Saturday, September 18, 2021

Southlake Assistant City Manager Heading to Boerne, TX

After 18 years of service, Southlake Assistant City Manager Ben Thatcher is leaving to become the City Manager of Boerne, Texas.

Thatcher was honored at the June 2, 2020, City Council meeting for his years of service. In her presentation to the Council, Southlake City Manager Shana Yelverton called Thatcher “a tremendous asset to the City” and that he had worked “…tirelessly to serve our organization and the community.”

Thatcher was hired as a City Manager’s Office intern in June 2002 as he was pursuing his Master of Public Administration at the University of North Texas. After a short stay in Denton, he was hired as Southlake’s Assistant to the City Manager in November of 2004, and then promoted to Assistant City Manager in July of 2007.

During his time with the City, Thatcher has tackled numerous projects, including the establishment of financial benchmarks, and the formation of the City’s strategic management system. But it’s his work with the community and City employees where he has made his most significant impact.

With expressions like Mentor, Thoughtful, and Gracious, Yelverton used the words of Ben’s colleagues to describe a man who has not only invested in Southlake as a City but its residents and City employees.

Following Yelverton’s comments, the City Council offered their congratulations to Thatcher and his family. Mayor Laura Hill noted, “We think the world of you, we think the world of the kind of man that you are, we think the world of your family, and I’m grateful that you (his family) lent him to us.”

Thatcher’s last day with the City is June 15.

Maintaining Southlake’s Roadways Using Condition Ratings

Managing a road maintenance program involves more than filling potholes.

Southlake has more than 197 city-maintained miles of roadway in its system. To ensure proper investment in the system, segments are prioritized for maintenance work by assessing roadway conditions. This allows the City to manage year-over-year costs and ensure that conditions are maintained at an appropriate level.

“Last year the city allocated $1,000,000 to maintain roadways,” said Rob Cohen, Director of Public Works. “It’s necessary to conduct a condition assessment to help us determine the best way to spend those dollars.”

Pavement condition is measured using criteria developed by the Asphalt Institute. The criteria are used to evaluate roadway segments based on thirteen defects found in pavement surfaces. Ride condition or roughness and surface distress are key considerations. Ultimately a pavement quality index (PQI) rating is assigned.

“Typical values for newly constructed pavement range from 9.5 to 10.0,” said Cohen. He noted that rehabilitation is needed when the rating falls to 7.0 or below.

The City aims to maintain its system at a minimum PQI rating of 7.8. For 2019, Southlake’s system scored an overall 8.2.

“Each year, we assess half of our public streets to ensure that all of Southlake’s roads are evaluated at least every two years,” said Assistant City Manager Ben Thatcher. “Our work program is built around condition ratings and field inspections.”

Condition assessment and related maintenance budgeting is also a critical aspect of the City’s financial audit.

“We are required to report the extent to which we have invested in capital assets, including roads,” said Thatcher. “It’s important to show that we are managing our infrastructure in a financially responsible way and not deferring maintenance or underinvesting.”

Using a method to evaluate road conditions and invest to maintain streets at an acceptable level is a vital infrastructure management practice, as well as a component of strong financial management.

“Investing in roads at the right time can save you money in the long run,” Cohen said.

An Inside Look at Sidewalks in Southlake

Assistant City Manager Ben Thatcher presented an inside look at Southlake’s Sidewalk Program during the February 4 Council meeting.

He discussed updates on sidewalk infrastructure and how the City plans and funds sidewalks.

Thatcher showed how residents can utilize an embedded interactive map on the City’s sidewalk page and explained how residents can get information pertaining to sidewalks.

The easy to use map shows all of the existing sidewalks, hiking and equestrian trails and provides information about future sidewalk segments in Southlake.  

As new neighborhoods develop, plans to include more sidewalks are in the works. As for the more established areas in Southlake, the City wants to help them obtain sidewalks as well. 

“We’re open to working with neighborhoods to come in and retro fit sidewalks if we’re able to get an easement or get the right-of-way,” Thatcher said. 

The page even includes an in-depth video about planning and funding sidewalk projects and a contact form to connect residents to Public Works directly. 

For more information about sidewalks or to view the City’s sidewalk pages, please visit ConnectSouthlake.com.