February 17, 2020

Sidewalks Charter Election Called for May 2

The latest battles of Bellaire’s decades-long sidewalks wars were fought in the fall of 2018, and in response to overwhelming public input spanning multiple hours over multiple meetings, the City Council completely canceled all plans for standalone sidewalks.  Through the public process those battles were thus brought to conclusion, but the issue was revived a few months later by resident petitions for three charter amendments that would remove the question of sidewalks from the public process.  The requisite constitutional waiting period having now passed, and pursuant to the state election law calendar, last week the City Council formally ordered a special election to be held on Saturday, May 2.

January 14, 2020

When the Unthinkable Happens Here

We're all shocked and devastated by this afternoon’s senseless tragedy at Bellaire High School.  Our hearts are foremost with the victim and his family, and we stand together in solidarity with the entire BHS community in mourning this horrific loss.  The City of Bellaire is working with and will continue to provide our support to school administration and HISD, now and in the days to come.

School shootings take place with such alarming frequency, it’s easy to become desensitized and lulled into complacency.  We see it on TV, and while we know it can happen anywhere, it’s not supposed to happen here.  Yet today it has.

As a parent, I’m positively stricken having to explain to my young children the events of today, and the harsh realities of the world in which they live.  I’m shaken to my very core, seeing their innocence abruptly taken from them.  I honestly don’t know how to answer all their questions, or to give them the reassurance they need when I’m not always so sure myself.  I can’t help but hold them a little tighter.

As a neighbor, I’m in stunned disbelief that this has happened right here, that one of our own kids won’t be coming home tonight.  I feel an overwhelming sadness for all the students and their families, for whom everything has forever changed.  School is supposed to be a safe place, but our very basic sense of security now gives way to worry.  We owe it to our children to find some way to restore it.

In times of crisis we've shown what it means to be a community.  We’re here for each other, and will move forward together through this difficult time.  We’re thankful for our first responders and for all they’ve done today, and will continue to hold near and pray for the victim and his family.

January 7, 2020

Working Together in Moving Bellaire Forward

The start of every new Council term, like the beginning of the New Year with which it coincides, is a time for both reflection on the past—what has been working well, and less so—and looking forward.  It’s a time of optimism, with the promise of good things to come, and inspiration, with renewed energy to tackle whatever challenges may lay ahead.  This year it’s especially so.

That this new Council is more visibly reflective of the diversity of opinion throughout the community can only be a good thing.  For everyone to feel they have a seat at the table provides a tremendous opportunity—for all of Bellaire—to work together, rather than against each other.

December 30, 2019

2020 in Focus as New Council Set to Begin

Following another busy and productive year, Bellaire is in good shape as the incoming Council prepares to take office next week.  We’ll be getting right to work, as there’s a lot going on all over the City with no signs of slowing anytime soon.  The election of new Council members suggests a change in direction as we look to build upon our past accomplishments while perhaps reenvisioning our future.  With all that’s on our plate we’ll have plenty of opportunities to do so, most notably with the Comprehensive Plan due for periodic review in the coming year.

December 16, 2019

Persistence Pays Off:  Bellaire Awarded $4.35 Million in CDBG Disaster Recovery Grants

Over the past few years, city staff have been hard at work applying for every disaster recovery and mitigation grant for which we’re eligible to apply.  Though historically we’ve not had much luck based on our relative income demographics, we’ve pressed ahead in pursuit of our fair share.  Our persistence is paying off.

December 9, 2019

Police Department Secures Grant for Full-Time Crime Victim Specialist

Having identified victim assistance as an area for improvement, the Bellaire Police Department jumped at the opportunity and successfully applied for federal funding to enhance its capabilities.  Bellaire is one of just 36 communities nationwide selected to participate in the 2019 Law Enforcement-Based Victim Specialist Program sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice through its Office for Victims of Crime.  The $214,636 grant will fully fund a Crime Victim Specialist position for three years.

November 22, 2019

Ambitious Regional Flood Planning Finally Underway

Having previously pitched the idea, worked out all the details, secured partner participation and funding commitments, and entered into interlocal agreements to seal the deal, the final step of awarding the engineering contract so work could begin felt somewhat anticlimactic.  It has taken us the better part of a year to get to this point, quite a bit longer than we’d hoped based on our partners’ initial expectations, but we got it done and the Bellaire Master Drainage Concept Plan is off and running.  This partnership among the City, Harris County Flood Control District and TxDOT is absolutely essential to Bellaire and the surrounding area if we are to achieve meaningful flood relief, especially in more extreme storm events that no amount of local improvements could contain.  Regional problems require regional solutions, and this could be the start of something big.

October 17, 2019

Bellaire is StormReady

Our emergency management personnel are great at what they do, and they’re always working to get even better, including by implementing new ideas and best practices.  Bellaire has recently been recognized by the National Weather Service (NWS) as a StormReady community, based on the strength and effectiveness of our severe weather response plans, communications and emergency operations.  An added benefit of achieving this designation is credit toward our Community Rating System classification, which lowers flood insurance premiums for property owners.

September 20, 2019

The FY 2020 Budget, and How We Got There

The outcome of this year’s budget process is an adopted budget that represents a 4.4% property tax revenue increase, down from the original 8% proposal.  The resulting tax rate increase for maintenance and operations, calculated in accordance with the state Truth-in-Taxation (TnT) formula, is 2.4%, well within the new 3.5% rollback rate that will go into effect next year.  The impact on a home at the average value in Bellaire of $936,582 will be $93 versus last year:

1    The City Manager revised his proposed budget upon receipt of the certified tax roll, to credit better-than-projected growth from new construction, and also to correct an error in Fire Department part-time pay and in response to Council feedback to eliminate a budget enhancement for closed captioning.
2    The proposed budget was further revised, primarily as a result of continued negotiations with our employee health insurance carrier, along with some other, minor modifications.
3    Impacts for these given appraised values are calculated assuming the homestead exemption, but not senior/disabled exemption.
4    The $145 I previously reported was based on an average appraised value of $937,657, which decreased slightly to $936,582 upon receipt of the certified tax roll.

September 12, 2019

Celebrating Our New Municipal Facilities

In what has been much more a marathon than a sprint, we’ve finally reached the finish line and are ready to cut the ribbon.  We’ve marked some important milestones along the way, from the initial groundbreaking ceremony, to the opening of the new City Hall and Council Chamber, and the formal dedication of the Norman-Zarate Police & Municipal Court building.  Now that the final piece is in place with the completion of the Civic Center, it’s time to celebrate!