Texas Government Insider
Volume 12, Issue 48 - Friday, Dec. 19, 2014
Transportation officials announce distribution of Prop 1 funding

Even with additional $1.7 billion, TxDOT says funding gap to remain into future
Road Closed So where is the voter-approved $1.7 billion in additional transportation funding resulting from passage of Proposition 1 headed? And, is it enough to bridge the funding gap that exists in efforts to meet state highway and bridge needs?

The first question was answered Thursday when the Legislative Budget Board and the Governor's Office approved a plan for distributing the FY 2015 funds using formulas adopted by the Texas Transportation Commission. And, the answer to the second question regarding if it is enough is a resounding, "No."

The additional $1.7 billion headed to the State Highway Fund for use by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) for transportation projects was approved in a November statewide referendum. The total amount allocated to TxDOT for road and bridge maintenance and construction was established for FY 2015 after a recent determination of the minimum amount of money that must be retained in the rainy day fund, per the language of the constitutional amendment.

Here's how the FY 2015 funds will be distributed:
  • 40 percent (about $700 million) will be distributed among metropolitan planning organizations statewide; 
  • 30 percent (around $522 million) will be allocated to TxDOT districts to improve connectivity; 
  • 15 percent (about $261 million) will go to TxDOT districts for maintenance needs; and 
  • 15 percent (another $261 million) will be used to address road problems in areas affected by increased traffic due to growth in oil and gas exploration in some areas of the state.
The amount of money that will be distributed to TxDOT each year will depend on state oil and gas severance tax revenues. Proposition 1 authorized dedication of about half of those proceeds, all of which previously had gone to the rainy day fund, to the State Highway Fund for TxDOT to use for road and bridge issues. But, the amount of the allocation each year will depend on what is available for distribution after the minimum rainy day fund balance is achieved.

Even with the additional $1.7 billion in funds, TxDOT officials say that will still not be enough to adequately take care of the state's road and bridge needs. They say that the extra funding is a good first step, but that a gap still exists between what's needed and what's available to properly maintain the state transportation system. They predict that funding challenges for the state's transportation needs will continue.

TxDOT officials have repeatedly told lawmakers that the agency needs an additional estimated $5 billion per year over its usual allocation simply to maintain current road and bridge conditions in the state. Even with additional funding approved by Texas voters, that annual deficit is expected to continue into the future.
Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars


Sara Hartley Sara Hartley, chief of staff, Public Works Department, City of Austin 


Career highlights and education: Sara has worked with the City of Austin for more than 13 years, most recently as the Chief of Staff for the Public Works Department. She also worked in the City Manager's Office as the City Council Agenda Manager, then on to the Office of Emergency Management as the Community and Media Relations Manager. She spent her time there working on projects such as hurricane evacuation plans, pandemic flu planning, community relations and consensus building, volunteer coordination and critical incident media. Sara came to Public Works as the Communications Manager, working with other city departments, government agencies and community partners. Her programs included managing media relations, being the spokesperson for the department, community outreach and collaboration, marketing and internal communications. Now as Chief of Staff, Sara is part of the Executive Team of Public Works, a department of about 700 employees. She oversees a staff of approximately 250 full- and part-time employees including the Human Resources Office, the Communications and Public Affairs Division, Intergovernmental Relations, Community Services Division and the Office of the Director. Raised in Palestine, Texas, Sara then went to a little university down the road in College Station, which she knows earns her no points in Austin, but is proud of nonetheless. She has a BA in sociology, is a certified Mediator through the UT School of Law - Center for Public Policy Dispute Resolution program, is an active member of the Public Relations Society of America and part of the Leadership Austin Essential Program Class of 2014-15.

What I like best about my job is: Hands down - it's the people! I absolutely love hearing from people all around our city. We have such an engaged, bright and eclectic citizenry - but we need to hear from more sectors of our community so we can represent all voices. One of my favorite parts of my job is overseeing our Community Services Division, where we deliver services to families, schools and neighborhoods. We supply crossing guards and safety education, build urban trails for all recreational and transportation users and run a program to cost match with neighborhoods that want to build small-scale projects in their community. How cool is it to get to do that stuff?   

The best advice I've received for my current job is: Always start from a point where you truly believe those people at the table are there with only good intention. Because it is almost always true, and you can go so much further in collaboration with that frame of mind.

Advice you would give a new hire in your office: Have passion and heart in what you do, especially because you are in public service. Bring your authentic style, your best intentions and hard work to your job and you will go far.

If I ever snuck out of work early, I could probably be found: Cycling, mountain biking, paddle boarding, hiking with my husband and dog or gardening - just about anything outdoors in our gorgeous city!

People would be surprised to know that I: am an absolute and total clutz! The wonderful folks I work with even nicknamed me Sara "Hurtley!" But, no worries - I never take anyone down with me in those falls!

One thing I wish more people knew about my city: The men and women in our city government are incredibly bright, creative and dedicated public servants. We serve the community, we are Austinites ourselves and want the best for our city every day.

Sunset Valley to hire architect to plan police, public works facility
Sunset Valley City Council members recently agreed to hire an architecture firm to create a development plan for a new facility to house the police and public works departments.

After meeting with the police chief, public works director and city administrator to gather their input, the architect firm will conduct a needs assessment, review conditions of the site and produce a conceptual site layout. The plan should take about 10 to 11 weeks to complete once the contract is signed, city officials said.
Grow your business

Sealy to issue $18M in debt to upgrade sewer plant, other projects
Sealy City Council members recently agreed to issue up to $15 million in certificates of obligation, the majority of which will be used to upgrade the sewer plant. Another council vote will be needed to spend that funding and select the final projects to be funded, according to City Manager Chris Coffman.

Council also set a target date of Jan. 27, 2015, to decide priority projects to pursue and commit to borrowing the funding, Coffman said.

The city manager recommended spending $11.5 million to renovate and expand the sewer plant, $2.2 million for an indoor recreation facility and pavilion at Jacqueline A. Cryan Park, $1.6 million for a wastewater lift station, collection lines and other equipment and $150,000 for an emergency generator and fence for the police station.

HRO report examines issues facing 84th Texas Legislature
When the 84th Texas Legislature convenes on Jan. 13, 2015, lawmakers will face a spate of issues on a variety of topics. Although the only real requirement of each legislative session is to pass a biennial state budget, the legislature will face issues regarding taxes, health and human services agency consolidation, water and education issues and the ever-present elephant in the room - transportation funding. Read the House Research Organization's report, Topics for the 84th Legislature that highlights many of the issues that are likely to be taken up in January.
Poteet wins $1.2M grant, $1.9M loan to upgrade water facilities
The city of Poteet recently won approval of a $1.22 million grant and a $1.875 million loan from the Rural Development program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture to pay for $3.1 million in upgrades to the city's water system.

Current plans call for installing 5,600 feet of 8-inch PVC pipe, reconnecting existing homes and repairing roads. The project is needed to help with pressure problems on the west side and reduce money spent on repairs. The repairs and expansion also will address previous violations cited by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

City officials also plan to rehabilitate a pump house and chlorine room at one well and drill a new well to tie into an existing ground storage tank.
TDLR announces Nesbitt as agency's chief innovation officer
The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) has joined a growing number of state agencies to employ a chief innovation officer. The TDLR title falls to Randy Nesbitt, who was recently chosen to lead the newly created Office of Innovation.

Nesbitt has been with TDLR as a project coordinator for five years. He recently completed the University of Texas Professional Development Center's Creative Leadership and Innovation Management certificate program. He has also been involved as an operations manager and a small business consultant.

Nesbitt holds a Master of Business Administration and a Master of Arts in Human Resources Development from Webster University. He holds a bachelor's degree from Santa Fe University of Art and Design.
Humble approves $6 million for upgrades to city streets

Humble City Council members recently authorized more than $6 million to pay a contractor for upgrading pavement on several city streets. 


The improvements include Bender Avenue from Main to First Street, as well as Anne Avenue, Windswept Drive and a small portion of Charles Street, city officials said.

SPI Training Services

Marshall ISD to appoint panel to study possible bond issue
Marc Smith Superintendent Marc Smith (pictured) of Marshall Independent School District recently said board members plan to appoint a bond advisory panel to help prepare for a possible bond election.

Because voters rejected a bond proposition last year, board members plan to appoint committee members from those in the community who opposed the failed bond proposal as well as community members who supported the bond.

Names of those appointed to the bond panel will be released after Jan. 5, 2015, Smith said. Committee members plan to meet each week until Feb. 9 of next year, when they will present their recommendations to trustees.
Lakeway involved in study for convention, performing arts center
A recently hired consultant has told Lakeway officials that a performing arts center could be a big draw for both tourism and visitor dollars to the city. The consultant has been involved in a feasibility study to determine how successful a convention or performing arts center would be. The consultant reported that a conference center would likely result in interest from a number of hotels to provide rooms for conference-goers.

Regarding a possible performing arts center, the consultant reported that might be more practical for Lakeway. The consultant also said that there is a demand for a mid-size, 800- to 900-seat theater in the Austin area and Lakeway could serve that need. But, because theaters are very expensive facilities, it was suggested that a public-private partnership might be explored.
P3 Opportunities

Group backing arts seek bond vote to build performing arts center

Frisco residents who support the arts are making their case to the city, seeking a $20 million bond measure that would result in the construction of a performing arts center in the city. The Citizens Bond Committee is hopeful to put its recommendation before City Council next year, knowing that the Council will make the final determination.


Supporters point to the fact that the Black Box Theater in the city has only 120 seats, a much-too-small facility for the size of the city and its numerous arts groups. They also argue that both money and talent are leaving the city for other areas. Their theory is that a new and adequately sized facility will not only keep local dollars in the city, but it will also bring in dollars from outside the city. 

U.S. Attorney in Dallas confirmed as head of ICE
Sarah Saldana Sarah Saldana (pictured), U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas, has been confirmed as the new head of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The Dallas-based attorney has spent three years in her current role in the presidential appointment as U.S. Attorney.

In her current position, she is responsible for overseeing federal law enforcement in a 100-county region. As head of ICE, she will lead the agency responsible for ensuring people are not in the United States illegally and for apprehending smugglers who bring people and illegal weapons and drugs across the border.
Brown County water district drops plans for $12M water pipeline
The board of the Brown County Water Improvement District recently agreed to drop plans to build a $12 million pipeline to pump effluent water from the city of Brownwood to Lake Brownwood.

Brownwood city officials already had an engineering estimate, a design and cost estimate of their water treatment plant that was expected to lessen drain on Lake Brownwood by about 1.5 million gallons a day. The plan was for the city to build a wastewater reuse plant funded by taxpayers in Brownwood that would treat the effluent water and add that treated water to the city water supply.

Customers of the water district who live outside of Brownwood, however, could have faced increased water rates because of the loss of revenue caused by the lower amount of water the city of Brownwood would purchase, according to water district officials.
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Three Texas attorneys confirmed by U.S. Senate as federal judges
Three Texas attorneys were recently confirmed by the U.S. Senate for federal judgeships for which they were nominated by President Barack Obama. U.S. Attorney Robert Pitman of Austin will fill the long-vacant federal judgeship in San Antonio's Western District of Texas that is a lifetime position.

The two other Texas nominees confirmed are Robert Schroeder III of Texarkana and Judge Amos Mazzant III of Sherman.
Committee selected to address possible College Station bond vote
Chuck Gilman Looking toward a possible November 2015 bond issue, the city of College Station has begun the process of identifying projects for possible inclusion in a bond election. The recently chosen bond committee members for the first time will be divided into three subcommittees - transportation, facilities and parks.

Deputy City Manager Chuck Gilman (pictured) said city staff already is looking at projects that are most necessary and planning to take that list to the committee. "The committee might come back and say, 'We need to be more proactive in some of these areas,'" he said. The City Council will have the final say on what projects are put in a bond issue. Among the needs being discussed are parks, a new police facility, a community center and projects that address expansion of roads and traffic capacity.
El Paso school district hires full-time, independent auditor
A full-time, independent auditor has been hired to serve the El Paso Independent School District Board of Managers. Mayra Molina, who has been the interim auditor since January, was appointed to the job.

She became interim auditor following the resignation of Joe Yanez. Molina reports directly to the board, not to the superintendent.

The action follows a cheating scandal that involved holding some students back and promoting others so they would not take the 10th-grade, state-mandated tests. The investigation resulted in the convictions of former Superintendent Lorenzo GarcĂ­a and former district administrator Myrna Gamboa.
Contracting Opportunities

Mesquite voters could face largest school bond in MISD history
Facing needs of $291 million throughout the school district, Mesquite ISD is looking at what could be the district's largest bond in its history. Although the district could match the last bond vote - a successful $180 million referendum in 2007 - without a tax increase, more than $110 million in needs would not be addressed.
A 23-member committee is currently discussing priorities for a bond issue and will meet in early January of next year to further discuss a recommendation that will be made to school trustees. Trustees will have until the end of February 2015 to call an election.

Among the projects under consideration are a new elementary and an early childhood center. Three other elementary schools are up for renovations or possible replacement and several other schools are also in need of renovations. Total expenditures would include $230 million for facilities, up to $31 million for capital needs and $30 million for technology.
Port Neches ISD chief requests appointment of facilities committee
Rodney Cavness Superintendent Rodney Cavness (pictured) of Port Neches Independent School District recently requested trustees to nominate members to serve on a facilities committee to review maintenance and growth concerns at six elementary schools.

Cavness asked that representatives from the school district, parents, teachers and city leaders begin meeting in January 2015. With an additional 750 new students expected to enroll within five years, the district needs to decide how to handle overcrowding and the high cost of operating very old facilities, he said.

The superintendent also proposed that facilities committee members review demographic studies conducted in the 2013-2014 school year, inspect buildings and then present recommendations to board members who will decide whether to improve existing facilities, build new schools or bring in portable buildings, Cavness said. 
College Station ISD begins planning for bond election in 2016
Board members for College Station Independent School District recently began planning for a bond election. Trustees have begun reviewing projections for enrollment and financial information.,

Trustees also discussed whether to schedule the bond proposal in 2015 or 2016. A majority of the board, however, seemed to favor waiting until 2016, but have made no final decision. Voters last approved $83.5 million in bonds in November 2013. Trustees discussed two options, one would seek approval for a $135 million bond issue and a second option for $150 million.

After examining enrollment data that indicates the numbers are exceeding earlier projections, trustees began discussing a bond issue that might fund construction of an intermediate school, a middle school and an elementary school.
Collaboration Nation

Waco looking to expand Dewey Community Center facility
Waco officials believe one is better than two when it comes to the city's community center. The Dewey Community Center will be replaced thanks to a $3.5 million project that will demolish the smaller building at the center and renovate and expand the larger building. The city is currently looking for a firm to design and build the center and perhaps finance construction through a public-private partnership.

Included in the proposed building would be meeting rooms, a computer lab, gym and fitness room. The Waco City Council has been setting aside money in recent years to help pay for the upgrades.
Proposed Highland Park aquatic center to cost $16.7 million to build
Robbie Corder A recently released study indicates a natatorium proposed by Highland Park Independent School District to be build at Curtis Park in University Park would cost about $16.7 million to build and about $900,000 a year to operate.

Proposed in June, the new natatorium, which would be operated by the city, would share the new aquatic center with the school, which would then demolish its current pool and build about 24 badly needed classrooms, noted City Manager Robbie Corder (pictured). Under the plan, school district officials would ask voters to approve bonds to pay for building the new aquatic center.

The study also predicted the pool would have about 104,000 attendees a year and provide an additional 120 parking spaces, but would use about an acre of land from the park to accommodate the pool and parking. The study by the Colorado-based consultant made no recommendation on whether the new indoor aquatic center should be built at Curtis Park, which is opposed by some residents, or an alternate location, Corder said.
Rowlett residents provide feedback on possible bond projects
Rowlett city officials recently held two public meetings asking residents to provide feedback on their ideas for projects to include in a possible $25 million bond election in May 2015. 

The bonds can be issued without increasing taxes because the city will have paid off other bonds by that time, city officials said.

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Pecos to offer incentives to encourage homes, apartments
Pecos City Council members recently agreed to offer several incentives to developers to build and own a 200-unit apartment complex to provide more permanent housing. The incentives are needed, said City Manager Eric Honeyfield, because the city has depended only on RVs, motels and man camps to house new residents for the last three years.

The city is offering the use of city land at no cost and waiver of all city fees in addition to a $250,000 allowance for infrastructure expenses to a developer who will build more housing. The city also has agreed to waive property taxes on the apartment complex if occupancy falls below 80 percent for six months or longer, Honeyfield said.
Cedar Park approves sale of hockey team, arena management
Josh Selleck Cedar Park City Council members recently approved a contract transferring management of Cedar Park Arena, adjacent land and ownership of the Texas Stars hockey team to a company based in Canada. The contract with Northland Properties LLC calls for the city to retain ownership of the entertainment center that opened in September 2009, noted Assistant City Manager Josh Selleck (pictured).

The new contract adds 10 years to the current lease that has five years remaining and calls for the hockey team to remain in Cedar Park for the next 15 years, Selleck said. The agreement replaces the existing contract with Hicks Cedar Park LLC, the former manager of the arena and owner of Texas Stars,

City officials and Northland also agreed to each pay half of the cost of a new marquee east of the arena on Toll 183. The new management company, which also owns the Dallas Stars, is considering the possibility of sharing the cost with the city to add LED ribbon boards inside the arena, Selleck said.
West Orange-Cove CISD delays naming interim superintendent
After two previous delays, West Orange-Cove Consolidated School District board members recently postponed the selection of an interim superintendent. Board members said they had narrowed their search for an interim superintendent to a few candidates, but have not yet made a final decision.

The interim superintendent will replace Superintendent James Colbert, who resigned in November to accept a new job in Houston.

Trustees said they plan to name a finalist for permanent superintendent on Feb. 23, 2015, and for the new superintendent to take the helm on April 1, 2015.
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Ervin announces plans to retire as Waco city secretary
Trish Ervin Patricia "Trish" Ervin (pictured) recently announced she is retiring as city secretary in Waco City after 17 years in that job.

Her retirement is effective at the end of February, 2015.

City council members selected Esmeralda Hudson, currently the assistant city secretary, to replace Ervin. Hudson, who was recruited by Ervin in 2007, has a bachelor's degree from Baylor University.
Longview seeking bids for $5.5 million animal shelter
Longview city officials recently agreed to seek bids to build a new 20,885-square-foot animal shelter expected to cost about $5.5 million.

City officials already have paid more than $500,000 for design and engineering work for the new animal shelter expected to be complete about a year after construction begins. Deadline for submitting bids is Jan. 20, 2015. Council members expect to select a company to oversee construction of the animal shelter on January 22.

San Angelo eyeing new $2.8 million fire training center, fire station

San Angelo City Council members recently began considering a staff recommendation to begin construction before March 27, 2015, on a new fire training center or forfeit a $1.2 million federal grant. Council members also are considering another staff recommendation to issue $8 million in certificates of obligation to pay for the fire training center and a new fire station. Both projects are almost ready to begin construction. Work on the fire training center could begin by the March 27 deadline, according to a spokesperson for the city.

APD's Raul Munguia finalist for police chief position in Boise

Austin Police Department chief of staff Raul Munguia has been announced as one of three finalists for the police chief job in Boise, Idaho. 


A veteran of the APD since 1985, Munguia began with the department as a patrol officer. He was named assistant chief in 2010 and was named Chief Art Acevedo's chief of staff in 2013. 

Network at largest P3 event in country Feb. 23-25 in Dallas

The Public-Private Partnership Conference & Expo (P3C) is the leading annual event for the United States' public-private partnership market and attracts more than 800 government and industry development professionals from around the country.  Project owners, industry executives and key decision-makers will gather for three days of in-depth public-private partnership learning, business development and networking opportunities. Next year's slate of more than 100 speakers will address the critical principles behind successful public-private partnerships. The 2015 program serves as a guide through the current trends, challenges and opportunities in the United States' P3 market for a variety of asset classes including social infrastructure, transportation, education, hospitality, mixed-use real estate development, economic development and more.  The conference attracts senior management from the largest firms in the construction, engineering, architecture, legal and consulting industries as well as public leaders and development agency officials from the municipal, state and federal levels of government.  More information on the event is available here.

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State officials rolling out 
2015 spending budgets


Mary Scott NabersBy Mary Scott Nabers, CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc.


"Rebuilding" is a common word in state government these days. Nationwide, states are tasked with finding more efficient ways for rebuilding transportation, water resources, low-income housing, educational facilities and social service programs. But, nowhere has the term "rebuilding" been used more than in the realm of fiscal rebuilding. 

According to the recently released 2014 Fiscal Survey of the States by the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO), state officials are responding to the need for fiscal rebuilding, but the progress is moving slowly. 

While the NASBO survey indicates there will be a fifth consecutive year of increases in general fund spending in FY 2015, post-recession spending growth will still be below average. Adding additional angst to the fiscal concerns of state officials is the fact that some budget areas, such as Medicaid and higher education, continue to outpace both inflation and general fund revenue growth, putting even more strain on budgets.

While 43 of the states anticipate higher general fund spending in FY 2015, fiscal rebuilding is a long way from reaching pre-recession levels. That translates into even more careful and thoughtful spending.

So, how will states allocate their money in FY 2015? This is interesting...especially since Texas is about to begin a legislative session where spending decisions will be hot topics.
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Briseno to step down as chair 

of VIA at end of this year

Alex Briseno, who was appointed by then-San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, to help ensure completion of a proposed city street car project is stepping down as chair of the VIA Metropolitan Transit board. Briseno said he will leave the board when his term expires at the end of the year. The streetcar project never got off the ground and Briseno said he is not interested in championing other upcoming VIA initiatives.


Briseno was appointed in February to replace former chair Henry Munoz. He said he was withdrawing his nomination for a full two-year term that would have begun in 2015. 


Texas Government Insider 
will not publish next week
The Texas Government Insider will not publish on Friday, Dec. 26, in observance of the Christmas holiday. We will resume our regular Friday publication dates on Jan. 2, 2015. The offices of Strategic Partnerships, Inc.  will be closed Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, Dec. 24, 25 and 26, for the Christmas holidays. Our offices will open again at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 29. Have a safe and happy holiday!
TWDB seeking groundwater conservation district applicants
The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) is seeking groundwater conservation district applications to share in $1.49 million. The funds are available for costs-share of water use monitoring equipment and are available to districts whose rules require groundwater withdrawal metering.

Information regarding the request for applications and instructions are available online. TWDB also will host a webinar in January or February 2015, which will be announced on the agency's Web site.

The webinar will address the application process and grant contract management. Applications are due March 11, 2015. For more information, contact the Agricultural Water Conservation Team at 512-936-6090 or agconservation@twdb.texas.gov.
Bob Leiper retiring as city
manager in Baytown
Bob Leiper City Manager Bob Leiper of Baytown (pictured) recently notified city council members he plans to retire early next year. He also agreed to help find a new city manager to take over his duties.

A city employee for 37 years, Leiper began his career as a firefighter in 1977. He served as fire chief and deputy city manager before becoming city manager in January 2011.

Leiper has a bachelor's degree from the University of Houston and a master's degree from Grand Canyon University.
Cruz named lone finalist to become Austin superintendent
To no one's surprise, interim Superintendent Paul Cruz this week was named the lone finalist for the superintendent's post in the Austin ISD. Cruz has been serving as interim superintendent since the departure of former AISD Superintendent Meria Carstarphen, who left AISD in April to become superintendent in Atlanta, Georgia.

Cruz had originally said he would not be a candidate for the position full-time. However, community and school support began to mount for him over the last few months and the AISD board restructured the application process to allow Cruz to be included for consideration and he was named one of three finalists. Seeing the handwriting on the wall, the other two finalists withdrew from consideration for the position.

Before taking on the interim superintendent post, Cruz served five years as AISD's chief schools officer. A 28-year veteran educator, he has served as a teacher, campus administrator, district leader and superintendent in Austin, Corpus Christi, Round Rock, San Antonio and South Texas.
HDI Solutions

El Paso County taps Norwood 
as first chief administrator
Steve Norwood El Paso County commissioners recently tapped Steve Norwood (pictured) for a new position as chief administrator for the county. He most recently served three years as the city manager in Round Rock.

In his new position, Norwood will assist with long-term projects such as the budget office, the Tornillo Guadalupe Port of Entry, the Sportspark and expansion of the jail. His job is similar to a city manager or executive director, according to County Judge Veronica Escobar, but with a major difference.

The county administrator will be unable to approve expenditures or changes to the government, Escobar said. Norwood also has been directed to find methods to consolidate some county offices to reduce costs, Escobar said.
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Bullard ISD names Schneider 
as lone finalist for superintendent
Todd Schneider Bullard Independent School District board members recently named Todd Schneider (pictured) as lone finalist for superintendent.

In his 27 years in public education, Schneider was a teacher and coach at school districts in Spring Branch, Crandall and Kemp. He also served as superintendent at Martin's Mill ISD and most recently served as an assistant superintendent for Katy ISD

Schneider has a bachelor's degree from the University of Northern Colorado. He earned a master's degree and his certification as a superintendent at Texas A&M-Commerce.
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Cowley named superintendent 
for Calhoun County ISD
Dr. James Cowley recently agreed to serve as the new superintendent for Calhoun County Independent School District beginning in January 2015.

Currently superintendent for Linden-Kildare CISD, Cowley also was an assistant superintendent at Sunnyvale ISD, a principal and director for Saltillo ISD and a teacher for Sulphur Springs ISD. He also was a teacher and an adjunct professor at Texas A&M University-Commerce and at Dallas Baptist University.

Cowley has a bachelor's degree and a master's degree from East Texas State University and doctorate in education from Texas A&M University-Commerce.
LeFleur Transportation

Little Elm ISD appoints 
Strike as new superintendent
Lowell Strike Little Elm Independent School District trustees recently appointed Lowell Strike (pictured) as the new superintendent. When he begins his new duties in January, Strike will replace former Superintendent Lynne Leuthard, who resigned in June.

A former coach, Strike most recently was a deputy superintendent for Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD. He also was a teacher and administrator at school districts in Southlake-Carroll, Katy and Northwest.

Strike has a bachelor's degree from Buena Vista University in addition to a master's degree and Ph.D. from Texas A&M University.
Health Information Designs

Longview creates new position 
for director of parks, recreation
Longview City Council officials recently cited the need to upgrade parks and trails and support sports tourism as the reason for creating a new position as director of parks and recreation.

City Manager David Willard also recommended separating parks and recreation office from the community services department into a separate department. Noting that the growing sports tourism trend already brings revenue to the area, the mayor also supported the recommendation approved by council.
Phil Newton to retire as Sivells Bend ISD superintendent
Philip Newton Superintendent Phil Newton (pictured) of Sivells Bend Independent School District recently notified trustees he plans to retire in late February 2015.

Newton served as superintendent for 10 years and agreed to lead the search to find a new superintendent district officials hope will begin work on March 2, 2015.

Trustees also agreed to hire Newton as a part-time consultant to help in the transition.
Weslaco appoints Perez 
as interim city manager
Weslaco City Council members recently selected Mike Perez, a retired city manager for McAllen, to take over the duties of interim city manager.

Council members also agreed to reassign Elizabeth Walker, the city secretary who had served as interim city manager, to her duties as city secretary. Walker had replaced City Manager Leo Olivares, who was terminated from that position in mid-November.

The council also kicked off its search for a permanent city manager by authorizing staff to issue a request for qualifications to fill the city manager position.
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Recent Reports

Abilene selects search firm 

to help find new city manager

Abilene City Council members recently selected a Keller-based search firm to help find a new city manager. 


Since City Manager Larry Gilley retired in October, Assistant City Manager David Vela has served as interim city manager.

Plano city official named interim city manager for city of Kilgore
Mark Israelson An assistant city manager in Plano has been chosen by the Kilgore City Council as the city's interim city manager. Mark Israelson (pictured) was recommended for the job by a consulting firm hired by Kilgore officials to find a qualified individual to serve as city manager until a full-time manager can be found.

Israelson will replace former City Manager Scott Sellers, who resigned from the Kilgore city manager position to accept the city manager job in Kyle in Central Texas.

Israelson's tenure as interim city manager is expected to last about three months. He has indicated he will not seek the position full-time. The new interim manager holds a bachelor's degree and a Master's of Public Administration degree from the University of North Texas.
Texas Government Insider Archives  

Governor's appointments
Governor Rick Perry has announced the following appointments:
  • Eric Burnett of Portland, Nueces River Authority Board of Directors;
  • Sharon Denny of McKinney, Aerospace and Aviation Advisory Committee;
  • Cathy Ferrie Kilmain of North Richland Hills, Aerospace and Aviation Advisory Committee;
  • Janine Iannarelli of Houston, Aerospace and Aviation Advisory Committee;
  • Amela Wilson of Plano, Aerospace and Aviation Advisory Committee;
  • Michael Hanley of Leander, Governing Board of the Texas School for the Blind and Visually Impaired;
  • Shawn Saladin of Edinburg, Governing Board of the Texas School for the Deaf;
  • Jim Jeffries of Georgetown, Texas Appraiser Licensing and Certification Board;
  • Tivy Whitlock of San Antonio, Commission on Fire Protection;
  • Julie B. Crosswell of Houston, Communities in School Advisory Committee;
  • Janet Hall of Georgetown, Texas State Board of Examiners of Dietitians 
San Antonio ISD selects search firm to help find superintendent
San Antonio Independent School District trustees recently selected a consulting firm to assist in finding a new superintendent. Superintendent Sylvester Perez is retiring after a second stint as superintendent for the district.

Trustees set a goal to hire a new superintendent by the end of the school year to help with the transition, a spokesperson for the district said.
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