Last night, the White Settlement City Council approved an ordinance that will increase water and sewer rates as well as implement a new rate system. This change was needed for two main reasons. First is another increase in rates from Fort Worth that they charge the City for water and wastewater. This is the latest in a long line of increases that Fort Worth has made. The second reason for the increase is the escalating internal costs for maintaining and repairing the City’s aging water and sewer infrastructure. Much of the City’s water and sewer infrastructure has gone untouched for many decades and as issues become more and more common there is an immediate need to meet this issue with the proper amount of funds to address it. The total projected water and sewer expenses for the upcoming fiscal year are $931,426 ($339,777 for water and $591,648 for sewer).
The new water and sewer rate system is a tiered system. Within this system, rates increase along with usage. Minimal users will only see minimal increases, while those using higher amounts of water will see a larger rate increase. Minimum users (2,000 gallons or less per month) will see a monthly increase of $4.21 on their bill. The average water user in the City (4,000 – 6,000 gallons per month) should expect to see around an $8 or $9 monthly increase. For those using double the average amount of water, the increase could reach as high as $25 or $26 per month.
We understand that no one is happy when bills increase. Many of us who work for the City live here, this increase affects us as well. However, the failing health of the City’s infrastructure is a critical issue that must be addressed so we can continue to provide the services that you have come to expect and to position our City for continued growth and success in the future. Continuing to absorb rising maintenance and repair costs would have a catastrophic impact on the overall budget, taking away the City’s ability to focus on other important issues and services that you rely on. We thank you in advance for your understanding. We take our job to wisely and fairly utilize your tax dollars very seriously and believe this increase is the right thing to do for our City.
For those who may worry that their monthly usage will put them in the higher rate increase categories, we ask that you continue to follow us online. We’ll be periodically releasing water conservation materials that can help everyone keep water usage under control.
We welcome and value your input on this issue. If you’d like to contact us you can email firstname.lastname@example.org, message us on Facebook, or call at (817)246-4971 and we’d be glad to speak with you. A video of last night’s meeting will be online soon at www.wstx.us and we encourage you to watch the water/sewer rate increase discussion to get a fuller idea of why this increase was made and how it will impact you.
In case you weren’t able to attend, here’s what happened at the latest meeting of the White Settlement City Council.
Public hearing on proposed tax rate
The second public hearing on the proposed tax rate was held. This gives anyone interested an opportunity to address the council regarding the proposed tax rate. The current tax rate sits at .7556 and the proposed new rate is .7621. Mayor Ronald A. White asked how much more money this new rate will generate for the City. Finance Director Mary Morgan responded, stating that it will raise a total of $491,000 more, with $426,000 coming from existing homes and $65,000 coming from new homes. An illustration was then shown of how this increase will affect individual home owners. Someone with a home valued at $100,000 will pay a total of $6.43 more due to the tax increase while someone with an average valued home (around $60,000) will pay a total of $4.39 more.
The public hearing was opened up to comments and one member of the audience spoke. They stated that they would like to see the City be more frugal instead of increasing taxes, stating that even though the increase was small they have seen the City make small tax increases several years in a row. The speaker told the council that multiple small increases add up.
With no one else wishing to speak the public hearing was closed.
Small cell infrastructure ordinance
Council also heard a matter regarding a new State bill that has been passed. This new bill requires that wireless infrastructure providers be given access to public rights of way. Council spoke about internet access and the means to achieve becoming a part of the infrastructure system. The proposed new ordinance would put the city in line with new State requirements, setting up a system that would allow wireless providers to request the ability to put a pole that can be used to provide wireless access. There will be a fee required to be paid to the city to install these poles, and equipment will be required to be installed in a manner that is visually appealing and not disruptive.
A motion was made to approve the ordinance. That motion passed unanimously.
With no further items on the agenda, the meeting was adjourned.
After spending almost ten years with the City of White Settlement, Jeff James is now beginning his first week as City Manager. Jim Ryan’s retirement was effective on June 10, and the City Council voted James as his successor. After spending seven years as City Marshal, James has served as Assistant City Manager since 2014 while continuing his City Marshal duties. During that time, James fielded several management responsibilities that he says prepared him to be City Manager. These included working as a project manager, handling large projects such as the overhaul of Cherry Lane and the creek erosion project, being the person department directors reported to, and overseeing the details of the City taking possession of Hawaiian Falls and transforming it into the city-run Splash Dayz.
Curbside Recycling of Clothing, Shoes and Home Goods is coming to the City of White Settlement.
Beginning June 8th, 2017, the City of White Settlement will be adopting the highest impact residential waste reduction initiative in the U.S. that is completely free to the city and its residents.
White Settlement residents can recycle reusable clothing, shoes, and household items with free, curbside pick-up on their second trash collection day of each week. During launch, every resident will receive a series of mailers with program information along with two (2) Simple Recycling bags. Simply place your bags provided by Simple Recycling beside your trash bin before 7:30AM on your second trash collection day and Simple Recycling will be by to grab them. It’s that easy. Simple Recycling will even leave behind replacement bags for future use.
For a list of acceptable items, you can visit their website at www.simplerecycling.com
All collected clothing, shoes and home goods are diverted from the waste stream, reducing tipping costs at the landfill, and begin their journey of reuse and recycling. By participating in this program, Simple Recycling creates jobs through the collection, sorting and resale of items otherwise destined for the landfill while finding a new life for your unwanted clothing, shoes and home goods. Additionally, White Settlement is compensated on a “per pound” basis for the material collected by Simple Recycling.
Without a curbside program, 85% of clothing, shoes, and reusable home goods get thrown into a landfill. On average, that results in 21 BILLION pounds of textile waste in the United States annually. White Settlement and other Texas communities have partnered with Simple Recycling in order to help change these shocking numbers and reduce the amount of reusable home good waste (which makes up to 15% of the residential waste stream) that ends up in our landfills.
Simple Recycling, based in Solon, Ohio, is the largest and fastest growing curbside recycling program in the nation. Currently, Simple Recycling services approximately 1.2 million households in Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, and Texas. This convenient service offers residents the opportunity to be involved in the highest environmental impact initiative at no cost.
To request additional bags, you can visit their website at www.simplerecycling.com/supplies and for any additional questions you can reach Simple Recycling at 1-866-835-5068
Yesterday the City of Fort Worth had a treatment issue at the Rolling Hills Water Treatment Plant. This plant has temporarily been taken out of service and additional treatment capacity is being brought online. Water customers such as the City of White Settlement may see instances of cloudy water while this issue is being handled.
Thanks to everyone who sent in questions through Facebook, email, and even by phone this week! Brian was able to spend some time today answering them.
Question: What’s your favorite part of your job? Least favorite part?
Brian: My favorite part of the job is the rewarding aspect of saving someone’s life or saving their property. Even when we have a residence with heavy fire and we save a portion of their property such as family heirlooms or photographs it is rewarding because there is always something very important to them inside their home. My least favorite part of the job would have to be all of the administrative work that comes with the title.
Question: When did you know you wanted to be a firefighter?
Brian: I joined the United States Air Force in 1989 and thought I wanted to be an air traffic controller but the Air Force decided I should be a Firefighter. The Air Force stationed me at Carswell Air Force Base in Fort Worth Texas and I moved into a house in White Settlement where I began to volunteer in May of 1990. The municipal Fire Department here gave me so much more of a different experience compared to how the Air Force Fire Department operates and I fell in love with the profession.
Question: What’s something you wish everyone knew about fire safety that they don’t seem to know?
Brian: What we see so commonly is that people frequently overload electrical outlets and power strips which is a large cause of fires. Also, changing the 9 volt batteries in smoke detectors twice a year is very important as it can give warning for our families to get out safely and save lives!
Question: What kind of training do you guys do?
Brian: We are required a certain amount of training by the State based on different certification levels. What I like to see most is hands on training that is applicable to what we do and not too much time sitting in the classroom. So monthly we offer 8 hours of training, 6 hours of firefighting related training and 2 hours of medical related training. Also, once a year we have a requirement for live fire training where the guys fight fire in a controlled environment, this usually happens at Tarrant County College Fire Training Center.
Question: What’s the most dangerous experience you’ve ever had fighting a fire?
Brian: Our job is dangerous anytime we fight fire and I could tell many stories of fighting house fires or commercial building fires. But on January 28th, 2008 we responded mutual aid to Benbrook for a large grass fire, we were working along the highway on 377 south of Benbrook, I was a Captain at the time and our Fire Marshal Melvin Wilson was a Firefighter. We were standing near the rear of our fire engine when a pickup truck going approximately 60 miles an hour drove into heavy smoke conditions and ran into the rear of our fire engine. Myself and Melvin Wilson had just stepped a few feet away from where the pickup hit our engine, a few seconds earlier and it would have been a different outcome. My life was almost taken that day and all I could think about was my son and my daughter and how much I loved them.
Question: Does it get boring on a day when there aren’t many calls coming in?
Brian: During the day time when the guys start their shifts, they have truck checks, tools and equipment checks and personal protective clothing and equipment to check daily. They are also required a certain amount of physical fitness time daily. Most days they will add some type of shift based training to stay sharp on their skills. Then at different times of the year we add in testing fire hydrants and other fire prevention activities. They generally work 24 hour shifts so they do get some down time as well due to the expectation that an emergency call could require them to tax their bodies for several hours without much rehab time. As for me, when call volume is low, I generally have administrative work to do or meetings to attend. So, in my opinion, no it’s not boring. I love this job!
With just 65 days until the 2017 season begins at Splash Dayz, I spent a little time with Splash Dayz General Manager Shelly McCormick this week to get an update on what’s going on as they get ready for the big day.
The first job fair of the season resulted in hiring nearly half the capacity of staff needed to run the park. Shelly was encouraged by the high amount of returning employees from last season. Another job fair will be held on March 30th and 31st from 4 – 8 pm at Splash Dayz. If you or someone you know is looking for a great job then be sure to come on out as we’ll be interviewing on the spot. Shelly will also be at Brewer High School on Monday and Tuesday, March 27th and 28th to give out applications, answer questions from those interested in working at the park, and setting up interviews.
Painting of the pools has been completed, with some minor stenciling work being set to begin soon. Most of the slides in the park have now been waxed and sand for the new sandbox feature is being installed. Some of the pumps in the park have been replaced while others have had maintenance completed on them, and power washing continues throughout the park.
This warm weather’s got us all very excited about the upcoming season and we hope you guys are all excited too! Just a little over two more months to go!
Thanks to everyone who sent in questions through Facebook, email, and even in person! I sat down with Amy this morning and here are her answers.
Question: Can you comment on some of the craziest laws we still may have on the books from back in the old days?
Amy: The craziest law I have come across is that “It shall be unlawful to color, dye, stain, or otherwise change the natural color of any chickens, ducklings, other fowl, or rabbits, or to possess for the purpose of sale or to be given away, any of the animals mentioned in this section which have been so colored.” That’s the most outlandish one I’ve come across. Don’t paint your chickens!
Question: What’s the most challenging part of your day?
Amy: It’s all kind of challenging, but not in a bad way. I wear a lot of hats and have a lot of different job duties. Each hat I wear has its challenges, but that keeps me engaged and takes the monotony out of the day.
Question: What’s your favorite part of your job?
Amy: My favorite part of the job is the way we’re all close here in the workplace. Here at City Hall as we serve the community, everyone gets along and it feels like a family.
Question: What led you into this position?
Amy: I was driving an hour into work and so I began looking for a job closer to home. I put in for a position here and began as an administrative assistant and in 2008 the council voted to name me City Secretary.
Question: When are you going to have more cookies in your office? I was in there a few weeks ago and saw cookies, but now there aren’t any cookies.
Amy: I always have a candy dish and sometimes we have extras like cookies. It’s just a fun thing I like to do for the staff. There’s something about a piece of candy or a cookie that can make your day a little less stressful.
Question: What is one of your favorite places to go out to eat?
Amy: I like to drive and so some of my favorite places to eat are Ninfas in Waco at the Spice Village, GristMill in Gruene is really good, and there’s a little Mexican food place in Marietta, Oklahoma that I love to eat at called LaRoca. Every Sunday I also crave a Georgia mud fudge blizzard from Dairy Queen.
Amy: Great questions, everyone, I hope you like the answers! Have a great weekend!
Thanks to everyone who took the time to ask a question! I sat down with Melvin this morning and here are his answers!
Question: What is the scariest part of your job?
Melvin: Serving warrants would be one of the scariest things. You just don’t know. It’s the fear of the unknown until you get out there and do it. You don’t know what the situation is going to be until you actually encounter that person. A big part of diffusing that is treating people how you want to be treated. I live in this community, and I know I’m going to run into these people again down the road, so I try to treat everyone with respect.
Question: Has food ever cooked or popcorn ever popped during a fire? What are some strange things you’ve seen happen along these lines during a fire?
Melvin: There was a recent fire where food did end up cooking. Someone fell asleep while cooking and that ended up causing the entire fire. That happens quite frequently. This can happen during the summertime when kids are left at home by themselves. Unattended food on the stove causes a great percentage of fires.
Question: What part of your job do you take the most pride in?
Melvin: I take the most pride in making sure that all of our businesses follow the fire code. I take ownership in this because I live in this community and I want to make sure it stays safe. We want this to be a safe community for the residents, but also I live here, so I reap the benefits of a safe community too. We work alongside the health department and different entities to make sure everyone is following the same rules and providing a safe experience.
Question: Maybe you can share a little about the work you do as the Fire Marshal in regard to inspection of local businesses, etc that helps to ensure our citizens are as safe as possible?
Melvin: At the Marshal’s Office we try and make sure that all of our commercial businesses are in compliance with the Fire code. We want to look after the business owners as well as the citizens to make sure everyone enjoys a safe visit to our community. The Marshal’s Office visits with all the businesses in our city once a year for their annual fire inspection. We work with our local businesses and provide fire extinguisher training to their employees and offer other fire safety tips.
Question: Where can I take empty medicine bottles in White Settlement?
Melvin: You will need to contact either MedStar or the Tarrant County Health Department for that question. You can reach Medstar at (817)923-3700 and the Tarrant County Health Department can be reached at (817)321-4700.
Melvin: Thanks everybody! Stay safe and have a great weekend!
Thanks to everyone who emailed in and messaged questions. Community Services Director Rich Tharp sat down answered each one of them this morning!
Question: How has it been managing the new services (library/seniors)?
Rich: It’s worked out well because all the different areas are different facets of community service. Being over each one of these areas allows us to work together better and streamline services. The staff has enjoyed it as well, as it’s brought everyone together and allowed them to work together more closely.
Question: What’s your favorite thing about your job?
Rich: I enjoy working with people and helping to provide the community with great places they can come enjoy and spend time.
Question: What feature would you most like to see added to our parks?
Rich: The City just completed the Park Recreation and Open Space Master Plan and from the studies we determined that our citizens would like to see a linked hike and bike trail system. This would allow you to walk or ride your bike through multiple areas in the City. This was identified in our citizen survey as something that there is much interest in.
Question: Have you ever seen the TV show Parks & Rec? What character on there do you most identify with?
Rich: Yes, I have. According to my kids, it’s definitely Ron Swanson, because of the mustache.
Question: Are there any classes or programs that the City has that get overlooked and you’d like to tell people about?
Rich: Some of our newer programs are getting people involved in the Community Garden, our adopt a street program and the Central Park trash pickup on April 8.
Question: Is there a secret book in the library? If so, can you provide information on that book? Are you willing to disclose to little ol‘ me where I can find it?
Rich: I can neither confirm nor deny the existence of such a book. However, if there were a secret book, it would most likely be located in the children’s non-fiction section, bottom shelf, on the right.
Rich: Thanks for the questions! Everyone have a great weekend!
Here’s your guide to everything going on around White Settlement for the week of March 6, 2017.
As part of the Street Improvement Program, work is underway on Silver Creek Road with the assistance of the Tarrant County overlay project. Other streets will also be worked on as part of this project.
Crews will be out continuing signal light work this week.
Express Fuel Mart at the corner of White Settlement Road and Dale Lane is now open for business.
The Household Hazardous Waste collection event will be held on Saturday morning from 9 – 11 am in the municipal complex parking lot.
The Library Board will be meeting this Thursday at 6:00 pm at City Hall.
Appointments are still available to get help with your taxes at the Library. Either come by the library or call at (817)367-0166 to set up an appointment.
With just 86 days until the 2017 season begins at Splash Dayz, I spent a little time with Splash Dayz General Manager Shelly McCormick this morning to get an update on what’s going on as they get ready for the big day. I also asked Shelly to share a few thoughts about herself and her focus right now.
“My focus is to not talk about serving the community, but to instead get out there and just do it. Just serve the community,” Shelly said. “Serving the community is extremely important to me. Making Splash Dayz a fun and safe environment for family and friends is something I strive toward every day.”
Here are some of the things that have been going on at Splash Dayz over the past few weeks and things on the horizon:
The concrete where the adventure park used to be is currently being dug out and repaired. This will be a task that takes a few weeks to accomplish.
The kiddie pool and the plunge pool where the slides end are currently being painted.
The slides are being waxed. This is a multi-week process.
General maintenance is ongoing to get the park looking nice and prepared for opening day.
The Splash Dayz job fair will be taking place on March 20, 21, 30, and 31 from 4 pm to 8 pm, at the Splash Dayz Conference Center. This year, we’re doing our own life guard training and will have certified trainers that will teach and train the Splash Dayz lifeguards. There will also be follow up training done with the employees to keep them sharp throughout the summer.
Shelly spoke about her desire to make this more than just a first job for kids but to also help develop them into professionals. Splash Dayz has partnered with EECU who will work with the kids and answer any banking questions they might have as they begin to join the workforce. Representatives from EECU Will be at employee orientation to work with any employees who have questions.
As we ended our conversation, Shelly shared a little more about her mindset in these months leading up to the park opening.
“I’m extremely excited,” Shelly said. “This is definitely my passion. I love going to work. I love what I do.”
For those of you ready to go ahead and pick up your season passes, they are available now at the Utility Billing department at City Hall. $64.95 for individual passes, $59.95 each for the family four pack, or $49.95 for White Settlement residents.
Thanks so much to all of you for your great questions. Assistant City Manager Jeff James sat down and answered each one of them this afternoon!
Question: Are there any plans of a grocery store coming to White Settlement?
Jeff: We are currently trying to recruit a grocery store to come here. A grocery store coming to our market has a lot to do if they feel like they can make money here. It’s hard for us because we have a walmart on both sides of the city, an aldi on both sides of the city, and an Albertsons nearby.
Sometimes it’s not the city’s decision, and can come down to negotiations between the grocery store and whoever owns the property they are interested in. But the city is actively trying to get a grocery store here, yes.
Question: I was just going to ask what a daily admission price is, and what a season pass price is?
Jeff: Here are the prices for Splash Dayz.
$18.95 over 48 inches
$16.95 under 48 inches
$16.95 for seniors and military
$12 twilight after 4 pm
Season pass $49.95 for ws resident
$64.95 for regular season pass
Family 4 pack is $59.95 per
Cooler/container pass is $15
Cooler season pass is $45
Question: How many code inspectors do we have? I was raised here and then moved back in 2001 and I feel that we would attract more businesses if we “cleaned up” our city.
Jeff: We have two code officers but any police officer can enforce municipal code. We are attempting to clean up the city. Cleaning up the city is a process that I feel all citizens here in town are in favor of. The idea of cleaning up the city means a lot of different things. If you want the city to tell a homeowner to paint their house or to fix their driveway or put shrubbery around the house that is pleasing to whoever is looking at it, those are things that the city is not able to do. City ordinances when it comes to code enforcement are limited to tall grass and weeds, trash, junk, and debris, and the health and safety of the citizens that may be living or working in a structure. We attempt on all levels to try to make this town a positive and good experience for those people who live here, work here, and visit our community. We try very hard to walk a fine line between informing citizens of a code matter that is their responsibility to clean up while not insulting our citizens. We are not always successful at this. We don’t want anyone to feel as if we are harassing them. It’s not the goal of the code enforcement or the city in general to make citizens feel that way.
Question: What’s your favorite thing about your job?
Jeff: I love this town and I love living here and working here. I feel like dealing with problems, even though a lot of times the people involved are angry, for the most part we come up with good solutions for citizen’s concerns. I like feeling like we’re doing some good here.
Question: Is it true that city employees who also live in White Settlement, receive FREE WATER?
Jeff: No, that is not true. There used to be a water credit given to volunteer firemen but the IRS has said that this kind of credit is actually compensation and they should be taxed on it. So the city no longer participates in that program.
Question: At some of the intersections with lights it only allows one direction for some to go at a time. Example. Lvt and silvercreek. East west. With it being a high traffic and more than one lane at the intersection. Why not make inside lane turn left and the right lane go straight. While allowing east/west to go at the same time. It would be using yellow caution arrow for the turn and if the turn was missed then the next cycle it run a green arrow (protected left turn). This would allow lockheed traffic to flow smoother while letting those traveling towards lockheed headed home to get home faster while also reducing red light times. Could the city change the lights to be configured that way.
Jeff: Traffic lights are controlled either by cameras that monitor traffic flow or by weight when they measure how many cars are sitting at the light. We have a combination of both of those in the city. Unfortunately, traffic lights are very expensive and there’s only a handful of people on the county’s list of approved people to do traffic lights. We choose to use people on that list so we can know we’re getting approved and knowledgeable contractors to put up the lights. This means that we end up on a list for the contractor and they get to our city as soon as they can, but we are not always a high priority because we are not their biggest customer. We don’t have city employees who are dedicated to doing this job, so we must use these contractors. I was just informed that signal light work is scheduled to take place for us on March 8.
Question: I’m a bit curious as to why Splash Dayz cost has not been reduced….it was one of the goals when White Settlement canceled the contract with Hawaiian Falls?
Jeff: The cost of pricing for Splash Dayz tickets is less than the cost of Hawaiian Falls tickets. A one day admittance to Splash Dayz is $18.95. A one day admittance ticket to Hawaiian Falls is $28.99. A regular season pass to Splash Dayz is $64.95. A regular season pass to Hawaiian Falls is $79.99. There are additional discounts to Splash Dayz season passes for residents of the city, costing just $49.95. This also makes us less expensive than Splash Kingdom, NRH2O, and Hurricane Harbor. We are also the only park I’m aware of that has an after 4 pm price of just $12 to get into the water park and the park remains open until 8 pm.
Question: When is silver creek road going to be fixed and repaved? It is getting worse day after day and it takes on a lot of traffic.
Jeff: Silver Creek Road is a high priority street for this City. We are well aware that not only our citizens but also commuters who work at Lockheed drive on Silver Creek. We will be doing this project in conjunction with Tarrant County, which means we have to work along with their schedule. We’re fortunate the county is going to partner with us on this project, as it helps greatly with the cost. The city and the county started on Monday of this week working on this project. So work on Silver Creek is now underway.
Question: Are more restaurants in our future? And I don’t mean ones with a drive thru lol
Jeff: There will be more places to eat in our future. We’re aware of at least three recognizable fast food restaurants that are looking at buying land in White Settlement and building here. The city is working diligently on attracting a sit-down restaurant. Most of the restaurants we’ve spoken to are encouraged by the growth happening in White Settlement and on the West side of Fort Worth. So far we’ve not been able to find a restaurant as of yet who has told the city that they are going to build here, however, please keep in mind that 99% of these negotiations are outside of the city’s control because the negotiation will be between the property owner and the restaurant owner. The city does not own any land where we have been told the majority of restaurants would like to build, which is at the entry points of the city off of the highway. These include White Settlement Road, Clifford Street, Las Vegas Trail, and Cherry Lane.
Jeff: Thank you so much for your questions. I really enjoyed this chance to speak with all of you today.
BUDGET PUBLIC HEARINGS
The Crime Board budget was first to be discussed. The Crime Board had already approved the budget but before it went before Council citizens were given an opportunity to speak on it. With no one present wishing to speak, the public hearing was closed.
The council next moved to the Economic Development Corporation budget. This budget was already approved by the EDC. The public hearing was opened, but with no one wishing to speak the public hearing was closed.
The next budget that was discussed was the overall City budget. A public hearing was opened, and one citizen spoke. They questioned the need for the tax increase that was a part of the budget, saying home values are going up and so the City is getting more money anyways.
All council members were present for this specially called meeting. The agenda items for the meeting were to hold a work session on the budgets for the library and museum.
Council member Steve Ott questioned why this meeting was called. Mayor Ronald A. White explained that there was a citizen who raised questions about the library budget at a previous meeting and he wanted to make sure those questions had been answered. He also referenced what he called a “breakdown in communication”, saying he’d been informed that the museum didn’t receive all of the funds in their budget they had requested.
Mayor White asked Finance Director Phil Bray if the citizen’s questions about the library budget had been answered. Bray explained that the citizen was invited to come to City Hall where staff would go over the budget with them, but said that they did not come in. He stated that at a previous meeting when these questions were raised, staff attempted to answer them. The citizen was present, and said they’ve been unable to meet with staff, but would like to take them up on the offer and do so soon. They were told that the invitation is open.
City Manager Jim Ryan explained that the decrease in the library budget the citizen was questioning was from two years ago, when higher salary employees left the library and those that replaced them didn’t have the same qualifications, meaning that the new employees’ salaries were lower. Ryan again stated that the current library budget had not been cut or lowered, saying it was the only department to not be cut.
Moving to the museum budget, Deputy City Manager Jeff James addressed the council. He stated that it was simply a miscommunication, explaining that the budget documentation submitted by the museum made it appear as if they were only asking for $24,000 in funding. Lower on the document, there were an additional $6000 in expenses listed, but James stated that since the additional money wasn’t expressly being asked for it was thought that the museum was going to pay for those expenses using their donations. James said that moving forward they will use a more clear form of budget documents and will work to communicate more clearly with the museum and their board.
A discussion was held regarding ownership of some of the exhibits at the museum. While discussing using funds to repair exhibits, both Ryan and James touched upon the fact that this could mean spending tax dollars on something the City doesn’t own since there are exhibits at the museum that are on loan and not actually owned by the museum. “I don’t know if we really want to take taxpayer dollars and benefit a private citizen,” James said, saying this wasn’t advisable.
Ott pointed out that the museum board isn’t appointed by council, saying that the museum is its own entity that uses City property and is funded by the City. He suggested that this might need to be addressed, offering options such as making the museum an actual part of the city like the library and seniors center, or to stop funding the museum since it’s not officially a city department. Ott stated that it’s an auditing issue having the museum set up the way it is now.
Returning the discussion to the museum budget, council member Clements and Mann voiced support of funding the additional $6000 that is being asked for. Ott stated he was against it until he had more documentation about why they needed the additional funds.
One of the museum’s board members addressed the council in an attempt to answer some questions regarding the extra funds they requested. Ongoing security costs, damage to the museum building, and utilities were some of the things the extra money would go towards. They also said they believed making the museum a City department was an excellent idea.
Since this was a work session, no actions were taken by the Council.
Council member Steve Ott was absent due to an illness.
BUDGET WORK SESSION
The council continued their ongoing budget discussions. First up was the Crime Board budget, which Council has to either approve or deny and can’t make changes to. Council member Elzie Clements spoke first, thanking the Crime Board and the Police Chief for how much they were able to cut their budget. He spoke highly of the WSPD and said he appreciates the cuts, but hopes they didn’t cut too much. Council member David Mann, echoed this sentiment. City Manager Jim Ryan reminded them that much of the WSPD budget is also contained in the main budget in addition to what is in the Crime Board budget, saying it was the “single most important and expensive thing the City spends money on.”
All council members were present at the meeting.
INSURANCE TRUST AGREEMENT
Human Resources Director Mark Huff presented this item to the council. Huff explained that Cities have the opportunity to avoid being taxed by the state when it comes to insurance premiums if they set up a benefits trust. That trust has to be set up by the Council through a resolution. Mayor Ronald A. White asked how this benefits the City and its employees. Huff explained that it will save the City around $15,000. The City pays all of the employee’s insurance and subsidizes dependent coverage.
Council member Paul Moore made a motion to approve this resolution. That motion passed unanimously.
PROJECT UPDATE: Work on the Community Development Block Grant Program project is now underway on West Place. This comprehensive sewer line project will run from West Place through to Lanham Street. Homeowners may be asked to accommodate work crews regarding fence line issues in the work area. The City shares the cost of this project with Tarrant County. A timeline of 120 days has been estimated for completion of this project.
All council members were present for the August 9, 2016 meeting.
QUARTERLY INVESTMENT REPORT
Finance Director Phil Bray presented this item to the City Council. He highlighted the yield the City’s investments are bringing, saying that they are “significantly better” than they would be if the City was using one of the available Texpool options.
The 2016-2017 school year for the White Settlement Independent School District got underway today. That means the return of 20 mph school zones. Please be extra attentive while driving near the schools in the mornings and afternoons as our neighborhood children come and go. Also, remember that there is a complete restriction on using cell phones in an active school zone. This includes making and receiving calls. There are only three permitted cell phone uses in an active school zone. If there is an emergency situation and you are calling police or fire or medical, any emergency or safety personnel that are using their cell phone in the performance of their duties, or the use of a completely hands-free method of using your cell phone. Let’s all work together to make this a safe and prosperous school year for all those in the WSISD!
All council members were present for the August 9, 2016, meeting of the White Settlement City Council. After opening the meeting, council voted to move the executive session set for the end of the meeting to the beginning. This was done to avoid paying more attorney fees than necessary as part of the executive session required the council to speak with an attorney. Items highlighted on the executive session agenda were to seek advice from City Attorney and to conduct the performance reviews of City Manager Jim Ryan and City Secretary Amy Arnold.
After meeting in executive session, the council reconvened in open session. Council member Steve Ott made a motion directing staff to proceed as discussed in the executive session. That motion passed unanimously.
PUBLIC HEARINGS POSTPONED
Ott made a motion to postpone several planned public hearings that would deal with re-zoning, platting, and re-platting. Ott stated that he would like to see more documentation on these issues before council considered them. That motion passed unanimously.
The three members of the City of White Settlement Marshal’s Office spent part of their day last week testing for their annual firearm certification. City Marshal Jeff James, Deputy City Marshal Melvin Wilson, and Deputy City Marshal Randy Rogers traveled to the Tarrant County Sheriff’s Department to do their testing on the firearms range there. The test requires the marshals to fire 50 rounds at a target from four different distances, from 3 yards, 7 yards, 10 yards, and 15 yards. All three members of the WS Marshal’s office scored 96% or better and received their annual certification. They certified on their duty weapons, backup weapons, and off duty weapons. This certification makes sure that the Marshals remain trained and ready should the need arise to use their weapon.
“Firing your weapon isn’t something you ever take lightly,” Deputy City Marshal Melvin Wilson said. “You’re accountable for every single shell you fire.”
The Marshal’s office has many duties within the city, from serving warrants, contacting those with warrants, participating in code compliance issues, assisting animal control, and even acting as security for Splash Dayz waterpark.
“The Marshal’s do pretty much everything,” Wilson said.
In addition to working as Deputy City Marshal, Wilson also serves as the City’s Fire Marshal.
On Friday, the White Settlement Senior Center held their monthly food bank. The food bank is held on the second Friday of the month with help from the Tarrant Area Food Bank and the Senior Center Services of Tarrant County. The Center selects and purchases the food that will be available at the food bank at a reduced price from the Tarrant Area Food Bank, then volunteers go pick it up. A team of volunteers helps unload the truck and set up the food on tables in the Center. Volunteers also staff each table, helping load up the seniors with food as they make their way through the line. With many seniors living on a fixed income, the food bank helps them keep food in the pantry. Seniors looking to participate in the food bank need to eat lunch at least four times a month at the Center, including eating lunch the day the food bank is held.
For more information about the White Settlement Senior Center or to see a calendar of the numerous events and activities being held there, head to http://www.wstx.us/seniorcenter/
The northernmost park in the City of White Settlement is John Griggs Park. This is the second oldest park in White Settlement and was once known as North Park. It was renamed in honor of John Griggs by a unanimous vote of the City Council in November of 1986 to honor him for his 24 years of service as the Fire Chief of the White Settlement Volunteer Fire Department. At the November 1986 meeting, Council considered renaming Saddle Hills Park in honor of Griggs but ultimately decided to rename North Park. At the meeting, Griggs was referred to as a remarkable leader.
Griggs joined the White Settlement Volunteer Fire Department in 1954 and was named Fire Chief in 1956. He served as the chief until 1980. He also served in the leadership of the Tarrant County Fire Fighters Association. In addition to being honored with a park in his name, there is a plaque at the base of the flagpole at the current Fire Station in remembrance of Griggs and all he did for the community.
Hanging in the White Settlement Fire Station on Hanon Drive is a massive hand-painted map of the City of White Settlement. This map was created in 1992 by volunteer fire fighters. They used an overhead projector to project the image of a map onto the large wooden canvas, then traced it by hand. If you zoom in close enough you can see that each individual street is labeled. The handwriting on each of those streets? That of current White Settlement Fire Chief Brian Thompson, who at the time was one of the volunteers helping to create the map.
There are many structures and areas around town that are named in honor of people. From time to time we’ll be focusing on one of these to remember who the person was that was honored and why they were deserving of such an honor. One of the most recent structures to be named is the amphitheater at Central Park, which since 2013 has been known as the Norris and Ella Chambers Amphitheater. This honor came shortly after Norris passed away. Norris was born in 1917 and his life was full of adventure and love. He served in the Merchant Marines during World War 2, owned and operated radio and television repair shops, operated a one man printing shop, and was an electronic technician with General Dynamics. He also served as a trustee on the WSISD school board and served on multiple City boards. He was also heavily involved in the White Settlement Historical Society and Museum. His long life and history is uniquely preserved through his “Old Timer’s Tales” that he posted online and later ran in a local newspaper. Those tales painted a vivid picture of life in a bygone era.
It’s impossible to say much about Norris without talking about his wife, Ella. She was always by his side and their long partnership in life inspired those around them. This was evident in the words of then Mayor Jerry Burns, who spoke about their marriage at a council meeting in September of 2012 when Norris Chambers was being honored and September 6 was established as Norris Chambers Day in the City of White Settlement.
“He and his wife have led a life that will inspire others,” Mayor Burns said. “If you want to know how to live, you want to know how to love, watch this man and his wife. They set an example that will last through eternity.”
Did you know that the sign that hangs above the City Council in the Council Chambers has been around since 1952? The sign was originally placed on the outside of City Hall in 1952. In 1976 it was removed while renovations were done. The sign reappeared in 1985 when it was hung inside the Council Chambers where it has remained for 31 years. The photo above shows the sign as it was in the 1980’s and the way it is today.
It’s budget time here at the city which means it’s one of the busiest times of the year for our finance department. Did you know that the people who make up the White Settlement finance department have a total of 76 years in finance work experience with 47 of those years spent in municipal finance? The City of White Settlement’s finance department has received the Distinguished Budget Presentation Award 29 years in a row for their outstanding work on the city budget year after year. This award is presented by the Government Finance Officers Association and is the highest form of recognition in governmental budgeting. Of the over 90,000 local governments in the United States, less than 2,000 received this award last year.
Finance Director Phil Bray spoke about his time with the White Settlement finance department. “It’s been nice to work with such an organized and efficient finance department. It’s not that way everywhere you go,” Bray said.