Coppell Chronicle Vol. 1, No. 10
Coppell May Lose Millions in Sales Taxes • The Votes Are In • Calling All Kindergartners • Coronavirus Quick Hits
Coppell May Lose Millions in Sales Taxes
Have you ever wished that Coppell had a Walmart? Regardless of how you answered that question, I’m fairly certain you’ve never wished Coppell had 24 Walmarts. According to City Manager Mike Land, Coppell would need that obscene amount of discounted shopping to offset an impending change to the way sales taxes are distributed in Texas.
You know all those warehouses on the west side of town? When they ship products to customers in other cities, Coppell collects the sales tax on those transactions. But if Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar gets his way, the sales taxes on those transactions would instead go to the cities where those customers live. Land says that would add up to an annual loss of nearly $25 million for Coppell.
Hegar’s proposed changes to Rule 3.334 in the Texas Administrative Code are supposed to take effect Oct. 1, but they have no legislative support, so Coppell and other cities opposed to them may still have time to derail them. However, state Rep. Morgan Meyer – who represents Highland Park, University Park, and adjacent Dallas neighborhoods – has introduced a bill, HB 4072, that would solidify the comptroller’s plans.
On April 6, the House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing on HB 4072. Our city manager, Mayor Karen Hunt, and Ellie Braxton-Leveen – the president and CEO of the Coppell Chamber of Commerce – were three of the 10 people who testified against the bill. (Two others testified in support of it, and a couple of masochists with too much time on their hands showed up to provide neutral testimony.)
The Coppell contingent faced an uphill battle, because the Ways and Means Committee is chaired by – you guessed it – Morgan Meyer. Here’s what Meyer told David Erb, Lewisville’s director of finance, after Erb testified against his bill:
“You talk about your sales tax – ‘your’ sales tax – but what, in reality, you’re doing is you’re taking other tax from other parts of the state from someone who buys in Lubbock or someone who buys in Dallas or someone who buys in – that’s their tax money. If I’m there, and I’m spending and buying, as a sales tax, it should go back to my community.”
Time for a self-indulgent tangent: When I worked at Park Cities People, I covered Meyer’s first campaign for the Legislature. His opponents in the 2014 Republican primary were two guys whose first names are Chart and Court. I don’t know about you, but I encounter those two words as nouns and as verbs far more often than I encounter them as names. So I thought I was being pranked when I found out the guy named Chart has a brother named Court.
[Announcer’s voice: “We now return to our regularly scheduled programming.”]
Hunt’s 11 minutes of testimony begins at the 3:00:20 mark of this video. She gave the committee a bit of a history lesson, laying out the sacrifices that Coppell has made since DFW Airport was created in the city’s backyard. “While other communities were growing rooftops,” she said, “Coppell held firm in its decision these past 50 years to ensure that the western half of the city be developed as a warehouse-distribution, light-manufacturing hub for the region.”
More recently, the city hired 16 firefighter-paramedics to occupy a new fire station that was situated on the west side of Coppell to service the businesses that collectively employ nearly 25,000 people. “It all takes sales tax dollars to support these efforts,” she said. “The negative impact of this proposed legislation is devastating.”
If HB 4072 becomes law, Hunt said, “Coppell will be the poster child for what not to do in the state of Texas.”
Land’s seven minutes of testimony begins at the 42:00 mark of this video. He told the committee that thousands of cities and businesses are not aware of the impending changes that may take effect in October. “Given time, cities can adjust. They will need time,” he said. “They don’t, at this point, even have this on their radar, and they’re starting their budget processes for ’21-’22.”
Land and Hunt went back to Austin last week to lobby against these measures. When summing all this up during one of last month’s City Council meetings, Land said about 75 percent of the state’s businesses that collect sales tax “register only one place of business.” Assuming the changes to Rule 3.334 go through, those businesses are going to need to calculate the various sales tax rates for everywhere that their customers live.
“If you happen to have connections with small-business owners,” Land said, “and they don’t necessarily know about this particular rule, please inform them and ask them to call their state representative.”
The Votes Are In
All of the ballots have been counted, and now comes the hardest part for our courageous candidates – collecting all of those signs. Let’s start with the landslides:
Coppell City Council member Brianna Hinojosa-Smith defeated challenger Raghib Majed, 80% to 20%, to retain her Place 2 seat.
Kevin Nevels will assume the Place 4 seat on the Coppell City Council that Gary Roden is vacating, thanks to Nevels’ 75% to 25% victory over Amit Dharia.
Wes Mays will succeed Karen Hunt as Coppell’s mayor. He earned 68% of the votes to Rob Anderson’s 32%. With their competition concluded, I’m confident that this morning will be the last time I accidentally type “Wes Anderson” while drafting this newsletter.
(Public math alert: When I add up the results from the Dallas County and Denton County election websites, I have Anderson down for 1,773 votes to Mays’ 3,762. Click here to view my spreadsheet. I can’t explain why the city’s elections page said, as of 1 p.m. on Sunday, that Anderson finished with 1,863.)
These Coppell City Council races were a little tighter:
Biju Mathew will serve a second term in the Place 6 seat after defeating Mark Smits, 55% to 45%, despite Smits getting endorsements from Hunt and Roden on their way out the door.
The competition to complete Mays’ unexpired term in the Place 3 seat will go to a runoff between Davin Bernstein (37%) and Don Carroll (34%). Meghan Shoemaker (29%) will have to sit this one out.
Given Bernstein’s popularity among Coppell residents on the far right and Shoemaker’s popularity among Coppell residents on the far left, I assume her supporters will back Carroll in the runoff, which will be finalized on June 5. Stay tuned to see if I just made an ass of you and me (mostly me).
Coppell ISD Board of Trustees: Despite facing two challengers for her Place 7 seat, Tracy Fisher secured a fourth term with 60% of the votes. Sonal Tandale and Sam Wellington finished with 21% and 19%, respectively.
Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD Board of Trustees: Incumbent Sally Derrick (40%) will be joined on the board by newcomer Cassandra Hatfield (38%). Cydnei Drake (22%) was the third-place candidate for the second year in a row.
Irving City Council: A year after relinquishing his geographic Place 3 seat due to term limits, Dennis Webb (58%) knocked off incumbent David Palmer (42%) for the at-large Place 8 seat.
Meanwhile, I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t know until this morning that Irving voters were considering $563,400,000 worth of general obligation bonds spread over 12 ballot propositions. They all passed, with varying margins of victory. Click here for a breakdown.
Dallas City Council: People who live in Cypress Waters are residents of Dallas’ District 6, and they will continue to be represented by Omar Narvaez, who secured 56% of the votes despite facing four challengers.
Meanwhile, Dallas voters were considering a pair of propositions that, if approved, would have allowed residents who aren’t U.S. citizens to serve on the city’s Park and Recreation Board, City Plan Commission, Redistricting Commission, and Civil Service Board. Both propositions were rejected by more than two thirds of Dallas voters.
Calling All Kindergartners
Actively recruiting kindergartners is a new concept for Coppell ISD. “We’ve always just opened the door, and they were always there knocking,” Superintendent Brad Hunt said during the school board’s April 12 meeting.
However, I don’t need to tell you that these are unprecedented times. During that same meeting, trustee Tracy Fisher said the pandemic led about 300 pre-K and kindergarten students’ parents to delay enrollment. Getting those kids, and others their age, into classrooms is one of the main goals of the district’s “I ♥ CISD” marketing campaign.
A big aspect of that campaign is a pair of digital billboards; one is in Cypress Waters, and the other is on the east side of Interstate 35, between Frankford Road and State Highway 121. They’ve been rotating five “I ♥ CISD” messages since early April, and the district has a contract to keep them up through May.
The sign on I-35 is on the northbound side of the freeway but it faces southbound drivers. However, Angela Brown, CISD’s executive director of communications and community engagement, told the trustees that’s it also visible to drivers headed east on 121. (Those drivers must have better eyesight than yours truly, but most people do.) She also said her staff is looking into other billboard locations for future iterations of the campaign.
“Honestly, some of it is about cost,” she said. “We get a nonprofit rate, so that kind of limits some of the places that we can be, because the cost is just too high.”
As for less-expensive ways to reach new families, Brown said CISD launched a “micro website” devoted to kindergarten enrollment on March 24 and is luring parents there via digital advertising. As of Brown’s April 12 report to the school board, 327 people had been brought to the site via Facebook ads and another 418 found their way there thanks to Google ads. Meanwhile, 17 people had called the district for more information.
If all of those people enroll their kids, it would put CISD pretty close to its goal of 848 kindergartners, per the demographics report that Bob Templeton gave to the trustees last Monday. As of Friday, 322 students were enrolled for the fall kindergarten class.
Although the superintendent recently received a national award for his use of communication technology, the district is relying on analog methods of communication as well. Each of those newly enrolled kindergartners will receive a postcard from Hunt, welcoming them to the Class of 2034.
“From the time of enrollment on March 24, there’s a long time until school starts [in August],” Brown said, “so we have to make sure that we have planned touches to those families, all the way in between, so that we keep them.”
Trustee Leigh Walker said the marketing campaign brought to mind a couple of the district’s core values. “These look like actionables for authentic relationships,” she said. “I can imagine having an incoming kindergartner, and getting a postcard from the superintendent. You know, that is just investing in that authentic relationship and community engagement in a very real way, and it is so exciting!”
Coronavirus Quick Hits
▪ During Tuesday’s City Council meeting, City Manager Mike Land said 23,717 residents of ZIP code 75019 have been vaccinated, which adds up to 57 percent of residents age 18 or older. Those statistics are from the Dallas County Health and Humans Services Department. Given that Tuesday’s meeting was the last meeting before Saturday’s election, the council tabled a decision on the mask mandate in city facilities until the new members take office.
▪ You may have seen stories on local TV stations last week about the 12 Dallas ZIP codes that have reached the 80 percent herd immunity threshold. The source for all those stories was the Parkland Center for Clinical Innovation, so I contacted the center and asked for statistics regarding 75019 and 75063. These are the numbers I received on Friday afternoon:
75019: 23,748 vaccinated individuals among the adult population of 31,321, or 76 percent.
75063: 23,714 vaccinated individuals among the adult population of 30,024, or 79 percent.
▪ The Coppell Senior and Community Center is scheduled to reopen tomorrow, with limited hours and masks required. Tom Garding, who has a long history of involvement with the center, spoke during the “citizens’ appearance” portion of Tuesday’s council meeting and asked that proof of vaccination also be a temporary requirement for entering the facility. The council took no action on his request.
▪ During the “open forum” portion of Monday’s Coppell ISD Board of Trustees meeting, three women – Annick Davis, Kellie Fishpaw, and Janet Green – asked the district to rescind its mask mandate, if not altogether then at least during outdoor activities such as recess. The board has since scheduled a special meeting for tomorrow, with only one action item on the agenda: “Discuss and consider possible action for revisions to Coppell ISD 2020-2021 COVID protocols.”
Run to Fund: The Coppell ISD Education Foundation has turned its fundraising 5K race into a virtual event over the course of May 1-8. There are daily themes, including Star Wars on “May the Fourth Be With You” and Tex-Mex on Cinco de Mayo.
Humvee Challenge: Claymore Operations, a Coppell-based nonprofit that helps veterans adjust to civilian life, will raise funds via a unique competition on May 8 at First United Methodist Church. If you think you and seven friends have the combined strength necessary to pull a Humvee across the church’s parking lot, sign up ASAP. The registration fee is $10 per person.
Mix Tape Volume 2: The Coppell Community Chorale’s spring concert is scheduled for May 9.