Even though the temperatures don’t coincide, summer is officially over for many in our community. The kids are back in school and adjusting to their new teachers and, for some, their new school. It is nearly the start of the new fiscal year for the City as well. City staff has spent the summer months preparing and presenting the budget to Council. In September we will hold public hearings and vote on the proposed budget. There are several initiatives this year, general information and updates I’d like to share with you.
Our budget process this year began with re-affirming and updating our City Mission and Values to develop a strong framework in order to continue our positive momentum and efficiently provide the services residents’ desire. If you are interested in learning about Highland Village’s mission statement and values, I encourage you to visit our YouTube channel and watch the city staff created video. This budget year I framed every discussion with the question, “how will our residents benefit from this?” It is always our goal to be responsible with your money, transparent in how your money is spent, and conscientious of ensuring you, the taxpayer, receive the best service and amenities your money can buy.
The area housing values continue to reflect increases that are above historical averages. For Highland Village, the increase in taxable valuation for the 2019 Fiscal Year is 5.6%. Property tax is the most critical revenue source for Highland Village representing 63% of General Fund revenues. This is an increase of 3.8% over last year’s revenue. A combination of the increase in our tax role along with a solid year end projection, staff has projected a Fund Balance of 38% or $6,744,126. We are able to use the funds to pay cash for the purchase of a fire engine and ambulance, a major capital expenditure that was identified in FY 20-21. Additionally, a two-stage tax rate reduction of $0.01 is proposed with $0.005 implemented this fiscal year and another $0.005 in FY 2021. The proposed base General Fund Budget expenditures total $18,373,424, a 4.4% increase over last year. A Supplemental Budget totaling $335,658 is also included, resulting in a total increase of 6.3%.
Initiatives this year include the addition of two positions. The first, an additional School Resource Officer in the police department to continue our commitment of developing relationships and shaping the lives of our youth. LISD provides 50% of the funding for one SRO which has been dividing their time between one middle school and three elementary schools. LISD adopted a new policy requiring a dedicated SRO for the middle school in order to receive the 50% funding. Our Community Policing model emphasizes involvement and presence in all schools so we have proposed funding for the additional SRO to focus on the elementary schools. The second position, an applicator technician in the parks department, will ensure the high level of service expected by our parks is maintained.
A Master Plan for Copperas Branch Park, including the eastern quadrant of Highland Village over to Doubletree Ranch Park, is also included to gather input and determine the best use and development of this area in an effort to plan for the future. Copperas Branch Park has been used as a staging area by a TxDOT contractor for the I-35E project over the last five years and was recently returned to the City. City crews worked to clean up the park and it is now open for public use.
The complete proposed budget document can be found on the City website. Council will hold a public hearing and vote on the budget at our meetings on September 11 and September 25.
Last November our residents approved two propositions in a bond election. The $7.15M General Obligation Bond was issued in 2018 for street improvements at $2.8M and parks and recreation improvements for $4.29M. Since approval the projects have been in design and engineering phases with construction likely to begin this year. The street improvements include full reconstruction of 22 streets. The parks and recreation improvements include reconstruction of Kids Kastle, dredging and drainage improvements to the ponds at Unity Park, redevelopment of a section of Unity Park to add an additional softball field, an extension of the Brazos Park parking lot, resurfacing and replacing the walking trail at Victoria Park, construction of a sidewalk along Highland Village Road from the Municipal Complex to Sellmeyer Lane, and roadway improvements at Sunset Point Park.
Every week the City Manager’s office publishes the City Manager’s Report which details, by department, the initiatives, accomplishments and tasks completed for the week. You can sign up to receive this informative report by visiting the city website and selecting “Notify Me” and then sign up to receive the City Manager’s Report under the “Blog” section. This is an excellent way to stay informed with what is taking place in the City on these projects, as well as others, and how your tax dollars are being spent.
Our contract with Community Waste Disposal (CWD) for solid waste services began this month on September 3. In order to better serve the community, adjustments have been made to some of the collection routes. Our residents can determine their collection day by entering their address on the interactive map found at highlandvillage.org. All the details about the new service can be found on the City website.
We have several fun events coming up this fall, to include:
- Concert in the Park on September 22 at Doubletree Ranch Park featuring King George (a George Strait tribute band)
- Highland Village Restaurant Week on October 14-20 benefitting the Fallen Officer Fund
- TXFallenPD Tribute Event on October 20 at The Shops at Highland Village
- Fall Festival Honoring Veterans on November 3 at Unity Park
- Salute Our Veterans Luncheon on November 9 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Lewisville
- Tri-Town Amazing Race on November 10
As you can see from our fall events, we care a lot about our first responders and our Veterans. This is the first year we are partnering with the Denton County Veterans Coalition at our Fall Festival on November 3. This organization works to support our Denton County Veterans in need – from financial assistance to emotional help due to Post Traumatic Stress. The DCVC is seeking sponsorships to help them achieve their mission. If you are not able to sponsor, consider attending the event on November 3 in support of our local Veterans. There will be several Veteran organizations present, activities for kids, food, music and an auction benefiting the DCVC.
The Highland Village Business Association is hosting the 15th Annual Salute Our Veterans Luncheon on November 9. All area Veterans are invited to attend. Please join us so we may say thank you and honor you for your service to our country. The lunch is a time for fellowship with other Veterans in the area as well as the forum for Congressman Burgess’ awarding of Congressional Commendation to local Veterans. We take sponsorships from the community, beginning at $40 which covers the cost of two Veterans, so our Veterans and their guest can attend at no charge. This is my favorite event as we hear from every Veteran in attendance. If you are a Veteran I hope you’ll attend, if you’re not a Veteran I hope you’ll consider sponsoring and attending to honor our local Veterans. More details can be found at www.thehvba.com.
The City and Police Department continue to raise funds and awareness of police officers who have died in the line of duty in Texas. Since 2008 the department, with the help of the community, has contributed over $160,000 to the Texas Police Chiefs Association’s Foundation which provides financial assistance to families of officers who die in the line of duty in Texas. The TXFallenPD Tribute event, held the third Saturday in October, will continue again this year with some enhancements. The event will be held at The Shops at Highland Village on Saturday, October 20 and will include a 5K run, a 20-mile bike race, and a police obstacle course race. There is entertainment and live music, vendors, demonstrations, raffle prizes, a kids zone, food, and drinks throughout the day. You can be part of this fundraising effort again this year by sponsoring the event, providing a cash donation to the fund, donating an item for the silent auction, participate in the run or bike race or attend the event. More details about the event can be found at TXFallenPD.com. Unfortunately there has been some recent news about investigations of various fundraisers for fallen officers. I would like to clarify this fundraiser and the Texas Police Chiefs Association and their Foundation are in no way affiliated in any way with the Dallas Fallen Officer Foundation or the Texas Fallen Officer Foundation. I hope you’ll consider helping us honor the lives of those who have died in the line of duty in Texas.
As you can see, we have a lot happening in Highland Village. As I close, I want to remind you to slow down as you drive through our city as kids are walking to and from school. And remember the school zones are active. If you attend any school functions, be sure to park in the designated parking areas, remember there is no parking on Briarhill Boulevard. Highland Village is such a wonderful, giving community – I am so blessed to serve as your Mayor. Thank you for your support of Highland Village.