In the last few weeks of City Hall 101 class, we learned more about Frisco’s Engineering Services, Library and Administrative branch, plus Housing & Grants, Purchasing and Finances.
Much like a good read, our city development has a beginning, middle and end. In Frisco terms, things start with Development Services (planning & zoning, land acquisition), then moves to Engineering Services (water/sewage infrastructure, roads, detailed drawings, traffic lights), and all projects make their way to Public Works. There is a lot of budgeting and positioning that occurs to get the process in motion, but we’ll touch on that on another day.
Engineering Services Responsibilities
- Design and implementation of Water and Sewage Lines, Roads and Sidewalks
- Design, Installation, programming and maintenance of the Traffic System
- Others services include: median lighting, striping, pedestrian safety, school zone, crosswalks, etc
- They publish the attached monthly report here: http://www.friscotexas.gov/departments/engineering/Pages/Reports.aspx
- Frisco buys 100% of its water from the North Texas Municipal Water District. NTMW does all the long range planning and supplies approximately 30 neighboring cities. We receive roughly 25% of our water supply from Lake Lavon, 75% from Texoma, and we are “guaranteed” our water supply assuming Mother Nature does her part.
- This summer a Zebra Mussel “filtering station” will open in North Texas that will help the loss of water supply.
- Frisco buys treated water, so we only need treatment centers for a closed-loop outbound sanitary system. Gutter run-off goes towards area streams and lakes through a series of predefined man-made or natural filters.
- Frisco has re-use systems that recycle gutter run-off into landscaping water for golf courses or school irrigation.
Roads & Trains
- Round-a-bouts are the way of the future! Many residential areas have already adopted them, and the first city street location will be on Ohio drive just east of Preston.
- A typical intersection has 32 vehicle points of collision and 24 pedestrian points of injury. A round-a-bout is much safer with only 8 points of collision for a vehicle and 8 for pedestrians.
- Frisco is a “quiet zone” by law for trains, and the law requires them to “honk” their horn when they go over a construction site. As the Stonebrook expansion starts to wrap-up, the “legal quiet zone” will take affect again.
The hub of our traffic center is at the main Frisco Fire Station and many people have dedicated hundreds of hours of programming to keep our area moving. To calculate traffic flow, city traffic employees take the time in the day, break it down into seconds and milliseconds, then try to factor in weather, sporting events, concerts, and likelihood of accidents… It’s a pretty daunting job.
- Ever wonder how long a normal street sign is that is hanging on light poles? It’s 8 FEET!
- Ever wonder how long a white stripe is on the road? 15 FEET LONG!
- A typical water tower holds 1.5 to 2.0 Million gallons of water and is refilled nightly. Towers are above ground to allow gravity to force the water to faucets rather than use power-consuming mechanical pumps.
Would you believe me if I told you that only 8% of the historical data is available on the Internet and the other 92% is only available in libraries, archives, and government facilities?
What if I told you that 50,000 people attended free or nearly free classes at the Frisco Library last year?
I struggled to digest this fact and kept asking myself “Who goes to libraries when you have Google?” “Why do you have a library card when you can get books on Amazon?” Well folks, if you’re on the same boat I was, you might be going in the wrong direction. Here are some additional things to consider about our Library…
- The Frisco Library has been embracing downloadable books for over seven years and if you have a Frisco Library card you can download thousands of books to your IPad or E-Reader. A new magazine-based app is available in iTunes called Zinio, and the Frisco Library has its own app that you can download to facilitate your reading adventures.
- The addition of RFID chips + Automated Return Sorters made our library much more efficient. Books get back to the shelf in 24hrs instead of 72hrs via traditional cart and manual sort methods. T his ultimately creates less spending on inventory and allows better availability to the residents.
- 600,000 people passed through our library in 2013.
- Approximately 9.6% of the Frisco population is less than 5 years old. The rest of the state is closer to 7.6%. Our library services include babies and books, toddler services, learning backpacks that you can check out, and tons of other services.
- “The Summer Slide” – there is an argument that if you can get your kids to read ~20 minutes per day in the summer, it is more likely that they will enter there next school year at a similar reading level versus falling back a few points in skill.
- We have a reciprocal system in place with The Colony, McKinney and Plano which means that we can access their libraries and they can access ours.
- The Frisco Library has a Teen Room that only allows 6th grade to 12th grade kids in it….a “no adult zone.”
- Library Book Endowment – Buy a book in the library for $25 and your designated honorary person will receive a book with special markings from you to them. Alternatively, you can donate $500 and they will receive one every year in perpetuity.
- The Lone Star Storytelling Festival is an annual event for adults and kids of all ages and a not-to-be-missed entertainment opportunity.
City Administrative Services
These are the folks that carefully spend our tax money, find free money for us, and is the team that keeps financial score of our city (Administrative Services, Housing & Grants and Finance). As a guy who has lived (and died) in the world of start-up companies, I have a high appreciation for the responsibilities and tasks these departments perform. Most cities focus on the bare requirements for citizens to get by, whether it be reporting, following state guidelines or transparency, but not Frisco. Our city employees are over-achievers!
This team holds the responsibility of Purchasing, Fleet Management, Inventory, Building Maintenance, Travel Services and Risk Management. We have a lot of “inventory” spread out over 72 square miles and it is only getting more complicated as we grow!
Random Factoids You Probably Didn’t Know
- There is a functional Post Office in City Hall!
- You can mail, change addresses, and even order Tolltags through this little Postal Hub on the first floor.
- Frisco has ~600,000 sq ft of building space and 600 vehicles or equipment to maintain.
- If you want to do business with the city, a good place to start is to register as a vendor on Demandstar.
Housing & Grants
I am 100% positive I will not be able to represent the full impact of Housing and Grants in this summary because it’s emotional and societal impact is difficult to comprehend and measure. On the surface, Stacy Brown and her team are responsible for drumming up Grants (free money) from any institution or government that will hand it out. These monies then go to support road construction, police, fire, traffic signals, and other public spaces. Last year, because of this group, approximately $4.0 Million didn’t have to come out of our tax piggy bank.
The hidden gem to me is the support Housing & Grants provides to the community by providing funds to support Frisco Family Services, Hope’s Door, Frisco Cares, and a half dozen others. These services actively support the homeless, troubled youth, rehabilitation candidates, the elderly and new home buyers that need help.
- $1 per capita is allocated to support City Social Services which as of this writing is a little over $138,000.
- The majority of the homeless folks in Frisco are teenagers.
- Last year, 1,036 residents were saved from becoming homeless by Homeless Prevention.
- 12 homes were rehabilitated last year.
Frisco consistently receives High Achievements from the State, Gold Circles from the Comptroller, and squeaky clean audit summaries from the financial auditors. Our Finance team diligently tracks spend and prepare the annual budget. The full annual report is over 350 pages of charts, graphs, and tables slicing up the data in numerous ways to give the City Council the data they need to make informed decisions on cash reserves, future Bond positions, and an assessment on the overall financial health of the city.
- About 45% of the budget income comes from taxes. The next largest portion is 30% which comes from fees.
- The General Fund is used to pay for general government, public safety, public works, parks & rec and debt services. 2013 was ~$99M.
In conclusion, it’s up to us as citizens to continue to support every aspect of our awesome city. When you shop in Frisco with local merchants, more of your money stays close to home; supporting the parks, recreation centers, libraries and other things that make this community a great place to live. So, save & spend locally here in Frisco!