TIGER grants totaling $600M awarded...
City of Houston to get $10M to upgrade city's traffic systems
Last year, 52 projects in states throughout the country shared $474 million in U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants. The grants are allocated to help defray the costs of road, rail, transit and port projects across the country that are geared toward having an impact on critical national projects that will impact the entire nation, a region or metropolitan area.
The city of Houston will use its $10M TIGER grant to expand and upgrade traffic systems used to monitor and manage traffic.
For Fiscal Year 2014, funding of $600 million was appropriated. The fact that 797 applications were received totaling $9.5 billion, 15 times the $600 million available in the program, shows the extent of the ever-increasing need for transportation infrastructure nationwide. Since the grant program began in 2009, USDOT has allocated more than $3 billion to assist states and municipalities with the costs of hundreds of infrastructure projects.
The complete list of grant winners was announced today by U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. Forty-six states and the District of Columbia will receive funding.
"As uncertainty about the future of long-term federal funding continues, this round of TIGER will be a shot in the arm for these innovative, job-creating and quality of life-enhancing projects," said Foxx. "We're building bridges from Maine to Mississippi. We're creating ladders of opportunity for the middle-class and those seeking to enter the middle-class by investing in transit, road and rail projects from Los Angeles to Detroit to New York City, increasing access to jobs and quality of life."
In Texas, the city of Houston was awarded a $10 million grant to expand and upgrade traffic systems in the area. The grant funds will be used on the existing Intelligent Transportation System infrastructure to monitor and manage arterial traffic in real-time. Improvements could include Dynamic Message Signs, Closed Circuit TV Cameras, Count Stations, Enhanced Signal Detection, and additional WiMax for count stations and System Integration work.
Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars
Jim Griffin, Mayor, City of Bedford
Career highlights and education: Employed at Verizon for 35 years. I have been Mayor of Bedford for the last two and one-half years and prior to that served on the City Council for eight years. I have an MBA in business/finance and a BA in planning.
What I like best about my job is: As Mayor, I have the opportunity to work with a great staff and wonderful employees who are dedicated to making Bedford a great city. I enjoy building relationships with our residents, our business community, our surrounding cities and all the community organizations serving our area.
The best advice I've received for my current job is: I have to be myself, trust my instincts, build relationships and be accessible to the residents, businesses and community.
Advice you would give a new hire in your office: I would let the new hire know that they were becoming part of a family that will embrace, instruct and support as we work together building Bedford's future.
If I ever snuck out of work early, I could probably be found: Balancing both my career and my responsibilities as Mayor, I generally have little time to sneak out of work early; however, if that opportunity occurred I would probably like to play a little golf.
People would be surprised to know that I: am obsessively neat!
One thing I wish more people knew about my city: One of the things that I wish more people knew about Bedford is our future - it is ever expanding. Our city is in the center of the DFW Metroplex and our motto, "Discover the Center," sums it up. Focusing on our future, the vision we are developing for our city is a mixed use development we call "Bedford Commons" with residential, retail and a cultural component designed to attract new residents and visitors to our city. We are already attracting exciting new restaurants, medical and retail development.
TFS returns $43.2 million in funds to Texas state budget
Texas lawmakers will get an unexpected $43.2 million windfall when the Texas A&M Forest Service (TFS) returns that amount in remaining fire suppression funds to the state this fall. A total of $161 million was authorized by the state legislature to pay for wildlife suppression efforts in 2011 and 2012. Those two years were among the worst in state history for the largest and most destructive wildfires.
The TFS's efforts to ensure reimbursements from federal agencies when appropriate created a $43.2 million surplus of state funds. TFS Director and State Forester Tom Boggus (pictured) said TFS employees worked daily with state and federal agencies to obtain allowable reimbursements. "Thanks in part to their diligence, we have paid the bills in full and currently have funds to return to the state."
The funds will be returned to the state budget. TFS officials say another $6.7 million in Federal Emergency Management Agency reimbursement is being processed and could be returned to the state as well.
Sales tax for FY 2014 up 5.5 percent over last year's figures
Sales tax gains in oil and natural gas, wholesale trade and retail trade sectors helped push state sales tax revenue in August to $2.57 billion, according to State Comptroller Susan Combs. That figure is up 7.5 percent compared to August of last year.
"Fiscal year 2014 ended with total collections at $27.27 billion, up 5.5 percent over the previous year," said Combs, who attributed much of that gain to both business and consumer spending.
As a result of spending, Combs will send $627.8 million to state cities, counties, transit systems and special purpose taxing districts to share as their September sales allocations. That figure is up 9.2 percent compared to September a year ago.
Cities will share $408 million, up 7.6 percent from a year ago, while counties will share $41.9 million, up 14.5 percent from September of last year. Up 10 percent is the $141.3 million transit systems will share. Special purpose taxing districts will share $36.6 million, up 20.4 percent over the same month for last year. The sales tax figures represent monthly sales made in July. Sales tax allocations by city are available, as are allocations by county.
Straus adding staff as legislative session approaches in 2015A number of policy staff changes have been made in the office of House Speaker Joe Straus as the 84th session of the Texas Legislature approaches in January 2015.
Heather Fleming, former member of the House Appropriations Committee staff, has been named senior health and human services policy advisor. She replaces Jennifer Deegan, who left to take the position of associate vice president for the Office of Governmental Relations at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UT Health). Fleming is a graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University.
Erika Akpan has been named senior business and regulatory affairs advisor to the Speaker. She is a longtime aide to Sen. John Carona, serving most recently as his legislative director, and has worked in the Senate Committee on Business and Commerce and the Senate Committee on Transportation and Homeland Security. She is a graduate of Texas State University and the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin. Akpan replaces Dan Madru.
Earlier this year, Brady Franks was named senior budget and policy advisor for the Speaker's Office. Franks is a veteran on the staff of the House Appropriations and Transportation committees. He is a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin. Straus also has added Victor Mendoza to his staff as policy advisor and counsel.
Nabers to serve on panel at IBTTA meeting next week in Austin Mary Scott Nabers (pictured), president and CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc. and co-founder of the Gemini Global Group, will participate as a panelist at the upcoming International Bridge, Turnpike and Tunnel Association (IBTTA) Annual Meeting. The event will be held Sept. 14-17 in Austin. Joining Nabers as panelists will be Henry Cisneros, former San Antonio Mayor and former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, co-chair of Building America's Future.
Evan Smith, editor and CEO of The Texas Tribune, will moderate the panel, "Staying Competitive in the 21st Century: A Roundtable Discussion." The panelists will discuss innovative development and financing options for major public transportation infrastructure projects.
Next week's event marks the 82nd year for the annual IBTTA event. Transportation officials from around the world will be on hand to discuss their experiences with transportation issues and how they can be applied in participants' communities. The event is hosted by the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority and the Texas Department of Transportation.
San Antonio kicking off study for long-term transportation planSan Antonio city officials recently kicked off a study that could cost as much as $6 million to identify transportation patterns in the future and determine the financial commitment necessary for transportation needs.
With the city's population estimated to almost double in the next 26 years, city officials need to maximize development of infrastructure from state and federal sources, according to staff presenting the proposal to council members. The study is expected to take two years to complete and will be used to help decide which projects should be included in the next bond election, expected in 2017.
Among the issues to be explored by the consulting company selected for the study include determining where the expected 1 million new residents will be living in 2040, studying whether development will continue outward or become more dense inside Loop 410 and exploring the need for building more arterial roads to serve new residents.
Blinn College taps Kirkland as interim vice president
Blinn College officials recently selected Dr. Joseph Kirkland (pictured) as the interim vice president for instruction for academic programs.
Previously a vice president for academic affairs at Lamar State College-Orange, Kirkland also was the vice president of instruction at San Jacinto College.
Kirkland has a bachelor's degree from Sam Houston State University and a Ph.D. from Texas Christian University. He also served as an officer in the U.S. Army and taught military science at Texas A&M-Kingsville.
Corpus Christi Port OKs committee to study water-related issuesPort of Corpus Christi Authority board members recently agreed to create a committee to update port officials on water-related issues, including desalination, a process of removing salt from brackish or salt water.
The growth of oil and gas exploration in the Eagle Ford Shale has greatly impacted the city of Corpus Christi, as the city is experiencing high growth in addition to supplying water to neighboring areas. As a result, the city supports desalination, but city officials are concerned about the high cost, according to Ron Olson, city manager in Corpus Christi.
Current plans are for city and port industries representatives to meet within a week with a goal of drafting a request for qualifications by March 2015 for a consultant to conduct a comprehensive desalination study, Olson said.
Lubbock to determine if police department needs new building Lubbock City Council and police department representatives recently agreed to work together to determine the best option for building a new public safety facility. The new building would replace four police facilities plagued with foundation and asbestos issues, overcrowding and flooding.
Assistant Police Chief Greg Stevens (pictured) told council he estimates a new police facility would cost about $60 million. The new police station is needed to replace buildings in which a former locker room is used to store video evidence and police records are stored in a basement that has flooded in the past, Stevens said.
A citizen's advisory committee also urged council to build a new police facility and use certificates of obligation to pay for the new police headquarters.
Burleson police chief backs shared detention facility with Crowley Police Chief Billy Cordell (pictured) of Burleson recently supported a proposal to partner with the Crowley Police Department to operate a shared detention facility staffed with two detention officers paid for by Burleson.
Because neither the Crowley police department nor the Burleson police department currently have detention officers, Cordell proposed that Burleson pay the salary and benefits for two detention officers for five years to serve at the Crowley detention facility. The new police station in Burleson has no room for a jail and Crowley would benefit having detention officers, Cordell noted.
Crowley Police Chief Luis Soler proposed Burleson would pay a 24-hour rate of $15 per prisoner in addition to providing the salary and benefits for two detention officers to handle adult arrests. Crowley would benefit because detention staff would cover daily jail shifts seven days per week, which could increase revenues and free patrol officers to be on the streets rather than guarding prisoners, Soler said.
Blinn College seeking more space to offset enrollment increaseBrazos County property options were presented recently to the Blinn College Board of Trustees. The long- and short-term property options were part of a facilities workshop. Because of a growing student population on the Bryan campus, college officials are looking for short-term solutions of one to three years, and long-term locations to complement the Villa Maria campus.
It has been projected that Blinn's Brazos County campuses could see enrollment rise to more than 15,000 by 2017 and to nearly 20,000 by 2025. Those projections are based partly on the fact that Blinn has partnerships with Texas A&M, Sam Houston State and Texas State universities, and the universities of Texas and Houston that allow selected applicants to Texas A&M's freshman class through a unique co-enrollment opportunity with the chance to earn full admission to Texas A&M.
In addition, the board is working with professionals to maximize efficiency and recreate the learning space, food service, parking and transportation resources at Villa Maria.
Texas A&M-Commerce expands downtown Dallas learning center Texas A&M-Commerce officials recently agreed to expand a downtown Dallas learning center by opening a new 42,203-square-foot facility on Pacific Avenue, according to President Dan R. Jones (pictured).
Classes are now being offered at Universities Center at Dallas, Texas.
The new space will allow for educational programs in addition to meeting spaces for university and alumni events.
Midland seeking bids to oversee demolition of downtown buildings Midland city officials recently began seeking bids for a manager to oversee the demolition of two downtown buildings being torn down to help make city-owned prime property more lucrative to developers.
The winning contractor will oversee the environmental assessment, asbestos removal and demolition of two buildings, the 62,000-square-foot Mid-America Building and the 39,000-square-foot Midland Executive Center, according to Mayor Jerry Morales (pictured). A contractor is needed to determine the amount of asbestos in the two unoccupied buildings in addition to providing cost estimates for removing the asbestos and demolishing the building, he added.
The goal is that once the buildings are demolished, developers will move forward with proposals for projects such as a hotel, parking garage, office space or other projects on the vacant lots in the downtown area that will generate tax revenue, Morales said.
Feds take step in studying high-speed rail, Dallas to Forth Worth
With announced plans of an Environmental Impact Study (EIS) upcoming, the Federal Railroad Administration has begun the process of studying the possibility of a high-speed passenger rail line between Dallas and Fort Worth.
"The development of high-speed rail could be a significant opportunity for our state," said Victor Vandergriff, member of the Texas Transportation Commission. Vandergriff said the Texas Department of Transportation is studying possible high-speed rail corridors statewide to see if they are viable options to meet the transportation needs of a growing Texas population.
Local entities and the public will have 90 days to submit written comments on the scope of the EIS, which is intended to determine the potential impacts high-speed rail could have on a region's communities, economy, open spaces, streams, floodplains and wildlife.
Ambler selected as dean of graduate school at UT-El Paso Officials of The University of Texas at El Paso recently selected Charles Ambler (pictured) as the dean of the graduate school. Ambler, a history professor, most recently was an associate vice president.
Previously a Mellon Faculty Fellow at Harvard University, Ambler also has served as a visiting faculty member at Oxford University and a research associate at universities in Zambia and Nairobi.
Ambler earned a Ph.D. from Yale University.
Fort Bend Commissioners back expansion of TSTC campus
Fort Bend County commissioners recently approved a resolution to support expansion of the Texas State Technical College (TSTC) campus in Fort Bend County. TSTC, in a partnership with Wharton County Junior College, currently operates a technical center in Richmond with about 1,400 students enrolled.
The campus expansion is needed to promote technical careers vital to the energy corridor in this region, noted County Judge Robert Hebert (pictured). County officials agreed to provide support for needed legislation, promised an undetermined financial contribution from the county for as much as $2.5 million over a 10-year period and offered to help acquire land and continued support to expand to the west side of the Brazos River.
TSTC officials said they hope to raise $8 million from the community and will provide the remaining funding if that goal is met. TSTC also will seek about $5.8 million from legislators to purchase equipment. Preliminary plans call for work to begin on the proposed technical training center in the fall of 2015, Hebert said. TSTC officials already are conducting a capital campaign to raise about $27.3 million to expand technical education in the county, he noted.
Ferrier to take on new role in position with Texas A&M System Dr. Maria Hernandez Ferrier (pictured), inaugural president of Texas A&M University-San Antonio, will take on yet another inaugural role as director of the newly created Director of Development and Mexico Relations with the Texas A&M System. In her new charge, Ferrier will create, build and oversee relations with Mexico for all 11 component institutions of the System and the seven System agencies.
Ferrier will remain as Texas A&M-San Antonio president until Dec. 31, a post she has held since 2010. She will assume her new role in January 2015. Prior to her career with A&M-San Antonio, Ferrier held a number of national education appointments. She was appointed by President George W. Bush to direct the Office of English Language Acquisition, Language Enhancement, and Academic Achievement for Limited English Proficient Students in the U.S. Department of Education. During her tenure at the Department of Education, she rose first to deputy undersecretary before becoming assistant deputy secretary. She was also principal advisor to the secretary of education on all matters pertaining to students of limited English proficiency and Hispanic students in general.
Ferrier earned bachelor's and master's degrees from Our Lady of the Lake University, and a doctorate from Texas A&M University. A nationwide search will be conducted for a new president of TAMU-San Antonio.
Denton unveils scaled-down convention center redesignDenton City Council members recently got their first look at a scaled down redesign of a proposed convention center. Architects began the redesign after construction bids in early summer came in higher than expected at $33 million instead of the $25 million city officials had budgeted.
The convention center is part of a public-private partnership with a hotel management company and the University of North Texas to build the facility and full-service hotel on university-owned land near the football stadium. This redesigned convention center, now estimated to cost about $27 million, is smaller than the first design and features 68,750 square feet of floor space, 29 percent less than planned originally. The smaller center will accommodate 650 attendees rather than 750 and the banquet hall will serve 1,800 diners rather than 2,000 originally planned.
City officials plan to issue certificates of obligation to pay for construction of the convention center and use revenue from property, sales and hotel occupancy taxes to make the $2 million annual debt payment.
Waco, McLennan County to pay $1.1M of $4.4M hangar project Waco city officials and McLennan County commissioners recently agreed to provide $1.1 million to help Texas State Technical College (TSTC) pay for a planned $4.4 million airport hangar renovation project to accommodate a private company operating out of the leased facilities on campus.
County and city officials calculated several factors to determine whether the project would provide sufficient return on the investment to TSTC, said County Judge Scott Felton (pictured). The company provides about 1,850 jobs and has leased the facility on the TSTC campus for 29 years.
The private company that modifies aircraft for both commercial and military customers, L-3 Platform Integration, has agreed to provide $900,000 toward the renovation project. TSTC is contributing about $2.4 million using a $1.8 million low-interest loan from the Governor's Office to help pay for the hangar renovation, he said. The renovations should be completed in about nine months, a TSTC official said.
State Employee Charitable Campaign continues through Oct. 31The State Employee Charitable Campaign (SECC) is looking to build on its more than $20 million it has contributed from 2004 to 2013. The annual campaign began Sept. 1 and runs through Oct. 31. It allows state employees and employees of institutions of higher education the opportunity to pick the charity to which they want to donate. Last year, $2.15 million was donated by more than 7,300 local state and higher ed employees.
The kickoff for this year's campaign was held Wednesday at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, with representatives of more than 20 SECC charities attending. The SECC provides support for the more than 500 local, national and international charities participating in the campaign. Last year, employees across the state donated $9.01 million. Charities must apply each year to be considered, and are screened by a committee of state employees. More information about this year's campaign can be found on the SECC Web site, or by contacting Greg Bennett, Capital Area SECC Local Campaign manager at email@example.com. The Texas campaign, one the largest state employee campaign in the nation, was created by legislation in 1993.
Houston ISD begins new Sustainable Schools program Partnering with CenterPoint Energy, Houston Independent School District officials recently kicked off a Sustainable Schools Program to encourage students to actively participate in reducing energy use on their high school campuses.
The program features hands-on, project-based experiences in energy conservation and engineering with Willdan Energy Solutions providing project resources, tools, templates, lesson guides and continued support from energy efficiency experts to participating teachers. Waltrip and Carnegie Vanguard high schools received training to implement the program and nine other high schools have signed up.
Students in the program will study air conditioning, heating and ventilation systems in addition to lighting systems to conserve energy, noted Kellie Williams, the energy and sustainability manager who joined the Houston district in May after a stint as the energy manager at Fort Bend ISD.
Energy efficiencies validated by Willdan Energy Solutions could earn the district bonuses of up to $5,000, said Williams, who is also looking for other community partners to work with the school district on more conservation programs and competitions.
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Water Development Board names new regional leadersLuis Farias and Lee Huntoon have been chosen as new team managers for the Northeast (C, D) Regional Planning Area and Panhandle/West (A/O/E/F) Regional Planning Area, respectively, according to the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB).
Farias joined TWDB as a financial analyst in 1999 and most recently served as Team Manager of the Panhandle/West Region. In his new role, he will serve as the primary point of contact for projects in Regions C and D. Farias replaces Jessica Zuba, who was named director of Regional Water Planning and Development in May.
Huntoon joined TWDB in August, previously working as the Community Development Project Manager at Grantworks. She replaces Farias as team manager for the Panhandle/West Regional Planning Area and will serve as the primary point of contact for projects in Regions A, O, E and F.
Lubbock creates new job to help reduce health care costs Lubbock City Council members recently allotted $81,000 to hire a new health facilitator for the Lubbock Health Department to help reduce health care costs through improved coordination of services.
The new health facilitator will coordinate services when as many as five or more entities may provide the same service. The facilitator also will gather information to better target services, especially services for those with sexually transmitted diseases, obesity and teen pregnancy, noted Dr. Brian Carr (pictured), chairman of the Board of Health.
The third responsibility for the new health facilitator is to be in charge of social media communication because every person that can be helped to avoid an illness or avoid intensive care for newborn babies represents a tremendous savings in health care costs, Carr said.
Dallas ISD to link pay to executive directors with performanceBeginning with the 2015-2016 school year, Dallas Independent School District officials recently agreed to link the salaries of 21 executive directors managing school principals to their own performance and student scores at the schools each oversees.
The decision is part of a plan being implemented by Superintendent Mike Miles which would permit principals to earn extra pay based on a new evaluation and teacher salaries to be linked to performance in the 2015-2016 school session.
The plan calls for 70 percent of the evaluation of the executive directors to be based on their performance and 30 percent on scores, including STAAR results from feeder patterns and high school graduation rates. Executive directors will be evaluated on how well they improve the performance of principals.
Kilgore College approves master plan to expand Longview campusKilgore College trustees recently approved a 25-year master plan that includes expanding the Hendrix Building on the Longview campus in the first five years of the plan and other campus upgrades and renovations expected to cost about $19 million.
The master plan calls for adding two stories and expanding the main building at the Longview campus, eliminating most of the street parking on two roads and moving parking to perimeter lots. Also included in the master plan is a new student commons area, renovation of a pedestrian bridge to add pillars topped with lights and a clock tower. The master plan does not obligate trustees to the exact plan, but provides a possible vision, noted Bill Holda, president.
Denison approves $1.2 million renovation of police facilityDenison City Council members recently approved a $1.2 million project to upgrade the police station. The facility has not been updated since the 1970s.
Current plans are to reconfigure the floor plan, update the facade and install a new elevator and stairs, noted City Manager Robert Hanna. Construction should begin on the west side of the police building and then move to the east side, Hanna said.
AACOG hosts Basics of Economic Development Workshop
The Alamo Area Council of Governments will host a Basics of Economic Development Workshop on Friday, Sept. 26, from 8:30 a.m. to noon at the AACOG Al J. Notzon III Board Room, 8700 Tesoro Drive, Suite 100, San Antonio 78217. The event is an informative workshop open to all elected officials, city and county staff and anyone interested in economic development. Charlie Zech with Denton, Navarro, Rocha, Bernal, Hyde & Zech, P.C. will present available economic development tools to assist communities in their economic development efforts. Workshop topics include: Public Improvement Districts, Neighborhood Empowerment Zones, Tax Abatements, Tax Increment Financing, Development Agreements, Economic Development Corporations, Municipal Development Districts, Industrial District Agreements and 380/381 Agreements. More information is available and registration is now open.
Texas EMS Conference set in Fort Worth Nov. 23-26Texas EMS Conference, one of the largest EMS conferences in the nation, kicks off Nov. 23 in Fort Worth. Texas EMS Conference draws emergency medical services personnel for three days of emergency medical education, including continuing education for EMS, nurses, firefighters and physicians. The conference also features a 170,000-square-foot exhibit hall filled with state-of-the-art medical equipment, EMS supplies and services, job opportunities, ambulances and helicopters. Preconference classes, ranging in length from four hours to three days, feature cadaver anatomy labs, wilderness rescue and response to bombing incidents. For more information, go to www.texasemsconference.com.
TML plans 102nd Annual Conference, Exhibition in HoustonBilled as a "program packed with topical concurrent sessions, engaging speakers and chances to network and share ideas with your colleagues from around the state," the Texas Municipal League (TML) 102nd Annual Conference and Exhibition is scheduled for Sept. 30 through Oct. 3. The event will be held at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston. This year's event will feature best-selling author and former leader of the Disney Institute, Simon T. Bailey, who will address the topic "Shift Your Brilliance" during the opening general session. Keynote speaker for the Delegate Luncheon will be John Foley, former lead solo pilot for the U.S. Navy Blue Angels, whose topic is "Your High Performance Climb." Former TV news anchor Gloria Campos will address the Woman in Government Breakfast speaking on "Everything is Fair in Love, War and Politics." Six concurrent session tracks are available, including such issues as quality of life, transportation and infrastructure and finance. Elected city officials can earn Continuing Education Units (CEUs) for attending. Registration is now open and the agenda is available.
NASW/Texas State Conference set for October in San MarcosMore than 1,000 social workers are expected to for the 38th Annual National Association of Social Workers (NASW)/Texas State Conference. This year's even will be Saturday through Monday, Oct. 18-20, at the Embassy Suites Hotel, Spa and Conference Center in San Marcos. In addition to networking opportunities, the event will feature presentations by presentations by NASW Assurance Services, Texas State Board of Social Worker Examiners, Texas Association of Social Work Deans and Directors, Texas Field Educators Consortium and Hogg Foundation for Mental Health. Up to 19 hours of Continuing Education can be earned by attending. For more information on the conference, how to exhibit or to register, visit the NASW/Texas Web site or check out the main conference page.
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U.S. moving quickly to #1
By Mary Scott Nabers, CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc.
After lagging behind other countries such as Canada, the UK, Australia and the Philippines in the public-private partnership (P3) arena, the United States is now positioned to become the largest market in the world for P3s.That prediction from Moody's Investors Service is somewhat surprising.
Historically, the United States is woefully late to the game. But, now that public funding is shrinking and critical infrastructure needs are mounting, P3s have become very attractive. Moody's credits a burgeoning urban population and the overall size of America's infrastructure system as reasons public officials are reaching out to private-sector partners.
More than 30 states have passed P3 legislation. But, P3 engagements don't always need statutes and many successful ones were launched before standardized guidelines were in place.
Florida has announced what is called the I-4 Ultimate Project. It will be the largest transportation project in Florida history. The $2.3 billion project will include construction on 21 miles of Interstate 4, 15 major interchanges and 140 bridges. The project will also add four variable-priced toll express lanes in medians and all general use lanes along the entire corridor will be rebuilt. The private-partner group will design, build, finance,
operate and maintain the facility for 40 years.
Moody's also notes another trend to watch - the inclusion of availability-payments as a way for contractors to recoup their capital costs. In the past, P3s have generally been structured so that the initial capital is recouped through user fees or lease payments. Availability-payments are used when projects either generate no revenue or insufficient revenue to meet the construction and operational costs.
Additional firm hired to help search for new TAMU presidentTexas A&M University Interim President Mark Hussey has confirmed that the university has hired a second search firm to help find a new president for the university. The search firm Isaacson, Miller was hired to assist Korn Ferry International, the firm that was hired previously and has been searching for candidates for the position for more than a year.
Korn Ferry was hired last August to assist a search committee. That committee, which includes faculty, alumni, regents, a staff member and student at A&M, will present a minimum of three candidates to the Board of Regents. While Korn Ferry is a global company, Isaacson, Miller consults largely with nonprofit organizations.
El Paso returns oversight of procurement to purchasing agent The El Paso County purchasing agent, Kennie Downing (pictured), has once again been granted control over the procurement process for the county. In recent years, a panel of county officials reviewed purchases by the county in an effort to avoid corruption. That group was disbanded this week by the county commissioner's court, when Downing was given control over the process.
Downing told commissioners that the county has made progress in improving its purchasing efforts, resulting in fewer bid protesst and faster review of bids. She also assured the court that controls will remain in place to ensure a fair process. All formal bids, specifications, contracts and change orders will continue to be reviewed by the county attorney's office, the purchasing department and the auditor's office.
Waskom agrees to issue $2.1 million in bonds for water, sewerWaskom City Council members recently reviewed six options for funding improvements to the water and sewer system and tentatively agreed to issue $2.1 million in bonds to fund the project. The overhaul of the sewer and water system is necessary, city officials said, as much of the system is 70 years old. Current plans are to improve water main lines along State Highway 80 and throughout the city, the mayor said.
Nolanville adds new title
for its city secretary
Nolanville City Council members recently added assistant city manager to City Secretary Crystal Briggs' title, after she assumed the duties of city manager in mid-July following Stephen Pearl leaving that job.
The city's search for a city manager recently began again when the candidate selected by council accepted another job, according to city officials. Council members plan to discuss whether Briggs will receive a pay increase and if she will maintain the title of assistant city manager when a new city manager is hired at a later meeting.
Peterson retiring as president
of Temple development group
Lee Peterson (pictured), president of the Temple Economic Development Corporation, recently announced plans to retire at the end of this month. He joined the Temple EDC in December 2005. Peterson previously served as president of the Minot Area Development Corp. in North Dakota and commissioner of the North Dakota Department of Commerce.
Dumas ISD begins search
for new superintendentTrustees for Dumas Independent School District recently began a search to find a new superintendent to replace Superintendent Mark Stroebel, who died in May. Board members plan to conduct the search themselves rather than creating a separate search committee or hiring a search firm, the board president said. Deadline for applications for superintendent is Oct. 3 and board members plan to name a lone finalist to begin by January 2015, said Interim Superintendent Larry Appell.
El Paso County hires firm to help find first county administrator
El Paso County commissioners recently approved $23,000 to hire a Florida-based search firm to help find qualified applicants to serve as the county's first administrator.
County officials expect the search and hiring process will take about three months, said County Judge Veronica Escobar, who strongly supported hiring a county administrator to help increase efficiency and save money.
Commissioners also are conducting a search to fill another new position, a budget executive director, to manage the budget and supervise all departments now assigned to the court. Budgeting responsibility previously fell under the auditor, who is appointed by the Council of Judges.
Ken Thomas retiring as city administrator in Early City Administrator Ken Thomas (pictured) of Early recently announced plans to retire on Dec. 31. Thomas worked 28 years for the city.
A veteran of the U.S. Army, Thomas also served three terms on the city council and worked at a private company in Early before agreeing to serve as city administrator.
Athens selects search firm
to help find new city managerAthens City Council members recently selected a search firm to help find qualified applicants for city administrator to replace Pam Burton when she retires from that post at the end of the year. The search process could take up to three months and up to five or six months before the new city administrator can begin work, the consultant said.
Georgetown seeks to continue sales tax for road maintenanceGeorgetown City Council members recently scheduled a special election on Nov. 4 to ask voters to reauthorize a quarter-cent sales tax dedicated to street maintenance and repairs.
The street maintenance tax is expected to raise about $2.05 million in revenue during the 2014-2015 fiscal year and represents about 55 percent of the street department's budget, city officials said.
Voters first approved the sales tax dedicated to street repairs in 2002. The Texas Tax Code, however, requires voter approval for the street maintenance tax every four years.
Farley hired as new economic Grapevine evelopment director Robert Farley (pictured) recently won selection as the new director of economic development in Grapevine.
Previously employed by a real estate development company, Farley is charged with identifying business prospects and creating and executing marketing campaigns to attract businesses to the city, noted City Manager Bruno Rumbelow.
A major responsibility will be overseeing master planning for a 185-acre tract the city owns near Grapevine Mills on State Highway 121, Rumbelow said.
Gonzales OKs up to $100,000
to expand hangars at airportGonzales City Council members recently approved a budget allotting up to $100,000 to pay for expanding hangar space and building a helipad at Dreyer Airport. Council members also authorized City Manager Allen Barnes to enter into an agreement for grant funding with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT).
Current plans are for the TxDOT grant to pay $823,500 toward the airport project and the city pay $91,500. The new helipad will permit Air Life to land without requiring the fire department to be on the scene, Barnes said.
Alamo Area COG narrows search to 10 candidates for executive After reviewing 93 applications from individuals seeking to serve as the executive director of the Alamo Area Council of Governments (AACOG), a committee of board members recently selected 10 applicants as finalists for further study, said Kevin Wolff (pictured), chairman of the board.
The applicants included a former chief executive officer, a general in the military, former city managers and some elected officials, Wolff said. The new executive director will replace Dean Danos, the former executive director who was terminated along with the deputy executive director in March following an investigation into financial issues at AACOG.
Current plans are for board members to review the backgrounds and qualifications of the 10 remaining candidates, select finalists for personal interviews and hire a new executive director in October, Wolff said.
League City to establish
in-house legal department
League City council members recently approved a new policy creating an in-house legal department to replace outsourced legal services.
City Manager Mark Rohr noted the city could save up to $137,000 annually and increase the amount of legal work by creating a city attorney's office. The estimate was based on a review of the outsourced legal services with City Attorney Arnold Polanco, Rohr said.
Bill Kotlan resigns as city administrator in Montgomery City Administrator Bill Kotlan (pictured) of Montgomery recently resigned from that post. Kotlan, who previously served as the city engineer from 2001 until 2010, agreed to serve as interim city administrator in October following the termination of the former city administrator Laura Smith, and later agreed to serve as city administrator.
City council members are considering a proposal from a search firm to assist them in selecting a new city administrator to replace Kotlan.
Murphy selects Quinn
as new city secretaryMurphy City Council members recently selected Susie Quinn as the new city secretary to replace Kristi Gilbert, who resigned to take a post as town secretary in Argyle.
Previously a city secretary in Rowlett, Azle, Tye and Eastland, Quinn currently is an executive administrative assistant at the Wylie Independent School District Foundation. She also has served as the county treasurer and assistant county treasurer in Ector County. Quinn begins her new duties in Murphy on Sept. 16.
Former Beaumont ISD head
was finalist for Detroit chancellor Former Superintendent Timothy Chargois (pictured) of Beaumont Independent School District (BISD) recently won selection as one of four finalists for chancellor of 15 at-risk schools in Detroit. Those schools are currently being managed by the state of Michigan after being taken over from Detroit Public Schools in 2012. However, it has now been made public that the finalist list was narrowed even more, and Chargois' name was removed from contention for the job.
Texas Education Commissioner Michael Williams replaced Chargois with an interim superintendent and trustees with a board of managers in July following an investigation into financial concerns and the district's special education programs.
Chargois signed a voluntary separation agreement in July after an unsuccessful attempt to appeal the decision by the TEA commissioner to take over management of the BISD.
Rio Grande City terminates Ruszdzak as city managerRio Grande City Commissioners recently terminated the contract of City Manager Matt Ruszdzak after a little less than a year on the job. His two-year contract was set to expire in September 2015. Ruszdzak, who joined the city in September 2013, was suspended with pay in April after an investigation of two employees of the Rio Grande City Boys and Girls Club who had not reported a claim of sexual abuse of a minor. The city manager was never charged with a crime, the mayor said.
Straub resigns as assistant
city manager in Taylor
Assistant City Manager Jeff Straub of Taylor recently resigned, effective Sept. 26. He resigned to become the new city administrator in Troy. Straub has worked in Taylor since March 2010.
Quinn resigning as economic development director in Bastrop Dave Quinn (pictured) recently resigned as the executive director of the Bastrop Economic Development Corporation.
He joined Bastrop in 2011 and has accepted a new position as vice president for the Frisco Economic Development Corporation. The board of the BEDC will begin a search for a new executive director soon. City Manager Mike Talbot will oversee the BEDC until a new director is on board, according to the chair of the board.
New library department head named for Harris CountyEdward Melton, a top San Francisco library official, has been chosen to head the Harris County library system that includes 26 branch facilities. Melton was in the running with Brazoria County Library Deputy Chief Lisa Loranc to replace Rhoda Goldberg, who retired last year after working for the county library for nearly 40 years, the last six as head of the department. County commissioners have recommended that Loranc be named Melton's new deputy.
It will be a homecoming of sorts for Melton, who was an administrative manager for the city of Houston's library system beginning in 2007. He left Houston in 2011 when he was offered the San Francisco Chief of Branches position.
Kyle taps James Earp
as interim city manager Kyle City Council members recently tapped Assistant City Manager James Earp (pictured) as the interim city manager. He replaces former City Manager Lanny Lambert, who resigned to accept a job as city manager in Converse.
Also serving as an interim city manager from April 2010 to January 2011, Earp joined the city in 2006. He previously was an assistant to the city manager in Ennis. Earp has a bachelor's degree from Tarleton State University, a master's degree from The University of Texas at Arlington and a graduate certificate from Harvard University.
Governor Rick Perry has announced the following appointments:
- Bill O'Neal of Carthage as Texas State Historian
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