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.

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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
Keely.Briggs@cityofdenton.com
940-453-8377

DOWNLOAD THIS: Engage Denton – Submit Requests and Stay Informed

The City of Denton has a great mobile/online tool called “Engage Denton” and I bet you don’t know about it.  This app allows you to report the issues you see in our community, access city services, and stay updated on news and events related to the city.  City staff and the Council Committee on Citizen Engagement worked to integrate this tool into the city’s overall communication and service strategy.  Engage Denton is a great tool, but only if you use it.  Citizen engagement is a two way street. Please take a moment to download/bookmark Engage Denton on your device and create your account today (links below).

Online:  https://dentontx.citysourced.com/

Apple App Store: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/citysourced/id1385183425

Google Play:  https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.citysourced.dentontx

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Engage D2: August 5, 2018

Summer is winding down and the council agenda is winding up. Some notes on the week ahead.  Please let me know of any questions, concerns, or thoughts you may have.

Monday 9:00 – The Committee on the Environment Screen Shot 2018-08-05 at 10.06.09 PMThere are two items of note on the agenda.  First,  we will continue our discussions toward updated tree preservation and landscape requirements.  Second, and this is a big one, we will start working toward enhanced education and outreach programs on recycling in Denton.  The contamination rates in our recycling are too high.  It is imperative that our community do a better job of recycling and significantly reduce our contamination rates if we are going to continue to provide the level of service that we do.  Click here for agenda and meeting information.

Monday 11:30 – City Council lunch work session.  There are two items on the agenda for this work session.  First, we will be working on nominations to fill openings on various boards and commissions.  Second, we will receive a report, hold a discussion, and give staff direction regarding a proposed expedited competitive process for Professional Engineering services for the City’s public works infrastructure and the Capital Projects program. Click here for agenda and meeting information.

Tuesday 10:30- Committee on Citizen Engagement.  The website, DTV, and other engagement initiatives will be discussed with staff. Click here for the agenda and meeting information.

Tuesday – City Council Work Session (2:00PM) and Regular City Council Meeting (6:30PM).  Click here for the agenda and meeting information.  Work Session: Among the items on the Tuesday work session agenda is to receive a report, hold a discussion and give staff direction regarding changes to the Downtown Reinvestment Grant Program’s funding source, policy, and procedures.  I am in favor of keeping this beneficial program going and funding it through the Downtown Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) fund.  I am in support of the recommendations to expand the Downtown Reinvestment Grant Program to help cover asbestos and mold abatement as well as the installation of fire suppression systems.  We will also continue our discussion on the proposed budget for the upcoming financial year.  Last week we received the City Manager’s detailed proposed budget (linked here).

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Regular City Council Meeting:  It is a fairly lite agenda as far as city council meetings go.  I would like to highlight that there will be a resolution and presentation of appreciation for outgoing Police Chief Lee Howell.  Chief Howell has served our community well.  Please come out and let him know how much his work and years of service to our our community are appreciated.  Also note that there will be four citizen reports given on homelessness (including support services and transitional housing).

Thursday 8:00 AM- Denton County Homelessness Leadership Team meeting at United Way. More on this team by clicking here.

Friday 11:00 AM – Development Code Review.  This committee (Mayor Watts, Council-member Ryan, and myself) continue to dissect and review potential changes and updates to the Denton Development Code.

OTHER NEWS & NOTES

District 2 Conversation:  Sunday, August 19th, 2:00 PM at the North Branch Library.  Come and learn all about Community Improvement Services (CIS).  Staff, process, codes and enforcement! Bring your questions, I know you have them!!  Click here for the event invite.

Denton Parks and Recreation Community Meetings:

Transportation Projects Update – We have some much needed improvements underway and on the calendar in the months ahead.

FY 2017-2018 Small Transportation Projects

  • Old North at University Intersection Improvements: The design plans for this intersection were developed in-house and have been signed and sealed. City has submitted a permit application to TxDOT for review and approval of the proposed improvements at this intersection. TxDOT is expected to issue the permit next week. The City’s Street Department will perform the construction, which is scheduled to begin mid- August 2018. It is anticipated that construction and striping will take approximately two weeks.
  • Dallas at Teasley Intersection Improvements: The design plans for this intersection were developed by Binkley & Barfield, and have been signed and sealed. City has submitted a permit application to TxDOT for review and approval of the proposed improvements at this intersection. The TxDOT review and approval of the permit is expected to take approximately three weeks. Jagoe Public (currently under contract with the City) is scheduled to begin construction early September 2018.
  • Bell Avenue at McKinney Intersection Improvements: The design plans for this intersection are being developed by Wade Trim, and are 50% complete. The consultant will submit 90% design plan for City review on August 17, 2018. Plans should be finalized September 7, 2018. The engineering department is working closely with the street department to schedule this project for construction as soon as the design is completed.
  • Hickory Creek at Country Club Intersection Improvements: The design plans for this intersection are being developed by Bridgefarmer & Associates and are approximately 50% complete. Final plans will be ready September 13, 2018. A TxDOT permit will be required for this project which may require two to three additional weeks. The engineering department is working closely with the street department to schedule this project for construction as soon as the design is completed.
  • Colorado Boulevard at Loop 288 Intersection Improvements: The design plans for this intersection are being developed by Dannenbaum and are approximately 30% complete. Closure of the northbound left- hand-turn lane into Golden Triangle mall is being examined. The City has met with the management and ownership of the mall to discuss options. The alternate entrance was discussed with TxDOT and they are not opposed to this option. A meeting with the bank is going to be set up to discuss these modifications. The engineering department is working closely with the street department to schedule this project for construction as soon as the design is completed.
  • Carroll Boulevard at Sherman Drive Intersection Improvements: The design plans for this intersection are being developed by HDR. The design kickoff meeting occurred on July 23, 2018. This project involves right-of-way take from the gas station at the southeast corner of this intersection. Updated design schedule should be available next week. The engineering department is working closely with the street department to schedule this project for construction as soon as the design is completed.

FY 2018-2019 Small Transportation Projects – The City Council reviewed the supplemental budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018-2019 on August 2. The supplemental budget included funding for the second round of Small Transportation Projects. The table below lists the capacity enhancements that will be funded through this program in FY 2018-2019 with construction estimated to begin May thru July of 2019:

  • University Dr./Nottingham. Add left turn lanes (north-south)
  • Loop 288/McKinney. Add right turn lanes in the north-south direction
  • Sherman/Loop 288. Align through lanes by widening Sherman Drive
  • McKinney/Woodrow Ln. Add westbound right turn lane
  • Hercules/Locust. Add left turn lanes in all direction
  • Long Road/Stuart Road. Improve intersection sight distance (safety) by realigning the westbound approach

 

That is all for now.  As always, please let me know what questions, comments, and ideas you have to continually improve our community.

Your humble representative,

Keely G. Briggs

Denton City Council – District 2

(940) 453-8377

Keely.Briggs@cityofdenton.com

 

Engage D2: Are we really cutting back recycling programs?; The future of City Hall West; Apply for a city board position; Industrial Street Park

Engage D2: June 24, 2018

On Tuesday, June 26 at 11:00 AM the City Council will be having an open work session followed by a special called meeting.  The agenda for this work session and special called meeting is linked here:  http://legistar2.granicus.com/denton-tx/meetings/2018/6/1530_A_City_Council_18-06-26_Meeting_Agenda.pdf

If you have any questions, concerns, or points for clarification please let me know.   My comments on a few agenda items of note for the week are offered below.

PLEASE NOTE:  I will not be present at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.  I will be in Little Rock, AR serving on the National Legue of Cities (NLC) committee for Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources (EENR).  The agenda for this meeting is linked here: https://www.nlc.org/sites/default/files/users/user167/Energy-Environment-and-Natural-Resources-Committee-Book-SBLM-.pdf

The EENR is one of seven NLC policy and advocacy committees and is comprised of Mayors and Council Members from across the country.  The EENR is responsible for developing policy positions on issues involving air quality, water quality, energy policy, national wetlands policy, noise control, and solid hazardous waste management.

NOTES ON THIS WEEK’S AGENDA

Swearing in our Newest Council Member
With the runoff election for the at-large place 5 council seat now over, we will be canvassing the election the election returns (making it official) and swearing in our newest member of City Council.   This is always a special time for incoming Council Members and their families. I look forward to working with Council Member Armintor and would like to congratulate her.  I would also like to thank outgoing Council Member Dalton Gregory for his many years of service and leadership on our City Council and within our community.

Review of Solid Waste and Recycling Department’s Landfill Collections Operations: 
Backup Materials and Presentation linked HERE
A consultant (Blue Ridge Services) was hired to evaluate Denton’s Solid Waste and Recycling programs, policies, operating procedures, and organizational structure.  The results of their evaluation include recommendations to eliminate underperforming programs, increase efficiency in core operations, and to reorganize the departments reporting structure.  Blue Ridge Services will be presenting their findings to Council on Tuesday.  I have immediate concerns with some of the recommendations that Blue Ridge is making:

  • Recycling collection moved to every other week instead of weekly
  • Eliminating the household chemical collection service
  • Scrap plans for multi-family residential recycling 

I have asked for any recommendations that have to do with recycling, sustainability, or hazardous materials to first be reviewed and vetted by the Council Committee on the Environment before being brought back to council for full consideration.   It is my hope that this request is seen as logical and agreeable to my fellow council members.  I am all for operational efficiency and cost savings in city operations – all for it.  But we need to make sure that we are keeping the services that we provide congruent with our community’s values.  If you would like to email council to express your opinion on this item please contact us before Tuesday using the form at the bottom of this linked page:  https://www.cityofdenton.com/en-us/government/city-officials/city-council

City Hall West Discussion
Backup materials and presentations linked HERE
The City Hall West Steering Committee is making a recommendation that City Hall West (CHW) become a functional multipurpose arts center. I am encouraged by this direction and think that this use will help to preserve CHW and make it a great asset and compliment to our community.

Boards and Commissions
Backup material linked HERE
We have eighteen standing boards and commissions in the City of Denton.  City Council Members are responsible for making nominations and/or confirming appointees to these boards.  Council will be submitting their remaining board nominations to the City Secretary by July 27th and will be working to complete and confirm nominations by August 21st.  If you are interested in serving on a board I urge you to review our Boards, Commissions, and Committees page and fill out an application:  https://www.cityofdenton.com/en-us/government/boards-commissions-committees

Council Committee Assignments
Backup material linked HERE
With new faces on City Council, we find ourselves with several open seats on our twenty Council Committee positions.  These committee assignments are filled by council members and are not to be confused with board and commission assignments.  I currently serve on eleven committees and have asked to continue with those assignments.

Industrial Street Park (Industrial Park)
Backup material and presentation linked HERE
We will be receiving a report from staff and giving direction on the design and construction of a small pocket park located near downtown on Industrial Street.  There are several design options to review (see link above to look at them yourself).  Ultimately, if we are to move forward, we are working toward some dates to receive input from the public as well as the Main Street Association.   I think we need to discuss this project and what it has the potential to add to this mixed-use (residential and businesses) are of our downtown.  I am partial to designs 3 and 4.  Design 4 was put together by our staff and included a small stage area, trees, and green space (the less concrete the better in my mind).

That is all for now.  Please let me know your questions, comments, concerns, and ideas.

Your humble representative,

Keely G. Briggs
Keely.Briggs@cityofdenton.com
940-453-8377

Engage D2: June 11, 2018 (meetings, agendas, events)

Engage D2 – June 11, 2018

Here is a look at my week ahead…

Tuesday, June 12
Council Work Session and a Special Called Meeting

You can review the agenda here:  http://legistar2.granicus.com/denton-tx/meetings/2018/6/1528_A_City_Council_18-06-12_Meeting_Agenda.pdf

It is budget season and we will continue to receive presentations from departments regarding their proposed budgets.  We will also get our first look at the proposed overall budget.  We are still very early in the budget process.  Of note, we will have a discussion on our homestead exemption.  Right now our homestead exemption is set at $5,000.  I would like to see us work together to increase that exemption to $10,000 in order to bring some additional relief to our homeowners.  An increase in this exemption will require some hard evaluation of our overall budget in order to offset the revenue loss without reducing services.   But I am hopeful that we can find a way to work together to make increasing this exemption a viable option.

Wednesday, June 13
Economic Development Partnership Board Meeting
You can review the agenda here:  http://legistar2.granicus.com/denton-tx/meetings/2018/6/1591_A_Economic_Development_Partnership_Board_18-06-13_Meeting_Agenda.pdf

Committee on the Environment 
You can review the agenda here:  http://legistar2.granicus.com/denton-tx/meetings/2018/6/1726_A_Committee_on_the_Environment_18-06-13_Meeting_Agenda.pdf

We will be discussing the use of the Tree Fund to plant and maintain roughly 69 trees along a stretch of Fort Worth Drive between I-35 and Country Club Road.    At this point I have more questions than answers on this potential project – especially on expenses for irrigation and maintenance going forward.   I am for increasing our tree canopy, but I want to be selective and targeted in how we utilize the funds in order to maximize their positive impact.  The committee will discuss and make a recommendation for future council consideration.

Thursday, June 14
Denton County Homeless Leadership Team – 8AM
You can learn more about this team here: https://www.unitedwaydenton.org/DCHLT

Denton Hunger Coalition Meeting – Speaking on food insecurity. – 10AM
Learn more about this community organization here:  https://www.servedenton.org/events/2017/7/13/denton-hunger-coalition-nj9eh-kjybn

Keep Denton Beautiful Ribbon Cutting – 5:30PM at the Civic Center for our new cigarette butt receptacles.

Friday, June 15 
Lunch with the Chamber of Commerce.
Rotary Youth Leadership Awards Council – 6PM
You can learn more about RYLA here: https://rotary5790.org/sitepage/ryla-1
I look forward to interacting with these young leaders and assisting with their mock city               council meeting.

Saturday, June 16
Election day for the Place 5 At-large council seat.
Info on the election and polling times here:  https://www.cityofdenton.com/en-us/residents/make-a-difference/vote

Juneteenth Parade and Events.  
You can learn more details here: http://www.juneteenthdentontx.org/parade/

The parade starts at noon.  This is always a positive and fun celebration I look forward to it each year and hope to see you there.

ROADS:
Following up on last month’s D2 Conversation on roads in Denton (you can look at the presentation slides here: https://www.facebook.com/BriggsForDenton/photos/pcb.1638769816171671/740043452786034/?type=3&theater), I wanted to share this Overall Conditions Index map of our community’s roads.  The red streets and street segments in these maps show our worst scoring roads.  As we learned in the D2 Conversation, we have a lot of work to do on these roads.

NOTE: There will not be a District 2 Conversation this month, as it would fall on Father’s Day.   We will resume the conversation in July, with details coming soon.

It’s a busy week!  Please let me know if there are any questions related to agenda items for the meetings.   As always… if you have any questions, concerns, or ideas to improve our community please let me here from you.

Your humble representative,

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

The funny thing is…

I have observed something being a local elected official. Keeping our local elections free of partisanship is a very real challenge. It’s supposed to be a non-partisan position. I think we naturally try to project our local candidates as being affiliated with a party or a political ideology.

The funny thing is, it appears that once a person is sworn in, takes the seat, starts reading through briefs, starts deliberating in work sessions, and starts casting their votes… perceived or assumed party affiliations and ideologies really don’t hold up. There is something about serving as an elected official representing your neighbors, your friends, the youth, and fellow citizens of your community that has a profound impact on you. All you want to do is make the best decision you can for your community. It doesn’t seem that national politics does a very good job addressing our local questions, and I find it refreshing.

We will soon have some new faces on our city council. I look forward to working with the representatives that our community elects. There is so much work to be done and our community will benefit from our hard work and positive leadership.

Good luck to all the candidates, their supporters, and their families on election day.   Go vote Denton!

Keely Briggs – D2 City Council Member

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Engage D2 4/29/18: Voting, Ethics Ordinance, Let’s Be Good to Each Other

An audio version of this post is available here: https://soundcloud.com/user-950591845/engage-d2-april-29-2018

I hope you have had a wonderful weekend and had a chance to enjoy some of this wonderful weather while out at the Arts and Jazz Fest. Just a heads up stay weather aware. You know how our spring weather can be here in Denton and it looks like we could have some thunderstorms in the week ahead.

GO VOTE THIS WEEK: Local elections are the most important elections. Each May we have the opportunity to elect our representatives to the City Council and School Board. There have been several candidate forums, newspaper articles, blogs, and podcasts highlighting the candidates and the issues… a Google search can point you to those resources.  The League of Women Voters 2018 Voters guide is a good non-biased resource to get you started in your research on candidates and can be found at http://www.lwvdenton.org/Voters_Guide/Voters_Guide_May_2018.pdf

Early voting continues this Monday and Tuesday from 7AM to 7PM at two locations here in the city:

  • Denton Civic Center at 321 East McKinney
  • Denton County Elections Administration at 701 Kimberly Drive

The regular election will be next Saturday May 5th. Please be aware that we recently worked to add more polling locations across the city and your traditional polling place may have changed. I urge you to look up your polling place before heading out to vote on Saturday. You can look that up at https://www.votedenton.com/election-day-polling-locations/

CITY COUNCIL THIS WEEK: On Tuesday your City Council will meet for a work session and then a regular evening session in Council Chambers at City Hall. These are public meetings and you can live stream them as well. To review our upcoming agenda go to the Agendas and Minutes page at http://www.cityofdenton.com/en-us/government/open/agendas-minutes . This same also has a live stream option during City Council work sessions and regular meetings.

The item of note on the agenda this week is the Ethics Ordinance. This will be the third week that this item has been on the agenda for us to take action on. I think that this week Council should be fully prepared to hear final input from the public, work out any remaining concerns, and vote to put this ordinance into our City Code. We have had a citizen charter review committee work to develop the parameters of the ordinance with public input, we have had a city-wide election on the item, we have had a consultant work with us through the development of this ordinance, and we have had several rounds of public review, input, and discussion leading up to now. It is time for the City Council to finalize this ethics ordinance and put it into effect. You can review the proposed ethics ordinance and provide feedback at: https://www.cityofdenton.com/en-us/government/open/ethics-ordinance-development

I urge you to leave feedback there for all of council. I also remind you that you can reach me directly via email at Keely.Briggs@cityofdenton.com or by calling me at (940) 453- 8377.

LOOKING AHEAD: The next District 2 Conversation will be on Sunday, May 20th at the North Branch Library. I am working to finalize our agenda and topic. I should have more details for you next week.

ON A FINAL NOTE: Politics gets ugly unfortunately. Let’s all remember that this is a community. We don’t all have to agree or get along. But we do all live in the same community. Let’s please go out of our way to treat each other with respect and civility.

That is all for now. As always, if you have any questions, concerns, or ideas I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU.

Yours in service,

Keely G. Briggs

Denton City Council – District 2

Keely.Briggs@cityofdenton.com

(940) 453- 8377

Engage D2 April 15, 2018

Engage D2 April 15, 2018

This Tuesday, April 17th there will be a Denton City Council work session at 1:00PM followed by a regular City Council meeting at 6:30PM.  The agenda for both of these meetings is posted online and LINKED HEREI would also like to remind everyone that you can view City Council work sessions and regular meetings live (and archived) on THIS PAGE of the City of Denton website.

A few items of note this week’s agenda:

Consent Agenda Items

B. Consider adoption of an ordinance of the City of Denton, Texas to amend the City of Denton Code of Ordinances related to Section 2-29 (City Council Rules of Procedure) Subsection (G)(4) (recording of votes) to include the recording of votes for each council member within all ordinances and resolutions; providing for a severability clause; and providing for an effective date.

We currently keep a record within the minutes of motions, seconds, and roll call votes.  The adoption of this ordinance will tie those pieces of information directly to the adopted ordinance making it easier, both now and in the future, for citizens to understand how votes were cast with regard to any ordinance.  I file this under increased accountability and transparency.

C. Consider adoption of an ordinance of the City of Denton, Texas to amend Section 2-29 (“Council Rules of Procedure”) of the City of Denton Code of Ordinances related to Section 3.B. items (“Receive Scheduled Citizen Reports from Members of the Public”) of the City Council’s regular meeting agenda; providing for a severability clause; and providing for an effective date.

For the past few months we have run a pilot program that allows council members to interact with people giving scheduled Citizen Reports at the beginning of each City Council meeting (rules of procedure were previously such that this interaction was perceived as not allowed).  With the passing of this ordinance we are changing our Council Rules of Procedure to allow for this interaction and extending the time for the Citizen Report from three-minutes to four-minutes.

Items for Individual Consideration

A. Consider approval of a resolution incorporating a City of Denton Employee Ethics Policy, Reference number 10.00, within the City of Denton Personnel Policies and Procedures; repealing the City’s Nepotism and Outside Employment policies, Reference number 102.08 and 108.09, of City of Denton’s current policies and procedures; and providing an effective date.

We are working to ensure high standards of ethics, integrity, and impartiality in the City of Denton.  This ordinance is a subset of Denton’s ethics ordinance that applies to City of Denton employees.  You can reference a staff presentation LINKED HERE, which provides details of this employee ethics policy.

B. Consider adoption of an ordinance authorizing the City Manager, or his designee, to sign a Confidentiality Agreement with New Braunfels Utilities (NBU) to enable the City of Denton to review proposals received by NBU from their request for proposals for renewable power from solar energy resources.

I am only highlighting this item because it is a good example of how City Council is now increasing its oversight into key decisions.  I know that confidentiality agreements drafted between government entities and third parties can be a source a frustration.  In reality, confidentiality agreements are necessary under certain circumstances.   In the past city staff has entered into confidentiality agreements with third parties without City Council awareness or approval.  Now, as a matter of process, the City Council reviews these requests for consideration and approval in advance.  This is a good thing.

Public Hearing

A. Hold a third public hearing and consider adoption of an ordinance of the City of Denton, Texas amending the Code of Ordinances, related to Chapter 2 titled “Administration” Article XI titled “Ethics” and providing for findings of fact, repealer, severability, codification, effective date, proper notice and meeting.

This is more than likely the last opportunity for input and discussion with regard to this ethics ordinance before council takes a vote.  If you have something to say, it is time to speak up.  Read the entire backup and draft ordinance by CLICKING HERE. There has been a lot of public input and oversight to the development of the currently drafted ordinance.  Personally, I don’t feel that the ordinance is exactly where it should be.  But I am comfortable with it as this is a very big step forward for Denton and I would like to thank all involved in the process.

Upcoming Community Events

The Redbud Festival – Saturday, April 21 from 10AM to 4PM
This is Denton’s official Arbor Day celebration put on by Keep Denton Beautiful.  This is your opportunity to get a free tree by attending a 30-minute tree education class while at the festival. I am happy to say that I will be one of the judges for this year’s TRASHion Fashion Runway Show.

DCTA April Open House Meeting – Wednesday, April 18th 3PM to 7PM
DCTA will have a come-and-go open house at the Downtown Denton Transit Center.  They will be reviewing major agency projects and initiatives.  You will have the opportunity to speak directly with DCTA staff about each of their initiatives.

That is all for now.
As always, please feel free to contact me with any questions, ideas, or concerns related to our community or the Denton City Council.   I am here to serve you.

Thanks,

Keely G. Briggs
Denton City Council Member
District 2

Keely.Briggs@cityofdenton.com
940-453-8377

Engage D2: Sunday, March 4 (Ethics Ordinance Draft Review and the Week Ahead)

Ethics Ordinance

On Tuesday, City Council will be reviewing and discussing the first draft of our new ethics ordinance.  We have been working together to develop this draft for several weeks and I would like for you to review it and provide input for us in advance of Tuesday’s work session.  CLICK HERE to go to an online copy of the draft (it begins on page 3 of the document).   I am interested in receiving your feedback.  We are not finalizing anything on Tuesday and there are still a few areas that I would like to continue working to refine with my fellow council members.   Please email your feedback directly to me at keely.briggs@cityofdenton.com

Monday: Monthly Council Lunch Work Session
We will be having a discussion with staff on two potential incentive packages (U.S. Cold Storage and an expansion for Fisher59 MillerCoors Distributing).  CLICK HERE to review the agenda and backup materials.

Tuesday Council Work Session and Regular Meeting Agenda

City Council will be meeting for a full work session and regular meeting on Tuesday at City Hall.  The full agenda is LINKED HERE.  Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns that I can discuss with you in advance of Tuesday.

Next District 2 Conversation at the North Branch Library:  Sunday, April 15

Due to Spring Break there will not be a District 2 Conversation in March.  The next District 2 conversation will be in April.  Details will be posted in the coming weeks.

That is all for now.

Your humble representative,

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