I recently received a question about what issues I believe the council will be addressing over the next 6 to 12 months. I appreciated the question. Here are my thoughts (in no particular order):
- 2024 Budget. This summer, the City Manager will present the city-wide proposed budget for next year to the Council during a multi-day budget workshop. During the workshop, the head of each city department presents his/her budget request and explains rationale for the requested amount. This workshop is open to the public. Last year, it was located at the Allen Convention Center. I highly encourage Allen residents who can attend. If elected, this event will provide me the opportunity to ask some tough questions and make sure that we are being fiscally prudent with tax resources and fees.
- Highway 121 Developments. Sometimes referred to as “Allen’s last frontier,” the former farmland stretching from Custer Road to Highway 75 is an opportunity to attract destination-venues that offer Allen residents (as well as our neighbors from others cities) something special where they can work, shop, dine, and be entertained. In addition, it will allow us to increase our commercial base and sales taxes – revenues that can offset our personal property taxes for funding city operations and services. We don’t get a mulligan on developing this vast swath of land. So, we must be strategic, intentional, and disciplined so that we get it right the first time.
- Downtown Allen Revitalization. The 12 citizens who served on the committee submitted a plan to City Council last summer. Since that time, City Council and city staff have already taken several actions to implement parts of the plan. I do not anticipate the council or staff taking its foot off the gas in this effort. I would expect to see continuous focus on the heart of Allen and potentially some new businesses popping up. As the former chair of the citizen committee, I would make sure that the community’s vision remains the center of downtown revitalization.
- Other Revitalization Efforts. While the city is focused on new development on Highway 121 and revitalizing downtown, it must also address community lifecycle issues like other cities can attest to (e.g., Richardson). Although not all of these issues will require large, comprehensive plans, they will still require us to be intentional. This will include revitalizing and improving roads and other infrastructure, shopping centers that are showing their age, and older neighborhoods on either East or West side. As I shared in my prior article, city council and city staff can assist in these efforts; however, it will take all members of the team, including residents, property owners, and business owners. My hope is that we can collaborate, work together as a team, and ensure that all of Allen can enjoy the benefits of a strong community. We can do it if we are strategic, intentional, and collaborate towards a clear goal(s).
- GO Bonds. General Obligation (or GO) bonds are one of several ways that the city has paid for major projects (e.g., construction of City Hall, library, fire station; roads and other infrastructure costs; etc.) At the March 14th city council meeting, the council announced the formation of a committee whose responsibility is to oversee subcommittees composed of any Allen resident who wants to participate in the process. So, now the community has been empowered. The best way to proactively contribute to this conversation is by attending and participating in the subcommittee meetings that I anticipate will start this spring. If elected to council, I will listen to the community.
So, as you can see, I believe city council (and the city, as a whole) has a number of very significant issues it needs to focus on during the next 6-12 months. And, let’s be clear, this list does not include other issues that are sitting right outside that 1-year timeframe I was asked about. For example, we have some very real water issues that we need to address as a community in the next few years. And, we have “unknowns” that could surface at any point during the next 12 months leading to council re-prioritizing the issues it needs to work through.