As always, there are a lot of things happening in Heath, and I thought this would be a good opportunity to mention a potpourri of things going on in our City that you may not have heard about.
S&P Rating Upgrade
We recently received good news that Standard & Poor’s raised its long-term and underlying ratings on the City’s existing General Obligation (GO) debt to “AA+” from “AA”. At the same time, S&P assigned its “AA+” long-term rating to the district’s series 2014 combination tax and limited surplus revenue Certificates of Obligation (CO). GO and CO bonds are tools that cities employ to obtain funding for capital projects. S&P cited many positive factors in Heath including our economy, demographics, budget flexibility and liquidity, financial policies and management.
This was additional confirmation that 2014 was the right time to launch our CIP and will result in significant interest savings on the bonds being issued to finance the Capital Improvements Projects. However it is also a very positive affirmation of our City’s financial management policies. I want to thank the City’s Finance Director, Laurie Mays, and our entire City Staff for their hard work to keep our City on the right financial path.
First Southwest, the City’s financial advisor, is assisting the City as we proceed with issuing $14.4 million in CO bonds as planned to fund projects in the CIP. With the upgraded credit rating, the interest rate on these bonds improved from an anticipated rate of 4.04% to an actual rate of 3.3%. This will result in approximately $100,000 in interest savings the first year these bonds are outstanding.
Upon completion of this bond issuance, we will work hard to leverage the funds available to improve roads, trails, parks, public utilities and other infrastructure throughout the community.
Heath Housing Market
It is imperative that we take a proactive approach to growth as our hometown continues to attract new residents. Building permits for new single-family homes have continued on an upward trend this fiscal year. Through February, the number of single family building permits issued in Heath has increased approximately 40% over the same period for the prior fiscal year. The average value of single famly building permits issued so far this fiscal year is over $500,000. As people move into these new homes being constructed, I encourage you to take time to welcome your new neighbors and continue the warm and friendly community spirit that is a core part of our culture.
Heart of Heath is April 19
Some special Heath traditions help to foster this community spirit, and one of my favorites is coming up…the Annual Heart of Heath 5k Run/Walk on Easter Saturday, April 19. This family-friendly event is open to all ages and athletic abilities ranging from the casual walker or baby jogger to the elite runner. The run begins, rain or shine, at 8:30 a.m. at Heath City Hall. Online registration is available at www.heathtx.com, or in person at City Hall.
Following the run, the City will offer the Bunny Dash, our first-ever Easter Egg hunt for kids 0-10. The mad dash for filled Easter eggs will begin at approximately 10 a.m. after the Heart of Heath awards and drawing prizes have been presented.
Also in April, the Heath Department of Public Safety will join Rockwall-Heath High School to present Shattered Dreams. This program is presented to make teens aware of the dangers of drinking and driving, and is scheduled before the school’s prom. Care Flight and numerous Heath DPS emergency vehicles will be onsite along High School Dr. at approximately 10 a.m. on April 10 to present the very dramatic mock accident portion of the program.
Welcoming New Employees
Speaking of DPS, we’ve welcomed new officers in recent months including Officers Chase Scarbrough, Bobby Bailey, Joe Soto and Brandon Peterson. (The department has also recently welcomed five non-uniformed additions, including Officer Dee Brumit’s twins, Officer Cody Whaley’s twins, and a new baby for Officer Joe Soto.)
I’d also like to recognize the recent addition of Director of Public Works, David Herbert, Utilities Maintenance Worker Michael Irby, and Code Enforcement Officer Leisa Price.
Finally, I’d like to congratulate Amy Parks-Heath Elementary School on its designation as a “Model School” by the Great Expectations Foundation. Amy Parks is the only school in the RISD that has earned this distinction, and it is a huge compliment to the teachers, administrators and staff at the School We can all be very proud of them.
These are exciting times in Heath, as we welcome new residents and employees, celebrate accomplishments and special events in our schools and at City Hall, and see the Capital Improvement Plan come to fruition. As always, thank you for the honor and privilege of serving as your Mayor.