Tuesday, November 29, 2022

What’s Happening in Copper Canyon: August 2015

Copper Canyon Mayor Sue Tejml
Copper Canyon Mayor Sue Tejml

Low Tax Rate remains .297505  for Town’s 2015-2016 Preliminary Budget

But, Net Appraised Value of Copper Canyon increases 10.2% in one year!

We are very pleased to propose a budget for Fiscal Year 2015-2016 that will maintain the current tax rate for our resident’s.  The methodical budget planning process over the last several years continues to serve the Copper Canyon community well.

The net taxable value for Copper Canyon in 2015 is $204,458,586. This is a 10.2% increase in value over last year’s certified total. The increase is comprised of higher land value, new home construction, and home renovations.


$268,566,308 – Actual Market Value of Copper Canyon


$51,614,366Agricultural Use Exemption (Approximately 19% of overall Town value or property tax dollar reduction of minus $153,555.)

$4,082,421– Homestead Cap Exemption

-$8,410,935 – Various Exemptions such as Over 65, Disabled Vet, etc.

$204,458,586  –  Net Value for calculating property taxes

The Revenue Budget over the past several years has increased steadily. Copper Canyon realized an 86% increase in Sales Tax this year due to the businesses operating within the Town.

The overall Expenditure Budget during the same time period has remained approximately the same.  This is primarily due to financial planning by the Mayor and Town Council, continued monitoring of all financial transactions, and efforts of the staff to control costs. Copper Canyon continues to operate with only three full time employees.  The Town contracts for services such as law enforcement by Sheriff’s Deputies dedicated to our Town, Town Hall building and grounds maintenance, street surface and crack seal maintenance, mowing and tree trimming of road right-of-ways,  trash collection, and many other municipal services.

Where does the revenue come from to provide services to Copper Canyon Residents?

Revenue Sources     2014-2015


% of Budget   2015-2016


% of Budget
Property Tax* $423,250 50%  $453,982 52%
Franchise Tax 135,473 16%  135,890 16%
Sales Tax 113,500 13% 117,000 13%
Municipal Court+ 100,689 12% 101,500 11%
Permits 76,375 9% 68,300 8%
Total Revenue $849,287 100%  $876,672 100%

*Property Tax is only 50% of the Town’s revenue and Budget Income.

 +Municipal Court Fines are primarily paid by non-residents speeding through

Copper Canyon, but they fund 50% of the Town’s law enforcement Deputies.

However, fully half of the fines collected in all municipal courts are mandated to

be forwarded to the State. (In essence, municipal courts serve as a primary

unfunded collection agency for the State Treasury.)

(NOTE:  Many Thanks to our Town Administrator Donna Welsh for preparing such a concise, but easily understandable, summary of Copper Canyon’s revenues and sources.)

Town Applies for Texas Comptroller’s award for Financial Transparency

This fall the Town will formally apply for the Texas Comptroller’s Leadership Circle Award.  The Leadership Circle Award recognizes local governments across Texas that strive to meet a high standard for financial transparency.  Copper Canyon’s financial practices have qualified for the reward for several years, but the Town has not previously formally applied for official recognition from the Comptroller.  A “Platinum” designation is anticipated, the highest level of recognition from the State for financial transparency by a municipality.

Town to Automatically Provide Notice to Homeowners within 200 feet of a Variance Request pending before the Board of Adjustment.

This will increase transparency and allow for possibly impacted neighbors to have a chance to comment before the Board of Adjustment makes a decision.  The new ordinance is on the Consent Agenda, as the Council has indicated its approval in previous Meetings, but any Town resident is welcome to comment at the August  10th Council Meeting.  (Our appreciation to former Mayor Pro Tem Joe Chiles for his suggestion to adopt this procedure, in the spirit of adequate notice to all surrounding homeowners who might be affected by the variance requested.)

Please report Location of your Tornado Storm Shelter to our Fire District!

Our AVFD is working on a District wide project to identify and map all storm shelters in its jurisdiction. For your own safety, please report the location of your personal or business Tornado Storm Shelter to Emergency Manager Chris Muscle with the Argyle Volunteer Fire District.  (940) 464-7254.  Every storm shelter in Denton County should be mapped, in case debris from a storm or tornado keeps people from getting out of their shelter afterwards.  They could be trapped for days and no one would know that they were underground.    If you live in Copper Canyon, please also report the location of your storm shelter to Town Administrator Donna Welsh at Town Hall 940-241-2677 #3.

Town’s 5th Annual Clean-Up-Day is Saturday October 3th from 8 to 11:30 a.m.

Over the past five years, many toxic and surplus bulky items have been removed from our Town.   The volume of removal on our annual Clean-Up-Day has noticeably declined from year to year.  But how welcome to be able to easily and safely again remove our latest annual community collection of used (or no longer used) items.  So, please begin surveying your home, attic, garage, yard, pool, storage sheds, and barns for items you want to dispose of safely.  And thank you for being willing to take the time to do so.  A “cleaner” town is also a safer town.

Republic Services will again be conducting Copper Canyon’s Annual Clean-Up-Day.  There is free drop-off for Town residents only, but Proof of Residency is required.  I.e. current driver’s license or utility bill with an address within our Town boundaries.  (NOTE: Canyon Oaks subdivision is in unincorporated Denton County. We’d love to be able to accommodate disposal of your items, too, but our Clean-Up Day is funded by our residents’ property tax dollars.  So, it’s not fair to our residents to accommodate drop offs of items from random individuals.)  The recycle vehicles MUST LEAVE PROMPTLY at 11:30 a.m. to timely arrive at their next Clean-Up-Day location!  Do not drop off anything at Town Hall after that cut off time!  Items accepted within the time limits are:

Household Hazardous Waste  (Residential Use Only!)Aerosols, Flammables, Toxic Liquids, Corrosives Acidic and Basic (Battery Fluid, Drain Cleaners, Boric Acid, Rust Removers, Sulfuric Acid, etc.), Oxidizers (Bleach, Chlorine, Hydrogen Peroxide, etc.), Batteries, Empty Cylinders-Propane, Paints, Used Oils (Cooking, Automotive, Yard Equipment, etc.), Yard Fertilizers, Pesticides

Electronic Waste/Universal Waste:  Televisions, Computers, Monitors, Laptops, Hand-Held Computers (PDA, iPad, etc.), Keyboards & Mice, Scanners/Printers/Copiers, Fax Machines, Telephones, Microwave Ovens, VCR’s, CD Players, Stereos, Related Cables, Florescent Straight Light Tubes, Compact Lamps (CFL’s)

Household White Goods:  Water Heaters, Washers/Dryers, Refrigerators, Freezers, Small Metal Scrap (window blinds, wire fencing, window frames)

Bulky Items:  Brush, Furniture, PVC pipe, small lumber pieces, residential wood fencing, etc. (No leftover building construction items)

Tire Recovery:  Car Tires, Light Truck Tires – Limit of 4 tires per household!

On-Site Secured Document Destruction:  (Watch while paper is shredded.)

Items NOT Accepted:  Ammunition, Fireworks, Explosives, Prescription Drugs and Medications of any kind.

DENCO 911 is First in Texas to Transform to “Next Generation” 911

DENCO 911 became fully operational in 1990 with a service fee of $0.27 cents per landline.  In 25 years that fee has never been increased and remains one of the lowest 911 landline fees in Texas.  (The State sets a 911 fixed fee of $0.50 per cell phone used in Texas.)

This year our DENCO 911 completed a FOUR YEAR technological transformation to “Next Generation” 911.  It was the first 911 organization in the State of Texas to accomplish this!  And, it did so WITHOUT incurring any debt!  Our 911 remains on a “pay as you go” basis, because the Board of Managers and Staff accumulate the 911 fees paid until needed to pay cash for the next upgrade project.

Next Generation 911 has many Advanced Features.  Texting to 911 is one.

Next Generation 911 has many advanced features.  Texting to 911 is one.  This is very important in two situations. First, for a deaf person or a senior with limited hearing, they can text an emergency call to 911.  Second, in situations where the caller is afraid to reveal their hidden location by a voice call.  Example: a woman being stalked in a domestic violence situation, a person suspects an intruder in their home, a convenience store clerk is hiding from a thief with a weapon, an “active shooter” in a school situation, etc.  They can text 911 for help without revealing their hidden location to the person threatening possible harm.

Next Generation 911 also provides Redundancy of Facilities.

Next Generation 911 also provides redundancy of facilities. There are eleven PSAPS (Public Safety Answering Points or 911 Call Centers) in Denton County.  These are usually hosted by a law enforcement agency such as the Sheriff’s Office or a municipal police department.  331,611 emergency calls were processed in 2014 in Denco 911’s District!

If any PSAP is incapacitated (i.e. by fire, flooding, lightning strike, etc.), the 911 call takers can physically move to Denco 911’s headquarters in Lewisville and immediately resume active service receiving 911 emergency calls and dispatching First Responders.  In an extreme emergency spread over a wider geographical area, multiple individual 911 Call Centers affected could relocate to any of the other PSAP locations in the Denco 911 network.  This flexibility is invaluable, because no municipality wants a gap in their 911 emergency call service!

DENCO 911’s training for Tele Communicators is Outstanding!

Denco 911 is often recognized for its huge emphasis on training.  911 call takers are unique professionals!  To be effective they must be highly trained and disciplined.  In an emergency, time is truly of the essence!  Protocols instruct on how to get the most critical information immediately and in what strategic order.  911 call takers often say that they experience an “adrenaline rush” from the sheer emergency of the situation!  But, almost all 911 call takers have an instinctive desire to “help” their fellow man – be it the victim in immediate need or the First Responder.  Most also appreciate a personal acknowledgement from the 911 caller or a First Responder.  A simple “Thank You” or “Well Done”.  These comments are treasured.

Medical EmergenciesAll 911 tele communicators must be certified every two years in Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD) Protocols.  They are trained to vocally coach someone through emergency CPR on a victim – i.e. heart attack or possible drowning; and they can even help direct the birth and delivery of a baby.

Law EnforcementRecently, TCOLE (Texas Commission on Law Enforcement) certified Denco 911 as a “contract trainer provider”.  Other than TCOLE facilities, Denco 911 is the only training center in the State qualified to teach and report the basic telecommuter class for law enforcement personnel.  This is a unique training designation and illustrates the high regard Denco 911 has with First Responder organizations.

Domestic violence is unfortunately one of the most common 911 calls.  In the United States four women each day are killed by a domestic partner! The 911 caller is usually panicked and often in the midst of an ongoing attack.  It is critical for the call taker to immediately learn key details of the attack. Are small children present and at risk?  Is the victim already hurt and how?  Is the attacker using just physical force (fists, etc.)?  Or does the attacker have a baseball bat, knife, pistol, shotgun, etc.?  Any kind of firearm greatly increases the danger to the responding law enforcement personnel, and they need to know ahead of time what type of weapon they are confronting.

911 Fire CallsIt is critical for the 911 call taker to assess the extent of the fire. A backyard barbecue pit, a blocked vent in a home’s fireplace chimney, a roof fire on an office building, a vehicle engine fire in an automotive crash, a restaurant grease fire in its kitchen, a fire in a barn with hay bales, a grass fire in a pasture.  Or, in a heavily wooded area like the Corps of Engineers land around Lake Lewisville, which is often not easily accessible to large fire engines, is the emergency a campfire smoldering or a bonafide forest wildfire?  One fire engine and ambulance may be an adequate response; but in large fires in danger of spreading rapidly, multiple “mutual aid” units may need to be dispatched.  The details the 911 call taker can learn quickly, and his/her experienced judgment as to the level of response needed, is critical!

“Vertical” Position is the next Technology Challenge for all 911 Calls

Global Positioning Systems (GPS) can now easily determine the “X” and “Y” axis to determine the location of the emergency based on the calling device – i.e. cell phone, landline, or alarm system.  But, how do we determine the “Z” axis for elevation?  What if the emergency is on the 5th floor of an apartment building?  The 10th floor of a hospital?  The 20th floor of an office building?  The 30th floor of a hotel?  Sometimes the 911 caller can give that information, but not always.  One technological solution may be to require blue tooth or Wi-Fi in every room of a building over “X” number of stories tall.  (Some safety conscious hotel franchises are already planning for this contingency.)

What if the caller’s location appears to be on the I-35E causeway or the high toll bridge across Lake Lewisville?  But is the emergency on the causeway/toll bridge or underneath in the water?  The first location would require dispatching an ambulance and maybe a fire engine.  But the water location might require the dispatch of a rescue boat.  A totally different First Responder solution, depending on the actual “elevation” of the emergency location.

Cell Phones with Barometric Pressure Sensors:  One solution already being tried is equipping cell phones with barometric pressure devices that can at least determine elevation above sea level.  But to be accurate in an emergency, the dispatcher would prefer to know that specific “ground level” position’s elevation above sea level.

Vendors to 911 facilities believe they will have the technological challenges of determining “elevation” ready for general commercial use within three years.  911 organizations are already doing their part by cataloging all buildings of more than a few stories in the areas they are responsible for.  The sea level elevation of the ground floor, the number and height of individual floors, the entrance and exit points to the building, and the location of all stairs and elevators.  It is a daunting job of data collection per building, but at least it has begun.

DENCO 911 receives National Recognition for Technological Excellence!

This year Denco 911 was recognized nationally by the NG911 Institute in Washington, DC.  The Institute is the national information clearing house and policy forum for the United States Congressional Caucus on all issues and questions relating to “Next Generation 911.”

Our DENCO 911 staff is truly Outstanding!

These are the critical professionals who make our DENCO 911 so outstanding!

Executive Director:  Mike Petigo, former Copper Canyon homeowner in our Woodlands subdivision, served as Executive Director for Denco 911 for 20 years.  Pedigo set the high standards for technological excellence, conservative financials, and superior training offered to all 911 personnel.  (Pedigo is now Executive Director for San Antonio’s much larger 911 District!)

Mark Payne, Denco’s current Executive Director, was Pedigo’s protégé for nine years before assuming the executive reins in his own right.  The transition from one longtime Executive Director to a successor has been very smooth and inspired stability and confidence in the entire organization.  (NOTE:  I wish that all transitions from professional and political positions could be so seamless and lacking in draining personal conflict.) Payne is outstanding in his technical expertise with 911 technology and his ability to foresee long term how the organization needs to achieve its next platform level of upgrade.  He is also instinctively generous in recognizing the contributions of his fellow staff members!

Greg Ballantine, Deputy Executive Director, has been a visionary and leader in public safety for 30 years.  Ballantine came to Denco 911 with credentials as a multi-county Executive Director for a 911 agency in Kansas City, Missouri.  But, to our advantage, Greg and his wife wished to ultimately retire to North Texas and in our immediate area. We are incredibly fortunate for his seasoned expertise!

Carla Flowers, Director of Administration, has been with Denco 911 for 20 years.  She is responsible for all financials, human resources, health benefits, etc.  That is a huge and broad array of responsibilities – but Carla is more than up to the administrative challenge!

Vanessa Fagins, GIS Supervisor, has also been with Denco 911 for 20 plus years. She is currently leading an effort to synchronize GIS data across the County for future GIS-location-based routing of First Responders.  This technology advance in our GIS database will not only cut the critical response time of First Responders, it will also increase the accuracy of the specific location of the emergency.  Thank you, Vanessa, for spearheading such a critical improvement in 911 dispatch data!

DENCO 911 serves all of Denton County!

DENCO 911 serves 33 municipalities, the Denton County Sheriff’s Office, two universities – the University of North Texas and Texas Women’s University, and the remainder of unincorporated Denton County.

Denco 911’s Board of Managers

Jack Miller, former Mayor of Denton, has been on Denco 911’s Board of Managers for 15 years.  As an appointee of Denton County Commissioners’ Court, Miller has been President of the Denco Board for 13 years.  He has also been appointed by former Lieutenant Governors to the State Commission on Emergency Communications.

Bill Lawrence, former Mayor of Highland Village, has also been appointed by the Denton County Commissioners Court for multiple two year terms.

Assistant Fire Chief Terry McGrath, of Lewisville’s Fire Department, is appointed by the Denton County Fire Chiefs Association for a second two year term.  Rob McGee is appointed as a non-voting Board of Managers representative by Verizon, the largest telecom provider in the Denco 911 area.

Two of the five voting positions on the Denco 911 Board of Managers are elected by the 33 municipalities in Denton County.

Both myself and former County Commissioner Jim Carter serve staggered two year terms for these municipalities.  Carter is a former Frito Lay senior corporate executive for international sales, Mayor of Trophy Club for 14 years, Denton County Commissioner for 8 years, and current volunteer President of Denton County Emergency Services District #1 – which encompasses 65 square miles of Denton County.

I am a retired civil attorney; former City Attorney-Municipal Court Prosecutor-and Police Advisor for 6 years for a town of 20,000 population; Mayor of Copper Canyon for 10 plus years; and for the past decade a Board Member of the Argyle Volunteer Fire District.   The AVFD serves 60 square miles of Denton County, including six towns and unincorporated areas such as Canyon Oaks, Lantana Freshwater Supply Districts #6 and #7, and also Robson Ranch in the future (in partnership with the City of Denton’s Fire Department.) My visits to Council Meetings in Denton County each year provide an annual Denco 911 Update.

My sincere thanks to the Mayors and Council Members of the following 11 municipalities for nominating me for a second term:  Copper Canyon, Cross Roads, Dish, Double Oak, Highland Village, Justin, Lake Dallas, Lewisville, Northlake, Shady Shores, and Trophy Club.  And, I am respectfully requesting support and a vote from each Mayor and Council of the 33 municipalities in our Denco 911 area for a second two year term on the Board of Managers.

My Personal Appreciation for 911 Call Takers and First Responders

Two summers ago, on a scalding hot August afternoon, I was crushed between two vehicles in the right-of-way beside Orchid Hill Lane.  Four bones were immediately broken in my right pelvis. Alone, I stood like a stork on one quivering leg, with my right leg dangling useless from my shattered pelvis.  My cell phone was in my car.  I was outside my Lincoln Town Car’s locked passenger side.  To hop around the car on my one fragile left leg, to retrieve my cell phone and call for help, did not seem a good option – as I didn’t know what other internal organs in my hip area had been damaged. Just managing to stand upright on one leg, and not fall to the ground, was a real challenge.

Very fortunately, a Good Samaritan driving by in a pickup saw me frantically waving my arms.  He stopped, and backed up slowly.  He asked so kindly –   “Can I help you?”  And I replied, “Please call 911!”

Thank goodness the 911 Call Taker was swift in dispatching the ambulance and EMTs from the nearby Argyle Fire Station on Copper Canyon Road. You can imagine my relief when I saw the medics’ familiar and concerned faces.  They knew exactly what to do and transported me immediately to the nearest Level Two Trauma Center, HCA’s Denton Regional Hospital.  There, I was blessed with an incredible Trauma Surgeon and experienced and compassionate nurses.  After one week in the Emergency Room and ICU there, I spent six intensive weeks in the wonderful Continuum Rehabilitation Hospital in Flower Mound.

Learning to walk again was a challenge.  My body from the waist down was swollen, bruised, and an awful shade of solid black from the crushing. Just being able to finally get my broken bones out of bed and into a wheel chair was scary. Even standing on one leg was a precarious balancing act. At first, I could not even move a toe on my right foot. The initial three inch forward “baby step” was a miracle I shared with my daughter Tamara Cuthrell, who was with me for that personal recovery milestone! But, day by day, the muscles and bones in my right leg and pelvis began healing and responding a little at a time.

After six weeks, I finally walked out of Continuum Rehab on a walker but with no limp.  Today, I can again lift weights, dance, and even swing a golf club!  No physical impairment of any kind remains.  So, you can understand my sincerity and appreciation for the expertise and experience of both Denco 911 Call Takers and our Argyle Volunteer Fire District paramedics!  The incredibly swift response of both made my total physical recovery possible.

I hope you NEVER, EVER have to call 911!  But, if you do, rest assured that an incredibly qualified and compassionate band of DENCO 911 professionals will respond quickly!

Sue Tejml
Sue Tejml
Sue Tejml is mayor of Copper Canyon, TX.

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