Brad Horton, Candidate for Kennedale Mayor

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1. Past Decisions – please respond by February 29, 2024

Although the city council cannot dwell on past councils' decisions and it must move forward, we would like to know if current council members have learned from past decisions, including those made by previous councils. From history, were each of the following zoning case items a good decision or a poor decision, and why?

a) “UV” zoning on Kennedale Sublett Road just east of Kennedale Parkway?

b) “MF” zoning on Joplin Road just south of Kennedale Sublett Road?

In the “UV case,” when I think of “Urban Village” zoning, I think of the Domain in Austin, the Star in Frisco, or the Shops at Clearfork in Fort Worth. While the UDCs for those respective municipalities may not call it “UV,” it’s a very similar concept to what we have here. With each of the three places I mentioned above, you have vibrant retail, restaurants, coffee shops, etc., to go along with the multi-family housing. However, we don’t have any of the retail, restaurants, or other commercial establishments; we just have the apartments.

While the idea of UV sounds appealing, and I do enjoy visiting the Domain, the Star, and the Shops at Clearfork, I would ask, was there ever any intention of having commercial activity at this location? I tend to think not. Then, if you look at the current infrastructure and logistics around that location, you will see that having all of that activity given our current infrastructure wasn’t really practical to begin with. So again, was there ever any intention of having retail, restaurants, and the other major components of “UV” zoning, or was it just a way to get more apartments built?

Perhaps most importantly, what did our citizens think about this? I wasn’t involved with the city at the time this decision occurred, and I’ve only heard the reaction since, but I’ve not heard many positives, if any. With a little over 6 square miles in the city, I don’t think UV zoning is something that’s very compatible with the City of Kennedale, which is why I was adamant about trying to have “UV” removed from the UDC while I was on the Council. That’s not to say we shouldn’t strive for more restaurants, retail, and other businesses because we absolutely should; that’s how we can start to shift the tax burden off our citizens, but UV isn’t going to work here. And I think this particular location is Exhibit A on why I can make this claim.

So, to answer your question, I don’t believe the UV zoning on Kennedale Sublett Road just east of the Parkway was a good decision.

b) “MF” zoning on Joplin Road just south of Kennedale Sublett Road?

Was the “multi-family” zoning on Joplin Road just south of Sublett a good decision? Well, this particular location is still not in compliance with “MF” zoning. Therefore, in my opinion, it was not a good decision. This location has had numerous issues such as not complying with height and other building requirements, building too close to the homes just to the west of it, lighting issues, making noise at all hours of the night, and the list goes on and on. Not to mention, not too long ago, a vehicle went crashing through the fence from this place and into the backyard of one of our citizens.

In my opinion, the Certificate of Occupancy should never have been issued for this location. In fact, I was under the impression that the CO wouldn’t be issued until the location came into compliance, and until the valid concerns that our citizens raised were met. But then, the CO was issued anyway.

In closing, I would ask this. What about the quality of life of our current citizens? I believe that should be one of the most important metrics by which anything like this is evaluated. That was always a major guiding force behind all of the votes I made while on Council.

In conclusion, while I’m not against residential growth, I am against growth that happens in the manner that these two locations did. It’s also my belief that any residential growth should pay for itself. If I’m not mistaken, I think the location off Sublett (Hammock Creek) was supposed to have a tax valuation of roughly $40 million to $50 million. In reality, it’s on the tax rolls for about $7 million and generates roughly $50 thousand in tax revenue for the city (significantly less than what it was anticipated to generate). Does that roughly $50,000 in tax revenue generated from Hammock Creek cover the increased cost to infrastructure, city services, police, and fire protection? These two zoning cases have both posed significant problems for our citizens, and to be honest, our citizens deserve better.

 

2. Property Taxes – please respond by March 7, 2024

Kennedale is the third highest taxing city of the 41 cities in Tarrant County. What are some viable potential solutions to alleviate the tax burden on the citizens? Or is this just something that the citizens of Kennedale must learn to accept? Why?

Let me first say that I voted against this current budget and the current property tax rate that moved us up from the 7th highest property tax rate to now the 3rd highest property tax rate in Tarrant County. While the current Administration’s narrative was “we held the tax rate the same this year as we did last year,” the reality is the current budget drove the largest city property tax increase in decades, if not the history of Kennedale. When you look at the actual tax increase from the city’s adopted budget, our citizens’ taxes increased by roughly 15.8% this year (the 2023-2024 fiscal year). You have a mayor who initially ran for office several years back on sound fiscal policy and now has turned around as mayor and presided over the largest tax increase in at least the past 40 years!

Fiscal Year

Tax Increase

Mayor

2023-2024

15.80%

Jan Joplin

2022-2023 

1.91 % 

Hollis Matthews 

2021-2022 

0.11% 

Linda Rhodes 

2020-2021 

9.9% 

Brian Johnson 

2019-2020 

9.8% 

Brian Johnson 

2018-2019 

1.2% 

Brian Johnson 

2017-2018 

9.1% 

Brian Johnson 

2016-2017 

3.1% 

Brian Johnson 

2015-2016 

7.7% 

Brian Johnson 

2014-2015 

2.49% 

Brian Johnson 

2013-2014 

4.94% 

John Clark 

My city property taxes increased almost 16 percent - or roughly $500 dollars for the year. That’s ridiculous! In my opinion, it was very disingenuous for the mayor to run with the narrative that we held the tax rate the same while an overwhelming majority of our citizens’ city tax bills went up almost 16 percent (even though most people’s overall tax bills likely went down due to the tax break at the ISD and the county levels). At a time when almost all taxing authorities around us lowered their tax rate, why is the City of Kennedale not following suit? That’s a complete failure in leadership and oversight.

When I first joined the council in October of 2022, the city was moving in the right direction and had actually decreased the property tax rate. If you look at the 2022 - 2023 budget, you see that it was the council’s desire to continue to lower the tax rate.  Then, this past year, something literally changed overnight and the city decided it wanted to go on a spending spree without one word in opposition from the mayor.   While I do acknowledge there were critical needs that had to be addressed, I also believe we could have found a happy medium (and I say this having prepared hundreds if not thousands of budgets during the course of my career).

So, to your question, we have the third highest property tax rate in Tarrant County because our citizens carry the burden of financing our city government. This is the case because we have a government exceeding its means and we don’t have enough business activity to offset the individual resident tax burden. The viable solutions are as follows (I’ll summarize here and then expand on them further). As mayor, I would:

  1. Provide much needed oversight to the city government and ensure that it’s operating within its means.

  2. Shore up our current businesses and make sure the city is doing all it can to help them be successful.  We had three businesses close recently, and that’s unacceptable.  Also, we must change our perception as a city that is tough for businesses and would-be businesses to work with.  

  3. Reach out to various municipalities and business owners and encourage them to relocate to Kennedale while fostering an environment that’s conducive to sustained business success. 

  4. This is not something the citizens of Kennedale must learn to accept.  That’s a defeatist and loser mentality to which I want no part.  We can do better, and we will do better! 

1 - As your mayor, the first thing I would do is provide much needed oversight to the city government and ensure that it’s loperating within its means. The city government needs to understand that it works for the citizens of Kennedale, not the other way around. Can anyone legitimately say that’s what’s going on now? That’s not to suggest that we don’t want to equip our first responders such as our police department and our firefighters who put themselves on the line for us every day with the very best, but we’re not doing that.  In fact, we shunned a reasonable request from our fire department to make them competitive with other comparable jurisdictions so we could stay competitive salary wise and keep loyal and proven employees from leaving for greener pastures. 

The current city budget also allowed for multiple new vehicles, new software upgrades, and other various internal expenditures that in my opinion should have been put on hold at a time when inflation is running at 40-year highs.  And while our streets are crumbling and we’re facing other extraordinary infrastructure challenges, is now the best time to make sure City Hall is living high on the hog while our citizens do without?  The mayor obviously thought so and just rubber stamped the budget without any oversight.

On a side note, all I’ve heard is how we need more rooftops to be able to finance this or that.  To be perfectly honest, that’s one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard.  While again, I’m not against residential growth, I am against growth just for growth’s sake.  Our city’s residential population has grown about 30 percent over the past 3-5 years, and over 50 percent in the last 13 years.  If population growth is going to bring in all of this additional revenue, why do we have the third highest property tax rate in Tarrant County with crumbling roads and other infrastructure that’s bursting at the seams and causing every other rate for city services to go up?

The problem is that when you’re counting on growth to fund your operations, 1) you’re not operating within your means to begin with and 2) you’re going to be in a very bad spot when the growth stops and you don’t have that revenue to fund basic services like we’re doing now.  So, what do you do?  You have to turn to the citizens to pay the way.  Growth in the last 10 years has actually driven our taxes higher and the cost to support that growth is greater than the revenue provided by that growth.

2 - As your mayor, the next thing I would do is shore up our current businesses.  Sadly, we just had three businesses close in the last few weeks.  That’s unacceptable, and it takes more than just showing up and taking a picture to post on Facebook to make sure our businesses have what they need to be successful. In my time on council, I talked to numerous business owners and would-be business owners and the number one overriding theme was that they were frustrated by the lack of support from the city and the ridiculous amount of red tape that it took for them to become operational and continue to operate.  If elected, I would take an “all-hands on deck” approach and find out what our current businesses need from the city to be successful in collaboration with organizations such as our Chamber of Commerce and Rotary Club.  We simply must do all that we can to take care of our current businesses and stop the bleeding.  We also need to show goodwill to our businesses and business owners.  Ask a few of them around town and their opinion is that the city administration is cumbersome and tough to deal with.  

3) We have almost 1,000 people a day moving to the greater DFW area.  Do you mean to tell me that there aren’t a lot of would-be business owners and entrepreneurs who wouldn’t love to invest capital in our city?  As mayor, I would reach out to the City of Arlington and the City of Mansfield and look for ways to send business our way along with developing a task force to try and attract would be business owners to our city.  

Case in point - Su Ti Distillery.  I had a chance to visit with these great businessmen not too long ago, and they chose to locate in Kennedale because Arlington and Mansfield didn’t want them. I don’t know if our citizens know, but the product they produce is the only place in the U.S. that you can get their product.  That’s pretty amazing and they have a huge following around the world.  Their place of business is beautiful and it would be ideal for hosting receptions and other events.  In my opinion, we need more places like Su Ti that would fit perfectly here.  

Additionally, in my time on council, I also became friends with and tried to recruit a very popular DFW area barbeque restaurant to come to Kennedale.  They were interested in moving to Kennedale, but they wanted to build a semi-permanent structure and envisioned something along the lines of the Salt Lick in Driftwood.  In essence, the owners sought a family friendly place where patrons could come and tailgate, listen to live music, etc. and then enjoy some of the best barbeque around.  Such a venture would almost certainly lead to more businesses wanting to come and take part; not to mention it would bring large numbers of people from outside of Kennedale to come here and spend their money.

So, what did we do?  We tried to stick them up near the QT gas station near 820 where, among other issues, there would be no shade in the summer for their grand vision. As mayor, I would reach out to landowners, and whoever else I needed in order to find a place where would be businesses that wanted to infuse capital, money, and jobs into our economy could get a location where they could be successful.  Getting a restaurant like this would have been a game changer to our city and sadly, we missed the mark because we weren’t willing to work with them.  And that’s just one example. 

Friends, if an entrepreneur or business owner wants to start a business in our city, we’re playing with house money.  Understand that business owners who want to do business here have obviously done their research, they understand the barriers to entry, and they feel they can be successful.  In so doing, that’s capital coming into our city, that’s money coming into our city, and that’s jobs coming into our city.  Why wouldn’t we welcome them with open arms and do everything we can to help them be successful?  Rather, I’ve sadly witnessed us chase such businesses off and create ridiculous barriers to entry without one protest whatsoever from the mayor.  If I am elected as your mayor, that changes immediately.  We will send out a huge message to anyone that will hear it that “Kennedale is open for business!”  As long as a business isn’t posing a public health risk or posing some other harm to the public, why on earth wouldn’t we want to do all we can to bring them here? For example, if there are three donut shops, who cares if a fourth one wants to open up here? Let’s let the market decide - i.e., you, the customers of this great city!

4) I refuse to agree to the notion that this is something that the citizens of Kennedale just have to learn to accept, although sadly, I’ve heard this sentiment numerous times over the past year coming out of City Hall. It makes me want to puke. That’s a loser’s mentality.

If elected mayor, I will roll up my sleeves with every one of you. We’re all in this together. And together, we’ll have a government that works for us rather than acting as our overlords. We’ll roll back the ridiculous spending on aesthetics while our citizens do without, we’ll make sure our great businesses have what they need to be successful (which is mostly the city government getting out of their way), we’ll treat would-be business owners fairly, and we’ll make the Great City of Kennedale a place where we can all feel proud to call it our home!

 

3. Moratorium – please respond by March 14, 2024

In January 2023 the council approved a temporary moratorium of applications for MF or TH zoning. Do you agree with the temporary moratorium? Why or why not?

Yes, I strongly supported this moratorium while on the council. At the time the moratorium was put in place, our city was facing sewage capacity issues that were at critical levels as well as other critical infrastructure challenges. The moratorium was a way for the City to address the infrastructure issues resulting from growth that had outpaced our infrastructure. So, I would ask, where are we on the sewage capacity issues and other infrastructure issues that the moratorium was put in place to address (as I believe we’ve been paying interest on the bond we assumed to fix the sewage and water storage issues since last summer)?

 

4. Extension of Little Road – please respond by March 21, 2024

In August 2023 the city council decided it would issue debt (certificates of obligation) for the extension of Little Road without any voter approval after the discussion all along prior to that meeting was to issue general obligation bonds approved by voters if the project was to be completed. Do you agree with the council's action? Why or why not?

First, let me say that I do believe that Little Road ultimately needs to be extended. In fact, I think this future extension is vital to help bring sustained business growth to our city over the course of the next 10 to 20 years.

However, no, I do not agree with, nor did I support the council’s action. This is exactly why I spoke out in opposition to the way it was handled while I was on the council. If I recall correctly, the debt for this project was initially estimated at around 18 million dollars, which would cost our taxpayers almost 1 million dollars per year to pay back over the life of the loan.

My position was, and still is, that our citizens should have been able to decide on whether or not they wanted to currently prioritize and undertake this project right now with all of the other issues facing the city.

 

5. Communications – please respond by March 28, 2024

If you receive an e-mail from a constituent on a Kennedale issue logically laid out and well documented, will you respond to the constituent? Why or why not? What actions will you take?

Yes, and that’s exactly what I did while on Council. The only time I didn’t respond to a constituent was when there was an email sent to the entire Council and I knew it was already being addressed by the city manager.

But yes, I believe it’s important for representatives at all levels to communicate with their constituents and to respond to their questions, concerns, and complaints. Personally, I don’t appreciate it when my representatives don’t respond to me (and that happens very frequently). So, this is something that I carry with me and I do endeavor to represent the people that I serve.

What I did as a councilman and would do again if elected, would be to read the email and determine the proper course of action to take. If I could handle the situation myself, I would; if not, I would reach out to the city manager and find out what needs to be done to address and resolve the situation. Then, I would relay that information to the constituent.

 

6. Issue – please respond by April 4, 2024

What is the most important issue the city council is currently facing? Why? What are your suggestions for addressing this issue?

The most significant issue (and we have numerous issues) facing the city council is the rampant, Orwellian and tyrannical environment, in which elected officials, employees, and board members are being run off when they disagree with the regime’s narrative.

The First Amendment right to disagree is not respected by the regime that controls this city.

The solution is to elect citizens to office that understand that their job is to serve the people they represent, and not serve themselves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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