Hello Citizens. As I type this letter this morning I am reflecting on last evening Thursday, Sept. 22nd, the Double Oak Town Council approved the No New Revenue Rate for the 2022-23 Budget.
The rate was set at 0.198067 per $100 assessed valuation. While at the same time providing the funding requested by the Double Oak Police Department to bring our officers’ salaries and benefits at an above median competitive standard.
The budget is now behind us, and we can look forward to making improvements to the Double Oak infrastructure and the needs of the town in future meetings.
2022-2023 Budgeting Process
Thank you to all the citizens who attended these lengthy and tough sessions regarding the budget and its process. Nothing happens easy in town government. Your input and support were great motivators for the town council to do the right thing for its citizens of Double Oak. Your participation is greatly appreciated, and we look forward to working hard for you in the future.
Concluding thoughts on the budget:
- Did the town make the No New Revenue Rate of 0.198067? YES.
- Was the Police Department defunded? NO, actually their budget increased by over $88K.
- Will the town receive 24-hour police coverage? YES, however the Town Council does not have input or control of the staffing of our Police Department. That will be up to Chief Rivas, so come on Chief lets fill those open spots and give the town citizens their ask of 24-hour coverage.
SLFRF Funds Update
The Double Oak Town council contracted with an independent accounting firm to do an investigation and interpretation of the proper use of the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds to determine if the Town of Double Oak correctly managed the funds. The findings of the independent accountant’s report were provided and shared at a previous town council meeting.
The items in question regarding the use of the funds were as follows:
Town charged disbursements in the following categories to the SLFRF funds: Premium pay to essential workers, and related benefits; Sick pay to essential workers who contracted COVID, less related workers compensation reimbursements received; Drainage infrastructure projects/repairs; Technology-related costs; Hygiene and cleaning costs; Police vehicle purchase.
Six of the seven items in question were used properly by the Town of Double Oak. However, the one item that was found to be used improperly were the SLFRF funds in the form of premium pay to three of the nine town employees. Each employee had to meet a certain requirement in order to receive premium pay through these funds.
Concerning the additional eligibility requirements, six of the nine employees qualified as eligible workers because they are eligible for and are paid overtime when applicable. The remaining three employees are salaried employees who are exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act overtime provisions and do not qualify under that provision for premium pay and should not have received the premium pay.
During the September 19th town council meeting an executive session was held to discuss and consider the next steps in the process. There was a question regarding how the Texas Municipal Retirement Funds (TMRS) were to be distributed based upon the allocation of the premium pay to the town employees and clarifications were also needed regarding filing a waiver with the Treasury Department regarding relief of the misuse of the funds for the three ineligible employees.
The updated report from the independent accounting firms is expected back in the coming days and will be shared with the town and town council for next steps.
Final steps to be determined by town council will be: Formal request of the town council to the three town employees to pay back the funds; Apply for a waiver from the Treasury Department that could provide relief to the town without penalty or pay back; Use balance funds from the Double Oak balance sheet and repay the SLFRF fund back the amounts that were misappropriated.
Council members will address the findings of the updated report at a future town council meeting and decide which action to take.
The most recent update on Braum’s is they are still having supply chain issues with their kitchen equipment. It appears as though they now need to go with alternate selections, and this will delay the project even further as they will now need to make modifications to the pad site to accommodate these equipment changes. The town administration is working closely with Braum’s on next steps and will keep you all posted in future updates.
Progress continues on the Waketon project, and the concrete pour has begun on the south side of the road. As of this writing the pour has made it all the way from Cross Timbers Drive to Bridlewood Boulevard.
The roundabout on the east side of Waketon at Chinn Chapel is also operational. There may still be potential delays and changes to schedule due to supply chain issues. The town will keep you updated as these come up.
Of course, as the construction progresses there may be times when traffic is stopped for a brief period so please be patient with the workers. The end is in sight, and we look forward to navigating the new Waketon Road.
Town Council Meeting Tips
If you’ve never attended a town hall meeting before, it might feel a bit intimidating. Here are some tips to help.
Below are some tips from an article published on March 2nd, 2021, on the National Council on Aging’s website. These tips can apply to any and all who attend regular town hall meetings.
Do your homework.
Find out if the meeting is focusing on specific topics and research related statements or activities of the legislators. Determine one or two key points you want to make and prepare them in advance.
Tell your story.
Personal stories continue to make lasting impressions on elected officials and their policymaking. You can share a success or a problem, but make it clear how it relates to a policy issue the elected official can address. Most importantly, be concise, but also genuine. Learn more from our storytelling tips.
Paint the bigger picture.
If you’re speaking on behalf of your organization, or a group of older adults you serve, describe that group in terms of numbers, diversity, etc. Data points are valuable, but stories are still important. Just be sure to convey how others with similar experiences can be affected by the policy(ies) being discussed.
Showing up and being heard is important for your leadership role in your community. Being mindful of the legislator’s time and that of your fellow advocates is as important as the message you convey. You are also seeking to build or strengthen relationships to support future dialogues with policymakers, and even mobilize your community for your causes.
Amplify your message by asking others to join you at the town hall. Organize them to reinforce your points or divide up topics and stories to make the best use of time. In addition to involving other aging services professionals, consider inviting older adults to tell their own stories that support your goals.
Collaborating with the legislator’s staff is key for your success. Make sure they know who you are. Be brief, but direct. Introduce yourself and share a business card and materials you’ve prepared. Get their business cards too! You’ll have better access if you show up early and reach out before the meeting.
Providing your business card and materials to support your message will reinforce who you are and your message with the legislator and staff. Don’t overdo it in terms of length or volume; you can and should follow up with electronic versions. Prioritize what will make an impression immediately or soon after the meeting and will prompt them to reach out for more as well.
Send an email with a thank you for the meeting and the chance to share your thoughts, briefly recap your main points, and attach/link to a brief set of supporting materials (particularly ones to share with DC-based legislative staff). Make sure to leave an opening to future dialogue and to build the relationship, such as: offer to answer any questions, express willingness to convene a future meeting to discuss further, invite them to a site visit or event to see what you were talking about in person.
Keep in touch.
Shaping policy takes more than a single meeting. Continue to use high-level engagement activities like town halls, personal meetings, and site visits to make your case and build a relationship for future goals. Also maintain the connection organically by sending newsletter and other promotions to the office and follow the legislator through her/his newsletter and social media.
I hope you enjoyed these tips.
Thank you for taking the time to read this update but more importantly for being involved citizens in this Great Town called Double Oak!
Patrick Johnson – Mayor Pro Tem
Any opinions expressed in this update are my thoughts and not officially those of the Town of Double Oak or the Town Council. I welcome all comments and suggestions. Do not miss any exciting news or updates, please visit the Double Oak Town website at www.doubleoak.texas.gov. In addition to contacting Town Hall at 972-539-9464, Double Oak citizens may reach me at [email protected].