City Council Meeting – 2/5/2008

Due to January having 5 Tuesdays, it’s been 3 weeks since our last Council Meeting.  It was certainly a welcomed break as Council commitments and regional meetings have started picking up the last few weeks.  This meeting was fairly noncontroversial.  However, we did lay the groundwork for some issues that will be coming up within the next few meetings.

The Mayor issued several proclamations at the beginning of the meeting.  Frisco recognized Black History month by presenting a proclamatin to Destiny’s Ministries.  February is also Heart Awareness Month and the Mayor presented a proclamation to my good friend Sheila Elliott and several other Frisco families.  Sheila was last years Mrs. Frisco and used her platform to make more people aware of congenital heart defects.  Her son Colby has had 4 open heart surgeries after being diagnosed with a congenital heart defect.  Finally, the Mayor introduced Mrs. Frisco 2008, Carrie Himel.  Carrie is actually an employee of mine as she does advertising sales for Frisco-Online.com.  We are very proud of Carrie!

The most controversial item on the agenda was a presentation by the Frisco Police regarding sex offender residency buffer zones.  The Police gave a presentation on the pros and cons of such ordinances and it is not as black and white as many may think.  The thought process is to restrict certain offenders from residing in areas of high concentration of children (schools, parks, and day care centers).

The current state legislation is a buffer zone of 500 ft if the offender is released on parole and 1000 ft if the offender is on probation. Currently, the Police Department has no jurisdiction over offenders on probation and parole other than to notify their community supervisor to make them aware of the violation. The Police recommended a City ordinance preventing a sex offender on parole or probation from residing within 1000 ft of where children normally gather.  By having a City ordinance, our Police Department would have the ability to enforce it by issueing fines for noncompliance.  It is worth noting, that all current offenders would be grandfathered into their existing locations and this would only apply to future moves.

Little Elm , Plano, Prosper, and The Colony have all approved similar 1000 ft ordinances. McKinney does not have on but Allen is apparently working on one as well. 

The Police presented some pros and cons for such an ordinance which includes:

Pros:

  • Provides a potentially safer environment for children and prevents convicted child predators from leering at potential victims from the comfort of their own residences
  • Empowers Frisco Police Department to take enforcement action on violators
  • Deters registered sex offenders from taking residence within Frisco

Cons:

  • Registered sex offenders may choose to go “underground” making it more difficult to monitor them
  • Most offenders offend against someone they know (family)
  • Could cause sex offenders to live in concentrated areas and isolate them away from the family support, employment, and treatment they need to recover

Council agreed to have this item added to a future agenda to be voted on.  While I will certainly listen to all arguments, my viewpoint is that Frisco should be at least as restrictive as surrounding cities.  I fear that Frisco would become a safe haven for sex offenders if our policies were less restrictive than others.  If you would like to read the full presentation the Police gave, email me at jcheney@friscotexas.gov and I will gladly send it to you.

Another controversial topic was the discontinuation of CCART services.  Council voted unaminously to discontinue this service effective March 1.  Council had orginilly voted last February to discontinue the service. However, CCART agreed to provide the service for free.  CCART recently informed Frisco that to continue the service, they would have to start charging $250,000 annually.  Last year we had 12,700 total rides on the service.  This equates to nearly $20 per ride or $40 for a round trip.  Clearly, the program was not a cost effective way to help with out resident transportation needs.  However, it was difficult as we know there are some residents that rely on the service.  We are currently funding a study to determine the best way to meet our public transportation needs and we should be receiving a presentation in our April Council meeting.

The engineering department gave us a presentation of the new cameras they have installed on water towers and stop light signals.  We now use overhead cameras to detect motion at stop lights rather than the less reliable loops in the road.  The technology was very interesting to see.  The engineering department can now make adjustments to lights from the office or even the comfort of their own home. This will allow quicker responses if there is an accident, an event in Frisco, or any other reason causing delays at any intersection.  This technology will be a welcomed addition by most Frisco residents who love anything we can do to keep our traffic flowing better.

I am happy to announce the ‘big slide’ is now open inside the Frisco Athletic Center.  I have not yet had a chance to slide down it but I hear it has been just as popular with the adults as the children.  I cannot wait to give it a try with my kids.  In January, the facility was averaging 1,500 people per day, not including classes and sports leagues.  We are over 11,000 members and over 70% of our memberships are our family plans. 

Parks and Rec also stated they are actively looking for possible locations for a dog park and a teen center/skate park.  They are also in the process of updating the Parks and Rec citizen survey which is done every 2 years to see how we may improve the park system.  Finally, they announced Trick-a-Trout is this Saturday morning at Frisco Commons Park and the Daddy-Daughter dance is February 16 and almost sold out.  It will be the largest Daddy-Daughter dance in Frisco history with 6,000 tickets sold.

Many residents have been asking if there are any budget concerns with the slowing housing market and economy.  We budget our estimates conservatively to allow for downturns such as this.  We also closely monitor our annual progress each month to see if we need to make adjustments.  It is good news that our sales tax revenue is actually increasing over last year. From Oct-Dec is up from 9.0 million to 9.5 million over the same period this year.  I was surprised to learn that Frisco has the 17th highest sales tax revenue of all cities in Texas.

The final item I would like to discuss is our vote on the 423 engineering cost change order.  Denton County had given Frisco a budget of $2 million to design the construction of 423.  Over the years, many entities had requested change orders and the design had to be altered as some development occurred.  Therefore, the engineering cost had a budget overrun of $1.3 million.  All of this information had been discussed with the planning committee and agreed to bring the change order at the end of engineering design.  However, Denton County surprised us a few months ago stating that Frisco would be responsible for paying this $1.3 million.  I met with Denton County Commissioner Cynthia White last week and discussed our position.  From that meeting, she agreed to have Denton County pay this amount.  Since we are responsible for the contract, this agenda item was Frisco agreeing to the change order.  You will see a second agreement in March where Denton County is agreeing to reimburse us.

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