By Amber Washingtonemail@example.com
Wednesday’s Joshua Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon focused on the gains made over the last year, as well as ideas for the future.
Joshua City Manager Paulette Hartman delivered a “state of the city” for the 40-plus chamber members and guests in attendance.
Hartman, who has been with the city for six years, said big things are on the horizon for Joshua.
“We’ve been very fortunate here in Joshua with the economy,” she said. “Even in recent years with the downturn we fared well.”
According to records, the city’s sales tax revenue is up 25 percent over the same time last year. Fiscal Year 2012 ended at 8 percent higher than FY 2011, Hartman said.
Though residential and commercial permits remained flat in 2011-12, certified property values have jumped 6 percent since July.
“Our goal is to build up on economic development and add more sales tax to keep property tax low,” she said.
When Hartman joined the city in 2007, property taxes accounted for 51 percent of city revenue. Today it is 47 percent of total revenue, an anticipated $3,335,475.
“We have the third-lowest tax rate of area cities,” Hartman said. “The goal of the city council is to keep that as low as possible.”
The average homeowner spends about $857 annually on property tax or $71 a month, she said.
Major accomplishments over the last several years include the completion of all but one bond project, which is the Mountain Valley drainage project that will go to bid this summer.
The new fire department, also part of the 2009 bond project, is nearing completion. Firefighters are expected to move in early next week. A formal open house is from 4-6 p.m. Feb. 28.
The YMCA groundbreaking is at 3 p.m. Feb. 4 behind the new Brookshire’s Food & Pharmacy on Texas 174, which opens at 10 a.m. Feb. 13.
The recreation center will be built using about $5 million from certifications of obligation, whereafter YMCA will maintain and operate the facility.
Goals for 2013 and beyond call for placing more city parks, cleaning up Texas 174, revitalizing the downtown area and forming the first citizens fire academy, which begins in April, Hartman said.
Joshua Education Foundation
Dr. Jeffrey Pool, President of the Joshua Education Foundation, discussed JEF’s goals and past grant awards.
“We’re basically people that were called upon to start the foundation,” he told attendees. “It was the vision back in 2007 of Ray Dane, our former superintendent.”
Since its humble beginnings in 2009, JEF has given away nearly $90,000 in grants, Pool said. Some of that money has gone toward funding field trips, Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps summer programs, student transportation and microscopes, among a host of other things.
“These summer programs are expensive, but have proven to be a great return on the investment,” said Joshua High School NJROTC Commander Lt. Col. James Davidson in a news release. “Fortunately for us, the Joshua ISD Education Foundation’s generous grants have allowed our cadets to attend these camps.”
David Blair at New Horizon High School said the new LCD microscopes they received allow students to take part in a lab-intensive science education.
“Traditionally, microscopes are purchased in small quantities year after year until a classroom set has been accumulated,” Blair said. “This process limits quality instruction and results in a hodge-podge of equipment. This foundation’s generosity and desire to give our students the best possible education has circumvented that tired tradition and will produce positive dividends for years to come.”
Pool said that although many in the community are generous, the foundation is always in need of donors to continue improving Joshua ISD students’ educational opportunities.
For more information about JEF, visit www.joshuaeducationfoundation.org. Donations may be sent to 310 E. 18th St., Joshua, TX 76058.