DeSoto Council Discusses Financial Report, Character Code and Economic Development

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DESOTO – With all city council members at Tuesday’s meeting except for Place 4 Andre Byrd, the meeting began with the reading of a proclamation for Black History Month, followed by a proclamation for National Engineers Week.

The January 2024 Financial Report was presented with a look at the city being 33% into the budget year. The General Fund is at 62.7% on the city’s revenue side compared to 54.6% at the same time last year. It was also explained the city is at 29.6 % on the General Fund categories expenditures.

Place Six Crystal Chism mentioned an increase she noticed in HOT taxes, and she requested more clarification regarding the huge increase in this category since December 2023. At that time, the amount was $10,500. January’s number presented to the council on Monday of this week was $33,000, and then at Tuesday night’s meeting, the number had increased to $46,000. Chism asked what is under HOT tax expenses. It was explained the item is a special revenue fund and only certain expenses can come out of it. However, there was no answer as to its actual purpose. It was determined that information would be brought back to the council by way of a report to the interim city manager from the Finance Department.

Several citizens spoke, including Scott McDonald, who spoke about the city’s upcoming character code. He reminded members that at the last council meeting, he talked about the non-confirming uses that will occur when this code is imposed on over 400 properties. On Tuesday night, he spoke of density regarding parking and the city’s upcoming housing projects.

Georgette Flannigan spoke of code enforcement and a citation she received for not having her house numbers on her property. She has lived in her home for 30 years, and she said she felt there should be more leniency to allow her to pay the $280. She also pointed out the fact she is a recent senior and was not given the time needed to pay the fine due to this adding to her financial hardship.

Bernadine Harrison also spoke about code enforcement. She said she is tired of being nickeled and dimed.

“Nothing seems to improve,” she said, mentioning a citation she received and said, “The notices are exceedingly unclear.” She said she is planning to start a petition to get someone to find out what is going on in code enforcement.

Consent agenda ideas passed unanimously for the minutes of the regular city council meeting held on January 16, the confirmation of the appointment of Arthur Hobbs to the Veterans Affairs Committee, the recognition of a proclamation honoring National Caregiver Day, an ordinance approving the Atmos Franchise agreement, an authorization to the Economic Development Director to negotiate and execute a Facade Improvement Grant Agreement for 230 E. Beltline Road with Muhimi Oils LLC in an amount not to exceed $50,000 as recommended by the DeSoto Development Corporation Board, and authorization for the Interim City Manager to negotiate a contract with Elliott Electric Supply in an amount not to exceed $973,294.12 for the pre-purchase of electrical equipment for the Westmoreland Pump Station Rehabilitation Project, and an authorization for the Interim City Manager to negotiate and execute an agreement with Mechanical Partners Inc. for the repair of the East Town Center Restrooms for $67,622.

One item was pulled from the consent agenda items to return to the council later, authorizing the Interim City Manager to negotiate and execute a purchase contract in the amount of $61,387.30 for the replacement of dispatch workstation consoles.

The regular agenda featured the character code regulations as mentioned by McDonald under the item to consider ordering the Planning and Zoning Commission to consider the rezoning of all properties within the proposed Hampton Road Character Code zoning area located along Hampton Road between Belt Line and Pleasant Run Roads to the proposed Hampton Road Character Code zoning districts i.e. Urban Center (UC), Urban General (UG), Neighborhood Services (NS), Urban Neighborhood (UN) and Neighborhood Transition (NT).

On February 13, 2024, a public hearing was conducted before the Planning and Zoning Commission to consider making a recommendation to the City Council on the proposed Hampton Road Character Code regulations. Following the public hearing, a motion prevailed by a vote of 5-1 to make a recommendation of approval to the City Council on the proposed Hampton Road Character Code regulations. A Public Hearing before the City Council will be held on this item on March 5 for the City Council to formally consider amending the City’s Zoning Ordinance to add the new Hampton Road Character Code zoning regulations, staff notes indicated.

With this agenda item formally approved, staff also pointed out there will be a Public Hearing before the Planning and Zoning Commission on March 26 and before the City Council (and consideration of the Ordinance) on April 2.

With the multiple public hearings, it was reminded there were two different items being considered: the character-based code that must be in place and the zoning. This resulted in two different public hearings, and the item passed unanimously.

The second regular agenda item also passed unanimously, authorizing the Economic Development Director to negotiate and execute a professional service agreement in the not-to-exceed amount of $85,000 with the Dallas Entrepreneur Center. The DeSoto Development Corporation recommended this, and an original discussion on this item was held in November.

Staff notes pointed out that for the past five years, small business education and support in DeSoto has been provided as an adjunct function of the Grow DeSoto Market Place under a contract with The Industry Hub. The privatization of the Grow DeSoto Market Place activities has presented an opportunity to re-envision support for DeSoto’s entrepreneur/start-up/small business enterprise. The idea to allow changes provides a greater range of services to a larger number of businesses in all stages of growth, from ideation to capitalization/start-up to growth and scaling. To better serve DeSoto’s small business community, the DeSoto Development Corporation will be one part of a triad consisting of The DeSoto Area Chamber of Commerce, The DeSoto Development Corporation, and the Dallas Entrepreneur Center (DEC).

The DEC services will fall into several categories, including accelerating, resources, mentor matching, community navigation, and signature events & programming.

The Development Corporation Board of Directors recommended approval of the contract of $85,000, and it was pointed out in staff notes the financial impact involves the DeSoto Development Corporation to enter into an annual professional services contract with the DEC with a mention the DeSoto Development Corporation will no longer make an annual investment of $21,000 with the Chamber of Commerce. The DeSoto Development Corporation also terminated its professional contract with The Industry Hub in the amount of $60,000 with the passing of this item.


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