Tag Archives: Haltom City

Haltom City council finalized budget, discussed car allowance

In an update to a prior report, the Haltom City council finalized its budget and tax rates for the coming fiscal year.

Details on the budget are reported here.

The council also discussed eliminating car allowances for municipal department heads. A clip of the discussion is embedded below.

Haltom City mayor and police chief explain intent of panhandling ordinance

At the Sept. 28 regular session of the Haltom City council, Mayor David Averitt and Keith Lane, the chief of police, discussed the intent of a proposed panhandling ordinance and displaying signage to warn of the ordinance.

Despite their purported concern about reducing traffic and increasing public safety, the mayor stated “the hope [of posting signs about the ordinance] is that they [panhandlers] will move somewhere else.” Chief Lane agreed, “That’s right. It absolutely works that way.” Heavy enforcement “moves them,” he said. If they believe panhandler represent traffic and safety concerns, city leaders seem satisfied with shifting those concerns instead of solving them.

The ordinance passed its first reading.

The full video is at https://vimeo.com/140789913.

Haltom City council doesn’t object to using stereotypes, moves forward with panhandling ordinance

After a plea from organizer Ryan Murphy of Unite South Haltom to reconsider a proposed panhandling ordinance at the Sept. 28 regular session, council member Scott Garrett stated that “Stereotypes come about from truth a lot of times. I mean, that is why it is a stereotype. It is true a lot of times about a group of people. There are exceptions.”

No one on the council objected to using stereotypes to enforce policy, and the ordinance passed its first reading unanimously.

Murphy was responding to a presentation Keith Lane, chief of the Haltom City Police Department, gave to the council that provided a 2002 report stating the typical profile of a panhandler is that of an “unemployed, unmarried male in his 30s or 40s, with substance abuse problems, few family ties, a high school education, and laborer’s skills.”

The demographics were compiled from studies published from 1994 to 2000. One study from the Evanston, Illinois, Police Department scoffed at its city formerly proposed maximum “$500!” fine for panhandling, which drew nationwide embarrassment from talkshow host Jay Leno. The proposed Haltom City ordinance endorsed by Chief Lane also has a fine of up to $500.

In response to the ridicule, Evanston reduced panhandling using other methods after concluding “a legalistic approach was not practicable.” The Evanston report documents how the city enlisted support organizations to redirect donations by talking directly with givers and posting information signs at local businesses. Before implementation of the city’s program of asking that donations be redirected and providing more police visibility, police officers conducted voluntary interviews with panhandlers to identify the subset who were aggressive.

After implementation of the program, 55 percent of the city’s panhandlers had stopped, 63 percent of the aggressive panhandlers moved elsewhere, and 13.8 percent of aggressive panhandlers hadn’t changed their behavior. Local businesses were surveyed and three-quarters agreed that they were at least satisfied with the program and that aggressive panhandling had been reduced “significantly in the downtown area.”

When suggested during the public forum that the city could take alternative steps like enforcement of the existing laws against blocking traffic, harassment or trespassing, council member Trae Fowler said, “We looked at a lot of those things.” Chief Lane or the council did not offer detail on what, if any, steps have been tried.

The ordiance should be up for its final reading at the next regular session Oct. 12.

The full video of the Haltom City regular sessions is available at https://vimeo.com/140789913.

Haltom City council looks to approve 2016 budget and property tax rate

The Haltom City council is scheduled to finalize approval of the 2016 fiscal year budget and property tax rate at Monday’s upcoming meeting.

The final vote will be held in the council’s chamber during the meeting. The property tax rate is slated to remain unchanged at .69999 cents per $100 in accessed value, which is an effective increase of about 1.3 percent as property assessments have risen since last year.

The proposed budget totals $73,629,974, a decrease of $23,601 from the current budget. A total of 10 budget workshop meetings have been held since August, according the city’s website.

The meeting will be held at city hall at 5024 Broadway Ave. during the regular session that begins at 7 p.m. The formal agenda posted to the city’s website includes proposals for a panhandling and day laborer ordinance that was discussed at the council’s Sept. 14 workshop meeting.