Sunday, September 22, 2019

City Budget Supports Highest Standards of Safety and Security

In Southlake, safety and security are two of the City’s highest strategic priorities and new investments are proposed within the FY 2019 budget to advance a number of safety goals.

People who live, work or play in any community want to be able to go about their days without threat, injury or property loss. The degree to which they are safe and secure in their homes, or when they are out and about living their lives is often the result of efforts made by the local municipality.

“Becoming a victim of a crime or experiencing a significant health crisis can change lives forever,” said City Manager Shana Yelverton. “It’s our aim to minimize the risk, and if something does happen, to make sure we are exceedingly helpful in setting things back to normal.”

To ensure a high level of public safety, the City is focused on a number of key initiatives for the coming year, including improving school safety, ensuring that police and fire personnel have the equipment they need to perform excellently, and even funds to minimize the risk of mosquito-borne illness.

“Campus safety is a top priority of the Southlake Police Department. Our strong partnerships with Southlake families and Carroll ISD has helped create new opportunities to enhance school safety while keeping school faculty and our students focused on learning in a safe, protected environment,” said Police Chief James Brandon.

The Crime Control and Prevention District Board of Directors has allocated more than $500,000 from the District’s half-cent sales tax revenue to fund school safety initiatives. A task force is currently studying best practices and will identify ideas to assist Chief Brandon and the Police Department with their work. These initiatives will complement the work already underway by Southlake’s 12 School Resource Officers (SROs).

The PD will also make technology purchases to aid in investigative processes and protective gear for officers.

The Fire Department has also reviewed their programs and equipment so they are ready to respond as needed.

“Readiness is about ongoing training and having the equipment and materials we need to get the job done,” said Fire Chief Michael Starr. “This fiscal year we’ll be focused on emergency management planning and tabletop exercises, managing mosquito threats, and general training.” In addition, the Department will be purchasing a replacement fire truck.

Funds are also included in the budget for workplace safety and occupational training, designed to eliminate costly accidents and lost time, and safety at City facilities and parks.

“We have an important obligation to be vigilant and well-prepared. The resources provided through the budget are well-considered investments into the safety of our beautiful community,” said Yelverton.

City Manager Presents Proposed FY 2018 Budget

City Manager Shana Yelverton has filed the proposed FY 2018 Budget for City Council consideration.

The proposed budget includes an already approved 20% homestead exemption for homeowners, a steady tax rate, significant investments into safety and security, improved roads and road capacity, and operating dollars for the new recreation center, The Marq Southlake, Champions Club.

City of Southlake FY2018 Fast Facts imageHomeowner Tax Payer Relief and Reducing Debt

Seven homestead exemption initiatives have been approved by the City Council since 2009, including the 20% homestead exemption adopted for FY2018.

This 20% homestead exemption is an increase from the 16% exemption adopted in 2017 and marks the highest homestead exemption allowed by law.

“Tax relief for the homeowner has been a priority of the City Council since 2009,” said Chief Financial Officer Sharen Jackson. “The 20% homestead exemption will provide a reduction in value of $132,400 for an average-valued home in Southlake; this is equal to a 9.25 cent tax rate reduction and is part of the City’s commitment to targeted tax relief.”

The city of Southlake has also been able to manage debt so that 93% of the City’s current tax-supported debt will be retired in 10 years. Through the City’s use of cash and aggressive pay-back schedules when debt is issued, the City has reduced the property tax supported debt by 52% since 2010. The FY 2018 budget provides cads funding for General Fund capital projects.

Safety and Security

For FY 2018, numerous investments will be made into Safety and Security.

“Recruiting, and retaining our police officers and firefighters is the best investment that we can make into Southlake’s continued safety and security,” said City Manager Shana Yelverton. “We will also focus on equipment needs such as protective headgear and ballistic vests to better equip our public safety personnel with what they need to do their jobs.”

The proposed budget includes funding for police and fire cost of living and merit pay increases, as well as dollars to support the competitiveness of their pay plan in the City’s labor market.

Additionally, City Council will consider budgeting the resources necessary to adjust the pay plan for stronger entry pay during budget deliberations in September.

“The DFW labor market for police officers and firefighters is extremely competitive,” said Yelverton. “Should Council choose to take the extra steps of improving our public safety compensation framework, we believe we will be in a better position to recruit high quality personnel and keep them longer.”

Other safety investments will include improvements to school zones and the City’s cybersecurity as well as enhancing treatments for areas that have seen significant mosquito activity.

Better Mobility

This year’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP) prioritizes better mobility around Southlake. Projects include the expansion of North White Chapel, from Emerald to State Highway 114, continued improvements to FM 1938/Randol Mill Road and improvements to State Highway 114. There are also planned improvements to Kirkwood Boulevard and the City’s continued commitment to maintaining the roadway improvements.

“These key cash-funded investments into our roads are important to help keeping everyone moving,” said Yelverton. “But we are also focusing funds on better signal timing on Southlake Boulevard and laying the ground work for intelligent transportation systems which, by using current and emerging technology, will help people get to where they need to go.”

The Marq Southlake

The Marq Southlake Champions Club will be a primary focus in FY 2018. The recreational facility will open the fall of 2018 with an aquatic center, fitness area, gymnasium, jog/walk track, indoor playground and an indoor and outdoor turf area. The proposed budget includes funding for necessary staff and operating needs to provide the services that will be offered.

“The Marq Southlake Champions Club will open in the fall of 2018 and it’s going to be an exciting time,” said Yelverton. “As the building is going up, staff will be getting the word out about memberships, hiring instructors and other important information so that we’re ready when the doors open.”

For a complete look at the proposed FY 2018 budget please visit CityofSouthlake.com/FY2018.