By Karolyn Gephart
Friendswood City Council had the first and final reading of an ordinance calling for the holding of a Special Election on November 3, 2020, for the purpose of reauthorizing the local sales and use tax at the rate of three eighths (3/8) of one percent (1%) to continue providing revenue for maintenance and repair of municipal streets; and making other provisions related to the subject at their regularly scheduled meeting August 3, 2020 at City Hall.
In other business, staff presented an overview of the budget development process, significant challenges and highlights of the proposed budget for fiscal year 2020 – 2021.
Council was also updated on the latest news regarding ongoing Capital Improvement Projects in the City. Updates included projects such as the Friendswood Lakes Boulevard, the rehabilitation of Lift Station #23, and the 2019-2020 Street Maintenance Program.
Staff reported that 50 percent of the maintenance projects for 2019-2020 was completed. Projects were paid through the 3/8th percent sales tax approved by voters.
City Manager Morad Karibi presented to Council an update on Hurricane Harvey and as well as COVID-19.
The chairman of the Community Economic Development Committee (CEDC) Skip Evans presented their annual report. CEDC has seven members that include Evans, Vice Chair Jennifer Whitley, Meg Crowley, Blaise Guzzetta, Mike Hickey, and Pauline Moore. Currently, there is one vacancy from the recent appointment of Tom Hinckley to the Planning and Zoning Commission.
Committee liaisons include City Councilmember Brent Erenwert, Friendswood Chamber of Commerce President Carol Marcantel, Friendswood Independent School District Chief Financial Officer Amber Petree, and City staff member Karen Capps. The CEDC held four meetings in 2019, and due to COVID-19, two this year.
Evans presented the group’s highlights to the Council. In April, the City disbursed a $50,000 municipal grant check to Leisure Lane LLC for the Virgata Commons development.
The four-story building that City Council approved in May 2019 is nearing completion with interior buildouts underway. The $10 million, 63,400square foot building at 505 South Friendswood Drive in downtown will be completed by the end of this year and be home to about 200 employees. Tenants include Houston Methodist Physical Therapy, Castle Biosciences, Potter Handy Law Office, Dentistry 4 Children & Adults 2, and HV Services.
In May, the CEDC reviewed a municipal grant application from Texas Behavioral Health (TBH). TBH plans to construct a new $1.29 million, 10,400 square foot commercial building on the property they own at 104 Whispering Pines.
Since 2008, the City has awarded $360,000 to businesses through the Municipal Grant Program, which in turn has created $47 million in taxable value, added 214,011 square feet of commercial space, and created or retained approximately 520 jobs in the city.