Trophy Club: 2019 Mayoral State of the Town Address
The last 12 months since my last Mayor’s Report it’s been a year of constant improvements in many ways in Trophy Club. We have been in our new Town Hall and Police building for over 2 years and it has proven to be a functional building for not only Staff but for our residents who use the various public spaces from time to time.
Our Town has grown and we all are working to engage our new residents to interface with the Town and become involved in various ways in the town and to learn what it really means that Trophy Club is “A Great Place to Call Home” and it’s not just a slogan We all want the quality of life here to be exemplary. One characteristic of Community is diversity and that attribute is certainly evident here and we reap the synergistic effort of the different people, ages, thoughts, education, religions, ideas, and so on. We are the beneficiaries of this diversity and life-blood. Building Community is not the sole job of elected officials; it is shared by all of us. I appreciate your phone calls, your e-mails, and your input.
This past 12 months has at times seemed tumultuous with Council Resignations, a Special Election, the General Election and departure of our Town Manager. And we will be holding another Special Election in September to replace the council Place 4 seat vacated by Tim Kurtz. The Council has started receiving applications to fill the Town Manager position. And just recently we have received the resignation of our Director of Administrative Services, Jonathan Phillips who is leaving to work for another City along with the resignation of our Finance Manager, John Zagurski who is also joining the staff at another Town. We will miss both of these excellent employees and wish them well in their new carriers.
Residential growth has been a driving aspect for much of what we have been focused on for the past 10 years. We currently have a total of 12 vacant residential lots available compared to 43 at this time last year with 24 single family houses under construction. Our average Home appraised value in FYE 2018-19 was $ 444,630 compared to $ 447,353 for 2019-20 FYE year with a total taxable value of all property of 1,807,659,035 Billion. We had an increase of 7.24% in 2018 that was over 2017, with almost $26.4 million of this from new properties.
Our preliminary appraisal data for the 2019 fiscal year has a taxable value of ($1.94B) $1,942,578,992 which represents a little over a 12% increase at week 8 of the appraisal process. Recognizing that the appraisal process changes every week what those values are, they go up and down. – We do expect by the end of this cycle we will come out somewhere between 6 & 7% increase over the previous year.
Much of the news this year has been related to Home Appraisals and has focused on the fact that North Texas is experiencing phenomenal growth and therefore home appraisals are increasing and when municipalities set their tax rates, citizens feel the financial strain. Over the past 7 years, the Council has strived to keep spending under control and we have also lowered the Tax Rate each year with our current rate being 0.446442 for 2019. The council just approved at our May 28th council meeting a 1% residential property Homestead Exemption to be responsive to our citizens and the effect of raising property values. For Council and Staff, this Exemption will result in a reduction of Property Tax Revenue of about ½ cent in the tax rate
We received our FY 2018 Audit Report and in FY 2018 and we once again received what is called an unmodified opinion with no significant deficiencies. The 2018 unassigned fund balance for the general fund ended at $4.9 million compared to $4.4 back in 2017, which is 47 % of the total general fund expenditures. That puts us in a very comfortable position to have cash in the bank to operate, even in maybe lean times. A significant action by Council last budget cycle was to create an Equipment Replacement Fund and allocate money to fund this action.
Over the past 4 years, the Council has focused on bringing new restaurants and shopping to Town. Last year we did celebrate the opening of Holiday Inn with its Restaurant and Bar adding to our tax base and amenities for our residents and guest. And in the next few months, we will be enjoying HG Sply’s new concept. There have been additional retail businesses including Marco’s Pizza and The Ship Shop next to 7-11 on Hwy 114.
In 2018 fiscal year, we did receive payment for many of the required building permits for the Trophy Club Town Center Development (PD30) and as most of you have seen, many of the roads for the development are completed along with the parking garage for the apartments which will surround the garage. In addition, many of the Retail / Commercial buildings are under construction. Neither the planed Hotel or Town Homes have submitted final plans for their construction.
Capital Improvements for Street Reconstruction and Drainage projects required us to issue 4.6 Million Certificate of Occupation bond for these Projects, and because of our AA+ Bond Rating, we received an outstanding interest rate. These funds will be used for projects going through 2021 and include Phoenix Drive, Meadowbrook Lane, Sundance Court and parts of Indian Creek Drive and Trophy Club.
In the way of Grants, the Parks and Recreation Department received over $347,000 for repair and improvements in Trophy Club Park and the Fire Department received over $200,000 for various projects including reimbursements for our assistance with Hurricane Harvey.
The Town continues to receive recognition for the services we provide along with our choice of lifestyle. Through the efforts of our Police Department, we recently received the Safe Wise Award as the 5th safest town in Texas. Officers Krum and Hernandez were recognized with lifesaving awards as a result of their efforts with a traumatic injury call at Trophy Club Park. And our SRO program with NISD received an outstanding service award. The Fire Department was awarded the American Medical Association Mission Lifeline Award. Mrs. Jill Lind recently received an Excellence Award from the Texas Association Municipal Information Officers for her work on the promotion and communication of our Annual 4th of July event, and Mr. James Edwards was named Municipal Human Resources Association chairperson for 2019. The TC Police Explorer Team won 1st place in the Boy Scouts of America Police Competition and the explorers have a Byron Nelson Student living in South Hampton England representing our PD Explorer program. And Chief Carroll was awarded the position of VP of the NEFDA Board.
It is our long and deep history of volunteerism that we as a Town find a community where we experience the quality of life and appreciation of those aspects. This past year we have enjoyed having a person out in our lobby to greet those coming to Town Hall. Thanks to all those who have volunteered their time to sit out front and make people feel welcome.
I would be amiss if I did not express the appreciation of the Council and myself toward our Town Staff and employees.
Now looking to the future.
Many of you already know that in May of 2020, the office of Mayor will be up for election and I will be term-limited out. So after 13 years of public service on the Town Council and MUD Board, I am planning on retiring from being an elected official in Trophy Club.
The Town Charter calls for the Mayor to annually set out Needs and Goals for the Town. So after giving this much thought I have narrowed it to 8 Goals like last year.
1. As with last year, continuing to maintain the highest standards of Safety in Town for our residents, businesses and students is at the top of the list. That’s surely a challenge and I am glad to see the addition of more experienced senior leadership within the Fire and Police Departments.
2. Strive to set our 2019-20 tax rate equal to our Effective Rate or below. This rate is the Rate it would take to collect the equal amount of revenue it did the prior year from the same proprieties. If property values increase, the tax rate should go down. Two years ago, was the 1st time in our history where we set our rate at or below the Effective Rate. I see it as a good challenge and something to strive for. There are very few towns or cities in Texas that accomplished this fact.
3. It goes without saying that we need to hire a qualified Town Manager to continue to lead the Town and focus on priorities set by the Council.
4. With the opening of HG Sply Co in a few months, we need to begin planning on how we might use the land between Town Hall and Breadwinners. With over ¾ of a million dollars in our Hotel Occupancy Tax Fund, we should explore the possibility of constructing a Civic Center on this land while preserving enough parking to assist Breadwinners with their peak parking needs. If it is not a Civic Center, it surely could be Public Space which facilitates building community and enjoyment of open space and maybe the arts.
5. As with last year, we should Develop with the MUD Elected Officials a detailed plan for how the MUD and Town can optimize its assets, services, and operations. Surely, we can become more efficient and working together find a long-term plan related to this complicated matter. But let’s work together and develop a plan we can execute.
6. Work with the Developers of Trophy Club Town Center (PD30) to recruit high-end businesses and services. Now that construction has started, it is time to step up our efforts to see how we can make the development even better.
7. Work with our neighboring Cities & Towns on joint projects to benefit our broader communities. As we look at our neighboring communities, sometimes it might be a competition. One person gets an office building, one person gets a restaurant, I look at it as if something happens that is good for one of us in this area, we all benefit. We all like to go to new restaurants and shops, we benefit from the fact that new businesses move to the area and those people buy homes in Trophy Club. Everyone benefits and we need to continue to work together on various joint projects. One of those projects that I have been working on this past year is with the County, Westlake, and Southlake in a way to potentially use autonomous vehicles to transport people between our communities and their shopping areas. From my side of it, if I can get people to come to our restaurants then it’s a win for Trophy Club.
8. Explore the opportunities for more civic-focused services which might include a Senior Center and/or Meeting facilities. I think this coincides and maybe parallels to what we want to do with our Annex building. I think we need to look at where we need to provide services to our citizens and where are we lacking. We probably won’t all agree in some of that, but nevertheless, we should have those discussions.
Our Mission as Council is: TO MAINTAIN TROPHY CLUB’S STANDING AS A PREMIER RESIDENTIAL COMMUNITY AND A “GREAT PLACE TO CALL HOME” BY PROTECTING AND PROMOTING THE INTERESTS OF ITS RESIDENTS, BUSINESSES, AND PROPERTY OWNERS.
Each council member has their unique gifts and talents and brings their viewpoints to our meetings to help us make the best decision as a Council. Even though we may disagree at times on a subject, we need to treat each other and staff with the utmost respect and professionalism. To each member of Council, I say thank you for your dedication of time and willingness to serve the Citizens of Trophy Club.
As I close, I hope to begin quarterly citizens meetings open to all. Look for more information about this in the coming weeks ahead. It is an Honor for me to have served you as Mayor for the past 5 years. I sincerely appreciate your confidence and support. I believe I speak for the entire council when I express my gratitude to Council Member Shoffner who served as Mayor Pro Tem this past year. I want to thank all of the staff, thank the Citizens for trusting this Council and myself in helping to lead the Town into the future. May we be blessed as we work together. Let us strive to go through our next election for Place 4 and the General Election in May of 2020 with a new commitment to celebrate our freedoms of choice and do so with Respect and Courtesy.
Mayor Nick Sanders