A look at the big issues coming up in 2017 for local leaders

The Sugar Land City Council is, from left: Harish Jajoo, Amy Mitchell, Himesh Gandhi, Mayor Joe Zimmerman, Bridget Yeung, Steve Porter and Mary Joyce.

The Sugar Land City Council is, from left: Harish Jajoo, Amy Mitchell, Himesh Gandhi, Mayor Joe Zimmerman, Bridget Yeung, Steve Porter and Mary Joyce.

Sugar Land City Council 


Big decisions made in 2016




  • Smart Financial Centre construction: Substantial completion of the plaza and the Smart Financial Centre at Sugar Land occurred in 2016. The Smart Financial Centre will host a wide range of performances, including national music and comedy artists, theatrical and family entertainment. The first show at the new venue will be a performance by Jerry Seinfeld.   

  • Prison property land acquisition: The city of Sugar Land purchased the 259-acre Central Unit prison site north of Hwy. 90A and west of the Sugar Land Regional Airport. The city intends to use the land for three purposes: a light industrial business park, a public safety training center and improvements to the Sugar Land Regional Airport.

  • Cullinan Park annexation: Sugar Land annexed the 754-acre Cullinan Park after signing historic agreements with the Cullinan Park Conservancy, the city of Houston and the Houston Parks board.

  • Imperial Market Development: Sugar Land approved a plan for the redevelopment of the historical Imperial Sugar refinery site. Imperial Market will consist of upscale retail and restaurant space, office space, a luxury residential complex and a boutique hotel.


Top issues for 2017




  • Annexation: Sugar Land will welcome new residents from Greatwood and New Territory on Dec. 12.  Work during the coming year will build on a decade of planning, public input, and a strong partnership between the city and elected officials in the communities. 

  • Tourism: A focus on tourism and commercial sources to reduce the property tax burden on homeowners will remain a priority.  Examples include the planned transformation of the historic 26-acre Imperial refinery into Imperial Market, as well as the Fort Bend Children’s Discovery Center and the Sugar Land Heritage Museum and Visitor Center. 

  • Historic preservation: Preservation and celebration of Sugar Land’s history continues to be identified as a priority by city residents.   

  • Land use: Work will continue on an update to Sugar Land’s Land Use Plan, a document that guides development within the city. Sugar Land's land use plan recognizes the importance of preserving single-family neighborhoods in the city, but also provides guidance on other types of housing including townhomes, apartments and condominium development.  There will be future opportunities for the community to provide input into the plan as the process continues.


Missouri City City Counci The Missouri City City Counci is, from left: Mayor Allen Owen, Chris Preston, Anthony Maroulis, Yolanda Ford, Jerry Wyatt, Floyd Emery and Don Smith.[/caption]

Missouri City City Council 


Big decisions made in 2016




  • Business planning formalized: This year marks the first time that each city department has engaged in a formalized business planning process. Plans track each department’s progress toward major initiatives that have been identified in the city’s strategic plan, council priorities, and budget.

  • 501(c)(3) Parks Foundation: The city created this foundation as part of the city’s High Performance Organization (HPO) model. The foundation is pursuing proposals and sponsorships focused on aiding parks, recreation facilities, trails, special events, public art, education, equipment, scholarships and municipal facilities. 

  • Bond refunding/budget: The city earned the largest ever bond issuance by Missouri City and the largest ever savings in any single transaction. On Feb. 23, final approval was made to accept refunding with a net present value of savings of $8.57 million. The gross savings was $10.76 million during the life of the bonds.

  • Code Enforcement changes: The nuisance abatement team was formed by City Manager Anthony Snipes and is charged with developing the philosophy, processes, communications and means to measure the outcomes of code enforcement initiatives.


Top issues for 2017




  • Change of election dates: Missouri City City Council members voted 4-3 to approve a resolution that will move the city’s general elections from May to November. The approved resolution moves the City Council election previously scheduled for May to the Nov. 7, general election ballot. All four district council members will hold over in their current council positions until a successor is sworn in following the November election results.
    As the process moves forward, information regarding new filing dates for candidates, polling locations, early voting and future election dates may be found on the city’s website. Residents who live in the Harris County portion of the city may use the city's website for election polls information.

  • MCTX Fest scheduled for April 8: The council and staff will host the city’s inaugural MCTX Fest on April 8, at the City Hall Complex. Expanding on the success of the Oct. 1, Community Night Out event (which will again be held in 2017), this festival will highlight music, art, and food into one daylong festival.

  • Tourism opportunities: A tourism center and new marketing specialist will be created in 2017 to focus on implementation of the city’s hotel-motel tax funds and to attract regional, state, national and international tourist opportunities and partnerships to Missouri City.


Fort Bend County Commisioners Court The Fort Bend County Commissioners Court is, from left: Grady Prestage, Judge Robert Hebert, Andy Meyers and James Patterson.[/caption]

Fort Bend County Commissioners Court


Accomplishments in 2016




  • Mobility: Work progressed on county roads, including FM1093, Brand Lane, Golfview Drive and Bellaire Boulevard.

  • Facilities: Construction began on a new fairgrounds livestock barn and expansion of the Justice Center parking garage.

  • Missouri City Library renovation: Upgrades and renovation work began on the Missouri City Library.

  • Community: The county bought a facility for Neighborhood Centers to operate a Head Start program. Jones Creek Park was updated for a partnership with a YMCA Summer Camp Program. A public defenders office was established for indigent defense.


Fort Bend County Commisioners Court Vincent Morales will join the court in January.[/caption]

Top issues for 2017




  • Mobility: County officials plan to start construction on sections of FM 1093, Katy Gaston Road, Williams Way and Chimney Rock Road.

  • Facilities: The county will build a new transit center, and Four Corners Community Center will be upgraded.

  • Community:The county will provide a new service annex for Precinct 2 and new park space in Precinct 3.

  • Justice Center expansion: The county plans to expand the Justice Center, adding a 98,000-square-foot addition connecting all three levels of the existing center to accommodate district clerk, county clerk and district attorney functions.



MOST RECENT

Right Mentality offers individual, couples and family counseling to assist with depression, anxiety, trauma, anger management and substance use. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Right Mentality Mental Health and Wellness provides therapy at new Sugar Land location

The practice offers individual, couples and family counseling to assist with depression, anxiety, trauma, anger management and substance use.

Costco Business Centers, of which there are only about 15 in the country, carry different products and provide a different shopping experience to members than do traditional Costco Wholesale stores. (Courtesy Costco Wholesale)
Costco Business Center being built in Stafford; see live music in The Woodlands and more top Houston-area news

Read the top business and community news from the Houston area from the past week.

The program, which began this week in San Marcos, gives Amazon and Whole Foods employees and contractors direct access to COVID-19 vaccinations. (Courtesy Amazon)
Amazon begins rollout of statewide vaccination clinics for employees

The program, which began this week in San Marcos, gives Amazon and Whole Foods employees and contractors direct access to COVID-19 vaccinations.

Memorial Hermann is hosting a drive-thru vaccine clinic at the Smart Financial Center in Sugar Land April 15-16. (Community Impact Newspaper)
Walk-ins welcome at COVID-19 vaccine clinic April 15-16 at Smart Financial Center

Haven't recieved the COVID-19 vaccine yet? Memorial Hermann is hosting a drive-thru clinic from 7 a.m.-5 p.m. in Sugar Land. No appointment necessary.

Federal funding is set aside for public schools to address effects of the pandemic. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Why Texas has not yet distributed $18 billion in federal funds intended for public schools

As budget decisions loom for school districts across Texas, state leaders are holding on to federal funds intended for public schools to use in addressing the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Homes priced above $750,000, such as this one in the Heights, saw a surge in sales in March, with almost twice as many properties sold. (Courtesy Houston Association of Realtors)
Average Houston single-family home price jumps 20% in March

The average sale price for a home in March was $370,847.

The proposed change would have moved all city employees except the city manager from a minimum-median-maximum to a defined pay progression plan. (Claire Shoop/Community Impact Newspaper)
Missouri City City Council rejects proposed change to municipal employees' pay plan

The proposed change would have moved all city employees except the city manager from a minimum-median-maximum to a defined pay progression plan.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas said power outages are not expected April 13, while requesting energy conservation. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)
UPDATE: ERCOT call for energy conservation ends April 13 without need for power outages

An ERCOT official said "tight" supply and demand conditions arose on the state's electric grid April 13 due to forecasting issues amid planned, seasonal maintenance outages by some power generators.

Missouri City staff said a bond election is necessary to fund projects related to transportaion, parks and recreation, and facilities over the next five years. (Claire Shoop/Community Impact Newspaper)
Missouri City City Council begins process of calling November bond election

City staff said a bond election is necessary to fund projects related to transportaion, parks and recreation, and facilities over the next five years.

Fort Bend County's Mobile Health Unit will administer vaccinations in portions of the county that are economically disadvantaged or lack access to transportation, said County Judge KP George. (Screenshot courtesy Fort Bend County)
Fort Bend County to administer COVID-19 vaccinations from new Mobile Health Unit

Fort Bend County's Mobile Health Unit will administer vaccinations in portions of the county that are economically disadvantaged or lack access to transportation, County Judge KP George said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommended health providers pause distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine April 13. (Olivia Aldridge/Community Impact Newspaper)
State, federal health authorities recommend pause of Johnson & Johnson vaccine after 6 rare, severe blood clots

Hub providers in Dallas, Harris and Travis counties have all announced they will follow the recommendations and pause distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

Costco Business Centers, of which there are only about 15 in the country, carry different products and provide a different shopping experience to members than do traditional Costco Wholesale stores. (Courtesy Costco Wholesale)
First Houston-area Costco Business Center under construction at The Grid in Stafford

Costco Business Centers, of which there are only about 15 in the country, carry different products and provide a different shopping experience to members than do traditional Costco Wholesale stores.