Archive for January, 2009

Representative Ken Paxton’s Economic Outlook for Texas

Economy Outlook for Texas

 

In continuation from last week’s article regarding Comptroller Susan Combs’ latest biennial revenue estimate, I would like to share with you the Comptroller’s economic outlook for Texas.  As I mentioned last week, Texas has begun to feel the effects of the tightening economy, although we continue to fare better than most other states. In fact, in fiscal year 2009, Texas’ gross state product grew by 4.2 percent, versus 1.9 percent for the national economy.

 

In 2008, 2,589,000 jobs were lost in the United States.  In the 12 months ending in December 2008, Texas actually gained over 153,600 jobs (Texas added more than 1.2 million jobs to our economy in the last five years).  In fact, Texas accounts for 71 percent of entire job gains in the 15 states that experienced job gains. 

 

With regard to housing, Texas has weathered the national real estate crunch without significant damage to property values.  The Comptroller expects Texas’ property values to be more resilient than most, but it’s unlikely that we will remain completely immune from the national real estate crisis.  The number of building permits for single-family homes dropped by 33 percent over the last year.  Multi-family building permits are also down, dropping eight percent from November 2007 – November 2008.  Sales of existing homes are also slowing.  Texas is down 16 percent, while the rate has fallen only 14 percent across the United States.  However, prices for existing single family homes in Texas remain mostly steady, down only four percent from December 2007 – December 2008.  The Texas foreclosure rate has remained stable for the last three years, and declined sharply in 2008 from 14,698 foreclosures in January 2008 to only 7,843 in November 2008.  As over November 2008, Texas foreclosure rate was one in every 1,176 mortgages, compared to one in 76 in Nevada and one in 218 in California. 

 

Texas sales tax receipts for December 2008 actually increased two percent from the same month the year before.  State sales tax receipts for fiscal year 2009 are up 3.9 percent from fiscal year 2008.  However, slower economic growth has pushed the total growth in sales tax collections below its recent double-digit pace.  December 2008 retail establishment sales tax was up 1.3 percent compared to December 2007.  Consumers are shifting from specialty stores to general merchandize and “big box” stores.  Walmart, in particular, had a 3.4 percent sales gain over last year, while specialty stores were down more than 10 percent overall. 

 

Given the current economic trends, the Legislature must remain cautious this session when passing legislation that could affect our State’s economy.  We must maintain our business-friendly policies in order to encourage business and job growth and also keep taxes low to help struggling families. 

 

For the latest economic indicators, please visit the Comptroller’s Tracking the Texas Economy website at http://www.texasahead.org/economy/tracking/.  For more information on the Comptroller Combs’ economic outlook, please go to http://www.texasahead.org/economy/outlook.html.

Volunteer Opportunities

GO BACK TO CLASS TO LEARN MORE ABOUT FRISCO’S CITY GOVERNMENT; REGISTRATION HAPPENING NOW FOR FREE ‘CITY HALL 101’ PROGRAM

 

Learning is a lifelong process, and the City of Frisco offers a great way to boost your knowledge about what happens inside City Hall and other municipal facilities. City Hall 101 is a free program designed to give an insider’s view of the way your city government operates. The next City Hall 101 class runs from February 2 through April 27, 2009.

 

Meet Mayor Maher Maso, city council members and city managers. Go behind the scenes of the Frisco Fire and Police Departments.  Hear what it takes to build roads and plan for Frisco’s future. These and many more topics are covered during the 11 week program which runs on Monday evenings from

6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

 

The initial “kick off” session on February 2 will be held at the George A.

Purefoy Municipal Center, 6101 Frisco Square Blvd.; however, the locations of Monday night sessions will change to correspond with the department being discussed.

 

City Hall 101 is open to citizens 18 and older. Class size is limited to

25 participants. Registration forms are available for download on the city’s Web site, FriscoTexas.gov. From the home page click on the ‘Project/Programs’ tab and then select ‘City Hall 101’ from the drop-down menu.

 

The schedule for class topics and locations is also listed online.  For more information, contact Amy Gill at 972-292-5103, or agill@friscotexas.gov.

 

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CANDIDATE FILING BEGINS FEBRUARY 9 FOR TWO CITY COUNICL SEATS

 

Candidates interested in running for Frisco City Council may file for a place on the May 2009 ballot, beginning Monday, February 9.  The last day to file for Frisco City Council is Monday, March 9.

 

Two seats, including Places 1 and 3, will be open.   All positions on the

Frisco City Council are “at large” positions.  Candidates must reside in the City of Frisco one year prior to filing.

 

Candidate “information packets” – which detail the minimum requirements for filing for office – may be picked up at the City Secretary’s Office, 5th Floor, City Hall, George A. Purefoy Municipal Complex, 6101 Frisco Square Blvd.

 

Candidate packets are available now, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

 

Early voting, by personal appearance, begins April 27 through May 5.

Voters may cast early ballots at Frisco Fire Station #4, 4485 Cotton Gin; Preston Ridge Campus, Collin County Community College, 9700 Wade Blvd.; and the Collin County Elections Office, 2010 Red Bud Blvd., Suite 102, in McKinney.

 

Early voting hours are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. The General Joint Election will be held Saturday, May 9 from 7 a.m. – 7 p.m.

 

In an effort to provide voter convenience and encourage higher voter turnout, the City of Frisco will continue to offer three polling locations on Election Day. Look for Election Day polling information to be posted online closer to election time. Voters must cast ballots at their designated polling place, on Election Day only.  Voters are encouraged to bring their voter registration cards.

 

For additional information, please contact the Office of the City Secretary at (972) 292-5020, or go online to http://FriscoTexas.gov/elections.

 

City Council Meeting 1/20/2009

After a few months of having historically light agendas, there was plenty to talk about in this meeting. I want to first wish a happy birthday and congratulations to fellow Council Member Tony Felker who was named President of the Frisco Chamber this week. Also, fellow Council Member Joy West celebrated the birth of her first grandchild. We also want to thank Collin County Commissioners Joe Jaynes and Matt Shaheen for attending our meeting. Both commissioners have territory in Frisco and faced elections last May. Joe was reelected and Matt is a newcomer serving his first term. Newly elected Denton County Commissioner, Hugh Coleman, was unable to attend. We will likely invite him to a future meeting. I look forward to working with them further in the future.

We had a large attendance for this meeting due to the discussion of the Dog Park. Over the last year we have received a great deal of input encouraging the development of a Dog Park in Frisco. The supporters are well organized and have a website that you can learn more about their efforts. To read more visit www.FriscoDogPark.com. Staff has been looking for many years to find a place where a dog park could fit. I feel they have found the perfect place in BF Phillips Park. The proposed location is located on the lower side of a ridge which separates it from the rest of the park. This location has limited alternative uses and is also separated from housing and businesses. The cost of the project will likely run similar to what the city typically spends on a neighborhood park. This park will have the opportunity to offer another unique venue to our residents and bring together dog lovers from Frisco and surrounding cities. I support activities that promote active lifestyles and this will be another venue for our residents to become active. This agenda item revised the master plan. We will still need to allocate funding and timing for the project. With the difficult times in our budgets, there is no anticipated date yet set for funding. We are thankful for the numerous supporters of this project who have offered their time, talent, and treasure by trying to find sponsors as well as offering their volunteer time.

Here is a picture of the revised plan:

 Frisco Dog Park

 On another topic, we had a lengthy discussion on how to proceed with the old City Hall. The City has been seeking a tenant ever since moving out of the location. Some of the space has been filled with Frisco Ski and Sports renting some of the space as well as the courthouse moving into the location. Approximately 6000 sq ft of the hard corner still remains vacant. The concern is the potential for continued deterioration of the building due to being vacant. Staff was proposing investing some money into the facility to make it more attractive for potential tenants. Several Council Members, including myself, expressed concern of investing too much money into the facility unless we had confidence in attracting a tenant. Staff was directed to put all options on the table including looking at potentially selling the space to a private entity that may reinvest in the facility. This will continue to be a discussion point of the coming months as we look at creative ideas to best utilize this space in a challenging market.

All of our cycling friends paid us another welcome visit to discuss the management agreements of the Frisco Superdrome. This is a great partnership with the Community College and the Superdrome Management Group. The Superdrome attracts thousands of visitors each year from all over Texas. We currently have an Enterprise Fund established to fund the maintenance and operations of the facility. The interest income on this fund pays for the management agreement and is not funded out of our general fund. In addition, the management group raises much of their own money through advertisements and event revenue. This vote was to extend the management agreement as well as to approve an outlay this year of approximately $98,000. This will also be funded out of the Enterprise Fund. I have a good friend that is an avid cyclist that keeps trying to get me out on the track. Our family has taken up bike riding as one of our favorite activities and so I am getting closer to being convinced to give a few laps on the track.

I want to quickly finalize a discussion point we have had over the last few weeks regarding the Municipal Storm Water Utility System Fee. If you recall, we were discussing how to best allocate the cost of providing this unfunded mandate by the state. Many Council Members, including myself, initially were opposed to a tiered structure where those with larger lots paid a higher fee. We had asked for staff for prepare information regarding a single tier structure. In this week’s backup, staff presented the methodology for providing a tiered structure. The fee is based on the amount of impervious space in any given lot. For instance the structure of the home, the driveway, patios, pools, and other impervious items create more runoff from storm water rather than being absorbed into the ground naturally. Staff has conducted statistics of 19,000 homes in the various tiers to calculate an average impervious amount per household. The fee for each tier was then calculated based on these averages. Council voted unanimously to approve the recommended tier approach based on this additional data. The fee for this service will run between $2-4/mo depending on your lot size.

A few other items of note include:

  • Staff asked for Council direction regarding the potential of renaming Coleman Blvd to another name. The plat actually still labels this street as Frisco St which needs to be corrected since Frisco St no longer connects. Coleman is the entrance to Frisco Square. The former developer had placed the Coleman street signs up long ago. Several businesses and residents expressed their objection to the name change due to the inconvenience and possible business interruption. Council was sympathetic to those concerns and gave staff direction to bring back proposals for possible names, including the option of leaving the Coleman name in place. If a name change were to happen, many agreed that it would be done sometime in the future to allow the businesses and residents plenty of time to plan for it.
  • There were a few items mentioning “involuntary annexation.” Several have asked what this means. Essentially it just means that the City had approached the landowner about annexation, it does not mean the City is acquiring the land involuntarily from the landowner.
  • The Mayor and Council gave Chief Borchardt high marks for the Coffee with the Mayor this month. I was able to attend as well as we watched the demonstration of our Central Fire Station Emergency Operations Center. It was estimated that over 100 people came to see the demonstration of this state-of-the-art facility. I had seen the demonstration last year but I was impressed with the innovations just over the last year. It has since been integrated into our traffic control systems as well as our FISD school cameras. It is certainly reassuring to know that if we are ever faced with an emergency, our departments will have the best available tools to serve and protect our families. Those that viewed the demonstration left impressed and proud with the level of service our police and fire departments offer Frisco.
  • Our annual rainfall in 2008 was 38.9 inches, compared to 68.1 inches in 2007. Consequently, there was more water usage in 2008 with an average usage of 233.8 gallons per person per day compared to 196.1 in 2007. The State of Texas has a target rate of 140 gallons per person per day. However, our annual usage is consistent with our near neighbors. The largest use is for lawn sprinklers. Frisco does require each new home to have a sprinkler which is why rain gauges and sprinkler conservation systems have become mandatory as well.

If you would like to see the video of any agenda item just follow the following link and lick on the agenda item:

http://sire.friscotexas.gov/sirepub/pubmtgframe.aspx?meetid=77&doctype=AGENDA

Please let me know if I may answer any questions.

Frisco Chamber Board Names Tony Felker President/CEO

Below is a press release sent out by the Frisco Chamber naming former Council Member Tony Felker as the new President. Since I have had the pleasure of working with Tony on City Council, I know he will do an excellent job. Congrats Tony!

 

FRISCO, TEXAS, Jan. 19, 2009 – Following discussion and action at their Board Meeting held on Friday, January 16, the Frisco Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors announced that Tony Felker has been named President/CEO of the Frisco Chamber of Commerce, effective immediately.   “We are pleased, proud, and honored to have the opportunity to have Tony as our new President,” said Steve Watten, Chairman of the Board.

 
 

“Tony brings a familiarity with the Frisco Chamber and community that is unique, and he has a vested interest in the Chamber, both personally and professionally,” Watten added. 

 
 

Felker has been employed at the Frisco Chamber of Commerce for the last four and a half years, most recently serving as Vice-President of Business Development.  He also served as Interim-President for six months during a transition in management at the end of 2006.   In addition to his employment at the Chamber, Felker is currently serving as Mayor Pro Tem on the Frisco City Council.  His position on Council will terminate in May as he is finishing his second consecutive term and is term-limited.

 
 

“I am extremely proud and honored to be taking over as President of the Frisco Chamber”, said Felker.  “I am anxious to continue to help make Frisco a vibrant place to do business, and I am eager to help our business members succeed.  During my time in Frisco, I have been proud to promote and help our community be all that it is.  I am eager to continue to make Frisco and the surrounding area a locale where all businesses, large and small, can succeed and where they have a strong partner in doing so.”

 
 

Since arriving at the Chamber, Felker has worked on membership, governmental affairs, and businesses retention and attraction, as well as directly overseeing and managing additional departments including finance, building, human resources, and sales.   “Tony has been actively managing areas of the Frisco Chamber for three years and has a working knowledge of its operations and personnel,” said Watten.

 
 

In July, Felker is anticipated to complete his fourth and final year at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Organization Management in Los Angeles, California.  Held at five universities across the country, most participants attend the one-week sessions at the same site each year, building valuable relationships with others in the industry and creating a network of idea sharing.  Graduates of Institute receive their IOM recognition, signifying completion of 96 hours of course instruction in nonprofit management and earn points toward the Certified Chamber Executive (CCE) certification.

 
 

A resident of Frisco since 1997, Felker has been actively involved in numerous community organizations in addition to his roles at the Chamber and on Council, including the Rotary, Leadership Frisco, the Frisco Heritage Association, and the Police and Fire Citizens’ Academy classes.   During his eleven years in Frisco, Felker has also owned/operated his own business in town and conducted sales for several organizations prior to his employment with the Frisco Chamber of Commerce in 2004.

 
 

Felker assumes the role of President/CEO following the recent resignation of past President John Land who is leaving the Chamber to assume the role of Executive Director of Economic Development and Tourism in Farmers Branch. 

Frisco Med-Tech Building Tapped as a Finalist 2008 Best Real Estate Deals

January 19 2009 — The Frisco Economic Development Corporation announces that the Med-Tech Building project has been announced as a finalist for the 17th Annual Best Real Estate Deal for 2008. The 50,000 square foot building is the headquarters for the North Texas Enterprise for Medical Technology Center (NTEC). The project was funded by a bond issue from the Frisco Economic Development Corporation (FEDC). The two-story, state-of-the-art medtech facility, includes 80 offices, 30 cubes, 10,000 square feet of highly flexible biolabs, device labs and prototyping labs to empower life-science start-ups. The incubator/accelerator will house as many as 25 entrepreneurial medical device and technology businesses. NTEC’s expansion and substantial growth compliments increased investments at the state, national and international levels. This development will further expand the vision of the FEDC being a supporter of and for emerging medtech companies and the City of Frisco to continue as the leading catalyst for development of a medtech cluster in North Texas.

 

“We are very pleased that this project has been acknowledged as a finalist for the Dallas Business Journal’s Best Real Estate Deals, said Jim Gandy, president, Frisco Economic Development Corporation. “We are very proud of Frisco and this is just another example of the good things happening in Frisco.”

City Council Meeting – 1/6/2009

The first meeting of the new year certainly brought some exciting change.  We are exciting to unveil the launch of our new online webcasts.  You can now watch the City Council meetings live from the comfort of your own home.  In addition, you will be able to access past meetings by simply clicking on the topic of interest and the video will jump to that item.  This will bring a new era to how we communicate to our residents and help us bring local government closer to you.  You can see this meeting at this link.  I want to thank our IT and Communications Department for all of their hard work over the last year in getting this system implemented.

As I mentioned in a previous post, Shelley Holly was formally introduced as the new Library Director.  In her report, she stated she expects an increase in library usage because of the economy.  She feels that residents will seek out more free programming and low to no cost entertainment as they watch their budgets.  If you are not yet a member, you can get your library card online at the City site. In February, the annual spelling bee contest is being replaced with a Trivia Bee.  Teams can be formed with up to 8 participants.  If you are good at trivia, now is your chance to show that knowledge and pick up the ultimate bragging rights!

The City of Frisco was recognized as a National Award Winner for outstanding participation in the “25th Annual National Night Out” crime, drug, and prevention program.  This not only included the neighborhood parties, but also other porgramming such as the Battle of the Badges blood drive, the Police vs. Fire basketball game, and a Health and Safety Fair.  This year was the largest # of parties ever hosted in Frisco.  We placed #4 in the country for out city size compared to #9 last year.  Congratulations to the Police and Fire and all others involved for another successful year. 

Council unanimously approved a Memorandum of Understanding between Frisco and McKinney to provide temporary Frisco Fire/EMS response in a temporary fire district in western McKinney.  This area is within the Frisco ISD zone and currently can be more efficiently managed by our departments, as opposed to McKinney’s.  It is common for cities to work together to share services and a good policy to be a godd neighbor.  As Chief Bochardt eloquently said, if Frisco’s Department is able to get to someone faster than McKinney, we would rather take that responsibility regardless of their address.  As McKinney’s infrastructure continues to grow, they will eventually take back this area of coverage.

A few other points from the meeting:

  • the discussion of the Municipal Storm Water Utility System Fee Schedule that was tabled last week was tabled again until the 2nd January meeting.  Staff needed additional time to prepare revised estimates.
  • Parks and Rec 2 February events including the Daddy-Daughter Dance and the Trick-A-Trout fishing event at Frisco Commons Park
  • Mr. Bobby Baggette was named to the vacant “At-Large” seat on the Arts of Collin County Commission