The Arbor - November 2004
November 9, 2004
UP Purchases CodeRed Notification System
On October 20th, the City Council approved the purchase of the web-based emergency notification system called CodeRed. Previously, when residents needed to be notified in an emergency, the Citys only method was to go door-to-door. CodeRed has the capability to launch more than 60,000 telephone calls to homes and businesses in less than one hour. CodeRed does not require the City to purchase expensive hardware or telephone lines. All of the data is maintained on servers located in three major U.S. cities. Emergency messages can be initiated from anywhere an internet connection is available.
The Council and Staff are excited about the purchase of this system because it will allow the City to quickly notify residents about a variety of things including:
"Hazardous material spills
"Fire and flood disasters
"Major weather alerts
"Water main breaks
The City plans to use the system not only to alert residents, but also employees. Staff can direct the system to call in certain city crews if needed. The cost of the system is $5,000 per year and includes 15,000 minutes of usage.
The Facts on Municipal Court Fees in UP
If you have gotten a ticket in the City of University Park recently, you might have wondered why it seemed so high. Many people believe that the City of University Park has control over the entire amount issued, but, this is not true.
Any ticket issued in the City of University Park has two parts: the fine and the court cost. The fine amount is set by the University Park Municipal Court Judge. The current fine schedule for the City was set twenty years ago.
The second part of the ticket, court costs, is not controlled by the City. These amounts are set by the State Legislature and are evaluated every two years. Court costs have increased dramatically in recent years. In 1993, court costs for an average traffic violation was $45. Today, court costs for an average traffic violation totals $85. The City of University Park keeps a very small portion of these court costs. For example, if a court cost is $85, the City only keeps $15. That means $70 goes to the State of Texas. Out of the $15 the City keeps, $4 is placed in a Court Technology Fund and $3 in a Court Security Fund. Thus, out of the $85 court cost paid, the City collects only $8 in general revenue. Court costs differ for different violations. To see the current schedule of court costs, visit the University Park website. Click on Public Safety, then on Municipal Court.
The 2005 Legislature will reevaluate court costs. According to Frank Sturzl, Executive Director of the Texas Municipal League, it is highly likely that court costs will be raised again. Mr. Sturzl notes that the increase in court costs is because the Texas Legislature has come to rely on court costs to help balance the State budget. Even though court costs may continue to rise, the City of University Park plans no increase in its fine schedule.
CITYS NEW ISO RATING MAY HELP REDUCE
YOUR HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE
Last May, UP Fire Chief David Ledbetter received a letter from the Texas Department of Insurance regarding the City's Public Protection Classification (PPC). The PPC ranges from 1 (best) to 10 (worst). The letter stated that, thanks to improvements made by the Fire Department, University Parks PPC was being improved from 4 to 2.
Chief Ledbetter and the University Park Fire Department worked hard to improve the City's ISO (Insurance Services Office) rating. They did this by putting in a new microwave radio system, increasing fire prevention activities, maintaining better fire investigation records, reviewing the water supply system, installing a compressed air foam system on one of the engines, and adding a radio system that has an audible and visible warning system if the radios are in danger of failure.
One of the major benefits of the improved ISO rating to University Park residents, in addition to increased fire protection, is that many insurance companies will lower homeowners insurance rates if ISO ratings improve. All University Park residents should check with their insurance companies to see if a homeowners insurance rate decrease is available. University Park resident Claire Lawrence recently sent a letter to Chief Ledbetter thanking him for enabling the City to attain an improved rating. Ms. Lawrence stated that she contacted her insurance company after learning of the rating change and was informed that her homeowners insurance would be reduced and that she would be given a credit for this year. She also added in her letter, "You and your department and staff should be commended for all you do to protect the residents of our City."
The City encourages all residents to contact their insurance companies as Ms. Lawrence has done to see if an insurance rate reduction is available. Please note that many insurance companies need verification that the ISO rating change has occurred. In an effort to make this information and documentation easily accessible to residents, the ISO letter informing Chief Ledbetter of the change is posted on the City website and can be printed directly from the website. To access the letter, go to the City website, click on "Public Safety," click on "Fire," then click on "ISO Rating Change." If you do not have internet access, please contact the City Hall receptionist at 214-363-1644 and a copy of the letter will be mailed to you.
REFUSE COLLECTION SCHEDULE
FOR THANKSGIVING HOLIDAY
University Park City Hall and other offices will be closed Thanksgiving Holiday (November 25th and 26th, 2004). As a result there will be no refuse collection on November 25th (Thanksgiving day).
Residents who would normally receive refuse and recycling services on that Thursday will be provided service on the following day (Friday, November 26th). Residents who would normally receive refuse and recycling services on that Friday will be provided that service on Saturday, November 27th, 2004.
There will be no changes to the schedule for the remainder of the week.
DISTURBED BY A BARKING DOG?
City Code prohibits unreasonable animal noise, which is noise that causes discomfort to a person of ordinary sensibility. The Citys Animal Control Officer says dogs bark for various reasons, such as being left alone too long and being locked in the backyard for lengthy periods. Dog owners must recognize that their barking dog may cause their neighbors discomfort. As the weather cools off and people begin to open their windows, please be sensitive to others. Owners of barking dogs may be subject to a ticket and resulting fine.