Fairview Town Council Faces Many Daunting Challenges
If the June 5, 2018 meeting of Fairview’s Town Council reveals anything it is that Mayor Darion Culbertson and council members, including three newly elected members have an awful lot of difficult challenges on their plates.
The first order of business at the meeting was the swearing in of the three new members of the Council that include Tony Mattei, Seat Four, a former executive with Pepsico, Roland Feldman, Seat Six, a business consultant who spearheaded the overwhelming defeat of last year’s bond proposal that would have increased property taxes 21%, and Cynthia Brugge, Seat Two, a real estate broker at ISD Realtors/Mortgage Consultants, Ltd.
All three demonstrated a level of engagement that is anything but the traditional role expected of newly elected public officials that can be summed up by ‘just listen and learn long before you dare speak’. Each was deeply involved in tough discussions throughout the meeting. Mattei unveiled a proposed recommendation for the adoption of new Guiding/Operational Principles to help shape the town’s 2018/2019 budget process. The principles include:
· Operate a limited government with maximum transparency.
· Exercise fiscal discipline through a business-like approach to town operations and budget prioritization.
· Thorough understanding of revenue and expense by function and key expense groupings.
· Ensure responsive action to residents and businesses with proactive communication and problem solving.
Feldman posed thoughtful and probing questions that often led to extended deliberation of some truly vexing problems, none more so than the poor condition of Fairview’s original Fire Station #1 on Highway 5. Unlike the state-of-the-art construction of Fire Station #2 on Stacy Road, the original station is a jerry-rigged collection of three relatively decrepit structures that pose some serious life-safety issues including three separate electrical lines into the buildings from power poles, mold behind sheetrock walls, a chronically leaking roof, unsanitary kitchen and bathroom facilities and the absence of a backup generator to ensure seamless response to emergencies during all-too-frequent power failures. Mayor Culbertson suggested that it is “time to get serious about the dangerous electrical conditions”. The council and staff agreed to explore all options and remedies including the possible replacement of the fire station with a modular building system in time for the next council meeting on June 14. The 2017 failed bond issue included replacing the entire complex with a new station similar to Fire Station #2.
Council Member Brugge noted that town residents did not elect her to “get along”. She established herself from the outset of the meeting as a staunch opponent of wasteful spending.
Councilmember Paul Hendricks, now serving in the third year of his three-year term was elected Mayor Pro Tem in a unanimous vote. The Mayor Pro Tem chairs the council and other meetings if the Mayor is unable to attend.
Mayor Culbertson presented two proclamations at the meeting. One declares June 12 Women Veterans Day in Fairview, the other proclaims June 21 The Longest Day in the Town of Fairview in recognition of the Alzheimer’s Association goal of mitigating the impact of the rapidly expanding disease.
Perhaps the most anticipated agenda item for both council members and residents involved a briefing by Bruce Boutilier of CoServ regarding the need to relocate gas lines unexpectedly during the latter stages of the reconstruction of Stacy Road. Boutelier explained that CoServ relied upon an inaccurate pipe map and was forced to relocate 400 feet of gas line after an explosion occurred near the intersection of Angel Parkway and Stacy Road. This materially delayed completion of the project but CoServ now believes its work will be completed by the end of June and that the entire project will be finished in October. TxDOT was invited to join the briefing but declined to attend. Council member Mattei asked Boutelier what was learned from the setback. Boutelier replied that the company should have communicated more effectively and has since assigned an area manager to enhance communications. Council member Lessner then asked if there weren’t any state maps of the gas lines available. Boutelier replied yes but the pipe in question was not accurately depicted. Mayor Culbertson asked if we now know where all of the gas lines are located to which he emphatically said yes.
In an unrelated matter involving Stacy Road, Fairview Town Engineer James Chancellor, PE, informed the council that an Interlocal Agreement with the city of Allen that was agreed upon sometime ago might require updating. The intersection of Stacy Road and Highway 5 (Greenville Avenue) was not optimized by the original TxDOT plan and now results in lengthy traffic delays especially westbound for those who want to access Highway 75 and the west side of town. A relatively fast and simple solution is to remove several large medians adjacent to the intersection allowing for the widening of Stacy Road for through traffic lanes. In the time since the agreement was signed, however, construction costs have increased from $66,000 to $95,000. Fairview’s portion of the expense is approximately one-third of that which Allen would pay. After lengthy deliberation, the council approved the revision. Mayor Culbertson stated that funds for the project already exist eliminating the need for any new expense allocations.
Additional issues discussed include providing for more transparency in government by installing website-based streaming video of Town of Fairview meetings, providing new redundant Wi-Fi capabilities to ensure seamless transmission in the event of signal interruptions, addressing McKinney Regional Airport southbound arrival and departure safety and noise abatement concerns, and the report of the CRG, a large task force of residents that is reviewing town enhancements and improvements, many of which were included in the failed bond issue. All of these items are pending and will be addressed in detail at subsequent town council meetings.