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78209 Sept 2015 - Witte HEB Lantern Launch - Madison High School Drum lineTERRELL HILLS BUDGET PROCESS

Terrell Hills city officials have begun the process of developing the budget for fiscal year 2016, which begins Jan. 1.

When City Manager Columbus Stutes talked with 78209 Magazine in early August, the City Council had not yet delved into its scheduled workshops and meetings where the proposed FY 2016 budget and the adopted fiscal year 2015 budget would be reviewed in depth. The council is considering a slight property tax rate cut from the current .37 cents per $100 valuation figure.

Stutes said the city has experienced an 11-percent jump overall in appraised property value over the past year. “For the most part, our community has been getting the hang of increasing property appraisals, and there’s been talk around the city about how values have been rising all around the San Antonio area,” Stutes said.“But our residents know values are done at the Bexar County Appraisal District, so there are no fingers being pointed at us.”

Stutes added that historically Terrell Hills residents have been familiar with the consistency of a low property tax rate levied by the city. Terrell Hills’ rate is one of the 12 lowest actual rates among municipalities in the county. The council held a pre-planning budget workshop Aug. 19 at City Hall.“That’s where the council and staff look at how the current fiscal year budget has been performing, and we all get a brief look at either new programs that the city should be initiating or ones we should be improving,” Stutes said. He added it’s too soon to know what the council will be recommending in the way of priorities for next year.

In the adopted FY 2015 budget, general operating fund revenue was at $4.8 million, a nearly 4-percent increase over the fiscal year 2014 budget. The income was derived from the voter-approved one-fourth of 1 cent sales tax dedicated to street maintenance and from new construction values. The same budget had $4.6 million in planned general fund operating expenses. That budget had included a 2-percent cost-of-living increase for all city employees, one new full-time position in the police department and one part-time inspection department position.

The current fiscal year’s budget reflects recent capital improvement projects, such as work done on parts of Ivy Lane, Elmcourt and South Vandiver in conjunction with the San Antonio Water System. The city also scheduled a $250,000 transfer from the general fund to the capital improvement fund for future street projects.

“Everything we’ve budgeted for this year seems to be on track. Based on performance benchmarks, we’ll be on target,” said Stutes.

The council will host public hearings on the proposed tax rate at 5 p.m. Sept. 14 and 21. The rate will be adopted in a special council meeting at 5 p.m. Sept. 28. Another budget workshop will be held at 11:30 a.m. Oct. 26. The city will publish the first draft of the budget on the Terrell Hills website, www.terrell-hills.com, by Nov. 9. A follow-up budget workshop is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Nov. 18. A public hearing on the budget will be held at 5 p.m. Dec. 14, immediately followed by final adoption of the document.

City officials encourage residents to attend the workshops, public hearings and council meetings at City Hall to provide input on the next fiscal year. Stutes, the city’s former police chief, said he has enjoyed working on Terrell Hills’ budgets with past and current elected leaders. “I’m blessed to have a council full of business people. They have a very realistic, practical view of the world,” Stutes added.

BY EDMOND ORTIZ

WITTE MUSEUM REVEALS HOME OF “QUETZY” IN THE H-E-B LANTERN

78209 Sept 2015 - N. News - Witte Receives HEB Check - Caption in storyThe Witte Museum has celebrated the beginning stages of construction for the H-E-B Lantern, the entrance to the New Witte and home to a Pterosaur, “Quetzy,” and the generous donation of $2 million from H-E-B to the new Witte. The event on Aug. 18 included a flash mob consisting of H-E-B partners, Witte Museum members, members of the James Madison High School drum line and local media personalities, who formed the shape of “Quetzy” in the site of the H-E-B Lantern. The H-E-B Lantern will be located closer to Broadway, serving as a beacon on the cultural corridor. It will house a life-sized model of “Quetzy,” a Quetzacoatlus northropi, the largest known flying animal discovered in Big Bend National Park. The New Witte main museum building will open in 2017.

“We are honored to have the continued support of partners such as H-E-B during our transformation to the New Witte. We are excited to see the formation take place, and to introduce ‘Quetzy’ to the community,” said Marise McDermott, president and CEO of the Witte Museum. “The H-E-B Lantern will serve as the front door to New Witte, greeting visitors with ancient Pterosaurs flying over their heads. That is an experience you can only have at the Witte Museum, and we are thankful to H-E-B for helping us create that experience.”

“The new H-E-B Lantern will help light the way for lifelong learning and unforgettable experiences for the hundreds of thousands of visitors to the Witte Museum for generations to come,” says Winell Herron, group vice president of public affairs, diversity and environmental affairs at H-E-B. “From the H-E-B Treehouse to the H-E-B Body Adventure, the Witte has always been a magnificent partner with H-E-B — a partner that really understands our core values as a company, and reflects those values through revolutionary exhibits, programming and a longstanding commitment to San Antonio.”

The New Witte transformation is a $100 million expansion and improvement project that will include 100,000 square feet of renovations and expansion of the main building, as well as a new Quetzy Revealed facility for special exhibitions and events set to open in 2017. The Mays Family Center for Exhibitions and Special Events is set to open in May 2016 with the blockbuster exhibition Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed.

Phase 1 of the master plan involved new, modernized facilities, including the Robert J. and Helen C. Kleberg South Texas Heritage Center, which spotlights the many narratives of South Texas heritage; the B. Naylor Morton Research and Collections Center, which houses the Witte’s renowned artifacts in visual storage; and the recently opened H-E-B Body Adventure Powered by University Health System, an interactive experience focused on health IQ, wellness and empowerment.

BY EDMOND ORTIZ

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