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Robinson: Long-term planning ensures economic success

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Bill Robinson

I want to make this statement first, and make sure it’s clear and concise to everyone before we go forward.  I love Flower Mound.  I’m proud to live here and call it home.  This town is AWESOME!!!  I’m sure all of you feel the same way.  I just wanted to make sure that message is never lost or interpreted differently at all by other discussion points.

With that said, while Flower Mound is a place we all call home, and most of us have no intentions or desire to ever move, the main question we need to ask is, “What is the plan?”  Honestly, what are we doing?  Now, I’m not asking what was approved last month, or when something is going to be built or completed in the near future.  I’m asking if we are putting things in motion now that not only provide for a better future from an infrastructure standpoint, but also from an economic perspective for long term success.  In other words, in 20 years from now, will all of our ‘aging infrastructure’ not only have been replaced, but designed and built in a way for longer lasting wear and tear and also satisfying anticipated growth usage, thus resulting in long term cost savings?  Will our taxes be lower while at the same time our property values being equal or higher?  Will our long term economic plan (that we don’t have) for both residential and commercial perspectives all come to fruition?

If you look at the detail of the strategic goals for the town, most of the items listed are either in an extremely short-term time period (less than a year) or items that roll from prior years and keep consistent with year over year practices and procedures.  Where are the long-term plans to make sure we aren’t having to meet in future years and try to figure out where we will get money to pay for future expenditures?  What is the long-term plan for revenue growth and cost reductions?  Again, there is no disputing there are short term goals and plans in place.  Those are easy to come up with and execute.  There is also no arguing that Flower Mound is a wonderful place to live.  The question is, where are we going?  We have long term debt schedules taking our town’s debt up until almost the year 2040, but we only are looking five years ahead in our long-term planning.  That not only seems like a major issue, it IS an issue.

Now, while this may not be everyone, most of us have long term personal economic plans.  We have 401K’s or some form of a retirement plan.  When we have kids, many of us set in motion plans to pay for college.  So, why do we have long term plans personally, that look forward usually way more than a decade or two, but our town only references immediate short-term goals and capital improvement plans going only up to five years?  Doesn’t that sound backwards?  We have 70,000+ people living here, over $180 million in debt at the end of the 2016 fiscal year, and around $150 million in revenues forecasted in 2017 – 2018.  However, we only have a five-year plan.  Something is wrong with that!

At this time, I want to make a clear distinction.  I’m not talking about the ‘Master Plan’ for Flower Mound.  I welcome everyone to pull the Master Plan and read the section called ‘Economic Development Plan’ (it’s section 10 of the Master Plan).  You will quickly realize the lack of detail and the general topics discussed.  This is not the detail or focus the town needs.  While the Master Plan is brought up, I do want to clearly state my opinion on it.  While I believe the town is based upon the Master Plan, and it’s a key to help initially guide the town’s decisions, you will need to ask, now that the town’s Master Plan has had 130 approved amendments, at what point is it still a clearly defined Master Plan?

Specifically, so everyone is clear on my viewpoint, I believe as long as it’s a part of the town, the Master Plan is a key to use as a reference guide to make the best decisions for the town.  However, it should never be the final say in any decision on anything for the town.  For example, if we followed the Master Plan word for word, Morriss should be made in to a Major Arterial for Flower Mound, thus immediately widened into six lanes.  My quick response to this subject is I have never seen such a ridiculous situation in my professional career, nor why the topic is still on the table.  You have two small sections that need to be adjusted (by Forestwood and by Marcus) but other than that, leave the road alone.  I’m still in shock on how much of the town’s time and energy has been wasted on this, how much money is being discussed for this project that could be better used elsewhere, and yet we still have no idea when it will be resolved.  If this was how companies operated, they wouldn’t be in business for long.  Logic and intelligence needs to always weigh heavier than what is written in the Master Plan.

In discussions I have had with others about subjects like these, basically taking an economic approach and a business perspective for the town, there were many I have talked to that have said, and I’m paraphrasing most responses here, but “You cannot run a town like a business”.  So in my head is the simple question of “why”.  Why can’t you?  Why can’t our town operate in a fashion that can maximize our abilities and efficiencies to cut costs for all of our customers… us, the residents?  Why can’t the town we live in do better than ‘balancing revenues to expenditures’?  In household terms that’s called living paycheck to paycheck.  Or, making enough just to pay your bills every month/year.  Why can’t we force our town to operate in a way that in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years, we are paying less than we do now for our obligations?  Why can’t we require the town to make a profit year over year and force a reduction of debt, therefore ensuring continued progress of current and future economic success?  Why can’t we continue to add to our town, get everything we want to make this town even greater, but do it efficiently and cost effective, so in the end, we can actually do more, and get more, and it costs less?  When I asked that, from most I had talked to, the only two responses I received were (again… paraphrasing) “You just can’t” and “Flower Mound operates like all other towns and municipalities and that’s just how it’s done.”

To give you a better understanding of my viewpoint, I express constantly to everyone I have either worked with or currently work with is:

“Everything is subject to change to make better or to improve upon.  Nothing is set in stone.  Nothing!  If there is a better way to do things, even if it’s been done for 100 years, or even if it’s been done the exact same way by everyone else, it doesn’t matter.  It needs to change if there is better way… Period.”

We can do better.  Flower Mound can do better.  The 70,000+ of us, the ‘Shareholders/Stakeholders of Flower Mound’, can force change and demand a solid plan, not just until next year, but for decades to come.  We need all of us working together to make long term improvements.  All of us working together to ensure Flower Mound is not only the most desirable town because of low crime rates, our personal household valuation and education statistics, but the most economically and fiscally strong town, not only in Texas, but the United States.  Why can’t we be recognized for that?  Why can’t that be our goal?  We can, and we need to start now!

As always, I look forward to hearing your comments.  Please feel free to contact me through my website at www.billrobinsonformayor.com or email me at bill@bridgewaterhomes.com.  I’m extremely responsive to any questions/comments/concerns/etc., so please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.


Bill Robinson

Flower Mound, TX

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