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Lunch with Jimmy Stathatos

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Nobody ever said it would easy to handle the job of Town Manager for Flower Mound, but Jimmy Stathatos may be proving that he’s more than capable.

Mr. Stathatos was the city manager of Roanoke from 1998 until our town council appointed him to his new job last November. During his years in Roanoke he was credited with maintaining one of the lowest property tax rates in the state, a credit that would make him popular in any municipality. Another major achievement was an increase in Roanoke’s tax base from $99 million to $1.7 billion (that’s a 1700% increase) and more than $10 million in sales tax revenue. Given the fact that our town is about 8 times the size of his former employer, yet has considerably less sales tax revenue, it’s a no-brainer that we needed more business growth. The rap on our last town manager was that he made it too difficult to experience said growth. Well, if the last several months are any indication, the same can’t be said about Stathatos.

This past Monday, my wife and I invited Jimmy for lunch at our home to spend a few private hours with the guy who enforces policy decisions made by the Council. We talked about the River Walk and the partial financing of it through a Public Improvement District (PID) that may be on the ballot in November. Once again, I was reassured that taxpayers in FM would have no liability for the debt incurred by the PID, and that the Council would still have the authority to oversee and rule on any components of the plan that may affect the town. If the Council votes to put it on the ballot there will certainly be a marketing effort to convince voters to allow the developers access to additional financing that will be used to build a laundry list of attractive amenities.

Without those functional and visual attractions the River Walk area could become just another housing project, except that it will have a lot more housing in the form of about 500 added apartments. Inasmuch as all the property owners in the development will know beforehand that they’ll be paying an additional assessment to live or do business in a spectacular environment, it seems fair to all concerned. We don’t have a lot of waterside residences in Texas, therefore, having the luxury of residing or working in full view of a lavishly adorned waterway, with fountains, an amphitheater, immaculate landscaping and other eye-pleasing stimuli may make the extra tax bite a bit more palatable.

The next issue I asked about was the Toll Brothers request for a Master Plan amendment on the Bunn-Gourley tract, which is east of Flower Mound Road and south of Cross Timbers Road. That would mean changing the land use map from Cross Timbers Conservation Development District to medium density. Mr. Stathatos was a bit hesitant about moving ahead with those plans, saying he would like to see the Planning and Zoning Commission table that item until a thorough review can be accomplished. He seemed genuinely concerned about disturbing the sanctity of a district that preserves some of the natural surroundings slowly disappearing in this once pristine town. 

As you probably already know, when the P&Z meeting occurred a few hours later, they did vote to table the item until the Master Plan Review Committee meets sometime in the near future.

Jim seems to be a hands on type of manager who always has an ear to the ground in order to satisfy as many residents as possible, while not abandoning the goal of building a tax base that will ultimately ease the burden on everyone. An affable guy, he’s ready to listen and respond to legitimate complaints that are not politically driven, but inspired by real concerns about the town’s future.

We talked about the police department getting a new chief after the recent retirement of Ken Brooker, who served us well for 30 years. A national search is underway to replace him. I mentioned that our town has been rated the number one speed trap in the nation by the National Motorists Association. Although we both agreed that ratings can be skewed to obtain a desired result, if we earned that dubious distinction, perhaps the upside is that our police should be praised for keeping the town safe from reckless drivers. Nevertheless, in the interest of crime-prevention, Mr. Stathatos favors more police patrols in neighborhoods, instead of up and down the major thoroughfares.

At 40 years of age, Jimmy has already amassed an impressive portfolio of accomplishments. If he can transfer some of that success to our town, we can indeed look forward to a more prosperous future.

Bob Weir is a long-time Flower Mound resident and former local newspaper editor. In addition, Bob has 7 published books that include “Murder in Black and White,” “City to Die For,” “Powers that Be,” “Ruthie’s Kids,” “Deadly to Love,” “Short Stories of Life and Death” and “Out of Sight,” all of which can be found on Amazon.com and other major online bookstores.

 

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