Kennedale City Council May2019-May2021 Compared to the Current City Council

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The two (2) biggest differences between the Current City Council and the May2019-May2021 City Council can be categorized as 1) High-Density Housing and 2) Holding the City Manager Accountable (including taxes).

 

High-Density Housing

May2021-May2023:

June2021 - They listened to the citizen speakers and DENIED 98-102 small lot houses at Linda Road and Gail Drive.

 

May2019-May2021 Council:

July2019 - Approved PZ19-04, Urban Village (UV) apartments on Kennedale Sublett Road near Kennedale Parkway, despite the majority of speakers opposed and the Comprehensive Plan Review Survey from the year earlier having by more than 2:1 negative remarks about apartments. (minutes)

August2019 - Approved Ordinance 673 which eliminated the 16/units maximum for multi-family. This becomes significant two months later. (minutes)

October2019 - Approved PZ19-09, Multi-family apartments on Joplin Road near Kennedale Sublett Road, despite the majority of speakers, including the KISD superintendent, opposed and the Comprehensive Plan Review Survey from the year earlier having by more than 2:1 negative remarks about apartments. This is 280 apartments at over 25 units/acre. (minutes)

September2020 - Approved PZ20-09, many lots (1250 & 1800 sq. ft. lots) at 439 Mansfield Road, despite P&Z denying the case less than a week earlier. (Our experience trying to get information about this case). (minutes)

Several other small lot approvals including on Kennedale New Hope, W. Kennedale Parkway, and Oak Crest Drive.

 

Holding City Manager Accountable

May2021-May2023:

July2021 - Enough is enough. The current city council has removed the city manager.

 

May2019-May2021 Council:

July2018 - The city manager is authorized to give employee raises effective Aug1 (work session, item B) We find out Aug2019 he did not, and he blames previous council for not approving his proposed tax rate, a vote 1.5 months after the raises were already to be in place. This council lets him get away with that.

August2019, Ordinance 670 issued more debt, just to issue debt, 23 month later mostly still unencumbered. May2020, Ordinance 686 approved $1/month storm drainage fee increase. No storm drainage projects approved or plan presented. [Can you say spending addiction problem? Just keep giving us your money, some day we might decide what to do with it.]

December2019, Item H, this city council approves a two-year extension of the contract issued by the May2015-May2017 City Council [That council included Mike Walker and Frank Fernandez. That was the same council that did the gigantic water/sewer rate increases.] A recent social media post by a member of that May2019-May2021 Council suggests the council did NOT even read the contract.

September2019 he signed a termination agreement ($200,000) with the old billing company;
The plan at that point appears to be (?) to switch to Arlington billing January 1;
The old billing company goes out of business in December, about 3 week earlier than the termination agreement;
The billing information is given to the city on paper, not electronically as was expected by the termination agreement [a pain, but certainly not insurmountable];
Finally, about 15 months after the expected transfer, and many, many, many problems, we get to Arlington billing about April 1, 2021.

September2020 the city council approves a tax rate approximately 4 cents higher, during a pandemic, a month later it is discovered the city's general fund was about $1 million richer than what was presented during the budget process. From the cities website, .pdf page 34 of the FY2020-2021 Budget (click here) near the bottom is a row “NET CHANGE IN FUND BALANCE”. The projected amount for the “2019-2020 PROJECTED” column is a negative $657,336. Now go to the October 2020 city council packet (.pdf page 23), (click here), it shows a change in the just completed fiscal year, FY2019-2020, of a positive $324,485.

  

OTHER ITEMS:

City Manager's Contract

From the June 27, 2021 Kennedale Observer Newsletter:

Of Interest are some sections of the city manager's contract that became effective April 1, 2017 [approved by the same council that greatly increased the water/sewer rates]. The contract was extended for two years in December 2019 [approved by the same council members that approved two apartment complexes, approved the gigantic tax rate increase last September, and approved many, many small homes on small lots]. We added the highlighting to Section 5.A and 5.D. He gets the severance pay whether he is terminated or the council decides not to renew his contract.

 

SECTION 3. TERM

A. The Initial Term of this Agreement is three years beginning on the 1st day of April, 2017 and ending on the 31st day of March, 2020.

B. Unless the Council – at least 30 days before the expiration of the Initial Term—gives the Employee written notice of non-renewal, the terms of this Agreement shall automatically renew for one Extended Term. Unless the Council—at least 30 days before the expiration of any Extended Term once commenced—gives the Employee written notice of non-renewal, the terms of this Agreement shall automatically renew for an additional Extended Term. There is no limitation on the number of Extended Terms that may occur.

C. This Agreement may be terminated before the expiration of the Initial Term or before the expiration of any subsequent Extended Term by the Employer or the Employee under any applicable provision of this Agreement. If the employer terminates this Agreement, it must do so either by: (1) following the procedures set forth in Section 4 of this Agreement; or (2) providing a notice of non-renewal in accordance with Section 3.B. of this Agreement. The Employee may terminate this Agreement by providing at least 30 days written notice to the Employer before the date designated by the Employee for termination.

 

SECTION 4. INVOLUNTARY SUSPENSION/REMOVAL

The Employer may suspend or remove the Employee but only if at least 30 days before the suspension or removal shall become effective, the Council shall, by a vote of not less than four (4) of its members, adopt a preliminary resolution stating the reasons for removal. Employee may reply in writing and may require a hearing at a public meeting of the Council, which shall be held no earlier than 20 days and not later than 30 days after the filing of such request. The hearing may be held in executive session, at the option of the Council, unless Employee requests the hearing be held in open session in accordance with Tex. Gov't code {551.074. Pending such hearing, the Council may, by a vote of not less than four (4) members, suspend Employee from duty but may not suspend or reduce the Employee's Salary or other compensation. After such hearing or public hearing, if one be requested, and after full consideration, the Council by vote of not less than four (4) members may adopt a final resolution of removal. Should such a resolution of removal not be approved then the Employee shall be considered reinstated. This Agreement shall be deemed to terminate on the effective date of a final resolution of removal.

 

SECTION 5. SEPARATION AND SEVERANCE PAY

A. Upon Involuntary Separation occurring during the Initial Term or any subsequent Extended Term, the Employee shall be entitled to a lump sum severance pay equal to a full year of the Employee's Total Compensation.

B. Provided that the Employee remains at all times employed as Employer's City Manager during the Initial Term of this Agreement or any subsequent Extended Term, the Employee shall thereafter be entitled to receive a full year of the Employee's Total Compensation upon Involuntary Separation, except in the event such Involuntary Separation is due to any of the reasons set forth in Section 5.C. of this Agreement, in which case the Employer shall not be obligated to pay and the Employee shall not be entitled to receive any amount of severance payment.

C. Notwithstanding Section 5.A., Section 5.B., or any other provision of this Agreement the Employer shall not be obligated to pay the Employee shall not be entitled to receive any amount as severance payment if the Employee's separation from employment is due to the Employee having been convicted of any felony offense or any non-felony offense involving: (1) moral turpitude; or (2) an illegal act(s) resulting in personal gain to the Employee.

D. “Involuntary Separation” means the Employee's: (1) removal by the council under Section 4 of this Agreement; (2) separation by the Council's act of non-renewal of the Initial Term or any subsequent Extended Term as set forth in Section 3.B. of this Agreement; or (3) the Employee's resignation upon the Council's reduction or threatened reduction in the Employee's Salary or other financial benefits in a greater percentage than a coinciding across-the-board reduction for all City employees. If Employee resigns upon such a reduction the calculation of the amount of any severance pay due and owing under this Agreement shall be based on the amount of the Employee's Total Compensation immediately before any such reduction.

 

How Bad Has George Campbell Been?

From the July 11, 2021 Kennedale Observer Newsletter:

Opinion Article by Richard Weber

George Campbell could be having some type of final hearing at the July 13 Special City Council Meeting.

So, just how bad has George Campbell been as a city manager? He has been one of the most overpaid and under-performing city managers the city has ever seen. There was so much to pick from, but I decided on the following items to list.

Your city council members are paid $1/meeting, an amount that is not meant to be a full-time job, nor does it give them the means to hire assistants to get information. Your city council needs accurate, unbiased information from staff, so it can make the best decisions for the city. George Campbell refused to make that happen. The information the staff delivered was often extremely inaccurate and those inaccuracies have cost the taxpayers dearly.

The large tax rate approved by the city council last September-- nearly four cents during a pandemic economy-- elevated Kennedale to the fourth highest tax rate among Tarrant County's 41 cities. That large increase was because of inaccurate information provided by the city manager and his staff.

From the cities website, .pdf page 34 of the FY2020-2021 Budget (click here), near the bottom is a row “NET CHANGE IN FUND BALANCE. The projected amount for the “2019-2020 PROJECTED” column is a negative $657,336.

The council is working on the FY2020-2021 Budget in August and September of 2020. At that time, the FY2020 is not over, that is why the city council is looking at a projected number.

Now, go to the October 2020 city council packet (.pdf page 23), (click here). We have already started the new budget year. The monthly financial reports presented at the city council meeting show an unaudited change in the just completed fiscal year, FY2019-2020, of a positive $324,485.

For round figures, that is a $1 million difference. [$991,821]. The city was $1 million richer than what was thought when the council was forced to raise the tax rate nearly 4 cents during a pandemic just 1 month earlier.

Now an argument has been made that the sudden increase was a result of CARES funds the city received. Even if you buy into that, the city received $440,000 in CARES funding. That still leaves a difference greater than $550,000, a substantial amount, about which the council was not provided correct information a month earlier when it passed the budget and the gigantic tax increase.

Many times, the city council has needed to make important, expensive decisions based on very inaccurate data. Another example was the price estimates of projects the council needed to submit to the county in April. They had to make their decisions in March. Then in June we learned that the projects in question will cost substantially more.

However, Campbell's worst performance probably came regarding utility billing. The best I can figure by attending open meetings and making open record requests of documents mentioned during those meetings, it appears:

  • September 2019 he signed a termination agreement ($200,000) with the old billing company;

  • The plan at that point appears to be (?) to switch to Arlington billing on January 1 [maybe we should have been asking January of what year?];

  • The old billing company goes out of business in December, about three weeks earlier than the termination agreement;

  • The billing information is given to the city on paper, not electronically as was expected by the termination agreement [a pain, but certainly not insurmountable];

  • finally, about 15 months later and many, many, many problems later, we get to Arlington billing about April 1, 2021.

A city manager overpaid and under-performing.

 

also From the July 11, 2021 Kennedale Observer Newsletter:

 

Upon Further Review

The very last item caught our attention. The packet included the documentation of each of the four items that had been submitted to the County. Of particular interest is the Sublett Road Project where evidently the former public works director, former city manager, and the former mayor decided to send Sublett Road through the Burger Box property [or at least it seems the right-of-way hits the corner of the building]. [ https://civicclerk.blob.core.windows.net/stream/KENNEDALETX/74e8afaa31.pdf?sv=2015-12-11&sr=b&sig=77czALjxbdh0posjSLhsYqmbB%2BUN7zaibdYreprjeDE%3D&st=2021-07-09T22%3A46%3A55Z&se=2022-07-09T22%3A51%3A55Z&sp=r&rscc=no-cache&rsct=application%2Fpdf#page=86 ]

The total lack of transparency makes us sick. This plan was sent to the County because of Josh Altom, Chad Wandel, and the tie-breaking vote of Mayor Brian Johnson. Did those three know what they were voting on? Or is this yet another example of what happens when you have a city manager who refuses to give the city council all/enough of the information?

Was this mentioned at the April meeting? the May meeting? the June meeting? NO, you have to stumble across the information in a July Special Meeting packet.

We would also like to know how long ago the Valley Lane design was completed. The council was told it was an emergency and it seems the city manager has been sitting on the completed design for quite a while. If this was an emergency, shouldn’t a construction contract have been brought before the council in a timelier fashion? It really looks like the former city manager dropped the ball again. Were Kennedale residents and visitors a couple of consecutive days of heavy rain from having a disaster?

 

 

How Government is Meant to Work

From the June 20, 2021 Kennedale Observer Newsletter:

Your City Council

The city council met this past week and you can declare it a major, major victory for the citizens. Since the gigantic rate increases of the water rates in 2016, very little has gone right for the citizens, but things appear to be changing.

It took the election of four new council members over the last eight months, but it really appears things could be changing for the better. There is a new collective attitude within the council and this is good.

Local government works, in theory, with the citizens having the power, on top. They elect a mayor and city council to hire and oversee the city manager, who is in charge of the staff and the operations of the city. For the first time in 5 and ½ years, it feels like the citizens are on top in terms of the power structure.

The foremost example of the citizens having power occurred when citizens in the Linda Road neighborhood showed up to the meeting in opposition of an EDC land deal for the 13-acres at Linda Road and Gail Drive. They spoke and the city council listened, denying the proposed sale, 3-0-2. [Two of the four newly elected council members had to abstain on the vote because they lived within 200 feet of the property.]

Also on the agenda was the intent to issue more debt. No action was taken. [A large majority of the past two tax notes (2018- $499,337 of $736,450 & 2019- $1.642 million of $1.957 million) are still unencumbered. It only makes sense to come up with a plan first before issuing more debt. A major part of making a plan is dependent upon having information about which, if any, of the projects submitted to the County will be accepted, and that information won't be known until August, probably mid-August.]

The other incident that occurred at the meeting, was not explained. Does it mean anything? Or is it just nothing? However, shortly after the start of the meeting the city council went into executive session for about two hours. When they returned, the city manager did not return with them. After naming a Mayor Pro Tem, the mayor also left for about two hours (most likely related).

 

Questions? - e-mail KennedaleObserver@yahoo.com

Was the Mayor resigning a good thing? - I (Richard Weber) believe that it was probably a good thing. I agree with Johnson supporters that he has the potential of being a valuable resource. The council with a productive Johnson would be good/better, but if he felt he could not work with the current city council then all the potential good is overriden, so therefore, it was probably a good thing he resigned.

What about the staff members resigning? - Working for a municipality is not a whole lot different than working some place else. People change jobs for many reasons. Very few people will change jobs because a few members of the Board of the Directors changed. A change of the boss on the other hand is usually a more popular reason. In the case of the Planning Director, odds are the next city manager was not going to let her get away with all the non-truths to cram stuff down the throats of the residents.