By Angie Bado, TSB Publisher
As we wrap up 2012, it’s time to look ahead to the new year and make a few predictions for McKinney in 2013. I’ve been busy checking my crystal ball and here is what I see. (Remember, the following are simply my own predictions, based on information I’ve gathered and analyzed myself!)
Weather: I’m no meteorologist, but you might be interested to know that some are predicting a slightly warmer than normal 2013 (Mmm – is this global warming at work?) How about a big ice storm in January? At any rate, various weather sites have predicted a wet winter, which certainly would help our water supply, most likely allowing the city to remain in stage II of the drought contingency plan.
MISD: Although the City of McKinney, MISD and the McKinney Chamber have agreed to jointly support legislation to “Restore the $5.4 billion in funding cuts to public schools and replace the current funding system with an adequate and equitable formula that allows for growth based funding,” all indications appear that Texas legislators will not be in the mood to restore funding. According to an article in the Dallas Morning News, schools districts are learning how to make do with less.
It’s interesting that the public consistently lists education as one of the top priorities for our city, and the state for that matter, but education funding comes last, following Medicaid and other state expenditures. McKinney residents, if you want to see changes in funding for education, this is the year to begin contacting your representatives – Ken Paxton (State Senator) and Scott Sandford (House of Representatives) – over and over. Make your voices heard.
McKinney’s continued population growth will surely put more pressure on our schools, raising the number of students per classroom.
Shortages in funds will also put a further burden on the athletic and fine arts programs that MISD has been so fortunate to provide to hundreds of students each year. Booster clubs will be expected to bear more of the financial burden as team budgets are tightened, forcing parents to either loosen their own purse strings or become more active fundraisers.
Growth: McKinney grew 141.2 percent from 2000 to 2010, making it one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S. with a population of over 100,000. That growth will continue into 2013, and we will begin to feel it more and more as the infrastructure (roads, water, etc.) is further burdened. More road construction will be the norm as we see projects begin throughout the city. Public transportation continues to be a hot topic as commuters deal with growth that will stretch further into McKinney’s northwest sector.
City of McKinney
The Gateway Project: In 2012, five out of seven city council members gave the city manger the go-ahead to take steps to enter into an agreement between Beck Dev., Champ Hospitality, McKinney Economic Development Corp. and McKinney Community Development Corp. for the Gateway Project located at the Northeast corner of the Sam Rayburn Tollroad and N. Central Expressway. The project would be a 3.5 star Sheraton type hotel and conference center project.
The project would be at an estimated cost of about $25 million, including $18 million in public funds. The McKinney Community Development Corporation (MCDC) has committed $6.1 million and Gray said the remaining $11 plus million to be made up in other cash, possibly from the city’s reserve fund, or in bond money. McKinney Community Dev. Corporation purchased the current structure, parking area, and land for approximately $ 4 million.
If members of the local Tea Party, and other conservative residents, who feel strongly that the use of public monies for this project is too great a risk, have their way, the project may fizzle this year. Many McKinney residents feel the location is no longer a viable location for a hotel project, particularly at this cost.
City Manager: The debacle that ensued following the termination of former Chief of Police Doug Kowalski, by City Manger Jason Gray, raised the ire of many in the community. City Council was blindsided by Gray’s action, the announcement of the Chief’s “reassignment” was made via a YouTube message, which ended up going public. There was public outcry to fire the City Manager. Will Mr. Gray lose his job this year? If there is one more screw-up like the “Kowalski affair,” which was, by most standards, grossly mishandled, I believe Gray will be gone. Hopefully, he has learned his lesson.
Elections: In May, Mayor Brian Loughmiller, Mayor Pro-Tem Travis Ussery, Don Day (Dist. 1) and David Brooks (At Large) will all be up for re-election. Both the Mayor and Mayor Pro-Tem have already declared their candidacy.
I predict that residents who are unhappy with the appearance of potential conflicts of interest by Mr. Brooks (who is a partner in Adriatica and Independent Bank) will be looking for a candidate to oppose him this go-round.
Other incumbents may have opponents as well, particularly given the support some showed the city manager during the already mentioned above incident. But it will remain to be seen if McKinney citizens have short memories or if they really care enough to get involved in the election of local government. It’s tough to beat an incumbent, but if other strong candidates step up and run, it can be done. But, really? Who has the time?
Business: The addition of the new runway, which opened in 2012, at the Collin County Regional Airport in McKinney, and the Sam Rayburn corridor makes McKinney more accessible than ever, making us more attractive to the business sector.The new Executive Director of the McKinney Economic Development Corp., Jim Wehmeier, will help spur some new interest in attracting corporate business to our area. No state taxes, lower cost of living, great schools and an excellent quality of life make McKinney a great place to do business. We may not see immediate results during 2013, but I believe the seeds will be planted for future business growth.
Downtown McKinney: I believe that council will pass the new zoning ordinance that comes before them in February. City staff recommends that zoning for the McKinney Town Center project move to “form” zoning instead of the current “use” zoning. This move will spur more interest in mixed use, combining retail with residential, which should promote additional residential projects to spring up in downtown areas.
I also see downtown McKinney becoming even more of a “foodie mecca” of sorts. New restaurants are slated to move into the area this year and more night spots may even spur more shops to stay open some evenings this year. Wouldn’t that be just groovy?
And yes, McKinney, we will have bike lanes. Ride on.
Who knows how many of my predictions may be accurate? We will be looking back at the end of 2013 to assess.
Meanwhile, Happy New Year everybody!