Flower Mound Town Council approved moving forward with a supermajority vote requirement on public-private partnerships for the town charter.

Council discussed the matter Jan. 16, as it continues consideration of changes to its charter, with the many of the changes being minor in nature, such as adding Tarrant County as an entity to file its annual budget with.

The background

Municipalities form charters to describe functions that staff and council can administer. A Charter Review Commission was formed in Flower Mound to explore what could be added to the town’s charter, and commission Chair Steve Dixon presented ideas to council Dec. 4. The Charter Review Commission came up with six amendment recommendations.

Council has the option to accept as presented, modify, propose new amendments or take no action, the agenda memo states. After council discussion and consideration Dec. 4 and 18, there was general consensus to bring forward five of the six proposed amendments, found here, with the exception centering on an aspect of public-private partnerships. A consensus was not reached then regarding the topic of public-private partnerships.

The details

The purpose of the Jan. 16 agenda item was to continue the discussion and provide staff with direction on the following options based on the previous discussion of either taking no action or include a proposed amendment to either:
  • Replace the current language as it relates to an election requirement for public-private partnerships to a supermajority vote of council.
  • Remove the current language as it relates to an election requirement for public-private partnerships.
If a consensus was not reached, council would have the option to bring forward a motion and vote for each proposed amendment, as warranted, when the election is called Feb. 5.

Zooming in

Council members discussed public-private partnerships and were provided a list of public-private partnerships in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, including professional sports stadiums. Council member Adam Schiestal pointed out that funding for AT&T Stadium in Arlington and The Star in Frisco both went to voters, but the Universal Studios project in Frisco did not, and he wondered why some public-private partnerships require voter approval and others don’t.

Flower Mound Director of Economic Development Ray Watson said voters in the sports stadium cases approved money coming from bonds to be spent to help build the facilities. In the case of Universal Studios, the company had to meet certain performance-based measures in order to receive funds, and he compared it to a 380 Agreement that municipalities can pursue to partner with businesses.

Public-private partnerships serve as an amenity to a governmental entity. For example, he said later in an email, if a governmental entity holds the title on a property, it relieves the tax burden on the private entity so that they may have more operating funds to ensure the success of the public-private partnership. It serves the same purpose as a tax abatement.

Council member Brian Taylor said a public-private partnership could provide a “very valuable tool” to attract the type of development and amenities town officials want to have.

“By removing the voter requirement, it doesn’t mean it’s carte blanche that we’re going to accept anything,” he said, adding that a supermajority will guarantee that.