at 2PM.

Pioneering Politics – Women in Politics, Monday, September 17 6:00
I will be on a panel with Denton County Commissioner Bobbie Mitchel.  Please come out if you are interested.

That is all for now!  As always, please let me know if there are any questions, concerns, or ideas that you would like to discuss. I am here to serve you.

Your humble representative,
Keely G. Briggs
Denton City Council – District 2