News

The Arbor - September 2005

September 6, 2005

Watch for the UP Resident Survey next month in your Utility Bill

The City of University Park will conduct a survey of all University Park households the month of October to evaluate the quality of City services and communications.  Residents will receive the survey in their October utility bill in place of the City newsletter, The Arbor.

Residents will have two options for completing the survey.  First, residents may complete the self addressed stamped survey and place it in the mail.  Second, residents may complete the survey online.  To complete the survey online, look for the survey website and unique passcode for each resident printed on the front of your survey.  Residents should access the survey website listed, enter their passcode and begin the survey.  

The resident survey will measure residents' satisfaction of all main City services, including Administration, Parks and Recreation, Public Works, and Police and Fire Protection.  The goal of the survey is to improve service delivery.  In addition, the City is also very interested in finding out how residents communicate with the City and where residents get their information. 

Residents are asked to complete the survey by November 4, 2005. Results of the resident survey will follow in December.



New lighted crosswalk increases safety in front of University Park Elementary School

Pictured left:  One of the two new lighted crosswalk signs located in front of University Park Elementary School.  LED lights in the pavement also highlight the crosswalk.

 

 

 

Students at University Park Elementary School will have a safer walk to school this year thanks to a new state-of-the-art crosswalk.  The $25,000 crosswalk installed in front of the elementary school between Dickens and Thackery was part of the Lovers Lane project.  The crosswalk was installed last month prior to the start of school so that it could be tested before students arrived on campus.

The new crosswalk includes bright LED lights placed around the perimeter of the crosswalk. The LED lights are daytime visible up to .60 mile away.  The lights protrude only 3mm above the ground, making them very pedestrian and bicycle friendly. The system is activated two ways.  Photo sensors will activate the crosswalk once someone has stepped into it, or it can be activated by pressing the button.  The LED lights will flash for 19 seconds after the crosswalk has been activated.  In addition, a lighted crosswalk sign also signals drivers that someone is in the crosswalk. 

Students at University Park Elementary School will have a safer walk to school this year thanks to a new state-of-the-art crosswalk.  The $25,000 crosswalk installed in front of the elementary school between Dickens and Thackery was part of the Lovers Lane project.  The crosswalk was installed last month prior to the start of school so that it could be tested before students arrived on campus.

The new crosswalk includes bright LED lights placed around the perimeter of the crosswalk. The LED lights are daytime visible up to .60 mile away.  The lights protrude only 3mm above the ground, making them very pedestrian and bicycle friendly. The system is activated two ways.  Photo sensors will activate the crosswalk once someone has stepped into it, or it can be activated by pressing the button.

The LED lights will flash for 19 seconds after the crosswalk has been activated.  In addition, a lighted crosswalk sign also signals drivers that someone is in the crosswalk. 


Council to adopt new budget

The University Park City Council is scheduled to consider a $34.75 million operating budget at its September 6, 2005 meeting.  The proposed budget, which will take effect October 1, 2005, is $690,000 higher than last year's budget of $34.06 million. 

Budget highlights:
- Reduction in the City's property tax for the 11th consecutive year.  The proposed tax rate of 30.958 cents is 4.86% lower than last year's 32.539 cents per $100 taxable value.

- Over $4.876 million in pay-as-you-go capital project funding, up 3% from last year.

- Balanced budgets in all budgeted funds including reductions in the overall Utility Fund and Sanitation expenditure budgets.

- A proposed increase in sanitation rates, the first increase in four years.  To avoid a third consecutive year of net losses, Sanitation rates need to be raised.  The last increase occurred in 2002, when the monthly charge for residential service rose 16% from $12.60 to $14.60.  The City Council will consider a rate change between 15 and 20%.  An increase of 15% would raise the monthly rate to $16.80, enough to cover the Fund's budgeted operational expenditures.  A rate increase of 20%, from $14.60 to $17.50, would produce enough revenue to continue accumulation of funds.

Tax rate decrease
The City's total certified taxable value increased 9.84%, compared to 4.2% last year.  The FY06 budget proposes to reduce the tax rate from 32.539 cents to 30.958 cents per $100 taxable value.  For FY06, the market value of the average single-family home in University Park is $816,423, a 10.77% increase from last year's $737,035.  The owner of an average home with a homestead exemption whose value did not increase in assessed value this year would play $93 less in City taxes compared to FY05.  The owner of a home whose value increased by the citywide average would pay $103 more in City property taxes - less than $9 a month. 

Over the period FY03 to FY06, while the average single-family home in University Park increased 15.7% in market value, the City tax levy increased 8.7%.  Of the three taxing jurisdictions within the city's boundaries - the City, Dallas County, and HPISD - the City portion comprises only 14% of a resident's total tax bill.

Issues impacting the City's three budgeted funds
The City has three budgeted funds: General, Utility and Sanitation.  Several factors influence these funds, but some of the following factors have the greatest impact.

Capital Projects - The FY06 budget continues the City's successful practice of funding capital projects on a pay-as-you-go basis, rather than a debt-funded basis.  Capital projects include the City Hall remodel, Northwest Parkway wall project, curb & gutter replacement, asphalt overlay, alley & utility replacements, and fire hydrant installations, totaling $4.76 million.   

Fuel/equipment costs - Higher fuel and maintenance costs have increased the operating expense of the City's  vehicle fleet even though there has been a reduction of personnel in the department  and a reduction in the number of vehicles.  The proposed budget includes a 21% increase in fuel purchases from $195,898 to $236,643 citywide.  Equipment replacement contributions will total $541,643, up 2.45% from FY05.  Maintenance costs are budgeted to increase 6.28% to $848,399.

Personnel costs - Salaries and benefits make up 55.3% ($19.221 million) of the total budget, and they comprise 64% of the General Fund's increase.  The proposed budget includes one new full-time position, a Public Information Officer in the Executive Department.  This increases the total full-time headcount to 239.  This number is still below the 247 employed in early 90s.  The proposed budget includes a market-based raise of 4% for all City employees.  Last year's budget contained no market or cost-of-living increase for employees other than police and fire, which generally received a 3% increase in FY05.  At the same time, all employees were required to pay more for health insurance coverage even though the City increased its contribution.


Keep A Lid on it!

Did you know that City ordinance requires the following specifications for trash cans?  Alley inspections are in progress so check out these requirements:

- You must have a sufficient number of cans to hold your trash.
- Maximum of 32 gallons in size (anything larger is difficult and   dangerous for sanitation workers to pick up).  
- Trash cans must have lids.  The lids should be attached to a permanent structure (fence, garage, stake, etc.) by means of a chain, cord, etc.  Lids can NOT be attached to the trash can itself. Trash cans must be equipped with tight fitting lids to help control the rodent population and to keep trash contained.

These requirements are for the health and safety of University Park residents and sanitation workers.  If you have questions or need assistance complying with these requirements, please contact the Sanitation Department at 214-987-5451.


MOSQUITO CONTROL

Officials with the Dallas County Health Department believe the Park Cities to be a perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. The lush landscaped yards, the heavy tree cover, and the many streams and ponds in the area provide optimum mosquito breeding areas. Mosquitoes are not only a nuisance but can also pose a threat to public health. The Health Department's biggest concerns of potential mosquito-borne diseases are the West Nile Virus and St. Louis Encephalitis.

Although the City continues to fog for mosquitoes on a regular basis, there are things you can do to help: 

-Eliminate any stagnant or standing water. This can be found in birdbaths, non-circulating fish or lily ponds, plant saucers, low areas in your lawn, and around outdoor water faucets, etc.
-Reduce the amount of water placed on your lawn. Allow the top of the soil to dry out before watering again. Reprogram your irrigation controller based on the temperature and rainfall.
-Cover exposed soil with cedar or cypress mulch if possible.
-Clean out decomposed leaf matter from your storm gutters.
-Keep any unnecessary plant growth cut back.