FEDC considers 2021 budget, new Executive Director

During its virtual regular May 14, 2020 meeting, the Forney Economic Development Corp. considered proposed 2020-2021 budget, and process to replace Mr. Ketteman who has resigned, effective June 5.

  • Financial report: 58% through year, tax collections at 59%, should expect a drop off; expenses doing well.
  • Executive Director's report: Mr. Ketteman said received state sales tax allocation for March (always two months behind) - were actually up from previous year by 9%.  Main sales tax (big-box) stores were open.  Bankers round-table was done virtual, he was part of Kaufman County entertainment group who debated how things could open up, just before Gov. Abbot released guidelines. 
  • Approved a Facade Grant for 200 S. Bois d'Arc St.
        Kendall Milton spoke, they want to repaint metal parts, and repair wooden windows on Main St.  Ms. Browning asked if had done a grant for museum before; Ms. Milton wasn't aware of any, neither was Pres. McBeth or Mr. Ketteman.  They are requesting 2400. 
  • Took no action re: the lease agreement between Forney EDC and SBA Communications.
        Mr. Ketteman said this regards a cell phone tower that the EDC owns, behind antique row.  The agreement he has is dated Oct. 2006.  He got a call from someone who had been using that tower, they stripped the equipment but were still paying rental.  The tower and supporting equipment belongs to them, by the agreement they can exit the agreement at any time.  They are willing to leave the tower there for 3 years, but not pay rent.  It's about 1/2 acre, not sure it's worth selling, value might be $9k.  Could donate to city, which owns adjacent property which was sold to Petro-Hunt, then donated to city for park.  Or they could scout for other companies wishing to put up a tower.  Mr. Burrus said the land value is so low, should hold on to it.  Ms. Browning said could see if anyone else interested.  Pres. McBeth asked if was usable for another tower - Mr. Ketteman said yes, but the EDC doesn't own the tower.  Pres. McBeth said not opposed to donating.  Mr. Ketteman said SBA Comm. wants to keep it for 3 years to find a user, but not pay rent - the contract gives the tenant the right to terminate at any time.  Mr. Ketteman said could tell them to keep paying rent, but they will likely walk away.  Mr. Roberson asked why that's a problem - because they would take the tower down.  Mr. Burrus asked if they were obligated to remove tower if terminate - Ms. Browning asked if the contract states that? Mr. Ketteman said the rep. said they would take it down, but contract doesn't require immediate removal.  Ms. Lewis favors terminating and having them remove it.  Mr. Ketteman said contract says equipment is not fixtures, it's (the company's) property.  City Atty Mr. Thatcher said could continue to charge them rent until they remove property.  Mr. Ketteman said he will contact rep. to let him know the rent will continue.
  • Approved the proposed 2020-2021 budget.
        Mr. Ketteman and Mr. McGregor went through the proposal - budget has gone down as last year had some big-ticket items.  Salary - finance requesting this remain flat.  Won't have an intern this year.  Subscriptions will go down due to software - one item was moved to IT dept.  Education and training went down - one course only held every two years.  Added more for webinars, due to COVID-19.
        Mr. Ketteman briefed them on prof services went down to almost half, big part was $23k for website.  Sales tax abatements - completed Forney Fence in 2018, Kroger is estimated to go up 5% - it's based on sales tax. Travel remains the same, as no one knows what will happen.  Uniforms kept the same; Ms. Lewis asked how much has been spent - maybe $400.  Utilities: removed the Victorian Village expenses.
        Mary Wilson briefed them on Victorian Village rent removal, PR and meeting expenses.  Marketing materials has gone down by removing brochures and maps, which occur every other year.
        Mr. McGregor spoke about trade show expenses, up $500.  Ms. Browning asked if would get a refund for canceled show - yes, but that was included on this year's budget.  Mr. Burrus asked what property repairs were this year: Mr. Ketteman said was minimal, Eno's was having water damage for $5k.  For project expenses, previously had carry-over amounts, none this year.  Facade grants remain the same; downtown redevelopment reduced by 1/3; Small Business incentive doubled (adding $50k) anticipating COVID needs.  Small business development center - they have added time for Forney office, so adding 50% ($5k).  Demolition grant has had no applications, reduce it by 1/2 (10k).  Last year for FISD triple-freeport incentive. 
        Mr. Burrus commends them for increasing the Small Business Incentive - if decide later need more support for businesses, could do budget adjustment later.  Mr. McGregor & Mr. Ketteman agreed - The board may approve item transfers, moving money out of fund balance would require council approval.  Ms. Lewis also approved doubling that item, and asked what other EDC's are doing.  Mr. McGregor said many are doing grants, below 10k which avoids going through development project requirements.  Mr. Ketteman said haven't had phone calls about that, people in Forney are hanging in there.  Many restaurants are not going to 25% occupancy, still doing take-out only.  Others making use of outdoor seating.  Mr. McGregor said weathered the storm better than nearby cities, maybe because !have a mall and large stores stayed open, now have a daytime population that helps local businesses, others have been able to use the federal PPP program.  EDC bought signs to mark reserved parking downtown for to-go order pickup only.  Ms. Browning asked why not for all restaurants - Mr. Ketteman said due to limited parking spaces.
        Debt service - 2013 bond payments are handled by finance dept.  Building property taxes item increased by 25%.
        Total budget reduced by 87k to 694k.  There is a healthy fund balance if a big project occurs.
        Mr. Ketteman said the draft budget will go to council and the public
  • Held a 40-minute executive session re:
  • Mr. Ketteman announced he will become EDC Director at Waxahachie, has submitted his resignation, last day June 5.  Pres. McBeth said he will talk to staff about how to move forward.  Ms. Browning asked if should appoint Mr. McGregor as interim director - Mr. Thatcher said no as it's not on the agenda; the process is done through the City Manager and a committee with 3 members of the board, the same process used when Mr. Ketteman was hired.
  • Adjourned at 2048.
Thursday, 2020, May 14