By Angie Bado, TSB Publisher
During the city council’s work session on Monday, Aug. 6, City Manager Jason Gray reported that following the presentation of the proposed budget for the fiscal year 2012/13 at the budget retreat on July 27, there will be still be opportunity for changes. Gray said he expects that there will be changes following the public hearing that will take place at the next regularly scheduled council meeting on Aug. 21. He also said that the proposed budget is based on keeping the current tax rate of 58.55 cents per $100 of assessed value.
The McKinney Convention and Visitor’s Bureau (MCVB) presented a proposed budget to council for their consideration. Dee-dee Guerra, Interim Executive Director, told council that the MCVB has made an effort to balance the budget, reducing spending in order to be fiscally conservative. Many of the proposed cuts are in the area of advertising and promotions. Councilman Ricchi questioned whether these reductions were too large considering the possibility that a larger marketing dollars may be needed if the deal for a new hotel and conference center is solidified.
During the presentation, it was brought to council’s attention that $810 billion are spent annually in the United States by travelers. For every dollar spent on marketing in Texas, the city gets back approximately $7 in taxes, according to a study done by the Texas Tourism Industry Association.
Linda Spina, Chair of the McKinney Arts Commission, reported to council that the commission has just finished receiving applications for funding from non-profit arts related organizations. Each year the city funds the Arts Commission to assist in the encouragement of a thriving art community. This year the city provided $185 thousand to be given in support of the arts.
Spina told council that the Arts Commission that results from a recent study on the economic impact of the arts on the City of McKinney show that art related events brought in two million dollars in . The arts also support 52 full time jobs and generates more than $200 thousand in local and state government revenue.
The Arts Commission is also working on a public art master plan, which is funded by McKinney Community Development Corporation. The group is currently gathering input from the community regarding the kinds of art to exhibit, as well as the locations within the community that residents consider to be important for displaying art.
Spina said the Commission has devised a four pronged approach to getting the master plan off the ground. The plan includes fundraising efforts from businesses, local philanthropists and the arts community and encouraging developers to establish public art as part of their developments. The city has not set aside any funds for this project.
In other business city staff brought before council a proposal for changes in the city’s sign ordinance. Some of the staff’s recommended changes include pole signs will no longer be permitted on Hwy. 5 from Industrial Blvd. north to University Dr. Electric message signs will be required to have static images for a minimum of eight seconds and will be required to limit brightness to 0.3 foot candles. No animated signs will be allowed.
City staff also recommends prohibiting any new billboards within city limits, however, existing billboards would be allowed to increase their height to 40 feet and their area from 288 square feet to 300 square feet. Council will consider the proposal and city staff will bring it to council for a vote at the meeting scheduled for Aug. 21.