Council delays bond election, floats alternatives

During its regular Feb. 01, 2022 meeting, the Forney City Council met to consider Comp. Plan, bond package, TxDOT offer, heard from ARPA firm, settled with former Police Chief Mr. Lunt.
(watch official video)

  • Held a one-hour workshop with P&Z regarding Comprehensive Plan.
  • Adjourned workshop and entered regular meeting which lasted 4 hours.
  • Public comment -
    • Darryl Maloy - local real estate broker, also art broker, sponsoring Black History event at Spellman Museum next Thursday 6-8, invites council to attend.  Will be five artists, one from Forney, Terrell, 3 from Mesquite.  Titled Black Art Matters, next five Thursdays.
    • Ms Ann Enloe spoke about two issues - what they are doing about the bridge going over 80? Needs to be more public, the public can help.  So many new warehouses creating truck traffic on 548, need to stop some of that until roads improved.

  • Approved as a consent item:
    • a Resolution approving a Professional Services Agreement with HVJ Consulting, Inc. to provide professional engineering services for the 2022 Street Pavement Evaluation Update Study and all related issues.
          Mayor Lewis invited to Mr. Groves to speak - a company will come in, use radar to image roads while driving on it.  It will cover all city streets, about 16 weeks to complete.  Mayor Lewis asks if he will provide a report to council later - yes, and will be on website

  • Viewed a Presentation by Hilltop Securities on potential PID bonds.
        Ms. Woodham said Bellagio is approved as a PID, want to issue bonds.  Mr. Bulash from Hilltop spoke, explained what a PID is, why would want one, impact on citizens.
        A PID is an economic development tool - the area that benefits pays for improvements.  Decision uses the "but for" principle - project would not exist "but for" a PID.  This can be used instead of a MUD outside the city.  One role of city is to foreclose for non-payment.  There are no encumbrances on city outside the PID.  A Home owner can prepay a PID assessment.  It is a limited, special debt, only levied on the PID properties.  The bonds are non-rated, probably sell at 2% higher than the city would get, due to its high rating and the narrow use of a PID.
        Jan 19 agreement approved with Bellagio, for 1,113 homes over 7 years.  Estimated improvements of 40 mil, developer requests PID bonds to be reimbursed for infrastructure.  Expect the PID will be able to provide 27 mil, developer will pay about 13 mil.  Project build-out worth about 432 mil, providing taxes over 2 mil to city each year.  Phase 1 has 400 homes, builder wants 12 mil bond, to be placed in trust acct.  The tax rate for this is 60 cents, developer believes that is competitive.
        Lagoona must be built before phase 2 & 3 can start.  Plans to start in 2023.
        Ms. Salgado asked about timeline - developer wants funds by June 1, so will present to council in April.
        Mayor Lewis said as agreement approved last year, council obligated to allow sales of bonds, where home buyers will pay about 2.2k more per year.

  • Approved allowing the Fox Hollow Public Improvement District No. 1 to counter offer the Right of Way (ROW) acquisition offer from TxDOT for the FM 1641 roadway project.
        Mr. Zook said city got 4 offers from TxDOT, Fox Hollow PID board discussed it (the capital PID), want to counter the second offer at 400k instead of 179k offered, due to land value and need to move a water line.  Mayor Lewis said this is 2 acres, and asked about water lines.  NTMWD will relocate lines along 1641 between Monitor and 548.  Sidewalks, irrigation,landscaping - will be restored where possible.  Large trees will not.  Mayor Lewis suggested the extra amount could be used to pay for what isn't restore.  Mr. Zook said it could be viewed as a contingency contract.  Ms. Powers asked about notifying residents; Mr. Zook said will work with HOA, be over 1 year before construction.  Mr. Traylor asked about the condemnation timelines - is there anything in writing that TxDOT will allow extension.  No, just by phone.  Mr. Traylor said technically have rejected by not responding, state could condemn it an pay less than stated.  If get something in writing from TxDOT, that would be perfect.  There was discussion about timing of city responses.
        Mr. Traylor moved that staff send email requesting 21 day extension; if no response, accept the offer.  Otherwise present counteroffer as requested by the PID (400k).  Mayor Lewis asked if that would be legally acceptable - Ms. Smith suggested 21 days is a long time.  Mr. Traylor restated his motion to specify 7-14 day extension.
        Ms. Smith said PID board informally recommended 550k, staff recommended 400k, Mr. Traylor said his motion would be for the 400k offer.
  • Approved an ordinance adopting the completed Water and Wastewater Impact Fee Study for the 2021 to 2030 planning period.
        Mr. Zook said the final draft was previously presented by Mr. Dormier. 
  • Discussion regarding proposed bond projects.
        Mayor Lewis said bond committee had excellent presentation, in the 3 sections, which will be presented as one bond of 210 million.  She has a list of suggestions.  She doesn't want to price people out of Forney.  Could require creative financing or paring down.  One option is to use Certificate of Obligation (CO) instead of bond, for public safety.  38.7 mil for fire stations.  Using CO allows fine-tuning costs.  If a public safety bond fails, there is a 3 year holding period.  Mr. Bulash confirmed if a bond fails, can't issue any debt for that project for 3 years.  New legislation says new facilities not for public safety, CO cost must be included in M&O for rollback purposes, which could hamstring the city.  Can issue CO for Renovation of existing facilities.  No difference in interest rate for bonds or CO's.
        Mayor Lewis says previous debt service burden was 43 cents, now 15, looking at 50 for this if do everything. 
        They have discussed putting library on CIP project list, have 11 mil unencumbered funds.  Could start with land acquisition and design.  A May bond ballot must be approved by Feb 15.  Terrell hasn't done a bond since early 20's.  Safety items are mandatory.  Doing library would be great.  Could maybe just put parks on bond.  Consider a vote for ETJ residents to help with parks.
        Mr. Traylor moved to enter executive session to discuss with legal counsel.  Approved 6-1 (Lewis nay).
  • City Manager's report - FFD established a schedule for all staff to read to FISD kindergarten students; in a few weeks, launching new app as part of website, will allow reporting issues, complaints.  He used a similar app in Ft. Worth.
        He asked Mr. Groves to report on sanding, who said they will remind people about pets and pipes, will have trucks available 24x7, prepared for a storm as intense as the one last year.  Will be available by 972-552-6695 even if city closed, 972-564-7600 non-emergency number.
  • Upcoming Events - Feb 5 Community Pantry food bank at St. Martins.  The Center offers free income tax prep until Apr 5.
  • Held a 126-minute executive session re:
    • Claim by Mica Lunt
    • Stillwater Development Agreement
    • EQK Bridgeview Plaza v. Forney
    • Acoustic Technology, Inc.
    • Expansion of FM 1641
    • Proposed Bond Election
    • Project Sweet Dreams
    • Project King Kong

  • Approved agreement for item A and authorize staff to execute final documentation.  (this is Claim by former police chief Mica Lunt)
  • Approved agreement for item C and authorize staff to execute final documentation.  (this is EQK Bridgeview Plaza v. Forney)
  • Mayor Lewis made a statement on bonds: will not issue COs, will earmark unencumbered funds for library/community center.
        Bond proposal will be moved to Nov, in 3 separate bonds: public safety, parks, roads.  Need to cull down the numbers and for the residents to understand what is behind the projects.
  • Approved motion to dedicate 525k of parks funds for two lighted multi-purpose fields at Community Park.
  • Mr. Traylor said one of their conversations is about North-side Park, will position bonds for N. Side park, people are not being forgotten.  Mayor Lewis added they will have the most appropriate numbers for that park, that they can stand behind and educate the public on.
  • Discuss the scope of services for the ARPA consulting firm.
        Mr. David Eisenlohr spoke for 26 minutes about his path to this occupation; he's been a city manager, then a consultant for 35 years.  He's connected to Forney as had Forney coach Jim Johnson at his summer boy scout camp.  At that time, players were required to be in scouts.
        A contract was approved by council, but his firm hasn't signed it yet - he wants to go through this before signing an agreement, to be sure what services they want. 
        A "single audit" is tripped by spending 750k federal grants, and includes a compliance review.
        ARP funds for Forney will be about 6.7 mil, in 2 tranches.  They can help increase funds by using the competitive ARP funds. 
        US Treasury, in past few weeks, issued final rules - now allows taking up to 10 mil with greater flexibility.  May have funds coming from infrastructure bill.  He showed a 5-minute video explaining the final rules changes.  He then suggested possible optional uses for funds.  He was pleased the city hasn't rushed into spending the funds. 
        Mayor Lewis said priorities are non-profits, local small business and infrastructure.
        Mr. Eisenlohr began starting about setting up a grant portal, if they have 50+ organizations to handle.  This would include grants to businesses, non-profits, individual for emergency rental assistance.  Mr. Roberson asked if he could send the presentation to them for review - yes.  Mr. Traylor requested finishing up.  Mr. Eisenlohr reviewed some of their tools (programs) available for funds management.
  • Adjourned at 2222.

  • Very brief summary -
    • Approved Pavement Evaluation Study
    • Approved water/wastewater impact fee study
    • Discussed proposed bonds, discussed issuing Certificates of Obligation for some items, discussed it in executive session
    • Stated bond election would be postponed until Nov. and be 3 separate items
    • Possibly approved settlement with Micah Lunt
    • Approved agreement for EQK Bridgeview Plaza v. Forney
  • meeting_date: 
    Tuesday, 2022, February 1