The Road to 2030
Originally published - October 2012
By John Terrell, Mayor of Southlake
Do you know exactly what exactly you’ll be doing in the year 2030? Many of us (including me) may not be able to answer that question. But I can tell you with a fair amount of accuracy what the City of Southlake will look like. Why? Because we have planned for it and I have every confidence that those plans will become part of the Southlake story in the years to come.
In order to talk about the future, you have to be willing to talk about the past and the present. So here’s another question for you, where were you in 1969? Most of us didn’t live here yet, but that’s when the City’s first comprehensive plan was put together. It laid out that first vision of what Southlake could be. Even though that first plan is more than 40 years old, I think it set a great precedent for the City and its future.
Through the years, those comprehensive plans have gotten more elaborate as Southlake has grown. But as I look back I noticed something else about Southlake: not only do we have a vision of what we want to be, we have also created financial plans for how to make it a reality. Water systems to support the Southlake population build out don’t just happen overnight. Roadways to handle increased traffic and improve driver safety take time to design much less to build. And while for some us those projects can’t be completed soon enough, the time it has taken to plan and construct some of these major projects has worked to our advantage when it comes to paying for it.
From roadway construction projects and the City’s parks system, to public art and the City’s water system, taxpayer dollars have been put to work in order for the City to pay for its needs. In most cases, (and in the most simplest of terms) these major projects start with a hefty down payment, so that any money that must be borrowed can be kept to a minimum. Every year, the City Manager and her team take those major needs into account in order to create a budget that will take us one step closer to meeting the needs of this growing city.
I know that many of you are concerned about the City’s debt especially in light of the nation’s struggle with this topic. Debt is something that the Council and the City Manager take very seriously and it’s why that when we are considering moving forward on a major project, we go in with money already in the bank. The debt the City does take on is financed at very low rates and it’s amortized very quickly so that the City’s interest portion of the payback is minimal. Here’s something else to consider, more than 70% of the City’s current debt will be retired in the next 10 years. The City’s ability to successfully manage its debt has even been noted by Fitch bond agency which recently reaffirmed the City’s AAA rating. In a recent release they noted “…Tenured and proactive financial management have enabled the city to retain solid reserves… Strong financial performance is supported by comprehensive planning and conservative budget management.” Fitch affirmed what we have been practicing for many years: make a plan, and then stick to it.
For FY 2013 which starts October 1, 2012 the City is making a large investment into Safety and Security, with a good portion of the outlay going to DPS North. As I mentioned to you in July, DPS North has been in the plans for a while, with Council giving its approval for the project in June of 2010. Now that we’ve turned dirt, construction has started and the facility should be open by next summer. And when it opens we will be ready, with 12 new firefighters, a new engine, and a training facility that will help keep our DPS personnel in the City while they train on the latest public safety techniques and concepts.
The plans for Southlake 2030 are big and bold. It touches on everything from our roadway systems and land plans to the sustainability of our infrastructure and our park systems. It gives us a vision for the future and also starts the conversation about how to pay for it. Seventeen years from now, the items found in the 2030 document will be a part of the Southlake landscape. And as with previous investments such as DPS Headquarters, Bicentennial Park, The Bob Jones Nature Center and the traffic roundabouts just to name a few, our future investments will be made with the help of our comprehensive plan and strong financial principles. For more information about Southlake 2030, I hope you’ll visit www.Southlake2030.com.
I must confess that at the start of every budget year, I get excited about the possibilities and what we will be able to look back on when the year is over. To learn more about the FY 2013 budget please visit www.CityofSouthlake.com/FY2013 . Here’s to another great fiscal year in Southlake!
See you in Southlake!