Happy New Year! 2021 has arrived. 2020 was tough, but the citizens and the town rose to the occasion. Our kids attended school safely and excelled in academics, sports and the arts and the town made progress on important priorities.
The virus persists, even as vaccines come into play and therapies improve. Citizens who are at risk will continue to need our prayers, as do those families and businesses who have been harmed economically.
Nevertheless, it is important to recognize that we are resilient and adaptable, and that it is our obligation as citizens to make the best of our circumstances. In our corner of North Texas, we should be optimistic on several fronts.
Here is a brief rundown on what happened in 2020 and a heads up for what to expect in the next twelve months.
Argyle Schools Continue to Make Us Proud
In 2020 Argyle High School again captured the UIL 4A Division I state football championship. Days earlier, the Argyle High School marching band won its seventh UIL state championship. Liberty Christian’s ladies volleyball ended their 2020 season as state champions.
These accomplishments get the headlines, but the achievements of our student athletes and musicians are just one reflection of the talent and hard work put in every day by kids, parents, teachers and coaches. Well done!
Crawford Road – A Model for Regional Cooperation
Crawford Road reconstruction has kicked off. When complete, Crawford Road will be wider and will meet Argyle’s new standards for road base construction, paving thickness and drainage. Left turn lanes, the John Payne intersection roundabout and sidewalks at key locations will improve safety and convenience.
Reconstructing a narrow country road with few detour alternatives will require patience on the part of drivers and residents whose homes are nearby. Construction between the new Crawford Road roundabout and I-35W begins in late February or March. Please note that detoured eastbound Old Justin Road traffic will not be permitted to make a left-hand turn at US 377. Drivers will have the choice of turning right on US 377 and making a U-turn or using Aberdeen Boulevard.
The planning and funding of the Crawford Road project is a model for regional development cooperation between neighboring and overlapping jurisdictions, in this case Argyle, City of Denton, Denton County and Argyle ISD. Argyle taxpayers benefited from former Mayor Don Moser’s initiative that pooled funding from three of the jurisdictions. I would like to extend special thanks to Judge Andy Eads and Commissioner Dianne Edmondson for the sustained support of Denton County for the project.
Municipal Development District Approval
Building on the success of our first multi-jurisdiction cooperative project, town of Argyle and Argyle extraterritorial jurisdiction citizens voted in November to create a Municipal Development District or MDD. The MDD platform, when launched later this year, is aimed at creating a permanent consultative body to deliberate and establish consensus on shared development priorities between Argyle and our neighbors. The MDD will partner with other jurisdictions and with developers who share our goal of finding an achievable path to preserving our small-town identity.
Strategic Plan Completed
Another important policy initiative for 2021 is the full implementation of the Strategic Plan. Completed in 2020, under the leadership of former Mayor Pro Tem Cynthia Hermann, the plan is a concrete set of actions that are designed to bring us together as a community and ensure that government is responsive to the priorities of citizens. An important initiative in the plan is a quarterly forum where citizens can meet with town leaders and staff to comment on the direction and performance of the town government. The town will be asking neighborhoods to name volunteers who can make the time commitment to attend strategic plan forums and promote participation by citizens in town government.
Town leaders and staff took several steps in 2020 to promote transparency in the policy decisions and operations of our local government. The most important was restoring the town’s Type A General Law status, which had been changed to a form of home rule without voter consent. The so-called Chapter 25 form of government imposed in 2010 gave effective control of the budget to a professional town manager and limited citizen and council participation in budget development and access to timely and detailed information on the budget and town operations. Argyle’s restored Type A General Law ordinances make the town council and mayor fully responsible and accountable to citizens for budget and policy decisions.
In parallel, the council instituted a zero-based, line-item budget development process which requires town department heads to start from scratch each year and defend their budgets in a public workshop setting. The changes to how the town runs its budget is one of the key reasons for the net surplus of over $500,000 that the town produced for fiscal year 2020.
The council also launched a public information program designed to help citizens stay abreast of town government activities. Newsworthy events are now routinely posted on the town website and made available to the public via press releases. Citizens who sign up on the town website to receive text or email notifications now see regular updates on what the town government is doing on their behalf.
Financial Oversight Committee
The town created a new body to provide for citizen participation in the town’s financial management. Made up of both council members and citizen volunteers with finance or accounting backgrounds, the oversight committee will provide input and monitor the work done by staff and the town’s auditors.
Public Improvement District Audits
Argyle has two public improvement districts, or PIDs. In 2020, the council acted to begin annual audits of the districts after becoming aware that important features of one of the PIDs had not been completed. The audit results drove the replacement of the contractor who had been in place as PID administrator since the districts were created.
The End of an Era
Argyle’s unofficial mascot, a native turkey who took up residence in the town over two years ago, passed away in December. Tom George will be missed. The town council will consider measures to mark his passing at the next regular meeting, such honorary renaming of a portion of Frenchtown Road. If you have a suggestion for the town to consider, please reach out to [email protected].
Argyle needs citizen involvement on boards and committees. There are opportunities to serve on the Planning and Zoning Commission and the new Financial Oversight Committee. If you have an interest in serving, please search “board application form” on the town website: www.argyletx.com.