City of Waco responds to winter weather

By City of Waco Public Information

CITY OPERATING WITH ESSENTIAL PERSONNEL THROUGH WEDNESDAY

Citizens are encouraged to please stay off the roads, conserve energy and be safe!  Protect your family (pets included), pipes and plants.

CLOSURES

The following City facilities and operations will be closed through Wednesday, February 17th. We’ll update with changes as soon as they are made available.

Cameron Park Zoo, Cottonwood Creek Golf Course, the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame, all branches of the Waco-McLennan County Library, Waco Mammoth National Monument, all community centers (except identified Warming Centers) Cobbs Recycling Center will be closed Wednesday and then evaluated for future opening.

WARMING CENTERS

The City has warming centers currently open at locations around town for residents without power to get warm.

You may stay overnight if needed, COVID-19 restrictions will be in place (masks required), power is currently available, but there is a possibility of power outage at any point. Please bring your own snacks, blankets and warm clothes as needed.

Please drive safely and share with those who may need it – more locations to be evaluated.

·         South Waco Community Center (2815 Speight)

·         Highland Baptist Church (3014 Maple Avenue)

·         Dewey Community Center (925 N. 9th Street)

·         St. Alban’s Episcopal Church (enter from 2900 W Waco Drive)

TRANSPORTATION TO WARMING CENTERS

Waco Transit System is providing rides to warming centers for those in need. Please call (254) 405-4247 and they will make arrangements to pick you up safely. Available from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (warming centers only, please).

TRASH PICK-UP

Solid Waste Services has made the decision to cancel residential & commercial collection for Wednesday (2/17). We are evaluating when we’ll make up missed collection days and appreciate your patience. We will notify through our Waco Curbside App and post all updates.  DOWNLOAD THE APP — For immediate alerts affecting your household trash service, download the Waco Curbside Services App available on Google Play and Apple App Store.

COVID VACCINATIONS

Persons who missed their appointments to receive the COVID vaccine last week and those who are due for their second dose are being called to be given an appointment for this Friday and Saturday.  After those are scheduled we will contact those in the 1A and 1B phases of the DSHS directive who are signed up on our waitlist.  We hope to hear about our next shipment of vaccines soon.  When we do, we will continue scheduling from the waitlist.  

COVID Testing

The Texas Department of Emergency Management has closed public COVID testing sites until February 18, 2021.

Urgent Need to Conserve Energy

Demand for electricity continues to be at unprecedented levels. Conservation efforts are extremely important during this historic winter storm as it continues.  All residents and businesses should to continue to conserve energy to help maintain service for our most critical human needs customers.

Conservation Efforts:

  • Lower your thermostat to at least 68 degrees.
  • Businesses should minimize energy usage as much as possible.
  • Lower the water heater temperature to 120 degrees.
  • Never use an oven or a gas stovetop to heat your home.
  • Unplug electronic devices and turn off lights that are not in use.
  • Reduce shower time and avoid baths.
  • Refrain from using large appliances like your washer, dryer, oven, and dishwasher for the next few days.
  • When in use, limit opening the oven door to prevent wasted energy.
  • Keep your fireplace damper closed unless a fire is burning.
  • Avoid using your natural gas fireplace, if possible.
  • If you have a pool, do not use the pool heater. Instead, run your pool pump during the coldest part of the day to circulate the water and prevent freezing.

CITY UPDATES:

PUBLIC WORKS: Street/ Traffic

·         Treat dark intersections without signage as four-way stops.

·         Due to outages on various traffic signals, road conditions, and long-term nature of the event, some lights will be in red flash around town when lights malfunction.

·         Streets remains on-call all and will continue to be.

·         Supervisors have been monitoring bridges and street segments routinely and will continue.

·         Trucks and crews are working around the clock to sand Waco streets.

TRANSIT

·         Fixed routes and Para-transit services are suspended.

Municipal Court

·         Closed Monday and Tuesday.

Solid Waste

·         Trash collection for residential and commercial customers is cancelled through Wednesday as we evaluate when to continue and make up the days missed.

·         Cobb’s Recycling Center is closed on Wednesday.

·         The Landfill remains open with limited staffing.

Water Utility Services

·         Staff is expecting an increase in water line breaks and an increase in calls for emergency shut-offs because of broken private plumbing lines. Staff is ready to respond to the changing conditions by bringing in additional crews and call center staff as needed.

Parks & Recreation

·         Tree crew on standby to address issues for any trees affected by the weather.

Development Services

·         Inspection staff will contact anyone whose inspection will need to be rescheduled.

·         Inspectors will be on call for any emergency inspections needed for gas/power reconnects/hookups.

Additional Information and Resources

·         Information on outages – ONCOR

·         Report an outage -or- call 888.313.4747

·         Please do not travel, but if you must here are some tips from TXDOT for winter travel and driving safety: https://www.txdot.gov/driver/weather/winter-travel.html

·         To report a dangerous road condition please call the non-emergency dispatch line 254-750-7500

·         To report a water main break or loss of water you can call 254-299-2489. If the issue is due to frozen or busted pipes at your house, please call a plumber.

City manager recommending veteran Houston Assistant Chief Sheryl Victorian as Waco’s next police chief

By City of Waco Staff

Waco City Manager Bradley Ford announced Monday he is recommending Sheryl Victorian to be the city’s next Chief of Police. Victorian served for 27 years in the Houston Police Department rising to the rank of Assistant Chief. The recommendation goes to the city council on Tuesday, Feb. 16.  If approved, Victorian will be Waco’s first female and first Black police chief.

“The search for a new chief took five months and included 43 applications from candidates in 17 states,” said City Manager Bradley Ford. “Sheryl’s depth of hands-on management experience, her educational background and her support for innovative programs all stood out.”  Ford adds, “Sheryl shared our community’s vision for a leader who embraces continuous improvement, community policing and a commitment to serving and protecting all of our citizens.”

Victorian was one of four finalists for the position. The interview process included input from the city staff as well as community shareholder panels.

Victorian earned a doctorate degree in Administration of Justice from Texas Southern University and holds a master’s degree in Criminal Justice from The University of Houston and a bachelor’s degree in Public Affairs, also from Texas Southern University. 

She began her law enforcement career as a police cadet in Houston in 1993. As she rose through the ranks of the department, Victorian served in or supervised virtually every major unit giving her a wide range of experience and expertise including extensive work undercover.

Victorian is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and numerous nationally recognized leadership programs. She holds a Texas Master Peace Officer’s license and has received numerous awards and commendations over her career with Houston PD.

“It is a privilege and honor to have my name forwarded to the city council,” said Victorian. “Maintaining the trust of the community, adopting and improving our department to meet the changing needs and demands of policing and keeping our officers and citizens safe are my objectives from day one if council approves my selection,” said Victorian. “It would be an honor to lead the department and I look forward to working proactively to keep Waco a great community to work, live and raise a family.”

The Waco Police Association was represented in the evaluation process by President, Ken Reeves. When notified of the recommendation, Reeves said “The Waco Police Association is happy to welcome its new Chief, Sheryl Victorian. Her reputation for fair and experienced leadership is well known within her current Department. We are eager to see what her vision will bring to the Waco Police Department and our community.”

If confirmed by the Waco City Council on February 16,  Victorian will start as Waco chief in early March.

City council election & application dates announced

By City of Waco Public Information Office

The General Election for City of Waco council members for Districts II, IV, and V, will be held Saturday, May 1. The first day to file for a place on the ballot is Wednesday, Jan. 13. The last  day to file is Friday, Feb. 12, by 5 p.m. 

Applications for a place on the ballot are filed at the City Secretary’s Office Monday – Friday from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Due to COVID-19 concerns and regulations, the city secretary is scheduling appointments for in-person services. Please call 254-750-5750 to schedule an appointment.  

Physical address for filing applications in person: 

City Secretary’s Office First Floor – City Hall 

300 Austin Ave., Waco, TX 76701 

To mail an application for a place on the ballot. Application must be notarized before filing.

Esmeralda Hudson, TRMC, CPM 

City Secretary 

PO Box 2570 

Waco, TX 76702-2570 

Applications for a place on the ballot can be emailed to WacoElections@wacotx.gov and must be notarized before filing. 

Applications and candidate packets are available online on the City of Waco Election web page or by calling the City Secretary’s Office at 254-750-5750 to schedule an appointment.  

For more information contact Esmeralda Hudson, city secretary, at 254-750-5750.

Green Resolutions for the New Year 2021

By Anna Dunbar

2020 is drawing to a close. Whew! What a year. Time to start thinking about a new year, a new start, and new resolutions for a greener year!

Here are some ideas to get you started:

  1. Recycle that live Christmas Tree! Keep Waco Beautiful is hosting its annual “Chipping of the Green” Christmas tree recycling event on January 9th at Paul Tyson Field from 10-3pm. Bring your tree and watch how Waco Parks and Recreation mulches the tree.
  1. Live Christmas trees can also be left at residential curbside during green weeks in January for collection and mulching. Green weeks in January are the 4th-8th and 19th-22nd.
  1. Start recycling at curbside! Waco residents with cart residential trash service can request one or two blue recycling and/or green yard waste carts for no extra charge! Complete a request form on Waco-texas.com or our smartphone app Waco Curbside Services. You can also call (254) 299-2612.
  1. Recycle right! Please do not put Styrofoam, glass, plastic bags, plastics 3-7, or take-out food containers in your blue cart! Got questions? Check out the free smartphone app Waco Curbside Services.
  1. Speaking of Styrofoam, on December 12 there will be a Styrofoam recycling drop-off event by Waco Friends of Climate.

TIME: 9 AM until 1 PM

LOCATION:  parking lot in front of Ocean Buffet, at the corner of Valley Mills and Waco Drives. 

NOTES: Please wear masks and stay in your vehicle; volunteers will remove the material from trunk and back seats.  Styrofoam cups and food containers are accepted, as well as larger blocks and molded pieces. Peanuts cannot be accepted.  Please clean the Styrofoam and place small pieces in a bag.  Please arrive early, as our truck may reach capacity. The service is free. Questions:  anorthc@aol.com .    

  1. Go to the Cobbs Center! Many people have a lot of extra recycling during the holidays. Boxes, glass or plastic bottles and aluminum cans abound during the holidays! Waco residents can also recycle big items (such as electronics and appliances) at the Cobbs Recycle Center. The Center is open Tuesday through Saturday from 8 AM until 5 PM and closed on Sunday and Monday. Go to waco-texas.com or call (254) 751-8536 to ask questions.
  1. Remember “Only Rain Down the Drain!” Please avoid putting anything (leaves, grass clippings, litter) into storm drains.
  1. Properly dispose of cooking oil! Small quantities of cooking oil can be mixed with kitty litter, doubled bagged, and placed in your trash cart. Please do not pour cooking oil or grease down the drain. You can also properly dispose of the cooking oil or grease at 5 stations located around the city; one location is at the Cobbs Center. For more information go to Waco-texas.com or call 299-CITY (2489) between 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
  1. Join the Litter Challenge!  If each person picks up and throws away just one piece of litter a day, they will have put 45 pounds of litter in its place by the end of the year.
  1. Check the solid waste calendar! Don’t forget the blue carts and green carts go at the curb on alternating weeks, never together! If you have questions, call (254) 299-2612.
  1. Take gently used items to resale or thrift stores instead of just throwing them away. Or, have a garage sale! Don’t forget to get a city permit!
  1. Finally, get involved in organizations that “do good” in our city! The wonderful organizations, clean litter, collect donations, recycle and more! Together we can do more!

Anna Dunbar is the solid waste administrator for the City of Waco Solid Waste Services. She is responsible for informing Waco residents and businesses about recycling and waste reduction opportunities as well as solid waste services in Waco. Her husband is a Baylor professor and her daughter is a Baylor University alum who works at Horizon Environmental Services, Inc. Anna is an active member of Keep Waco Beautiful and The Central Texas Audubon Society.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email ashleyt@actlocallywaco.org for more information.

Civic Insights: The Why of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT)

(City council, school board, planning commission, county commissioners – these groups and several others represent us.  They do the day to day work of running our community. It is our responsibility to keep informed about their work so that we can help them represent us effectively.  “Civic Insights” by Jeffrey Vitarius is a regular feature of Act Locally Waco.  Its purpose is to help us understand decisions that shape our community so that we can participate effectively as informed, engaged residents of Waco. – ALW)  

By Jeffrey Vitarius

We hope you all had a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving and thought it might be good to start back up with a topic we find particularly interesting, bus rapid transit (BRT).

Next Thursday (December 10th, 2020)  at 6:00 pm Waco Transit, the Waco Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), and AECOM Technical Services  are hosting a virtual meeting  to gather public input on station locations and designs for the BRT project. AECOM also recently provided updates to the City Council and MPO on the progress of the project.  Let’s take a look at why this project is being considered and what stage of the process we are in now.

Way back in 2013-4, the City of Waco commissioned an Economic Development Strategic Plan from the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research. The study is generally called the Upjohn Report.  Unlike a standard economic development strategy that focuses purely on the “general economic performance of the area,” the City “called for a plan to also reduce poverty, increase labor force participation, and increase area income.” That is, rather than focus on economic growth in and of itself, the plan also focused on how that growth might be made equitable for the people of Waco. This focus on equitable development rather than just any development remains an important goal of the City.

In the process of drafting their report, the Upjohn team interviewed ninety individuals, asking them (in part) about what challenges they see to finding and retaining employment. The result, “transportation was overwhelmingly cited as the most prominent barrier to finding and keeping a job.” In 2018, about 8% of Wacoans got to work by a means other than a car. At that time approximately 29% of Wacoan households had no car or 1 car. The average household size in Waco is about 2.5 people meaning that having one car could mean a household is still reliant on a non-car means of getting to work.

Although walking or cycling remain valuable commuting options for folks (your author does so whenever he can), needing to rely on your feet or your bike makes you vulnerable to long distances and poor weather (especially August heat). Given these challenges, it is critical for those in Waco who do not have ready access to a car that public transit gets people where they need to go reliably and as swiftly as possible.

The current Waco transit system is configured as a “spoke and hub.” In this design bus routes extend out from the City core to residential neighborhoods, job centers, and service locations before returning Downtown. The routes out and back are the “spokes” with the Downtown Transit Center as the “hub.” The transit map below shows how the various routes converge at the transit center downtown before spanning out across the city.

 (Map 1)  

This configuration has its challenges. The spoke and hub setup means that to get from one side of town to the other, an individual has to transfer at the “hub,” lengthening travel times. Additionally, the variety of routes mean that each route can only be run once an hour (in the case of East Waco the route runs varying directions based on what hour of the day it is). 

BRT may be the solution to these issues. The BRT would run through the middle of the city extending from Woodway through Downtown Waco and on to Belmead and Lacy Lakeview. The BRT would make fewer stops and be timed to traffic. This would, theoretically, reduce the delays caused by passengers entering and exiting the bus as well as the delays caused by sitting in traffic. The goal of such a system would be to maximize the time the bus is in motion, therefore reducing travel times. It is also hoped that such a system would generate more frequent bus service and bus services that extend more into weekends and evenings (an important factor when considering whether folks can get to work when they need to).

In 2018, the City received a feasibility study from AECOM Technical Services that looked at the potential system overall as well as a number of route, technology, and service operation options. The study recommended (after substantial public input) a route that ran from US 84 to New Road to Franklin Avenue to Taylor Street and Hillsboro Drive before taking US 84 to Loop 340.  On May 1, 2018 the City Council approved the recommended route. Below is the most recent map of the proposed route.

Since then, the City, the MPO, and AECOM have begun the process of seeking federal funding for the project. In July of 2019, pre-award authority was granted that allows the City to begin pursuing projected development costs before receiving a formal award. Under this authorization the City sought services for preliminary engineering and environmental review.  We are in the middle of that process now.

Preliminary engineering (think of this as preliminary technical design) needs to be completed to understand the final costs of the project and pursue the funding needed to cover those costs. Environmental review is required to make sure the project will not unduly damage Waco’s environment. Throughout this part of the process there are three different periods of public input planned. The first passed in October, when AECOM sought to reintroduce the project to Wacoans and update them on the project approach. The second is the meeting coming up on December 10.  This one will focus on where stations will be and how they will function. Both of these aspects can have a huge impact on cost and operations down the line. Finally, in mid-February it is anticipated that the final results for this phase of the project will be brought before the public for review.

Other Interesting Items from the Agenda (to me)

  • Over the last two meetings City Council has received information regarding a Municipal Settings Designation (MSD). In short, this would reduce a hurdle to development in the city’s core by prohibiting the future use of groundwater as potable (safe to drink). Without a Municipal Settings Designation each property owner would have to deal with testing and remediating groundwater contamination before development which can slow projects in an area where the city provides water to all properties anyhow.
  • The City and WISD are working on a partnership to provide all WISD students with e-cards that would grant them access to the library’s substantial e-book catalogue.
  • The J.H. Hines Elementary Sidewalks project continues with the city pursuing $101,918.37 in property acquisitions to account for right of way needs.

Meeting Basics

  • City Council meets on the first and third Tuesday of every month. Work session – 3:00 pm / Business session – 6:00pm (there have been two meetings since our last post)
  • To watch the recorded session click here (City of Waco Cable Channel, wccc.tv)
  • For the full agenda click here (11/17) or here (12/01)
  • For the meeting packet with the documents pertinent to the meeting click here (11/17) or here (12/01)

Jeffrey Vitarius has been actively local since early 2017. He lives in Sanger Heights with partner (JD) and his son (Callahan). He helped found Waco Pride Network and spearheaded its Vision 2025 process. Jeffrey works at City Center Waco where he helps keep Downtown Waco clean, safe, and vibrant. He is a member of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church and graduated from Baylor in 2011.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email ashleyt@actlocallywaco.orgfor more information.

Civic Insights: Capital Improvement Program (CIP) Coming to a Road Near You

(City council, school board, planning commission, county commissioners – these groups and several others represent us.  They do the day to day work of running our community. It is our responsibility to keep informed about their work so that we can help them represent us effectively.  “Civic Insights” by Jeffrey Vitarius is a regular feature of Act Locally Waco.  Its purpose is to help us understand decisions that shape our community so that we can participate effectively as informed, engaged residents of Waco. – ALW)  

By Jeffrey Vitarius

On Tuesday November 10, 2020, the Budget & Audit committee of the City Council met. Their only discussion item was a review of the proposed Capital Improvements Program (CIP) and the associated debt impacts. Let’s breakdown what all this means and how it relates to the street in front of your house.

What is the Budget & Audit committee of the City Council?

This is the group of City Council members charged with taking a closer look at the city’s budget and audit functions.

So, is the Capital Improvements Program (CIP) a kind of budget?

Well, it is similar to one. Broadly speaking the city “budget” can be thought of as broken down into two parts, the operating budget and the CIP. The operating budget covers the services the city provides as well as its day-to-day work (we touched on an interesting summary of these services last week).The CIP covers large-scale projects. As this year’s budget explains “The CIP includes those items typically thought of as ‘infrastructure’ – streets, water and wastewater lines” (hmmm…streets, water, and wastewater sound familiar). 

Since the CIP involves projects that span over multiple years, involve large dollar amounts, and often have a variety of funding sources (including debt) they are dealt with through a process separate from the operating budget.

Why is the CIP being dealt with now? Wasn’t the budget process in September?

In previous years, the CIP was developed at the same time as the operating budget (prior to September). This year, however, there was a change. The CIP process was moved to the winter after the budget process was concluded. 

There were a number of reasons for the change, but two stand out. First, moving the CIP to its own time of the year allows staff and the City Council to focus on it alone in the winter rather than trying to split focus between developing the CIP and the operating budget. Second, moving the CIP to winter means that staff can work with certified property values.

As you may remember back when the Operating budget was adopted, the McLennan County Appraisal District was only able to issue a certified estimate of property values in Waco. At the time almost $1.8 billion dollars of value was still being protested (meaning it was still unclear exactly what those properties would be valued at and how much property tax revenue they would generate). The potential changes from the protest process make it difficult to build any kind of budget, but they are particularly problematic when you have to project a budget out for the multiple years required for CIP development. 

So what does the CIP tell us?

In the broadest sense the CIP is a list of all the “infrastructure” projects the city plans to tackle during the year along with how it plans to pay for them.

What has happened so far in the process?

Back at its September 8th meeting the Budget and Audit Committee discussed the timeline change noted above. In October they held a preliminary discussion with staff regarding priorities. This week they reviewed the CIP drafted by staff in response to the discussion in October. 

What is in this year’s proposed CIP?

Details of the proposed CIP can be found in the meeting packet for this week’s Budget and Audit Committee meeting. From a high level this CIP proposes $112,879,149 of capital spending in fiscal year 2021. $31,635,519 is planned for streets (see map below), $1,050,000 for park development, $6,150,000 for solid waste, $7,595,000 for airport improvements (mostly funded by CARES act funding), and finally $66,448,630 for utilities (water and wastewater).

The other critical part of the CIP is how all these projects are to be funded. A substantial part of the costs listed above are planned to be covered by the issuance of new debt (approximately 71%). The City staff is aiming to issue this debt in early 2021 (how the City issues debt is an interesting topic for a different time). 

One last interesting take away from the proposed CIP is the chart below. It references a measure called PCI. This stands for pavement condition index. In short this is a metric for measuring the quality of streets. It runs from 0 to 100. This chart compares spending on various kinds of roadwork to their PCI impact. Overall, the anticipated PCI change is 1.43 (including the natural decay of the existing inventory). This would move Waco from 49.3 to 50.73 (an improvement of 3%). 

What comes next?

  • December 15th – City Council plans to approve resolution related to the issuance of debt for capital projects
  • February 2nd – City Council plans to approve final CIP

Meeting Basics 

  • Budget & Audit Committee Regular meeting – Tuesday, November 10, 2020, 1:30 pm
  • To watch the recorded session click here (City of Waco Cable Channel on YouTube)
  • For the full agenda click here
  • For the meeting packet with the documents pertinent to the meeting click here

Jeffrey Vitarius has been actively local since early 2017. He lives in Sanger Heights with partner (JD) and his son (Callahan). He helped found Waco Pride Network and spearheaded its Vision 2025 process. Jeffrey works at City Center Waco where he helps keep Downtown Waco clean, safe, and vibrant. He is a member of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church and graduated from Baylor in 2011.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email ashleyt@actlocallywaco.orgfor more information.

America Recycles Day and Scrap Tire Collection

by Anna Dunbar

America Recycles Day (ARD) has its 23rd  anniversary this year. What many don’t know is that ARD has its roots in Texas, central Texas in fact. Texas Recycles Day began in 1994 as the idea of two Texas Commission on Environmental Quality employees, Kevin Tuerff and Valerie Davis. I had met them while I was at the agency and was always so impressed with their creativity. They came up with Texas Recycles Day to promote recycling on a day far enough away from Earth Day (April 22nd), but not before the Election Day in order  to capture everyone’s attention. Thus November 15th was chosen as America Recycles Day!

Eventually, Texas Recycles Day was transformed into America Recycles Day. The first national America Recycles Day was held November 15th, 1997 and it has been celebrated annually ever since.

What about America Recycles Day in Waco? There is a lot of energy behind recycling in Waco. This year, the Waco Solid Waste Services is conducting a Scrap Tire Collection on Saturday, November 14. Here are the details:

  • Location: 501 Schroeder Drive, near the Baylor Water Tower
  • Hours: 7 AM until 12 Noon
  • This event is for Waco residents only. Please pre-register or bring your Waco water utility bill as proof of residency.
  • Restrictions:
    • No more than 10 tires
    • No tires from businesses 
    • No OTR, Skid Steer, Earth Movers
    • Maximum size: 24 inches
    • Maximum ten (10) tires per household
    • Please preregister by calling (254) 299-2612

You might wonder why Waco Solid Waste Services is having a scrap tire collection at no extra charge. There are several reasons. First, recycling of scrap tires usually carries a fee per tire. The fee is waived during this event, making it easier for Wacoans to recycle their tires. Second, scrap tires are a breeding place for mosquitoes, which can carry diseases. Finally, scrap tires are prone to being dumped on vacant lots and other locations. This free collection is a good time to rid your property of scrap tires and recycle at the same time!

Waco Solid Waste Services encourages everyone to pre-register for this event and to wear a mask while talking with staff during the event. Pre-registration can be done by calling (254) 299-2612 Monday through Friday from 8 AM until 5 PM.  Para informacion en Espanol: (254) 299-2612.   There will also be a registration form at Waco-texas.com beginning November 5.

Thank you for keeping Waco Clean and Green!


Anna Dunbar is the solid waste administrator for the City of Waco Solid Waste Services. She is responsible for informing Waco residents and businesses about recycling and waste reduction opportunities as well as solid waste services in Waco. Her husband is a Baylor professor and her daughter is a Baylor University alum who works at Horizon Environmental Services, Inc. Anna is an active member of Keep Waco Beautiful and The Central Texas Audubon Society.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email ashleyt@actlocallywaco.org for more information.

Civic Insights: What is “Annexation by Request?”

(City council, school board, planning commission, county commissioners – these groups and several others represent us.  They do the day to day work of running our community. It is our responsibility to keep informed about their work so that we can help them represent us effectively.  “Civic Insights” by Jeffrey Vitarius is a regular feature of Act Locally Waco.  Its purpose is to help us understand decisions that shape our community so that we can participate effectively as informed, engaged residents of Waco. – ALW)   

By Jeffrey Vitarius

This week we are going to try to unpack the following item from the November 3, 2020 City Council Agenda: “Consider a resolution approving an agreement with WBW Single Development Group, LLC – Series 110 for an Annexation Service Plan for certain properties described as 61.51 acres of land, more or less, situated in and being out of the B.B.B. & C. Railroad Company Survey, Abstract No. 157, McLennan County, Texas, and being a part of the called 194.45 acre tract of land described in a Deed to WBW Single Land Investment, LLC – Series 104, recorded in Document No. 2019028303 of the Official Public Records of McLennan County, Texas, and being located near the intersection of Warren Road and Ritchie Road and further located within Waco’s extraterritorial jurisdiction, which said territory lies adjacent to and adjoins the present boundary limits of the City of Waco, Texas”.

Whew! This is a long one, let’s jump right in.

What kind of agreement is the City approving with WBW SIngle Development Group, LLC – Series 110?

On July 29th, 2020 WBW Single Development Group, LLC – Series 110 (lets just call them WBW for now) requested that the City annex certain property they own. Annexation is the process by which a city adds bits of land to its jurisdiction and begins to collect taxes from and provide services to those areas. There are a number of different ways annexation can occur. This week there are three instances of property owners requesting annexation on the City Council agenda. This process of a property owner requesting annexation from a city is managed by the Local Government Code (in particular Chapter 43 deals with annexations and subchapter C-3 deals with this specific kind of annexation). 

The code requires that the property owner and city come to a written agreement regarding services, an “Annexation Service Plan.” Approving this agreement is the specific action City Council took this week.

What is an “Annexation Service Plan”?

Chapter 43 makes this one fairly simple. An Annexation Service Plan needs to list the services the municipality will provide and identify when it will provide them. The Annexation Service Plan for this item can be found in this week’s meeting packet (packet pages 124-7). The plan is actually a pretty interesting way to look at the bare bones of what the city does. Here is a list of the services the plan identifies:

  • Police Protection
  • Fire Protection and Emergency Medical Services
  • Solid Waste Collection
  • Water Service
  • Waste Water Service
  • Capital Improvements (building infrastructure for the most part)
  • Street Lights
  • Traffic Control (things like traffic signs, and stop lights)
  • Maintenance of Existing Roads & Streets
  • Environmental Services
  • Maintenance of Parks & Recreation Facilities
  • Maintenance of Publicly Owned Facility, Building or Municipal Service
  • Provision of Other City Services (libraries, animal control, code enforcement, etc)
  • Election Voting Services

This is almost a social contract in its most basic form. A property owner is agreeing to join the city and take on both the responsibility of paying its property taxes and abiding by its ordinances and the services the city agrees to provide. Additionally, this list makes clear just how often the citizens of Waco are impacted by the city. Driving to work involves city maintained roads and traffic signals. Watering lawns involve city water delivered through city pipes. 

What does all that after “more or less, situated in” mean?

This section of the item lays out where the land being considered is located. The meeting packet includes a map as well (included below) on packet page 123, but this language is a general legal description of where the land is located. The item also includes a survey (on packet pages 130-1) that lays out even more detail regarding the exact parameters of the land being considered. 

Why does the item mention Waco’s extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ)? 

One of the requirements for annexation is that the land lay in the ETJ.

So, let’s go back to the initial sentence. We can now summarize it to mean: consider approving an agreement with a property owner to begin providing city services to a property described as x that is within Waco’s ETJ. 

What comes next?

  • November 17th – Public Hearing and First Reading/Vote
  • December 1st – Second Reading/Vote

Other Interesting Items From the Agenda (to me)

  • Impact fees are back for their second reading. There is also a work session item regarding how they could be changed in the future. This was one of the bigger questions Council member Holmes had two weeks ago.
  • There are three Annexation Service Plans up for consideration. All in all they represent about 290 acres. The second and third of these plans are with the Waco Industrial Foundation which is an interesting topic for a different time.
  • There are two resolutions and one ordinance related to Boards and Commissions. The resolutions are general and deal with approving appointments and clarifying certain language around advisory boards. The ordinance deals specifically with the Sustainable Resource Practices Advisory Board adjusting its mission, purpose, and membership. 

Meeting Basics 

  • City Council meets on the first and third Tuesdays of every month.Work Session – 3:00 pm / Business Session – 6:00pm
  • To watch the recorded session click here (City of Waco Cable Channel, wccc.tv)
  • For the full agenda click here
  • For the meeting packet with the documents pertinent to the meeting click here

Jeffrey Vitarius has been actively local since early 2017. He lives in Sanger Heights with partner (JD) and his son (Callahan). He helped found Waco Pride Network and now serves as that organization’s treasurer and Pride Planning Chair. Jeffrey works at City Center Waco where he helps keep Downtown Waco clean, safe, and vibrant. He is a member of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church and graduated from Baylor in 2011.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email ashleyt@actlocallywaco.orgfor more information.

Civic Insights: Who Pays for that Pipe, Part V

(City council, school board, planning commission, county commissioners – these groups and several others represent us.  They do the day to day work of running our community. It is our responsibility to keep informed about their work so that we can help them represent us effectively.  “Civic Insights” by Jeffrey Vitarius is a regular feature of Act Locally Waco.  Its purpose is to help us understand decisions that shape our community so that we can participate effectively as informed, engaged residents of Waco. – ALW)   

By Jeffrey Vitarius

We are finally coming to the end of the long impact fee process. This policy has been a goal of the city since it adopted the comprehensive twenty-five year plan in 2016. There has been intense study and discussion of the potential policy since Freese and Nichols (consulting firm) was hired to produce the study back in December of 2018. We have been writing about it here since early September. Last week, the City Council took its first vote on the initial policy that has been generated by this process. Another vote is scheduled for next Tuesday (November 6th) and this should be the final step. 

Back in September, we started this discussion with a broad look at what an impact fee policy is. We moved from there to the legal process for establishing an impact fee, and finally to an examination of the pipe-related and road-related details of the Freese and Nichols report . That report will serve as the basis for any impact fee policy in Waco. Here in our final post, we will finally move from what impact fees could be to what they should be by examining the policy that was approved last week and the discussion that has occurred at the City Council level regarding how best to proceed.  

The Policy

As a brief reminder, the Freese and Nichols report established the maximum allowable impact fees for water, wastewater, and roadways (the end of the could process). The results of that study are below. 

All of these maximums are based upon single-family home equivalency. So, the numbers above are the maximum allowable impact fees for a single-family home. For example, a single-family home in service area seven (near China Spring) could not have an impact fee above $6,328 ($1,804 – water + $3,574 – wastewater + $950 – roadway). Developments that are not made up of single-family homes have a maximum that is scaled based on calculations of use. So if a development is anticipated to use twice as much of the infrastructure as a single-family home, the maximum impact fee for that development is twice that of the single-family home (there is a lot more detail on this front in the last two posts). 

The policy the city is in the process of adopting (found in more detailed form in the ordinance that was voted on last week) starts with base impact fees that are 100% of the allowable fees established above. However, to this base fee a number of exemptions, waivers, and limits are applied.

Below is a brief list of most but not all of these adjustments with some explanation of each:

  • Residential Infill Waiver – single family homes in the “residential infill area” (map below) would have all impact fees waived
  • Traditional Commercial Corridor Credit – non-single family home developments in the “traditional commercial corridor area” (map below) would have impact fees reduced by 50%
  • Credits for construction of system-wide facilities – from a really broad view, if the development involves the construction of system-wide facilities (those kinds of infrastructure that are not just for the development itself) a credit to account for this construction would be applied to impact fees
  • Affordable Housing Waiver – if a development has at least 25% affordable housing units (costing  less than 30% of a household’s income for households making less than 80% of Waco’s median income) and an additional 25% that are either affordable or “workforce” units (costing  less than 30% of a household’s income for households making between 80%-120% of Waco’s median income) impact fees would be waived. There are additional allowances for +sale units as well. Eagle eyed observers may spot that some of these percentages have appeared before in discussions of the CDBG program
  • Existing Business Waiver – if an existing business expands or relocates and the project fits with a collection of conditions (for example being open at least 2 years already, and documentations showing that the expansion or relocation will provide at least as many jobs as before) all impact fees would be waived.
  • Phase-in elements – the policy has an effective date of June 1st, 2021. The fees would also be phased in over the course of five years (hitting 100% in June of 2024). There is also a waiver that would apply to projects that are nearly complete. 

Each of these policy adjustments has some reasoning behind it and in most cases represents an effort to avoid disincentivizing certain kinds of development. It’s economics short-hand to say that if you make something more expensive you will get less of it (like most economics, I am sure there are disputes on this point, but the general rule remains). If affordable housing became more expensive to build due to impact fees, the theory goes that some number of units would not be built because of the increased cost. So, the above adjustments tend to exempt or reduce impact fees for the kinds of development that are high priorities for the city (infill residential, core commercial, affordable housing, etc). In addition to these adjustments, the policy gives the city the ability to grant waivers on a case by case basis as well. 

The phase-in elements provide developers with some time to incorporate the new impact fees into their calculations and decision making.

The downside to these adjustments is that they make a complicated policy more complicated. Much of the discussion at City Council hit upon this point.  

The Discussion

Over the course of the last two City Council meetings (10/06 and 10/20) there has been substantial discussion of the policy outlined above. In general, there has been support for impact fees in theory. Most points of concern have been focused on the specifics of the policy and its timeline for implementation.

The committee formed to analyze and make recommendations on the impact fee policy (the Capital Improvements Advisory Committee – CIAC) recommended the above policy with a single exception: that the implementation of commercial impact fees be delayed for six months (essentially pushing the effective date of commercial impact fees from June 1st, 2021 to December 1st, 2021). 

This recommendation exception highlights one of the key elements of the discussion around this policy. The commercial impact fee calculation is substantially more complicated than the residential impact fee calculation. This makes sense, given the variety of developments that fit under the “commercial” umbrella. For commercial developments, the variety of kinds, sizes, locations, and exemptions all factor into the impact fee calculation. The city is working on a calculator to assist developers in navigating the detailed points of this part of the policy. 

Additionally, concerns were focused on whether this policy strikes the right balance between funding the needed infrastructure projects and making sure not to disincentivize development. Since this policy is new, there were also questions about when and how it could be changed. 

Input that was received from the public raised similar concerns and questions regarding balance and alternatives.

Arguments were made that the substantial phase-in elements of the policy and semi-annual review by the CIAC allowed for adjustment before the full impact of the fees would be felt by developers. Additionally, the importance of associating the costs of development with development rather than existing tax and ratepayers was emphasized. Ultimately the City Council voted 5-1 to approve the policy in its first vote. The Council will vote for a second and final time next Tuesday.

Thank you for walking through this review of impact fees with me. I hope to bring you something new or at least different in November. If there are any particular civic policy or issues you would like me to take more of a look at, please feel free to comment here. Thanks again.


Jeffrey Vitarius has been actively local since early 2017. He lives in Sanger Heights with partner (JD) and his son (Callahan). He helped found Waco Pride Network and now serves as that organization’s treasurer and Pride Planning Chair. Jeffrey works at City Center Waco where he helps keep Downtown Waco clean, safe, and vibrant. He is a member of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church and graduated from Baylor in 2011.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email ashleyt@actlocallywaco.orgfor more information.

Civic Insights: Who Pays for that Pipe, Part IV

(City council, school board, planning commission, county commissioners – these groups and several others represent us.  They do the day to day work of running our community. It is our responsibility to keep informed about their work so that we can help them represent us effectively.  “Civic Insights” by Jeffrey Vitarius is a regular feature of Act Locally Waco.  Its purpose is to help us understand decisions that shape our community so that we can participate effectively as informed, engaged residents of Waco. – ALW)   

By Jeffrey Vitarius

Back in September, we began this series with a broad look at what an impact fee policy is. A month ago, we focused on the legal process for establishing an impact fee. Two weeks ago, we took a look at pipe-related details of the report that serves as the basis for any impact fee policy in Waco. This week, we’ll take a look at the road side of things. Then we will wrap up next week, by looking at the policy the City considered on October 20th. 

As a bit of reminder, we are working our way through the following steps that were used to calculate maximum impact fees:

  1. Determine a service area
  2. Identify a way to connect demand for service to supply for service
  3. Calculate increased demand for services
  4. Review existing supply for services
  5. Determine and cost projects needed to meet increased demand
  6. Identify service unit to divide costs amongst projects
  7. Calculate maximum impact fees

1. Service Area 

As you may recall from two weeks ago, service areas are the geographic boundaries of the impact fee policy. Chapter 395 provides guidance on what these areas can be or must be. For roads, there is a unique limitation that is not applied to pipes. Service areas for roads are limited to about twelve miles across (technically a six-mile radius). The reasoning here is that one part of town should not have to pay for the roads of a different part of town. For pipes the network is considered as a united system, whereas with roads smaller service areas are required. Additionally, a service area for roads cannot extend beyond the city limits (excluding the Extra-Terratorial Jurisdiction).

How these twelve mile “areas” are drawn is left up to the city or county looking to begin impact fees. For Waco the service areas ended up as this map:

2. Connecting Demand and Supply 

We will once again need to find some measurement to connect a new house or business park (demand) to the existing system of roads and any potential expansions (supply). The measurement needs to be scalable to the variety of demands that will come from new development and be measurable for distinct projects and supply systems. For roads, that measure is vehicle-mile at the PM peak hour. That probably needs some unpacking.

In thinking about the kind of measure we need here, the first impulse might be to simply count the cars. How many vehicles use the road system at any given point in time? That would get us part of the way there, but would miss a critical question: how far are those cars going? A car going a couple miles to a local restaurant “uses” substantially less roadway than a car going ten miles to work. 

So we need to know not only how many cars are out there, but how far all of them are going. That is how we get to vehicle-miles. Ten cars going one mile has the same “vehicle miles” as one care going ten miles (10 cars x 1 mile = 10 vehicle-miles vs 1 car x 10 miles = 10 vehicle-miles).

On top of this, roadway use changes throughout the day, much like pipes (diurnal patterns). Road use peaks in the AM and the PM rush hours with less use in between. So, for the sake of impact fees the PM peak hour is used to measure vehicle-miles. 

3. Increased Demand

Projecting how much Waco will grow overall, and where that growth will occur follows the exact same pattern that was used for pipes. For roads, however, a simple breakdown between growth in residents and employees will not be enough to fully capture the impact on roadways. For roads, the kind of employment becomes important.

We can see this if we think about the differences between a small industrial center and a retail park. Both may hire the same number of employees, but they generate substantially different vehicle-miles. At the industrial center, employees arrive and leave plus the occasional shipment of goods. However, at the retail center not only do you have employees and shipments coming and going, you also have customers. 

To account for this our consultants, Freese and Nichols, broke employment growth down into basic, retail, and service categories. Each of these have a different impact on vehicle-miles. They then translated the number of new employees into anticipated square feet of use and bridged from that measure into vehicle-miles. For new residents, they looked at growth on a residences (rather than residents) basis.

Combining all this together they were able to project increased vehicle-mile demand for each of the service areas over the next ten years.  

4. Existing Supply and 5. New Projects

A factor of particular importance in looking at how the current roadways will be able to accommodate the increased pressures of growth is how much are they currently being used. Pipes are metered. Water users are billed based on how much demand they put on the current systems. So it is fairly simple to gather information about current use. Roads are different. Their use is not tracked nearly as closely. For the sake of this study, Freese and Nichols relied on traffic counts that were collected on thirty separate locations across the city in May of 2019. 

They then compared these counts to the traffic capacity of various road segments (think of these as the bits of road where the road stays the same, so the part of x drive that has four lanes is separated from the part that has two lanes). Capacity can normally be determined by looking at the design of the road. On a really rough level, you can see that I-35 has more capacity than Waco Drive which has more capacity than 10th Street. So looking at the current use and the design capacity of each roadway you can figure how many additional vehicle miles you can add in without needing to change the road (incidentally there are some roads that are already used more than their capacity, these “deficits” are ultimately taken out of the calculation of improvement cost since they are not a result of new demand). 

Much like with pipes, Freese and Nichols along with City Staff then identified a number of improvements that might be eligible for impact fee funding. Unlike pipes, these projects were assigned to specific service areas. Where a project crossed the boundary between two service areas, its costs were split between the two. These projects were then examined for the amount of vehicle-mile capacity they added to the service area. So long as this added capacity was less than the increased demand in that service area (see step 3) the entire cost of the projects for that area could be included in the impact fee calculation. Where the added capacity was more than the increased demand, only that portion of the projects that covered the increased demand could be considered. 

Combining all the allowable costs together, the report then applies the same 50% credit to the costs that we discussed with pipes. At the end of this process we have the total eligible impact fee cost – the total cost of increased capacity due to new demand after consideration of a credit for future taxes for each service area. 

6. Service Unit

Chapter 395 calls for the establishment of a service unit specifically. It defines this (in broad terms) as a standardized measure of use. Although vehicle-miles remain a good connector between supply and demand, it is difficult to determine the exact number of vehicle-miles any given development would generate. So, the study scales vehicle-miles on the basis of a single-family residence. Basically, we look at each development in terms of how it relates to the demand generated by a single-family residence. 

As was mentioned above, in general you can calculate the vehicle-miles produced by any given development based on its characteristics. We look at this in terms ultimately of trip total trip length. That is the number of vehicle-miles generated by the development. There are a number of interesting factors that go into this calculation (like trip generation, individual trip length, adjustments for diverted trips and local conditions), but we don’t have the space to get into all of these here. Instead we can go with a nice round number example. Let’s assume a single-family residence produces 4 miles of adjusted trip length and a retail store produces 12. The retail store will be scaled so that it can be measured as a multiple of a single family residence. With this example that multiple is 3 (12 divided by 4). 

Here are some of the real ratios to give you an idea of how they work in the study. A hospital is anticipated to generate 1.72 times the demand of a single-family residence for every 1,000 square feet it contains. A clinic, in contrast, generates 5.81 times the demand of a single-family residence for every 1,000 square feet.  These ratios allow for the generation of a comprehensible unit of measure to distribute the costs of the improvements. 

7. Maximum Impact Fee

Knowing our service unit and our total eligible costs, the final step can be taken. A projection is made of the total new service units anticipated by development (for roads this projection relies heavily on land use assumptions since different kinds of development vary greatly in terms of trip generation). This projection is made on the basis of the service areas we noted above. For example, service area five as zero anticipated growth in service units. Whereas, service area one anticipates 15,947 new single-family resident equivalents. The chart below completes the process. 

Here we see that after all these steps the maximum impact fee allowable by law for roads in service area one is $6 and for service area eleven is $1,169. These numbers are the final product of that could process we discussed at the very beginning of all of this. That is the process to determine what impact fees could be (as opposed to should be).  Whatever the outcome of the should process is, the impact fees cannot exceed these amounts for a single-family residence equivalent.


Jeffrey Vitarius has been actively local since early 2017. He lives in Sanger Heights with partner (JD) and his son (Callahan). He helped found Waco Pride Network and now serves as that organization’s treasurer and Pride Planning Chair. Jeffrey works at City Center Waco where he helps keep Downtown Waco clean, safe, and vibrant. He is a member of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church and graduated from Baylor in 2011.

The Act Locally Waco blog publishes posts with a connection to these aspirations for Waco. If you are interested in writing for the Act Locally Waco Blog, please email ashleyt@actlocallywaco.orgfor more information.