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Lewisville to receive $3.7M in rescue funding

By Jim Buice
For the Clemmons Courier

As Lewisville works toward final approval for a $5.3 million annual budget for fiscal year 2021-22, the town council approved the acceptance of $3.7 million through the American Rescue Plan of 2021 in last Thursday night’s briefing and agenda meeting.

Mayor Mike Horn called the federal government’s financial contribution to communities across the nation to facilitate the recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic “a once in a lifetime opportunity for the Town of Lewisville.”

Horn said that the allocation of funding comes from the state and is based on population and guidelines where towns can request up to 75% of the previous year’s annual budget.

After reviewing the different spending areas identified by the Department of Treasury, Horn said that Lewisville’s biggest opportunity is putting “a great deal” of the windfall toward infrastructure.

“We have a number of projects such as the Great Wagon Road and other projects that we have going on,” Horn said. “Everything is still unfolding.”

Along with approving acceptance of the funds, the council also approved the establishment of a separate fund for the money that will be coming to the town through the $1.9 trillion coronavirus rescue plan signed into law in March.

Horn said that the first release of funds was in May and the next will come two years from now. He added that Lewisville has until 2024 to qualify or apply for that money and until 2026 to spend it.

Town Manager Hank Perkins has presented a proposed General Fund budget of $5,309,944 for fiscal year 2020-21, which shows an increase of $558,459, or 11.7%, from the previous year.

In his message, Perkins noted that the budget as proposed is balanced with $423,354 in fund balance from the General Fund and that the budget includes maintaining the current tax rate of 17.7 cents per $100 in valuation.

Like all municipalities, revenues in 2020 were uncertain because of the pandemic, but Horn said that Lewisville was well positioned to weather the potential economic storm.

“Like everybody, we’ve had increased costs, but we’ve also had enough growth to hold our tax rate at the same rate and be able to execute a budget that accomplishes the types of things that we need to do,” Horn said. “We haven’t had a tax increase in 17 years and part of that is because we’re pretty conservative in how we budget and what we do.

“Overall, we’ve been putting money into our special reserve accounts for projects like the new community center, so when it came time to build it we had a big chunk of money set aside so we’re not straining the budget. The second reason is we had enough growth with people wanting to move to Lewisville with new homes and that type of thing that we had the additional revenue.”

The town has already held several budget meetings and has set a public hearing for tonight’s (June 10) regular town council meeting. An additional meeting for Monday, June 14, has been called to approve the budget.

In other agenda items in last Thursday night’s briefing, Perkins gave an update on the Williams Road Gateway Project – the road improvement from the U.S. 421 interchange on Williams Road continuing between that interchange and the roundabout at Shallowford and Williams roads.

Perkins said that construction project bids were due earlier this week and that may come to council for approval in tonight’s meeting.

“The goal is to have the preconstruction meeting in July and starting construction shortly after that,” said Perkins, who added the project is expected to take eight months to complete.

He said that the road will be widened from the roundabout at Shallowford Road along Williams Road to the roundabout on the other side of Circle K with a 10- or 11-foot planted median down the center of the road with extra wide multi-purpose lanes on both sides to handle both vehicular and bicycle traffic to share the road. There will also be curb and gutter and sidewalks on each side.

When asked about striping bike lanes, Perkins said he could ask if that would be possible.

Design firm Kimley-Horn will also be in charge of overseeing construction for the project, which will include new Gateway signs in addition to decorative plantings and landscaping.

In another item, planner Stacy Tolbert provided an update on the progress of the planning process for the town’s new Comprehensive Plan and Parks, Recreation and Cultural Development Plan, which is titled Lewisville Tomorrow.

Residents have been asked for their input, which included the first public involvement last month along with a digital survey.

“Our consultants have been working hard getting us a lot of reports,” she said. “The most recent survey closed with 866 participants that created 34,734 data points, which is answering questions, and 2,988 written comments. So they really felt like they got some good data and some good feedback, and they have already started analysis.”

With the easing of state restrictions, Lewisville stayed in step by reviving its events, starting with the Memorial Day concert featuring The Embers. Next on the calendar at Shallowford Square is Saturday, June 12, with “On the Border – The Ultimate Eagles Tribute Concert” at 7 p.m., followed on Friday, June 18, by outdoor movie night presenting “Frozen II” at 8:15 p.m.

Also in the meeting, the council decided to return to live meetings starting in July, after more than a year of being on Zoom – and changing the start times for the briefing and agenda meeting from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. on the first Thursday night of the month, and for the regular town council meeting from 7:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. on the second Thursday night of the month. Masks will not be required, and there will be no social distancing restrictions.

“It’s been confusing,” Horn said of different start times for the meetings on back-to-back Thursday nights. “Having both at 7 keeps it really simple.”