This Week in Council Memos: Members' Budget Wish Lists, Flow Control and Looking Ahead

Categories: City Hall
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Those in need of a little light reading this Saturday morning will find on the other side the stack of heads-ups sent to the city council last night, the highlight of which will probably the proposed budget amendments offered by council members before Monday morning's briefing and straw vote. And the wish-list items are myriad, especially since, on September 7, City Manager Mary Suhm told the council that she, ya know, found an additional $1,768,646 not included in the original FY2012-13 budget -- "electric franchise fees and building use fees in Park and Recreation," dig?

Mayor Mike and seven council members -- Carolyn Davis, Pauline Medrano, Ann Margolin, Monica Alonzo, Scott Griggs, Linda Koop and Dwaine Caraway -- have a plan to spend every penny: adding two to Sustainable Development (which is also a Mary Suhm suggestion), restoring $140,000 to library materials, getting rid of one more furlough day (which is also on Tennell Atkins's wish list), pouring $150,000 into swimming pools (I was told Thursday night, "Dwaine's getting his pools") and forking over $296,169 to the Office of Cultural Affairs and $153,500 to the AT&T Performing Arts Center. For starters.

Angela Hunt and Scott Griggs have paired up for what they will be a revenue generator of as-yet-to-be-determined value: adding a "surcharge on residents consuming more than 15,000 gallons of water/month for months from April to September." Otherwise known as the Tom Hicks Tax? Sandy Greyson joins the duo for another proposal: rerouting $3 million the city spends on maintaining TxDOT rights-of-way to keeping Park & Rec workers and upping street maintenance.

Also in the stack o' memos: a sneak peek at what we could be up against next budget, because it's never too early; and more about flow control, which will also be on Monday's to-do list as Marys Suhm and Nix urge council to sign off on the trash-to-treasure initiative by no later than September 28 over the objections of those who say it's costly, stinky and altogether unnecessary. Memos 9-16-11
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22 comments
RaceCar
RaceCar

What is the big rush to implement flow control? Why is Mary Nix pushing Mary Suhm to push through flow control? Alarms and bells are going off on this one but Nix keeps saying not to pay attention to these noises. There are definitely some on the council who see and hear it. They have even asked that the train be slowed down but Nix/Suhm keep pushing this initiative forward. And the S Dallas council members (with the exception of Hill) have jumped on the bandwagon after being promised $1M for economic development. Why should they agree to become an even bigger dumping ground for waste in exchange for money? Shouldn't there be economic development programs and funding for S Dallas regardless of flow control? And a plea to Council member Hill: PLEASE STOP CALLING MARY NIX the best trash lady in e trash business!!! Same for you, Ms. Koop. You two are very mistaken. Mary Nix is a horrible manager, poor leader and compulsive liar. Her mismanagement and behavior has and will continue to keep the City Attorneys tied up with potential litigation AND lawsuits. As stated earlier on this blog, there is a big story for someone who starts peeling back the layers in the Sanitation department. Very interesting that no one has pointed out that the author of this green treasure or whatever cute name it has been given is none other than Mary Nix's former boss, the former Assistant City Manager Ramon Miguez! No one should act or be surprised. Council members, you approved the contract with Miguez months ago. If someone takes the time to dig, I bet you will find he's still being paid through other means and will have more come his way if flow control is approved. Conflict of interest????

BCulbreath
BCulbreath

Where is Tea Party on government interfering in where private industry deposit their trash?

BCulbreath
BCulbreath

How do you find 1,768,646 that's included in your yearly budget revenue projections? the more media prints about government operations in Dallas the lower voter turn out will get.I've known for years Dallas County does not fully fund their salaries its pay as you work,also City of Dallas budget 12 months  of full salary knowing 400 Police and Firefighter will not be hired and CM will use lag money from salary to plug holes in budget. Service will go down because of lay offs and Taxpayers will suffer while budget games are played.

Worldwatch
Worldwatch

This will be a real test for Mayor Rawlings. Is he willing to stand up to the staff when they give him inaccurate or incomplete information? Is he willing to stand by his pledge that he will not support any ghost taxes on business? The world is watching. 

Fedup
Fedup

Nix has made Suhm and Ryan Evans look like idiots. She has failed to tell the city council that it will cost double or triple the current tipping fees to operate one of her waste recovery facilities. The tipping fee in California is $68 a ton at the Roseville facility Nix keeps touting. Wait till the council finds out that some members of Nix staff have been going to Europe to tour facilities. Europe has a completely different economy and a different waste stream and is not the template for a successful program in Texas. Flow control needs to come off the agenda and the city needs to find out what they have not been told about the issue. If they pass flow control they will be leaving millions of dollars on the table and spending millions on litigation. Mary Suhm won't have the money she is looking for to balance the 2013 budget. There is a better way and the smarter members of the city council should insist on more due diligence.    

Peter
Peter

Mary Nix is the biggest liar and is well known for playing with the numbers. She's terribly desperate for attention and acceptance. She is THE most hated department director. Hopefully, Mary Suhm has seen through her. Nix has made Suhm look pretty stupid. Waiting for M Suhm to dump Mary Nix with the rest of the trash. She needs to get gone.

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

I'm a little curious about Hunt's plan to cut $3.2 from TXDOT right of way maintenance and reallocate it--- the City's highways have already morphed into quasi-hellish, trash-strewn corridors of blight... it seems this will only make the problem worse.

MaryMary
MaryMary

The real question is if the budget is balanced, there is some extra money and you don't need flow control to start a material recycling project, then why has Suhm put this unrealistic deadline on the city council and why aren't they objecting to moving forward with minimal information.

The memo leaves out important information such as the extrodinarily high tipping fees at  the California plant. Do Dallas businesses want to see disposal costs increase from $21.50 to $86 a ton? How does that help economic development? Why isn't that in the memo?

The city hasn't even done an analysis of its waste stream to determine what is recyclable but claims it has a rick stream of material. Which is it? You know or you need a study to find out?

The memo contains a number of other major ommissions and at least one factual error.

The news media is starting to take a much closer look at this issue, the rumors of foreign trips and othe underhanded tactics with the main question being why the rush.

Something is fishy here.  There could be a Pulitzer for someone who takes a really close look at how this process is unfolding.   

Racist troll
Racist troll

why does duh-waine care about pools?

everybody knows that blacks can't swim

Cliff Dweller
Cliff Dweller

Have you noticed that every year Mary "finds" extra money late in the budget process?  So, is her original budget poorly prepared, or is this a dishonest stunt she pulls to make herself look like a hero?  In either case it's another argument for her dismissal.

Fire Mary Suhm !

Abby
Abby

Peter - If all you can do is personnaly slight our administrative staff, you are only discrediting yourself!  Do you have any facts?  It doesn't appear so!  Flow control simply stops valuable waste from going north and keeping it a McCommas where it can eventually be processed for recyclables.  Have you noticed how many waste haulers have complained?  2 out of 190!  Know why???  The little guys get a level playing field because the big guys have a landfill north of town to really make money off the waste!  The little guys see opportunity and no way are they coming to the council to stop flow control.  Then, a private company will come recycle those tons and bring millions to the city.  Keep your eyes open, the truth will continue to come forward.

Abby
Abby

There is no ghost tax!  The small increases in a couple of customers transportation costs will be offset by the savings and market share the little guys get after not having to go north with their waste!  The owner of that landfill makes huge dollars!  Why do you think no one but the NSWMA has come to the council briefings?  They love the idea of a level playing field so they can out service the big guys!  There's 190 haulers in Dallas.  Do you think competition will have any effect on a price hike by a hauler?

Abby
Abby

Fedup, your information is incorrect.  Roseville has a high tipping fee because of it's economics.  The 21.50 fee at McCommas works all day with flow control.  The recovery facilities you speak of will be built, owned and operated by a private company, not the city!  They're putting up all the money then splitting the profits with Dallas.  This is a no brainer for the city.  You'll hear more information soon.  Meanwhile, don't let the NSWMA trick you into thinking this won't work.  Those 5,000 tons of flow control waste are worth millions to the landfill owner in the north and much more to the city of Dallas when we take out the recyclables.  What has the NSWMA offered the city?  -0-

Cliff Dweller
Cliff Dweller

That was Sandy Greyson's proposal. I imagine there is some question why the City is paying to clean up State-owned right of ways (just guessing).

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

To help you out here:

1)  Here is a link to the data which confirm that the Western Placer County Landfill (which Queen Mary cites as the model to be copied by Dallas) charges $68 / ton:  http://www.wpwma.com/fees.html

2)  In contrast, the City of Dallas appears was charging $21 / ton as recently as last year:  http://www.dallascityhall.com/...  Moreover, at that time, Queen Mary indicated that rates were discounted below that to secure long term contracts with commercial haulers to "keep the revenue stream more predictable."

These facilities appear to be EXTREMELY expensive to operate.  If Dallas is required to increase its fees to a level comparable to that of Western Placer (and I can't see why that wouldn't be the case), the additional cost paid directly and indirectly by city residents and businesses would appear to be roughly $50 - $60 MILLION PER YEAR.  Naturally, Queen Mary didn't discuss any of this in her report.

I'm guessing somebody has the inside track on building/operating this facility and has done a good job of spreading money around all the usual suspects to ensure they get the deal.  For example, seems I recall Suhm saying that Pegasus Texas Construction is already "helping" the City understand this--- for those that don't recall, Pegasus is run a former city manager of the City of Dallas and appears to have almost an "exclusive" as the City's go-to minority contractor of record for nearly every major City public works project.

Chevytexas
Chevytexas

Could you at least characterize the "ommissions" (sic) and the clerical error? Foreign trips? Please inform us, we apparently have no other source of information. You sound like you know, so spill.

DOWNTOWN_ER
DOWNTOWN_ER

Agreed, but this is the least of her shenanigans.

FIRE THIS WORTHLESS CM.  

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

"Flow control simply stops valuable waste from going north and keeping it a McCommas where it can eventually be processed for recyclables."

If this is such a good deal, shouldn't costs be going down, not up?  I mean, from everything you've said, it sounds like we should be paying the trash haulers for all this "valuable waste."

"Have you noticed how many waste haulers have complained?  2 out of 190!"

Another lie, Abby.  Naughty, naughty!  (And you better not start making up multiple fictitious blogging personas again (you remember:  the hard-working Hispanic, the semi-literate black person, and the middle-class white mom)-- you ended up looking pretty foolish last time.

"The little guys get a level playing field because the big guys have a landfill north of town to really make money off the waste!"

The "little guys" already have a level playing field.  According to numerous documents previously issued by the city, the business of operating landfills in North Texas is highly competitive, and "little guys" have plenty of choices when it comes to choosing where to dump their refuse.

"The little guys see opportunity and no way are they coming to the council to stop flow control."

What opportunity is there for the "little guys"?  Are you going to make them equity partners in the the McCommas landfill.  If you are implying that the City will give them some sort of other subsidy, what is it?  How is this an "opportunity" when you are going to take away the "little guy's" right to choose and force him to pay a monopolist?

"Then, a private company will come recycle those tons and bring millions to the city."

I don't get it.  Why isn't the private company here already?  Are you saying that Mary Nix and Mary Suhm are some sorts of visionary venture capitalists who see an opportunity ahead of the private marketplace?  If this was a great deal, wouldn't private companies already be lined up, vying for the right to operate this money-spinning miracle?

"Keep your eyes open, the truth will continue to come forward."

My eyes have been open for months... all I've seen is a bunch of deceptive B.S. and completely unsubstantiated (or just plain wrong) "facts" come out of Mary Nix.  If the truth were actually to come forward, I think that would be a change welcomed by everyone.

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

"There is no ghost tax!  The small increases in a couple of customers transportation costs will be offset by the savings and market share the little guys get after not having to go north with their waste!"

Believe it or not, the laws of a market economy apply in Dallas-- the desires of rent-seeking bureaucrats and their inside crony friends, notwithstanding.  There are TENS OF THOUSANDS of commercial trash hauling customers in the City of Dallas, not "a couple."  The reason some customers send their trash north right now is because it is more efficient and cheaper.  A side benefit to Dallas residents is it is more eco-friendly--- because the north side dumps are actually closer to the customers.  Finally, it shouldn't be up to a bunch of City bureaucrats and their crony capitalist friends to pick winners and losers in the trash hauling business--- much as I would love to believe your implication that this is an altruistic move on behalf of "the little guys,"  decades of City behavior suggest that this is far from the truth.

"The owner of that landfill makes huge dollars!"

Is this another one of those deals like the City Convention Hotel?  You know, the project that has already been tainted by the revelation of insider dealings and that is already short on its operating projections for the first year?  Can you cite one single example of the City acting as a successful venture capitalist?

"Why do you think no one but the NSWMA has come to the council briefings?"

Most of the other stuff you say rings hollow.  This, in contrast, is a demonstrable lie.

"They love the idea of a level playing field so they can out service the big guys!"

Please explain.

"There's 190 haulers in Dallas.  Do you think competition will have any effect on a price hike by a hauler?"

Not sure what your point is--- but if you are asking "will competition cause trash haulers to simply absorb higher costs, rather than pass them along to their customers?"--- well, the answer is no.  This will, indeed, be a "ghost tax."  Your intent appears to be to drive up the cost of doing business significantly--- which is really weird... you also say that trash is suddenly treasure, so costs should actually be going down, not up.  

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

"Roseville has a high tipping fee because of it's economics."

Why would it's economics be so significantly different from those here in the City of Dallas?

"The 21.50 fee at McCommas works all day with flow control."  

No information supporting such an assertion has been made public to date.

"The recovery facilities you speak of will be built, owned and operated by a private company, not the city!"

Errr....... what "private company" is going to be doing this?  If this is such a great deal, let the City put out an RFP (you know, competition..... you've heard of it right?  or is this going to be another "friends and family" deal?)  Oh yeah, here's my exclamation point, to lend extra credibility to my comment: "!"

"They're putting up all the money then splitting the profits with Dallas."

Again, who is this secret private company?  If, as Queen Mary and Mary Nix claim, the city dump is a veritable pot of gold, let's issue an RFP to make sure we get the best deal, rather than just enter into some sort of exclusive incestuous deal with a private company that just happens to be waiting in the wings. 

Additionally, there is no need to enter into flow control first... just make the RFP contingent upon flow control (some bidders may not even require it-- since the city dump is so valuable. Better yet, why not get the winning bidder to front some cash as a security deposit and offer some sort of bankable guarantee?

"This is a no brainer for the city."

Gee, that makes me feel so much better. Since it is such a "no brainer," let's issue an RFP that requires the winning bidder to put up a security deposit plus a bankable guarantee. This should be very easy, since this deal is such a "no brainer." In fact, there should be numerous potential bidders standing in line, fighting for the right to access this "treasure."

"You'll hear more information soon."

When, exactly?  Mary Nix has been pimping this plan for several months, already.  I mean, it's not like we're talking about the next release of the IPad.

"Meanwhile, don't let the NSWMA trick you into thinking this won't work.  Those 5,000 tons of flow control waste are worth millions to the landfill owner in the north and much more to the city of Dallas when we take out the recyclables."

If all of this trash is so valuable, then why does the City need to charge trash haulers to dump it at all?  Wouldn't the City be willing to pay for all this crap that has suddenly become such a "treasure?"

"What has the NSWMA offered the city?"

Nothing.  What has anyone else offered the city?  Answer:  nothing.

Wylie H.
Wylie H.

Fair point.  I've always sensed that the City is getting "played" by TXDOT with respect to right-of-way maintenance, and that other cities are getting better deals.

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