Friday, April 12, 2024

Highland Village City Update — May 2023

Election season has ended. This year we said farewell and thank you to two Council members. Mayor Pro Tem Mike Lombardo and Councilman Tom Heslep. Mike has served on Council since 2014 and has reached his term limits. Prior to serving on Council, he served two years on the Planning & Zoning Commission. Mike has been a good friend and a strong advocate for the residents of the City. Tom Heslep was elected to Council in 2019 and also served on the Planning & Zoning Commission for nearly three years. I will miss serving alongside both of these men and I am grateful for their service, friendship and leadership. If you see them around, be sure to thank them for the work they did on Council.

During the campaigning that has been taking place I have seen comments and questions about Highland Village’s budget and economic development. I would like to share a few things with you.

As you know, we are a small community and rely mostly on property tax to fund our city services. In the early 2000’s the Council made economic development a priority with the goal of diversifying our tax base so we did not have to rely solely on property tax, could continue to fund the services our community expects and needed as we grew without raising our ad valorem tax rate.

The outcome of that vision is what we now see at the FM 407 and FM 2499 intersection. Prior to the opening of these two centers, sales tax revenue made up 6% of the City’s total revenue. After those centers opened and FM 2499 expanded to the north, sales tax revenue increased and today makes up 18% of our revenue. To put that in perspective, sales tax revenue makes up 30.5% of the City of Lewisville’s revenue and sales tax revenue in Flower Mound is at 20.2% of their revenue. Additionally, both Flower Mound and Lewisville have much more diverse sales and property tax generators than Highland Village.

So how has Highland Village spent this increased revenue? Put simply, those funds paid for the needed increase in fire and EMS services without increasing our ad valorem tax rate. If you have been a resident of Highland Village for a while, you will remember our fire and EMS services were initially provided by a volunteer fire department that transitioned to two full-time staff members and a combination of volunteers and part-time employees. The growth of our City, the ability to rely on volunteers, and the need for responsive fire and EMS services required a move to a full-time paid department. The City was able to fund the addition of full-time firefighter/paramedics over time to ensure we are able to meet the public safety needs of the community. The growth of the department represents about 10 cents on the tax rate which was funded through sales tax revenue instead of an increase in the ad valorem tax rate. While the majority of the growth was in the fire department, other departments also added positions to keep up with the growth in the City.

The City is now looking at build out and a leveling of revenue yet an increase in the cost for services. As we move into the budget process over the next months, staff and council continue to focus on the financial outlook and how to best use the funds available to provide the services and amenities our community expects. If you have questions about the City budget, projects, or any aspect of your government, I encourage you to contact me or city staff. We all appreciate when residents are interested in how the City functions and are very willing to answer questions and share information.

We are moving into warmer weather and that means the City has moved to Phase 1 of our water conservation plan. Highland Village is different from many other cities in north Texas because we have five water wells we bring online to meet peak demand in the summer months. The City has a subscription with the Upper Trinity Regional Water District for our primary source of drinking water. In the summer months the wells are brought online, which sometimes means a slight taste difference in the water from your faucet, to meet the demands of irrigation use in the City. So, during Phase 1 residents are asked to schedule their irrigation systems to run between 6 p.m. and 10 a.m. Details on our water conservation plan and the water system can be found on the city website.

Special event season is here and the Parks Department has a Movie in the Park scheduled on May 12 at Doubletree Ranch Park. The movie is “Hotel Transylvania: Transformania” and will begin at dusk. There will be food trucks on site as well. Visit hvparks.com for more details. Celebrate Highland Village is scheduled for Saturday, June 10 this year and will take place at Copperas Branch Park. That morning the Marcus Cross Country and Track Booster Club is hosting the Celebrate Highland Village Run and the Highland Village Lions Club is hosting the Family Fishing Derby. You can find all the details at hvparks.com/celebrate.

Great news for the families of our community is the splash pad at Doubletree Ranch Park will be opening on Memorial Day weekend for the summer season. The Parks Department has worked diligently to replace the surfacing, which was the reason we had to close the splash pad early last summer, remove the rocks and install fencing to enhance safety and protect the splash pad surface from unauthorized uses. We know our community loves this amenity and we are happy to be opening it this summer. Do remember the splash pad closes on Thursdays for maintenance.

Summer camp in Highland Village is back again this year with KidVenture hosting an awesome time for our youth. Check out the options at hvparks.com.

In closing, I want to congratulate Highland Village’s “Officer Dave” for winning the SRO of the year award at this year’s LISD awards banquet. Cpl. Harney has been with the Highland Village Police Department for 19 years and has served as our SRO for 15 years. He is more than deserving of this award and definitely makes a difference in the lives of our youth.

I thank you again for the opportunity to serve Highland Village as your Mayor. I love this city and continue my promise to serve to the best of my ability. I hope to see you at one of our upcoming events!

CTG Staff
CTG Staff
The Cross Timbers Gazette News Department

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