May 26, 2021

North Bellaire Special Development District

The most important thing to know about the newly established North Bellaire Special Development District (NBSDD), which rezones the former Chevron property, is that it’s a planned development-only district.  That makes it the most restrictive (i.e., protective of the neighbors) zoning district anywhere in the City.  With planned developments (PD’s) nothing is allowed by right, and any proposal could be considered only after two levels of review including two public hearings, and with no guarantee of approval.  Simply put, once there’s an actual development application on the table we’ll all get another bite at the apple (two bites, really).

That last part is significant and highlights a common misunderstanding in much of the public input Council received.  Many of the comments—both for and against—seemed targeted at “the developer’s plans” or at a particular outcome, as though it’s already a done deal.  However, we’re just not at that stage of the process yet.  We could have been, had the zoning district been proposed to allow by-right development, thereby preauthorizing anything that complied with its regulations.  But it wasn’t, and that’s the point.  Zoning the property as a PD-only district was merely the next step to soliciting development proposals for future consideration, maximizing the protection of the neighbors’ interests by reserving the right to say no.

May 17, 2021

Departmental Overviews Enhance Budgeting and Transparency

This budget season, our city staff have newly introduced departmental overview presentations in a series of pre-budget Council workshops, to better inform our budgetary decision making and increase transparency.  The idea is to provide Council and the public with a greater understanding of what the budget actually funds in each area of city operations, with the goal of prompting questions and helping everyone involved to be more prepared for the upcoming budget process.  It’s also just good stuff to know for anyone interested in how the City functions.

Each director will give a brief overview of their department, including at a minimum the following:

  • Why statement – department’s purpose
  • Who the department serves – customers
  • What the department does – functional org chart
  • Who is in the department – positional org chart
  • Operating budget overview / history
  • Performance indicators
  • Potential management projects
  • Points to ponder – FY 2022 budget considerations

The Finance Department presented on May 3, and tonight’s pre-budget workshop will feature Parks, Recreation and Facilities, and Public Works.  We’ll hear from Fire and Library on June 7, Police and Development Services on June 21, and the City Manager’s Office, Human Resources, and Information Technology on July 19.  The proposed budget for fiscal year 2022 is also scheduled to be presented that night.

These overviews will be published to the Additional Departmental Information section of our new CRAFT page (City Reporting and Financial Transparency) on the City website, an ongoing effort guided by the Texas Comptroller’s Transparency Stars program.  While much of the page is still under development, we’re proud to have recently been awarded our first Transparency Star, for the Traditional Finances section!  By including the Additional Departmental Information, which goes beyond the five topical areas identified by the program, we’ve taken our commitment to financial transparency still further, and hope you will find this information useful in understanding our city finances.

Budget season continues through adoption of the budget in September and the tax rate in October.  Residents are invited and encouraged to submit questions and feedback, at any point in the process, by e-mail to fy2022budget@bellairetx.gov.

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