Mayor Moser asked me to contribute an Around Argyle column this month. As a newly-appointed member of the Argyle Town Council, it is my pleasure to give you a report on recent actions taken by the council at our monthly meeting last Tuesday, March 24th.
First and most important, your council acted to confirm the COVID-19 Emergency Declaration made by the Mayor on March 17. The declaration will remain in place until we vote to rescind it. While in effect, the town will operate under CDC rules to help prevent community spread of the virus, including social distancing, and will take other steps as necessary to protect citizens and the town staff.
For example, Town Hall is closed to the public, but our staff is working split shifts to reduce the risk of exposure by limiting the number of people in our offices and to allow more distance between team members while in the office. To the extent possible we are also allowing town staff to work from home. Permitting, municipal court and other routine business that cannot be conducted by email or telephone is suspended for the duration of this disaster.
Going forward, meetings of town government bodies and commissions will be held at Town Hall in the community room, which allows us to establish the recommended distance between members. Meetings will be limited to 10 people at a time in the room as required by community spread guidelines, which makes citizen attendance in person unworkable. The sound quality of our streaming system is not adequate for this task, so meetings will be live streamed via Zoom unless a better means of remote attendance can be found. Instructions for Zoom attendance will be provided in meeting agendas. Note that you will need to download the free Zoom application before you can log in to the meetings.
The council debated postponing the upcoming May 2nd municipal election to a date during the summer months. Unfortunately, the town would be forced to bear the entire cost for an election on a date not sanctioned by the Secretary of State. The price tag for an Argyle-only election is unclear, but it would run into the tens of thousands of dollars. For now, we decided to postpone to the recommended November 3rd date.
In business not related to COVID-19, we voted to adopt the ordinance changes recommended by our town attorney to restore Argyle’s governance model to that of a Type A general law city. We are once again a town with a proper balance of power between mayor, council and a town administrator, operating within the authority granted by state law.
The council reviewed a revised road and sewer impact fee plan, designed to align with the projected growth needs of our sewer and road infrastructure over the next 10 years. We will continue the impact fee review during our next regular meeting.
Our public debt advisor, Hilltop Securities, presented the results of a refunding or refinancing auction held earlier this month. The refunding was successful, resulting in over $200,000 in reduced interest over the next 10 years.
The council also voted on an amended budget, made necessary by higher than anticipated expenses for retirement and other employee issues. There are many unknowns ahead that may affect the town’s revenue during the balance of this very unusual year. The town’s finances remain solid at this time, but my colleagues and I remain focused on taking steps to improve Argyle’s tax base by promoting commercial development. To that end, Councilmember Livingston and I invited public officials and staff to attend a kickoff conference call with representatives of Hillwood Alliance earlier this month. Our aim is to work together with Denton County, Northlake and other jurisdictions to find a regional approach to working with developers, with special emphasis on the I-35W corridor. We hope to have more news on this effort soon.
Finally, I offer my thanks to every member of our town staff as they work hard to help safeguard the health and safety of the public during this challenging time.
Stay safe – I hope the quarantine offers you a silver lining in the form of precious time with your families.
Argyle Seniors Update
Due to voting we had to cancel our monthly luncheon in February and then due to the Coronavirus we canceled March and also we are canceling April’s luncheon.
Everyone brought a sack lunch for their first craft class led by Gale Schauhec and Jody Bellinghausen. We had a great time and fellowship learning how to make a cross. Our thanks to Gale and Jody for their patience and skill. We’ll let everyone know when we’re going to have everything back on schedule. Have a safe and enjoyable spring! (Stay in and take care).
For more information you may contact Stella McDaniel at 940-464-7438 or Karen Kiel at 940-464-0506.
-Submitted by Stella McDaniel