Thursday, June 17, 2021

2020 Southlake City Council Candidate Forum Goes Virtual

Don’t miss this opportunity to hear from the candidates for Southlake City Council at the upcoming virtual City Council Candidate Forum, hosted by the Community Engagement Committee (CEC).

The CEC is a City of Southlake Committee and a nonpartisan body dedicated to facilitating citizen engagement opportunities and communication between residents and local government, typically through SPIN Town Hall Forums.

This SPIN Town Hall Forum takes place on Monday, October 5, from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. It will be broadcast on the City’s cable channel (Frontier channel 34 and Spectrum digital channel 190) and online via Video on Demand. A recording of the forum will be made available within 48 hours of the end of the program.

The candidate forum is a public opportunity to familiarize residents with each of the candidates:

Place 1:

Sabreena Hakemy
Kathy Talley

Place 6

Randy Williamson
Victor Avila

Program

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this program will use a virtual format. Questions for the candidates should be submitted using this form: http://bit.ly/AskSLKCandidates2020. All questions must be submitted no later than 3:00 p.m. on October 5—no questions will be accepted during the forum. The moderator will consolidate similar items and may edit questions for clarity.

The forum will begin with each candidate providing an opening statement. Next, all candidates will have the opportunity to respond to questions submitted by the audience. Finally, all candidates will be asked to provide a closing statement.

Make sure you’re ready for either early voting, starting October 13 or election day, November 3, by checking out our voting guide. For more information about the election, visit CityofSouthlake.com/Elections.

Southlake City Council Approves FY 2020 Budget

Southlake City Council approved the proposed FY 2020 Budget at the September 17 Council meeting. The FY 2020 budget is a plan that reflects the City’s commitment to strong financial principles. It’s a strategic budget that aligns resources with organizational goals and aspirations.

Not only was the budget developed with a clear set of goals to guide decision making and promote long-term financial sustainability, it also has several notable accomplishments.

Tax Rate Reduction

The FY 2020 Budget includes a 3.7 cent property tax rate reduction, the largest in more than 25 years. The City has not increased its tax rate in 16 consecutive years. The budget also offers homeowners a 20% homestead exemption, the maximum allowed by law. The exemption is equivalent to an 8.2 cent tax rate reduction.
Structurally Balanced Budget with Optimal Reserves

The newly adopted budget goes beyond the State’s balanced budget requirements by ensuring the City has adequate reserves and optimal fund balances. The FY 2020 budget calls for $83.5 million in total reserves across all funds.
Although we hope there won’t be a time we will have to use the reserve funds, carrying a solid reserve amount allows the City to be prepared for unanticipated or emergency events. For example, weather can wreak havoc on infrastructure and these funds help ensure the City can repair roads, clean up parks or respond to any other issue that may arise.

This new budget sets aside more than $10 million in reserves to be used without restrictions and more than $72 million can be used under certain guidelines and restrictions. Those guidelines include funding for water and wastewater utilities, parks and the Library just to name a few.
Ensuring the safety and security of all those who live, work or visit Southlake is a top priority for the City and these reserve funds help us keep everyone protected.

Debt Reduction

Debt management was also a key financial principle that guided the development of the City’s budget. The City of Southlake has been able to manage debt so that 96% of the City’s current tax-supported debt will be retired in 10 years.

Methods used to reduce the City’s debt obligation include careful budgetary management, the use of voter-approved special revenue funds, aggressive amortization schedules, ongoing attention to refunding opportunities and the use of cash for projects when possible.
These techniques and strong bond ratings have allowed for a reduction in the City’s property tax-supported debt by 61% since 2010 in spite of ongoing infrastructure development.

The FY 2020 budget proposes the use of cash to fund all General Fund Capital Improvement Projects. These projects will add to the City’s roadway and sidewalk infrastructure, improving travel throughout town. The City has extensive infrastructure that needs to be both built and maintained, this cash funding strategy has allowed for the City to balance the payment and timing of expensive CIP projects. For FY 2020, $8.3 million in cash will be used to pay for these capital projects.

Funding that Meets Resident Needs

The FY 2020 budget was designed to meet residents’ needs and ultimately make their lives in Southlake better. A part of the reason the City is able to consistently keep the property tax rate low is thanks to sales tax revenue remaining strong.

The City is able to leverage the monies received from not only the sales taxes but also the monies received from the special taxing districts such as the Community Enhancement Development Corporation and the Southlake Parks Development Corporation. The revenue collected from these special sales taxes allows for the funding of amenities such as The Marq Southlake, which features both Legends Hall and the newly opened Champions Club, and the construction and maintenance of the City’s 1197 acres of parks.

The new budget also provides for the City to continue to offer the highest levels of safety and security. Sales tax dollars from the Crime Control and Prevention District coupled with other budgeted dollars will provide new equipment to the police and fire departments to keep them at the top of their fields, providing our residents and businesses with quality, professional public safety services. Projects managed by our Public Works team will also be funded to help improve drainage, water and wastewater systems and our Parks team will use budgeted dollars to ensure our Parks are maintained with an eye toward quality. Funding all of these areas was done with our residents and customers in mind.

Interested in learning more about the FY 2020 budget and how it will make your life better in Southlake? Visit www.CityofSouthlake.com/FY2020

Call for Volunteers – Be a Part of Southlake’s Boards and Commissions

Do you want to be part of the City of Southlake team? The City Council is seeking residents who want to be engaged in their community and help support the City Council in their mission.

On June 19, 2018, the Mayor and City Council will make appointments to the Building Board of Appeals, Parks and Recreation Board, Planning and Zoning Commission, Southlake Parks Development Corporation, and Zoning Board of Adjustment.

Citizens interested in helping their local government in the areas of park facilities, zoning cases, and commercial or residential development are encouraged to complete an application for a board or commission. Applications may be obtained from the City’s website.

Each appointment is for a term of two years unless appointed to fulfill an existing vacancy for an unexpired term. It takes a team to run a City, and City Council wants you to be a part of their team. If you have the desire and the commitment to devote to our community, please complete an application and email it to cborges@ci.southlake.tx.us or fax it to (817) 748-8270 in the City Secretary’s Office.

You can also mail or hand-deliver your application to the City Secretary’s Office, 1400 Main Street, Suite 270, Southlake, Texas 76092. Applications must be received no later than May 1.

Interested in Health, Wellness and Your Community? Join the new Health and Wellness Committee.

Would you like to help shape the future in Southlake? Are you someone who is interested in health or wellness? Is your community important to you?

If you answered yes to these questions, apply now to the new Health & Wellness Master Plan Committee.

Need to know more?  Southlake is full of health and wellness experts, enthusiasts and advocates who we’d like to help us put together the new Health and Wellness Master Plan. Here are a few examples of ideas the committee could explore.

Built & Natural Environment – How can parks be more senior-friendly? This topic may include looking at how landscape and lighting requirements can increase public safety, and developing criteria to evaluate the overall safety of development proposals;

Transportation – This could include highlighting existing Community Service Agreements, such as Call a Ride Southlake (CARS). The committee may also explore sidewalk connections and how incorporating Intelligent Traffic Systems (ITS) into roadways might encourage safety and increase mobility;

Aging Population – Another important focus area includes examining opportunities to increase the quality of life for seniors in the community and those that wish to “age in place” through policies and programs. This may consist of reviewing ordinances in terms of existing requirements for family or “mother-in-law” quarters as families may serve as caregivers for aging relatives;

Mental Health & Wellness – Topics within this category may include working with healthcare professionals on community needs related to anxiety and depression and other mental illnesses;

Partnerships – This ultimately speaks to how the City of Southlake will pursue partnerships with groups such as health care providers, the Carroll Independent School District, and possibly other community service organizations that focus on health and wellness initiatives.

Southlake City Council recognizes the importance of health and wellness issues and has included this new component in the Southlake 2035 Comprehensive Plan. While this plan element is new, it will build on recommendations from other plans. For example, the LiveFit Program has been successfully implemented as a health and wellness program in the City. “The success of LiveFit demonstrates that health and wellness is something we can all relate to. I’m looking forward to the invaluable insight committee members will provide us as we move forward with this new component of the 2035 Master Plan,” says Senior Director of Planning & Development Services Ken Baker.

City Council is seeking applicants of all ages and backgrounds, encouraging those with professional experience or interest in health or wellness topics to apply. Committee members will be asked to meet about once a month over the course of several months, to work alongside City staff to develop this master plan element. They will be reviewing existing city policies; evaluating the current health and wellness landscape in Southlake; analyzing current and future wellness needs and topics; and formulating recommendations to City Council related to health and wellness.

Interested in applying? Visit the Health and Wellness Plan page on the City website to learn more about the application process. Applications are due by February 16, 2018.

Three Candidates File for Special Election

The City Council candidates, and the date is set for the upcoming special election.

The election will take place September 9th with three candidates vying for the Place 6 seat.  Here’s how they will appear on the ballot:

  • Shauna Newman
  • Christopher Archer
  • Stephen (Steve) Luhrs

Visit the City’s Candidate Information page for each candidate’s filing information.

Denton County Residents needed as Poll workers

The City is in need of three volunteers to serve as Denton County Election Poll Workers for the September 9th Special Election.  Please consider serving the community and taking part in the election process.

To be eligible for this unique opportunity, you must meet these specific requirements:

  • Must be a Denton County registered voter who lives in Southlake, and
  • Must be available during the early voting period (August 23 – September 5) and/or on Election Day (September 9), and
  • Cannot be an elected official or be employed by an elected official.

You will be paid for your service, as follows:

  • During early voting, the lead clerk will get $10/hour and secondary clerks will get $9/hour,
  • On Election Day, the presiding judge will get $11/hour, alternate judge $10/hour, and clerks $9/hour.
  • For more information, please contact the City Secretary’s Office at 817-748-8183.
  • We appreciate your time and assistance!

Early voting takes place August 23-September 5th.  For more information about the election, please visit CityofSouthlake.com/Elections

Homestead Exemption Increase approved by City Council on First Reading

The City’s homestead exemption has been increased from 16% to 20% by unanimous vote of the City Council on first reading, the seventh targeted property tax relief initiative since 2009.

“With their approval of the ordinance on first reading, the Council has increased the homestead exemption to the maximum allowed by law,” explained Chief Financial Officer Sharen Jackson.  “The 20% exemption is the equivalent of a 9.25 cent reduction off the tax rate of $0.462 per $100 valuation, and it’s 25 percent higher than the exemption offered last year.”

On an average-valued Southlake home, this exemption results in an annual savings to the homeowner of $620.

With the exemption, City revenue is $5.7 million less than the revenue that would be received under the full tax rate.

“There are many factors to consider in our analysis including how we can provide relief without compromising our ability to maintain adequate reserves, meet our community’s service expectations and pay cash for needed capital projects, ” said Jackson.  “This exemption reflects a long-term financial strategy put into place by the City Council that balances the needs of a growing city with the public trust.”

Previously the City has implemented tax relief initiatives in FY ’09, FY ’13, FY ’14, FY ’15, FY ’16, and FY ’17, with a target of increasing the homestead exemption for residential property owners as new commercial properties have developed.

Last year the City was able to return the majority of increase in property values to homeowners through the adoption of a 16% exemption.

City staff will work on the FY 2018 budget through the summer. Public hearings for next year’s budget begin in late August and with adoption scheduled in mid-September.

Infographic Homestead vs Tax Rate

 

 

Councilmembers Shafi and Fawks to Take Oaths of Office at May 16 City Council Meeting

Councilmembers Shahid Shafi and Gary Fawks will take their seats for a second term next Tuesday; both ran unopposed in the recent election.

The oaths of office will be at 5:30 PM on Tuesday, May 16 in the Council Chambers prior to the Council Meeting at Southlake Town Hall. A break for a reception in the lobby will follow.  Both council members get the opportunity to continue their service to Southlake as elected officials.

Councilmember Shafi currently serves as the Place 1 council member and was first elected to this position in 2014. Prior to this, he served on the Planning and Zoning Commission and has volunteered in many roles for the City. He and his family have lived in Southlake since 2004.

Councilmember Fawks is currently the Place 6 council member and was elected to this position in 2014. He previously served as a council member from 1996-2001, and he served as Mayor Pro Tem from 1998-2001. He and his wife have lived in Southlake since 1993.

Do you want to serve on a Board or Commission?

You have two more weeks to submit your application for Council consideration in October for the following boards: Community Engagement Committee, Library Board, Senior Advisory Commission, Arts Council, and Crime Control and Prevention District Board of Directors.

Your involvement will help your local government in the areas of community engagement and outreach programs, library planning and programming, senior-related programs, public art, and safety and security. Each appointment is for a term of two years, unless appointed to fulfill an existing vacancy for an unexpired term. Interested Southlake residents are encouraged to complete an application which may be obtained from the City’s website.

It takes a team to run a City, and City Council wants you to be a part of their team. If you have the desire and the commitment to devote to our community, please complete an application and e-mail it to lpayne@ci.southlake.tx.us or fax it to (817) 748-8270 in the City Secretary’s Office.

You can also mail or hand-deliver your application to the City Secretary’s Office, 1400 Main Street, Suite 270, Southlake, Texas 76092. Applications must be received no later than September 6.

Changes Coming to Southlake City Council

Brandon Bledsoe

Deputy Mayor Pro-Tem Brandon Bledsoe has served on the Southlake City Council since 2009.

Changes are coming to the Southlake City Council as long-term member Brandon Bledsoe is stepping down due to the Council term limit provision of the City Charter.  Chad Patton will take his place when sworn in on May 17.  Councilmembers Randy Williamson and John Huffman will be sworn in on that evening for new terms.

Bledsoe, who has served on the Council since 2009, has an extensive service record with the city, which includes service as Mayor Pro Tem and as a member of several City Council committees, the Planning & Zoning Commission, and the Southlake Program for the Involvement of Neighborhoods Standing Committee.  He has also been active with the Urban Land Institute, Bob Jones Nature Center Board of Directors and with other community caus3 es through Amegy Bank of Texas.

“Brandon Bledsoe’s wisdom and steady hand have been so important to our City,” said Mayor Laura Hill.  “He has been an outstanding elected official whose impact has been significant. He will be sorely missed.”

Managing development, addressing infrastructure needs, protecting the strong financial position of the City, and being responsive to citizen preferences have been priorities for Councilmember Bledsoe, who played an active role in the development of the City’s master plan, Southlake 2030, and in implementing important financial policies.

“It’s been an honor to serve and contribute in some small way to the positive evolution of the City,” he said.  “It’s been satisfying work that I’m glad to have been a part of.  It’s a great city, and I’m confident that Southlake will continue to move forward with great success.”

Chad Patton, will replace Bledsoe in the Place 3 seat when sworn in on May 17.  Patton, who has resided in Southlake since 2005, has served on the City’s Parks and Recreation Board, Zoning Board of Adjustment, and has volunteered as a coach for youth sports.

“I’m ready to get started and look forward to working with the team.  There are many interesting projects underway and I’m happy to be able to continue my service to the City in this way,” he said.

Current Councilmembers Randy Williamson and John Huffman were unopposed in their bids for reelection and will be sworn in for new three-year terms the same evening.  Both have service records on various boards and committees for the City and as volunteers within the community.