City Council addresses COVID-19 concerns


Shriya Vanparia

The Coppell City Council had its first virtual meeting on May 12, addressing a host of issues relating to COVID-19. Among these were a declaration of May 17-23 as National Public Works Week, an analysis of the revenue lost with the closing of city services and a moratorium on the temporary sign ordinance.

Anjali Krishna, Staff Writer

Hosting its first virtual meeting, the Coppell City Council addressed a multitude of issues relating to the coronavirus pandemic on Tuesday night. 

Coppell has projected a loss of $9.2 million with the closing of city services due to COVID-19. But with the expectation of loss in taxes because of SB-2, which would require legislation to get voter approval before local governments increase their property tax revenue by more than 3.5% and Texas Administrative Code 3.334, which would change the collection to the destination instead of the origin, the city immediately lowered expenditure in December.

With the deficit of $9.6 million overall, $137,000 is the projected loss after budget savings, restricted capital purchases, projected salary savings, budget surpluses and unused funds.

The council voted unanimously to declare the week of May 17-23 as National Public Works Week to pay tribute to public works professionals working to better infrastructure, facilities and services in Coppell. 

“As the proclamation described, in Coppell, Public Works is responsible for building, operating, and maintaining the city’s infrastructure,” Coppell Director of Public Works Kent Collins said. “We have 60 team members within the public works department, and we’re a diverse group with very diverse backgrounds, skills, credentials, but we all work as a team to try to make sure that the community wellbeing is provided through the services we provide.”

Also declared was a moratorium on the enforcement of certain sections of the Temporary Sign Ordinance until Dec. 31. With numerous businesses in Coppell were required to close their doors or limit their service offerings due to COVID-19, they’ve suffered from loss in business and revenue. To assist in their recovery efforts, the moratorium would allow businesses more opportunities to advertise using on-premise temporary signage.

“I know that the businesses that I have talked to believe that it does help to bring attention to their business, because a lot of times people are just driving by and they see that they’re open,” Mayor Karen Hunt said. “I believe this is a good move for us.”

Metrocrest Services requested $75,000 in one-time emergency funding for costs associated with providing food, housing support, employment assistance to Coppell’s citizens. According to Metrocrest Services CEO Tracy Eubanks, there has been a 300% increase in services requested in Carrollton, Farmers Branch and Coppell since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. 

After hearing the need generated by Coppell’s residents utilization of Metrocrest services, which was projected to be $193,639 over the next three months, the Council voted to give $85,000 from Coppell’s Undesignated Fund Balance, which according to City Manager Mike Land was viable with the flexible budget. The City Council and Land encouraged all donation and relief efforts to be funneled through Metrocrest Services. 

“The projection is based on what we’ve been seeing over the last two months,” Chief Operating Officer Nicole Binkley. “It’s really focused on food and rental assistance, and the next couple of months it’ll be focused on recovery through the workforce development team.”

Councilmen Cliff Long and Mayor Pro Tem Mark Hill were sworn in by Mayor Karen Hunt with a closed audience after the delay of last week’s election. The video of their swearing-ins was played to honor the renewal of term.

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