December 6, 2016

Celebrating the Inaugural Class of the Bellaire Citizens Academy


Last night we held a special reception and presentation to conclude the inaugural class of the Bellaire Citizens Academy.  By any measure it has been a great success, as part of our broader effort to better engage with the citizens we serve.  In particular, the Academy provides an opportunity for residents to interact with staff members representing several departments, to form relationships with the professionals who provide our city services and to learn more about what they do to make Bellaire such a great place to live.

November 9, 2016

Next Steps Following the Bond Election

With an impressive 74% turnout, Bellaire voters have overwhelmingly approved the Better Bellaire 2016 bond package.  Now what?  Your city leaders have been hard at work, even in advance of the election, to make sure we'd have our plans ready to go once the votes were counted.  Here's what to expect, starting with the official canvass of the election results at City Council's next meeting on November 21:

November 1, 2016

A Year of Infrastructure: What the Bonds are For, and What They're Not

I've come to describe 2016 as a Year of Infrastructure in Bellaire.  Stewardship of our physical assets has been front and center, as we are confronted with a number of major projects and issues all needing our attention at the same time.  This has prompted a lot of good discussion in the community, and I've heard from many of you, which I very much appreciate.  With so much going on, it's sometimes hard to keep it all straight.  Based on some questions I've received, I thought I'd try to clear a few things up.

Streets and Drainage Bonds vs. Pavement Management

One of the more common areas of confusion is in distinguishing between our successive bond programs for streets and drainage improvements, and our ongoing Pavement Management program.

October 18, 2016

Visioning Future Land Use in the TRP District: A Two-Step Process


Chevron's recent announcement that it plans to sell its Bellaire property at 4800 Fournace has prompted vigorous discussion in the community.  The neighbors nearby are understandably concerned about the changes that are likely coming their way as the property is redeveloped.  And residents in other parts of town are equally interested in the possibilities and what the turnover may mean for the future of our City.  As we engage in this community conversation, it's important to clear up any misconceptions and misinformation to ensure we're all on the same page as we move forward in the process.

September 28, 2016

Bellaire Drainage Study is a Potential Game-Changer

Good decision making and long-term planning start with good information.  Over the past several months the City Engineer has been working on a detailed study, utilizing sophisticated technologies such as 3-D LiDAR surveys, to collect data and develop more accurate storm water modeling.  The dramatic potential of this new information is hard to overstate.  The results of this study may very well reshape the way we think about flooding and drainage, both locally and regionally.

The following is my layman’s summary of the highlights of the study.  For a complete copy of the City Engineer’s report, click here, and for the accompanying presentation slides, here.

September 15, 2016

Revised Water and Sewer Rate Proposal Adopted, New Rates Go Into Effect October 1

Having worked throughout the summer to gather and incorporate public input, City Council has unanimously approved a modified water and sewer rate proposal to avert the looming insolvency of the Enterprise (Utility) Fund.  As detailed previously, for at least the past 22 years rates have not kept up with the rising costs of utility operations and increasingly critical infrastructure needs. Had we done nothing to correct this, we'd be looking at a negative ending fund balance as early as the end of this coming fiscal year.

Responsive to the public input we received, the original proposal (first presented in April and the subject of a Town Hall Meeting in July) was modified in two respects:

August 31, 2016

Bonds for Better Bellaire 2016

We had a great turnout at Monday night's Town Hall Meeting on the upcoming bond election.  The residents who spoke posed some very good questions, and prompted a lively discussion covering a number of important issues.  Thanks to all who participated or perhaps watched at home; if you missed it, the video replay is available, here.

As was presented at the Town Hall Meeting, we're working hard to ensure you have access to all the information you need to make an educated decision when you cast your vote.  Please visit our dedicated Bonds for Better Bellaire 2016 page on the City website for details and supporting documents:  bellairetx.gov/bonds2016.

Additionally, we invite you to submit any questions you may have about the bonds by e-mail to bonds@bellairetx.gov.

Here's a quick overview of the 3 propositions:

August 23, 2016

The Difficulty of Making Easy Decisions – Or, Paying for the Things We Take for Granted

The City Council overwhelmingly recognizes the urgent need to move forward with critical water and wastewater infrastructure improvements. So much so, after due and careful consideration of proposed projects the debate has become less about the decisions themselves and more about who should make them. As our community’s duly-elected representatives, we take very seriously our responsibility to be good stewards of our physical assets. Given that responsibility, do we first have to stop and ask for permission to do what we know needs to be done?

August 11, 2016

Stewardship of Our Physical Assets – Or, Paying for the Things We Take for Granted

One of the greatest challenges we currently face is the unfortunate convergence of a number of long-neglected, big-ticket items hitting at the same time.  Not only have we continually deferred infrastructure and equipment maintenance and scheduled replacements over the past several years, we’ve also not been setting aside any funds for those needs, either.

August 2, 2016

FY 2017 Budget Season is Underway

The City's annual budget reflects our priorities as a community, balancing the services and improvements we desire against the costs of delivering them. It also takes account of the bigger picture, representing a set of short-term decisions within the context of longer-term planning.

Budget season runs from the Council planning session in May through final adoption in September, but it's really a year-round process as Council gives policy direction on a variety of issues that are ultimately addressed in the budget. For example, over a period of several months Council expressed its commitment to meaningful increases in public safety compensation, to improve our recruitment and retention of police officers and fire fighters. That discussion culminated in direction to the City Manager back in February to provide additional salary enhancements and incentive pay, and to bring base salaries to the 75th percentile among comparator communities. All such decisions throughout the year have an obvious budgetary impact that is captured when the City Manager presents the proposed budget each July. For that reason, there aren't many surprises in the document.

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