Forney EDC re-approves funds for Christmas Light Attraction

During its regular Sep. 12, 2019 meeting, the Forney Economic Development Corp. met to re-approve $200k for Christmas event, and some secret things:

  • Financial report: Mr. Ketteman stated 92% of year, sales tax 91.47% collected.   Expenses at 88%, could have some surplus at end of year.
  • Executive Director's report: Mr. Ketteman mentioned was at first day of school at FLA; 8/27 DRC had downtown meeting, new parking lot has been paved; Panera groundbreaking; Racetrack ribbon cutting tomorrow; Broad st sewer almost done, expanding behind previous daycare.
  • Approved 3-1 an adjustment to the fiscal year 2020 budget in the amount of $200k in support of City of Forney Christmas in the Park.
        Mr. Ketteman said discussed this last month, after visiting w/ Mayor & Pro-tem, agreed to $200k for infrastructure.   Need to rescind that motion.   City manager Mr. Carson believes cleaner to do it this way.   Mr. Ketteman spoke to TX Comptroller's Office, was told EDC can do promotional expenses up to 10% of budget, and can carry over to other years.   Have spent about $45k, so can carry over $155k to next year.   He recommended carrying over $145k + $55k from next budget.
        Mr. McBeth asked if more than 1 other cities have done this; Mr. Carson said the company builds each display, he's used them before.   Mr. McBeth asked what kind of attendance could expect - 50-75k people during the 45 day period.   A larger display the first year is better.   Another city has done it for 25 years.   Charge by individual, riding a tram, 8-10 minute ride.   How will city promote? Similar to current events: billboards, digital advertising in Dallas, Facebook, banners.   Ongoing costs? New equipment, shelters for Santa Claus, hot chocolate, items, temporary employees.   Drain on city resources minimal? yes, manufacturer comes down first year to help.   City employees will assemble it.  
        Ms. Lewis said city had budgeted $400k, total is $600k? She's not comfortable with that.   EDC's purpose is employment, revitalization, development; this provides no incentive.   The sticker shock of just the $400k has been mentioned by citizens.   Mr. Alexander asked what kind of first year profit could be expected; Mr. Carson said will make money at 50k people.   A $100k display won't bring people, first year needs to be large.   This ties in with the ice rink, can bring Christmas events to amphitheater.   The city council was clear, want to bring people to city.   Mr. Alexander asked if would be adding to it every year; Mr. Carson yes, but not more money from EDC.   Mr. McBeth asked what would city spend each year; Mr. Carson: depends on the profit.
        Mr. McBeth said one concern is mission statement, this doesn't fit into that, but does fit into vision statement.   Mr. Ketteman said the $200k is a one-time expense.   Ms. Browning asked if legally ok, seems like a grey area; Mr. Thatcher said as Mr. Ketteman stated, EDC can spend on promotional expenses.   They can look at this as a partnership; with 50-75k people, businesses will benefit.   10% of budget can be promotional, they legally can do that, this is a worthy expense.
        Ms. Browning agrees w/ Ms. Lewis, not EDC's job to build road or do crosswalks, this is what should be HOT funds.   Mr. Ketteman said proposed budget has reallocated HOT funds back to city, previously went to non-profits, not a lot of money there.   Ms. Lewis said HOT is for tourism, if city doesn't have money to do this, scale it back or don't do it.   May need to rethink whole project, she believes should keep money for job retention.   Mr. McBeth asks if city is allowed to take money for infrastructure and use for the light project - Mr. Carson said no, they are completely different funding sources.
        Mr. Ketteman recommend rescinding motion from last month, accounting-wise didn't match what city wanted.   This is perfectly legal thing for EDC to do.   Ms. Lewis asked if budget is contingent on rescinding - yes.   Ms. Browning said problem is they would have used all promotional money; Mr. Ketteman said would be ok, would have 10% of next year.   Mr. Thatcher said not worried about cap on expenses.   Mr. McBeth asked where this falls in priority list from retreat; Mr. Carson said was a unanimous request.   Council didn't rank items, every council member wants this.   Ms. Browning asked if they really want to do it, why capped at $400k? Mr. Carson said felt comfortable with that number, will have funds to expand each year.
        Mr. McBeth asked if will impact other projects, roads, parks? No, because everything council wanted to do is being done.
        Approved motion to rescind last month's infrastructure motion.
        Motion to carry $145k this year and $55k next year.   Ms. Browning asked if Ms. Lewis comfortable w/ lower number; no.   Mr. Ketteman said Do need decision tonight, so get into budget before next hearing on Tuesday; this isn't crippling them, they have the funds.   Ms. Browning said would be comfortable having more time, find out how the public feels.   Mr. Carson said he's not on social media, he believes it has been talked about, and mentioned during council meetings.   Mr. Ketteman said it has been presented during council budget hearings.
        Mr. McBeth said would be good for Forney, bylaws allow it.   Doesn't generate jobs or increase tax base.   This is advertising as would do in a magazine, is publicizing Forney, so can support it as advertising.   He does have concerns about that much money, could impact other projects, would be good to have a joint meeting.   Ms. Lewis would like to meet with them to rank priorities.   Mr. McBeth said it's $200k investment in ongoing advertising.   Mr. Alexander said will look at this in positive way, moves to carry forward $145k and $55k from next budget.  
        Motion carries on 3-1 vote: Browning, Alexander, McBeth for, Lewis against.
  • Held an 87-minute executive session re:
  • Authorized staff to move forward with professional services agreement for Project Cutlass.
  • Declared a project for sewer infrastructure at 132 Kroger Drive.
  • Approved an NDA and authorized staff to execute same with Project Sadie.
  • Nov. 14 have EDC 25th anniversary event.
  • Adjourned at 2047
Thursday, 2019, September 12