The Arbor - December 2005
December 5, 2005
The University Park Traffic Sign Shop
It's a little like that more famous place at the North Pole
University Park's traffic sign shop shares some similarities with Santa's workshop. Much like that address at the North Pole, the colors red and green are prominent when you walk in. In this case, that's due to the green and red flashing lights that are used to simulate the City's signal-light system and the rolls of red, green and white reflective sheeting that traffic personnel use to produce stop signs, speed limit signs, parking signs and other markers. However, unlike Santa's workshop, which isn't overly busy in the spring and summer, the City's sign shop, located at the Peek Service Center, remains pretty active throughout the year.
The next time you want to impress a resident with a piece of trivia, try this one - How many traffic-related signs are there in the City of University Park? We're certain the answer will surprise most people. In all, there are about 7,000 signs in a city that totals only 3.8 square miles. Specifically, the City is responsible for 1,374 street name blades and 800 stop signs.
Rounding out the overall figure are thousands of signs that detail or regulate parking and no-parking zones, speed zones, pedestrian crossings, school zones and other posted areas. Why does the City operate its own sign shop? Primarily for two reasons - it's cost effective, and it provides residents with a level of service that is virtually unmatched by any other city in Texas. In University Park, when you spot a damaged street sign - and the Traffic Department urges you to call City Hall if you see one - traffic personnel can make a new sign and re-post it on the same day.
Although the life-span of a typical street sign is 10 to 15 years, there are several reasons that the sign shop stays busy 12 months a year. City Traffic Supervisor Dave Rogers says most signs are replaced well before they get old due to government-required upgrades, new City ordinances, traffic accidents or graffiti. One such upgrade involves a Federal mandate to increase street name blade font size. While compliance is not required until the end of 2008, working with its usual efficiency, the Traffic Department has already completed 99 percent of that project. In addition, so that the signs are even easier to read at night, sign shop personnel have been using higher-intensity reflective sheeting - something Santa is likely to appreciate when he makes his late December rounds.
City Parks & Snider Plaza Display Holiday Spirit
It's time to "Deck the halls with boughs of holly," and the Park Department is doing its part hanging seasonal banners, garland and bows on decorative light poles throughout Snider Plaza. Holiday trees will be on display at the Plaza's fountain and in Elena's Children's Park. In addition, lights, bows and garland will adorn the gazebo in Goar Park and greet visitors to City Hall.
Review of "misdirected" sales tax revenue nets the City $1.92 million
Why the City initiated the review
Following several years of declining sales tax revenue, last spring, the City hired MBIA MuniServices, a California-based company that specializes in collections and compliance audits to review City sales taxpayer data - including traditional retail outlets, home-based businesses, and business activities without a physical presence. As many residents are aware, each month, sales taxpayers - local businesses - collect the tax and send it to the State Comptroller. The Comptroller then allocates part of the money back to the taxpayer's jurisdiction, which is determined by the city listed on the business's sales tax permit application.
Why funds get misallocated
"It's not uncommon for cities that border larger communities to lose sales tax revenue. In our case, whether for phone directory assistance concerns or other customer conveniences, hundreds of businesses that are located in University Park chose to list Dallas for their mailing address," said City Finance Director Kent Austin. Beginning the review, City staff helped identify University Park businesses incorrectly coded as being in Dallas. This list was then forwarded to our consultant, who processed the data and prepared it for submission to the Comptroller. On November 14, the Comptroller's Office sent the City a wire-transfer for $1.92 million for five years of misallocated sale tax revenue. Prompted in part by those findings, the Comptroller's Office conducted its own review, using different sources to find additional sales tax monies for the City. Going forward, MBIA will continue to monitor the City's regular sales tax totals and, on the City's behalf, assist sales taxpayers not properly registered with correcting their business permit data. MBIA is under contract with the City to provide these services through April 2008.
The City will continue to benefit from efforts to correct business permit data
In October, City sales tax revenue was up 31 percent when compared to the same month a year ago. November sales tax revenue also greatly exceeded collection allocated for the same month in 2004.
How will the City use the additional revenue?
City Manager Bob Livingston says the prospect of higher sales tax revenue year after year means that the City won't be so dependent on property taxes for major budget items. Livingston anticipates most of $1.92 million will be earmarked for the City's "Mile-per-Year" program to replace pavement, water, sewer, and other basic infrastructure systems. Over the last decade, the City has repaired or upgraded more than a quarter of its aging infrastructure systems through this effort.
City modifies Sidewalk Repair Reimbursement Program
The City's Sidewalk Repair Reimbursement Program is helping to ensure that sidewalks throughout University Park are safe and properly maintained. To underscore the City's commitment to that objective, last spring the City approved funding to help residents make necessary improvements in a timely manner. While the City continues to reimburse each property owner for 50 percent of the replacement costs at a maximum of $7.00 per square foot, some program specifics have been modified. Now, once a City Code Inspector finds a section of sidewalk that is defective or hazardous …
•Repairs must be completed within 90 days of the date on the violation notice. Previously, the property owner was given 30 days to complete repairs.
•Depending on circumstances, up to three 30-day extensions can be granted. Previously, only one 30-day extension could be granted.
•While a bonded contractor must obtain a building permit from the City to complete repairs, now there is no charge for the permit.
Also, the City is now providing property owners with a list of contractors who have recently repaired sidewalk sections along with the fees these bonded companies have charged.
Further program specifics can be answered by calling the Public Works Department at 214-987-5460.
Don't forget to recycle your Christmas tree! The Sanitation Department will pick up trees on scheduled collection days from front curbsides. Before putting your tree out for collection, help make the post-holiday rounds merry for City crews by removing all ornaments, lights, tinsel, plastic and stands. If you live south of Lovers lane, collection is free if your tree is at curbside by January 5. For residents who live north of Lovers Lane, free pick up is good through January 6. After those dates, there is a $9.00 collection fee. For more information, call the Sanitation Department at 214-987-5451.
This Holiday Season "Candle with Care"
If candles are part of your seasonal decorations - The National Fire Protection Association reminds you to:
•Never leave a burning candle unattended. Extinguish all candles when you leave the room or go to bed. Almost half of all home fires started by candles begin in the bedroom.
•Keep candles at least one foot away from anything that can burn including curtains, blinds, wallpaper and clothing.
•Never leave a child unattended in a room with a burning candle.
University Park City Hall will be closed for the holidays on the following dates:
Friday, Dec. 23rd
Monday, Dec. 26th
Monday, Jan. 2nd
Holiday Sanitation Collection Schedule
Christmas, Sunday, December 25
Mon - Thur
Tues - Fri
Tues - Thur
Wed - Fri
New Year’s, Sunday, January 1st
Mon - Thur
Tues - Fri
Tues - Thur
Wed - Fri