Mayor Penn announces curfew for downtown area

During its virtual regular June 02, 2020 meeting, the Forney City Council met to consider about $1 million in construction projects, expanding TIRZ 1, July 4th event, and Mayor Penn announced a downtown curfew. They also approved negotiation on NTMWD lawsuit.
(watch official video)

  • Re: consent items:
    • Mr. Cameron Adkins said there is a lot of spending on the agenda, he encourages council to reconsider these items as small businesses are having to shutdown, so tax revenues will be down.  People are losing jobs or have reduced incomes.  Items would be good during normal times.  Maybe should wait until the economy is more normal.
    • Mr. James Watts said the 3 items re: spending money; he reviewed the budget, city brings in a lot of tax revenue, and the city tries to be conservative with estimates.  Problem is: things are uncertain, businesses have been shut down for months, many people are out of work, don't know what the effects will be.  Longview (about 6x size of Forney) just announced they are 5.5 million short.  If continue to spend w/o concern about income, could run out of money.  Then have to raise taxes, which don't want to do on people who are hurting.  Should delay until know what the impact is clear.  TX Comptroller just reported 13% lower sales tax.  Everyone in the community is cutting back on spending.
    • Mr. David Watts requested they pull consent items 1, 2 and 5 for consideration.  People are losing jobs, sales tax revenue across Texas had a massive plunge, worst unemployment ever at 12.8%; this is not the time to spend $60k on sidewalks.  #2, roads, could be deferred.  #5, city storage, $350k, is completely non-essential.  These 3 items are almost a million, combined with last meeting approved of $350k, excessive spending by the city.  Please pull these for consideration and vote against them.
    • Mr. Johnson asked about bid being dramatically less than the others - is this a reputable firm, or will they come back w/ change orders? Mr. Zook said they checked several references, other cities has no issues w/ Estrada, they have done work for Forney before.  They went through the project items, and drove the roads, believe Estrada understands the scope.  Mr. Zook said this also came in close to their budget estimates.  Mayor Penn said she has no problem deferring some items, but the money is earmarked for the road - if defer it, will the road get worse and it be more expensive? No problem waiting on sidewalks.  Mr. Zook said those are risks: more deterioration and increased price.
          Mr. Thomas asked Ms. Woodham if item 1 would come out of CIP funds - no, 1 & 2 are in operating fund.  Mr. Thomas asked if these were unspent funds; Ms. Woodham said no, they are budgeted funds.  Mr. Thomas asked if this was money we have; is it coming from sales tax? Ms. Woodham said conglomeration of funds.  She said sales tax for March is up 9.5% over last year, but won't know what April will be until next week.  Mr. Thomas asked about permits fees - Ms. Woodham said up quite a lot, over revenue.  Mr. Thomas said have quite a bit of money to do projects.  Ms. Woodham said yes, and will be collecting over 100% of property tax due to settled protests.  Mr. Thomas asked about housing starts - Ms. Woodham said exceeding expectations.  Mr. Thomas asked if were in good position to do the projects - yes.  Mr. Johnson said this is like the Fram oil filter commercial - pay a little now or more later.  Look at Dallas to see what happened when you defer maintenance.  Better to do them so doesn't cost more later. 
          Mr. Carson agrees w/ Ms. Woodham, revenues exceeding expectations, due to conservative finance will exceed revenue expectations.  Mr. Johnson is correct: better to do it now.  Bids for sidewalks came down from first bid, don't want to delay it.  If staff was concerned, wouldn't have brought the projects to council. 
          Mayor Penn asked about #5 storage buildings, could that be deferred? Mr. Cardwell said the buildings are for multiple things, city is paying for rental units across the city.  Need a place to store the Christmas lighting project equipment, items stored outside in containers in the park.  These will consolidate all storage used, costs are coming down now.  If defer, will likely rise.  Mayor Penn verified would be reducing rent payments - yes, about 800 - 1100 per month.  Ms. Woodham said the funds are from Capital Project, not coming out of operating, is from surplus funds from last year, does not impact revenue this year.  Mayor Penn said appraisals are high, she hopes they can have a tax break.  Don't want to defer roads, she understands the emotion and fear, but don't want the roads to get worse, or pay more for sidewalks later.  She's conservative by nature, but if city manager and staff are budgeting and doing a good job, she's ok.  Ms. Powers said she's the same, agrees will have increased costs down the road.  If staff says in good shape w/ finances, don't see a problem.
          Mayor Penn thanks visitors for their input.

  • Approved as one consent item:
    • a Resolution awarding a contract to Tex-Pro Construction, LLC for the Sidewalk Improvements Project, and all related issues.  Documents show the total is $61,464 for all 3 projects.
    • a Resolution awarding a contract to Estrada Concrete Company, LLC, for the Streets Improvements Project and all related issues.  Documents show the total is $554,304 for work on Bowie Street, York Street, Southlake Street, Elm Street, Front Street and Lovers Lane.
    • authorization to advertise a request for qualifications (RFQ) to update the Roadway Impact Fee Study.
    • acceptance of public improvements for the Meadow Ridge Farm Sanitary Sewer Phase IV project
    • advertising a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for the City Storage Buildings project.  Documents show this is for two pre-engineered metal buildings: 60 x 95 x 20 and 60 x 65 x 12.  These will be behind the Forney police department building.  Budget for the project including CM Agent fees is $350,000.

  • Held Public Hearing -
    • Approved an Ordinance and discuss and consider and any necessary action amending Ordinance 08-1290 to approve the Second Amended and Restated Project Plan and Reinvestment Zone Financing Plan and the addition of an approximate 240 acres to the TIRZ.
          Mr. Thatcher said this is an extension of the 2008 TIRZ 1 - last year council took action to extend the zone and cleanup the plan.  Have seen more development in the area.  Recently the council executed annexation of another 210 acres.  This will add 240 acres and add Akron Way as an eligible project, which is planned to run east/west and serve Amazon out to Terrell ETJ.  Kaufman County is not participating in the additions, but all other provisions remain the same.
          Mr. Cameron Adkins said he had no questions on the item.

  • Approved a Resolution approving the Second Amendment to Owner Reimbursement Agreement between Meadow Ridge Farm, LP, the City of Forney and Reinvestment Zone Number One, City of Forney.
        Mr. Thatcher said this is second part of the previous item; they've been working with developers to amend the TIRZ agreement to repay them.  This includes the additional 240 acres + Akron way to repay them, if the project realizes enough revenue.
  • Re: action related to the Declaration of State of Disaster and Public Health Emergency, and all related issues, approved holding the July 4th celebration.
        Mr. Carson said, based on current circumstances, should reconsider the July 4th celebration - the fireworks company has secured product for the event.
        Mr. David Watts is disappointed city council is not open to the public, hopes it will happened by June 16.  Can dine out at 50%, gyms and salons are open, everybody knows the risk.  The original justification (overloading medical facilities) did not materialize in Texas.  People should be able to come and participate.  Online works, but hard for older folks to participate.  He encouraged them to have the July 4 celebration.
        Mr. Thatcher suggested voting on the July 4 item.  Council approved that.
        Mr. Myers suggested opening splash pad; Mr. Johnson said governor's rules are not 100%; possibly 25% which would require staff to monitor.  Mr. Thatcher said he wasn't sure how splash pad would be classified, might just need to maintain social distancing.  Chief Lunt read from governors office - water parks must close areas that have interactive functions, including child play areas.  Mr. Carson said Kyle said the splash pad is not operational.  Kyle said there is a leak under the dumpster.  Mr. Myers suggested considering at next meeting.
  • Public Comment
    • Mr. James Watts said it's great to think have funds for projects, despite evidence there will be less funds.  It's unfortunate that 900k is in a consent item.  He encouraged council to provide serious answers without prompting for large expenditures.  Council meetings should be reopened to the public, it is challenging for people to be online.
    • Mr. David Watts said for the future: there was a lot of good discussion, so the consent items were not self-explanatory.  For the sake of citizens, don't group large amount items together.  The issue is not if money is earmarked or have a surplus, but whether it should it be spent.  March isn't when the collapse began.  In April Texas had a 9% decrease; May had a 13% decline, the falloff will be show up in couple weeks.  Comparing Dallas deferrals to a pause for a once-in-a-century event, they are massively different.  They should be careful, this is citizens money.  Payback on (storage) is 32 months, but will have maintenance.
    • Mr. Adkins "seconds" other speakers - he works at Dallas Museum of Art in IT, many people have trouble with online meetings or may not have internet.  People may want to participate in person, but can't.  Restaurants are opening, Walmart is always busy.  Could consider council meetings as essential business.

  • City Manager's report - to be consistent: Forney was up 9% when the state was 9% down in March, not trending like the state, he's confident in predictions.  He welcomed Chief Briggs on his second day as new Fire Chief.
  • Council Comments - Mr. Thomas appreciated public comments, it's disingenuous to say members take this lightly.  They get packets on Friday, public can also, can contact staff or members on Monday and Tuesday.  Items are on consent agenda because has been studied.  He researches stuff before the meeting, feels most members do the same.  Appreciates citizens for working through this, plan has been to have first public meeting in July, see no reason to change that.  Forney is setup for great economic times in the next 10 years. 
        Mr. Myers ditto'd everything Mr. Thomas said.  Don't just show up to meetings, talk with staff before, thanks citizens for their comments.  He welcomed Chief Briggs, thanked Chief Lunt and staff. 
        Ms. Powers said to pray for nation, thanked Chief Lunt for his post about the murder of George Floyd, thanked citizens for speaking, excited about July 4. 
        Mr. Moon said they all do their homework, thanked speakers for being involved, they should contact him by email.  Welcomed Chief Briggs. 
        Mr. Cooper said it's been a long spring, time to get back to normal. 
        Mr. Johnson said been in public service 48 years, he understands how this stuff works, wants to avoid what happens in other cities.  Mayor Penn appreciates citizen comments, welcomed Chief Briggs, excited about July 4, congratulated all FISD graduates, she's praying for the country and George Floyd and what has happened.  Thursday is a pray-for-peace gathering at Spellman amphitheater, not a city event. 
  • Mayor Penn said earlier she signed a "Declaration of Local Disaster" related to issues facing the country related to the death of George Floyd.  She understands the desire of people to participate in peaceful demonstrations.  To ensure safety of participants, she has initiated a nighttime curfew for the downtown commercial area beginning June 5 at 7 pm.  This declaration will be provided to affected areas and available on website. This decision was not made lightly but with public safety in mind.
  • Held a 118-minute executive session re:
    • PUC Docket No. 46662; SOAH Docket No. 473-17-4964.“ Petition of the Cities of Garland, Mesquite, Plano and Richardson Appealing the Decision by North Texas Municipal Water District Affecting Wholesale Water Rates.
    • PUC Docket No. 47814; SOAH Docket No. 46-18-1344.“ Petition of High Point Water Supply Corporation, Talty Special Utility District and Markout Water Supply Corporation Appealing the Decision by the City of Forney Affecting Wholesale Water Rates.
    • Markout W.S.C.
    • Spellman Theater Management Agreement.
    • Water Meter Technician
    • Project CP
    • Project Trailhouse Park
    • Project Victory
    • Project Hummingbird

  • Approved authorizing City Manager and City Attorney to negotiate a definitive agreement, including a settlement agreement and an amendment to current Amendatory Contract with NTMWD, to be presented to council at later date for final approval.
  • Adjourned at 2149
Tuesday, 2020, June 2