Fast Growth – What It Means for Frisco

I am sure you saw the news articles in June when Frisco was ranked by the Census Bureau as the fastest growing city in the country from 2008 to 2009. Frisco grew at a rate of 6.2 percent in that one year, despite the economic situation, slowdown in the building of new homes and reduced influx of newcomers. To be ranked first in the entire U.S. was, I am certain, a surprise to us all.

Fast growth and Frisco have been synonymous for the past 20 years, and if you are a longtime resident, then you have seen and felt it. If you moved to Frisco within the past five years, you may have no idea what has transpired. In 1990 Frisco had just over 6,100 people; by the 2000 Census the city had 33,714 residents and was ranked as the second fastest growing spot, for cities under 50,000. Since 2000, our population has grown 220 percent, to more than 108,000. That statistic will probably rank us near the top of the fastest growing cities once the new Census figures are released.

What brings people to Frisco when there are so many choices in the DFW area? I spoke with families who moved here seven years ago and those who relocated here in the past year or two. Logan and Haley Stout moved here about one and a half years ago and they said, “We appreciate excellence, and Frisco leaves nothing short of excellence. Everything from landscape, streets, buildings and communities is fabulous. Just about everything you need is within a few miles of Frisco. From professional sports to an amazing mall, Frisco has it. Frisco is conveniently located to DFW airport, 121 and the North Dallas Tollway, so traveling is very simple. We love everything about it and would encourage everyone from large families to singles to dive into the incredible community of Frisco.” 

Randy and Holly Valtierra moved here seven years ago. They asked people where the best place for family-oriented professionals to live was and were told “Frisco.” They ask where the growth in the Dallas area was occurring and was there a lake nearby for their boat. The answers again were Frisco and that Lake Lewisville was just five to ten minutes away. They wanted good schools and ask about Christian Schools and were told about the Frisco Independent School District and Legacy Christian Academy. They wanted to know about churches and were told Frisco abounded with outstanding churches. “We really love Frisco, it is all so new, clean and there is a ton of pride of ownership in Frisco. We love Frisco so much we rarely need to leave our zip code.”

Fast growth means that your city has to keep up with infrastructure development, new roads, water and sewer, increased police and fire protection and city services and amenities that citizens require and desire. It also means that your school district must keep up with the growth in order to provide quality education with outstanding teachers and excellent school facilities. Frisco has been fortunate to have citizens who have passed the necessary bond elections for the city and school facilities that enabled us to grow and bring the quality of life elements that people moving to this area want. In 2002 the citizenry passed a $197.5 million bond election to build a new city hall, library, police station, fire stations, a Heritage Center, Museum, Senior Center expansion, Performing Arts Center and $74 million in road improvements. Four years later our citizens passed a $198 million bond election that included $100 million in road improvements, a new communication system for public safety, parking garage, improvement of the court building, cultural arts and science center, additional parks and trails as well as the initial bonds to start the Grand Park concept. 

In both 2002 and 2006 all the bonds passed by very high margins. Because of the fast growth of Frisco and the continued increase in tax base, both property tax and sales tax, the city has been able to keep one of the lowest tax rates in the North Texas area. When a city sells bonds, it projects what the tax rate will be based on the bonds that will be sold on a scheduled basis. In Frisco’s case, the actual tax rate from 2003 through the current year has been lower than any of the rates projected when bonds were approved. The current rate of .4650 per $100 of property valuation is lower than what was projected when bonds were passed in 2006. This is a tribute to the excellent management of the city by the city manager and staff as well as the city councils over the years that must approve the budgets and set the tax rate. 

Consider that Frisco’s tax rate has varied from a low of .42296 per $100 of property valuation in 2004 to .4650 in 2009. In addition, the rate was kept constant at .4500 from 2006 to 2008. This at a time when the city was building an unprecedented number of roads, municipal buildings, sports facilities, a parking garage, community and regional parks and trails. In addition, the city built the Dr Pepper Ball Park, Dr Pepper Stars Center, enlarged Frisco Arena, Convention Center and garage and Pizza Hut Park. All of these things were made possible because of the tremendous growth, increase in taxable value of the residential and commercial properties over the years and because Frisco ranks in the top 15 cities in the state in sales tax revenue generated.

With all that has been done in Frisco to provide for our citizens and families, the tax rate is still lower than the neighboring cities of Allen, McKinney, Plano, Prosper and Celina in Collin County and The Colony and Little Elm in Denton County. A $300,000 home in Frisco has a city property tax of $1,395. That same home in Allen has city taxes of $1,665 and in McKinney the taxes would be $1,756. For all that we have in Frisco, our tax rates for both the city and school district are some of the lowest in the region.

So, with all the fast-growing cities in the state of Texas, why do people choose Frisco to live?  Tony and Kris Cooper are moving here from Indiana. Their reasons for selecting Frisco included the fantastic ratings of the Frisco school system, proximity to DFW airport for Tony’s business travel and the low cost of living versus other cities and states they considered. “Frisco has been awarded several environmental awards and focuses development towards sustainability,” explains Tony. 

Brian and Patty Scheibmeir returned to this area after four years and before that lived in Plano and north Dallas, so they had some idea where they wanted to look.  Key decision points were our quality schools and their 4A size that would allow their children to participate in all types of activities and sports.  Brian states, “Frisco is still new and fresh.  It is still growing and appears to have weathered the economic downturn better than most cities in the area and nation for that matter.  The Frisco RoughRiders and FC Dallas are fun to have in town.  We love the parks and Frisco Square and all the activities hosted in them. We love the restaurant diversity and we never have to leave town for any shopping. Everything we want is here.”  

Another positive I hear especially from those coming from out of state is the job Frisco has done in planning the city.  Frisco has had national award-winning Comprehensive Plans in 2000 and 2006 that set the stage for how the city was going to be developed.  It involved large groups of citizens that participated in months of work, research, presentations and developing a guide as to how Frisco would look in the future.  What impresses the citizens you talk to is how we have kept to that plan and looked to the future.  Creating a sustainable city that no one ever wants to leave is why our families live here.

Mike Simpson
Mike Simpson is the CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Collin County and former Mayor of Frisco from 2002-2008.