Texas Government Insider
News And People

Volume 15, Issue 28 - Friday, July 21, 2017
In May, voters throughout Texas decided on the outcome of thousands of projects and more than $8.3 billion worth of bond funding when they went to the polls. Around eighty-five local entities called for bond elections.  

Now, other governmental entities are considering additional bond packages. School districts, hospital districts, cities, counties, community colleges, special districts and more have until Aug. 21 to call for a November bond election. Those who seek voter approval for bonds on Nov. 7 are making decisions now about how much to ask for and what projects the bond money will fund. 

The Austin Independent School District has announced that it will ask voters to approve a bond package that will exceed one billion dollars on Nov. 7. The bond proposition includes: 16 modernized or new schools, improvements in transportation and technology and addressing critical facility needs. Here is a summary of projects included in the bond package. 

The billion dollar bond proposal, fortunately, would not result in a tax increase. Austin ISD is the fifth largest school district in Texas and serves more than 83,000 students at 130 schools. 

Houston city officials are still trying to decide the size of their bond request, but a political action committee formed to support the bonds, Lift Up Houston, lists the amount as $490 million on its website.

The referendum is tied to Houston's five-year Capital Improvement Plan. The proposed plan calls for $538 million in improvements to city facilities, including a $57 million multi-purpose facility for Alief that would serve as a community center and library and would house the neighborhood's Women, Infants and Children Center. Other projects include the replacement of Moody Library, renovations to the Flores and Mancuso libraries, a new Sunnyside Multi-Service Center and repairs to city hall and its adjacent annex.

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Travis County reviews $144M bond vote for November
Travis County Commissioners are weighing a recommendation from a citizen's bond committee to ask voters in November to approve $144 million in bonds to pay for improvements to parks, roads and transportation. County officials previously agreed to use $90.6 million on certificates of obligation to upgrade infrastructure. The top priorities are projects to address capacity of roadways, pedestrian, bicycle, roadway and bridge safety, parks and drainage issues with a focus on investing more in transportation projects in Precinct 4. This precinct has previously received less funding than Precinct 2, which is located within the city limits of Austin, according to the co-chairs of the 15-member citizens bond panel. 

Among the major projects are $32 million to improve the capacity on several roads, including Bullick Hollow Road and Grand Avenue Parkway; $57 million in upgrades to parks, including greenway improvements at Onion Creek and Gilleland and a new sports complex in Bee Cave; $18 million for bicycle safety upgrades at eight locations; and $7 million in pedestrian upgrades, including sidewalk improvements on Decker Lake Road and Springdale Road. Commissioners plan to hold a public hearing on July 25 to gather citizen input on the proposed bond projects.
Mineral Wells considers $13.495M bond vote for November
Mineral Wells City Council is deciding capital projects to include in a proposed $13.495 million bond election in November. Projects under consideration include a $6 million renovation of a former bank building into a city hall, $2 million in upgrades on two city parks and a $5 million project to improve streets over a two-year period. Council members indicated support for a $4.5 million sports complex, $3 million in upgrades to a water line along U.S. Highway 180 West and upgrades to the city gym, while at least one council member urged adding a new $9 million facility to house police, fire and emergency medical services.  

Included in the proposed upgrades to parks is a $500,000 project to add lighting to ball fields, a $350,000 project to build a pavilion over the tennis courts and a $400,000 bridge and creek erosion control project at West City Parks. Council members plan to meet again in early August to discuss the proposed bond election and must decide and vote on whether to schedule the election in November and choose projects to include by mid-August.
Environment study near completion for Lower Bois d'Arc Creek Reservoir 
Fannin County started the permitting process over ten years ago for a possible water source for the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. The North Texas Municipal Water District is poised to start construction of the proposed Lower Bois d'Arc Creek Reservoir (LBCR) project in 2018 once it has received the required permits. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) will wrap up an environmental study on the proposed LBCR by September and the project manager will then decide if a permit should be issued for the project based on the assessment and issue of a Final Environmental Impact Statement and Record of Decision approving issuance of the Clean Water Act 404 permit. The USACE has issued drafts of the environmental impact study.  

The lake would have a capacity of 367,609 acre-feet of water that would be used by the district for use in the Metroplex and North Texas. Construction of the dam would be done over the course of three summers. As construction approaches completion, the impoundment of water will start and the lake should be ready to deliver treated water by 2022. The district will assist with infrastructure upgrades for the lake including roadway improvements and will build a multipurpose center on the lake and three recreational areas, boat ramps and other amenities.
Texarkana airport receives $982,998 to design taxiway
Texarkana Regional Airport officials plan to use a $982,998 federal grant to pay for the design of the longest taxiway at the airport estimated to cost $1.09 million, said Mark Mellinger, the airport director. A grant from the Arkansas Department of Aeronautics will pay 10 percent in matching funds required by the grant, Mellinger said. The improved taxiway is close to a proposed new terminal to replace the existing terminal built in 1959, he added.  

Work on the design for the taxiway upgrade will begin once the Airport Authority Board approves and accepts the grant, the airport director said. The design should take from eight to ten months to complete with the estimated cost of upgrading the taxiway to be $9.2 million. Current plans call for beginning work on the new taxiway and terminal in 2019 or 2020, depending on when state and federal grant funding is received.
Fredericksburg looks at parking options for busy downtown area
The Fredericksburg City Council is weighing three recommendations to improve parking in the busy downtown area included in the first phase of a downtown parking study presented to council members by a consulting firm representative. Key recommendations are to build a central parking garage on the downtown area and to add parking meters along Main Street to ease congestion and create more organized parking. The study indicates a very high demand for parking along the three to four blocks in the downtown area from Marktplatz east while other portions of downtown have parking available that exceeds demand. 

A two- to three-level parking garage with a capacity to hold up to 470 cars could be built on city-owned land behind the convention and visitor bureau, the study indicated. The proposed parking garage could also produce as much as $11 million in revenue for the city during its lifetime and be designed to park from six to eight buses to alleviate congestion on Main Street, according to the consultant. The next step is to determine a cost estimate for the proposed parking garage and to appoint a committee to begin adopting a parking management strategy. Assistant City Manager Clinton Bailey reported that the city's Capital Improvement Plan includes projects estimated to cost almost $180 million over the next 20 years and includes building maintenance and expansion, emergency management, streets, parks, tourism, water, wastewater and sanitation projects along with parking relief, golf and electricity.
Bedford considers $70M bond to upgrade Boys Ranch Park
Bedford city officials are exploring whether to ask voters in November to approve $70 million in bonds to continue upgrades to the Boys Ranch Park after receiving results of a feasibility study that indicated the park needs to meet city codes to attract residents and visitors. The study urges city officials to replace or renovate the senior center and the splash park, upgrade athletic facilities and provide more parking at the city park that features some facilities built in the 1940s. Costs are estimated to be $35 million for indoor facilities and $35 million for outdoor facilities. 

The city recently completed a $3.2 million project to improve the lake by dredging, removing an island, building a fishing pier and upgrading drainage funded by bonds approved in 2013. The 2010 master plan for the park addresses completing the improvements in a four-phase plan over a 20-year period. The study, titled Phase Next, calls for replacing the volunteer-based theatre, Onstage, in Bedford and the Boys Ranch Activity Center, which date back to 1949 and don't have current building codes. The senior center, built in 1976, is also out of code and needs more accessible parking. Other recommendations in the study are to build an amphitheater, skate park, tennis center and indoor activity center. City officials plan to hold a public meeting to gather input on the proposed park upgrades and the cost of all projects before deciding whether to schedule a bond election in November.
Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars
Alvin Lankford, Chief Appraiser, Williamson Central Appraisal District

Alvin Lankford
Career highlights and education: Graduated from Southwest Texas State University with a B.A. in Political Science. Worked 10 years in retail for H.E.B. Grocery Stores most of the time as a part of the store management team. Started working with Williamson Central Appraisal District in 2000 as a Residential Appraiser and later worked in various appraisal management positions including obtaining the Deputy Chief Appraiser position in 2008. Hired as Chief Appraiser in March of 2009 and served in this capacity since that time. During my tenure at Williamson CAD I have earned several designations including: Registered Professional Appraiser through the Texas Department of Licensing & Regulation, Certified Chief Appraise through the Texas Association of Appraisal Districts and the Certified Assessment Evaluator through the International Association of Assessing Officers.

What I like best about my job is: The outstanding group of people I work with and the dedication they show each and every day make it a pleasure to come to work every day.

The best advice I've received for my current job is: The best advice I've received is to rely on the experts that work in each of our departments at the appraisal district to come up with solutions and more efficient ways of doing business. Basically the advice was to get out of the way and let those that do the work help us to advance!

Advice you would give a new hire in your office: To always remember that our job is to educate the public in what we do and perform our duties with professionalism while giving outstanding customer service.

If I ever left work early, I could probably be found: Outdoors hunting with my friends and daughters. I have one daughter that is a deer hunter and the other a bird hunter and some of my favorite memories are with them in the field.

People would be surprised to know that I: I am a hometown kid that was born in Austin but raised right here in Georgetown, where I still call home.

One thing I wish more people knew about the Williamson Central Appraisal District:
Our job as outlined in the property tax code is to ensure that values accurately reflect what the property would sell for on January 1st, we do not control the amount of property taxes paid on your property. The responsibility to determine the amount of taxes paid is that of the taxing jurisdictions when determining their tax rate.
Tyler to spend $100M to improve streets, water system
Using a mix of 70 percent in cash and 30 percent in bond funding, Tyler city officials plan to spend $100 million over the next 10 years to improve basic infrastructure such as streets and the water and wastewater system. Speaking at a forum, Mayor Martin Heines said city officials will need to increase revenue by raising rates of the 33,000 customers who use the water and wastewater system so it can be maintained properly. 

City officials also use funding from a half-cent sales tax for special projects such as an $18 million project to build Cumberland Road, while $3 million in sales tax funds are used annually to pay for covering existing streets with a new coat of asphalt. A one-cent increase in property taxes last year generated about $600,000 dedicated to an asphalt enhancement program, said Heines. Flooding during the past two years highlighted the need to upgrade drainage in several areas of the city to improve the handling of large volumes of rain falling in a short time, he said. Council members plan to adopt a budget for the next fiscal year that will set out a timetable for the capital improvement projects to begin.
Clarendon city officials seek $1M loan for new pool, historic theatre
The Clarendon City Council and the Clarendon Economic Development Corporation (EDC) joined together to seek a $1 million loan to build a community pool project and to restore the Mulkey Theatre. Funding to repay the loans will come from a portion of the hotel occupancy tax for the multi-purpose event center and from sales taxes collected by the EDC, according to City Administrator David Dockery. 

Each of the projects needs about $500,000 to complete and will allow the theatre restoration to begin five years earlier than previously planned and the pool project to kick off a year before it was previously planned, he added. The theatre has a target completion date of 2019 if council members and the board of the EDC vote for approval of the loan agreement in September, Dockery said.
Weatherford seeks school support to add I-20 entrance ramps
Weatherford city officials shared a proposed transportation plan with the school district that calls for adding entrance and exit ramps on Interstate 20 that could impact traffic around Weatherford High School and requested help in winning approval and funding for the road improvements. The projects, a part of several transportation projects included in the Weatherford Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone, are targeted at encouraging new businesses along the frontage roads on the east side of the city and connecting with the Parker County East Loop that was paid for with bond funds, said Terry Hughes, the director of capital transportation projects for the city.  

Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) officials are completing an environmental study of increasing access to I-20 in Weatherford, but have not yet funded the project, Hughes said. But winning approval of a study to justify access to the interstate should help attract funding from the North Central Texas Council of Governments and other entities, Hughes said. City officials are also working on drafting a bicycle and pedestrian transportation plan for the city and safe routes to schools, he added. TxDOT plans to turn over a number of roadways to the city of Weatherford over the next six years. Some of the first state roads that will be turned over to the city in 2018 will be North and South Main Street, Fort Worth Highway and Mineral Wells Highway.
Calendar of Events

CPS HR Consulting is offering HR Academy Essentials at the Commons Learning Center in Austin. The courses are taught by public-sector experts and focus on the unique field of human resources. The following one-day courses will increase your knowledge, skills and professionalism through practical, hands-on exercises and projects that simulate real-world situations.  

- Fundamentals of HR (HRCI Certified) begins Aug. 17- Learn what it takes to be an HR professional in today's rapidly changing public sector. 
- Recruitment and Selection (HRCI Certified) begins Sept. 28- Identify, attract and retain top talent using the methods learned in this class.  
- Job Analysis (HRCI Certified) begins Oct. 26- Learn how to conduct a job analysis and use the data throughout the employment lifecycle. 
- HR Compliance with EEO and FMLA begins Nov. 16- Learn about Equal Employment Opportunity, federal laws and Family Medical Leave Assistance. 

Sign up for all four courses and receive a 5 percent discount by emailing TraningCenter@cpshr.us. For more information call 916-471-3312. Learn about the classes and register online here.
Aug. 3-4
The 48th Annual Texas State Agency Business Administrator's Association (TSABAA) Summer Conference takes place Aug. 3 and 4 at the Embassy Suites by Hilton San Marcos Hotel Conference Center & Spa at 1001 E. McCarty Lane in San Marcos. 

Registration deadline for the conference is July 6 and the registration deadline for vendor partners is July 10. The two-day event, view agenda, fosters good working relationships and discussions between various state agencies and provides management and technical training for participating state employees. The conference will recognized the TSABAA Administrator of the Year and newly-retired state employees. 
Aug. 3-5
The Texas Association of Mexican American Chambers of Commerce presents the 42nd Annual Hispanic Business Convention of Texas to be held Aug. 3-5, at the DoubleTree by Hilton- Dallas Fort Worth Airport North, 4441 West John Carpenter Freeway in Irving. This three-day convention is one of the largest gatherings of Hispanic businesses and leaders in Texas. Participants will have the opportunity to network with corporate buyers, vendors and Hispanic-owned businesses. 

Register here for nonstop networking, procurement and various learning opportunities. Early bird registration is through July 10. The event also includes learning tracks for individuals who would like to start a business. Professional development workshops to improve leadership and management skills are also a key component of the convention. View the itinerary here.
Aug. 6-9
The Texas Association of State Systems for Computing and Communications (TASSCC) presents their 40th Anniversary Conference, Aug. 6-9 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel San Antonio Riverwalk. 

The event will take a nostalgic look back at the prestigious history of both TASSCC and the progression of technology and take a look ahead to see what the future holds for public sector technology. The conference provides an agenda packed with guest speakers, top-quality education and networking opportunities. Register here before Aug. 1. #FutureIsNow
Aug. 10-11
The Texas Public Owner's Conference takes place Aug. 10-11 at the Cavalry Court Hotel in College Station. The event is hosted by the cities of Dallas, San Antonio, Austin, Fort Worth, Houston, Texas A&M University, in partnership with the Texas Public Owner's Group and the Institute for Leadership in Capital Projects. 

Municipalities, counties, ISD's, higher education and other public entities will share and find out more about leadership and collaboration, project planning and financing, technologies, reducing costs of operations and maintenance, and project delivery best practices. Register here.
Sept. 17-20
The Institute of Internal Auditors Southern Region Conference will take place from Sept. 17-20 at the Hilton Austin Hotel, located at 500 E 4th Street in Austin. The conference program offers attendees in the technology, state and local government, and medical industries cutting-edge, relevant information on core competencies and general audit, with new information on audit activities and industry hot topics. 

Attendees will master the newest technical audit skills and enhance interpersonal soft skills, vital to the growth and success of both the audit department and the organization. Register early, before July 17, and save $100.
Nov. 13-15
The 14th Annual Texas Energy Summit-Clean Air Through Energy Efficiency Conference (CATEE) will be held November 13-15 at the Dallas/Plano Marriott at Legacy Town Center, 7121 Bishop Road. This premiere educational conference and business exhibition provides a venue to learn about state-of-the-art energy innovations with a focus on energy in Texas, and by reaching out to energy partners throughout the state. 

The Texas Energy Summit will provide you the opportunity to engage with industry experts, state and local policy makers, community and business leaders, researchers, facility and energy managers, design and development professionals, utility and energy service experts, and more in a lively conversation about cleaner air, a better built environment, and a new energy economy! Register here.

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

This will surprise many. A recent report estimates that spending on law enforcement technology in the United States will likely reach $7.6 billion this year and that number will climb exponentially in the next few years. Law enforcement technology includes such things as body armor, cameras, drones, vehicles, biometric software, upgrades to Next Generation emergency systems and more. 

Body cameras are one of the hottest items. They are being purchased in bulk throughout the country. The Department of Homeland Security reports that 95 percent of America's police departments want body cams, and 20 percent of the departments have them already. Some estimate that, because of demand, the market for them by 2020 will represent more than $1 billion.

Drone usage by law enforcement is also expanding rapidly. The Center for the Study of Drones lists 40 states where police, sheriffs and first responders have access to drones. Texas leads the U.S. with 28 emergency organizations that have drone technology. California ranks second with 23, followed by Alabama with 20 and Wisconsin with 18.  








Buda applies for $14.5M loan to increase water supply
Buda City Council members voted to borrow $14.5 million from the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT) program to pay the city's share of a $213.4 million project with the Alliance Regional Water Authority (ARWA). The funds will be used to build water pipelines, wells, pump stations and treated transmission pipelines to increase the water supply to Buda, San Marcos, Kyle and the Canyon Creek Regional Water Authority. 

Current plans are for the pipeline, wells and pump stations to be completed by 2023, according to Graham Moore, executive director of the ARWA, previously the Hays Caldwell Public Utility Agency. The first phase of the pipeline construction is set to begin in the fall of 2017, Moore said. All of the communities involved have approved the construction of the pipeline.
Master plan proposed for Rick Husband Amarillo Airport
Michael Conner, the new director of aviation at Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport, has proposed submitting a new 20-year airport master plan to improve safety, usage and operations at the municipal airport to the Federal Aviation Administration.  

Funded by a $750,000 grant sought by a previous director of aviation at the airport, the 20-year master plan includes an inventory of existing facilities and services, forecasts of demand for aviation services, a phased-in capital improvement program, and an airport layout plan, said Conner. Airport officials are also encouraging residents to attend a public meeting scheduled later this month to discuss the proposed airport master plan. Work should begin soon on a $3.5 million project to replace and repair all damaged concrete panels on the terminal ramp.
Harris County partners with TxDOT for intersection improvements
Harris County Precinct 4 is partnering with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to fund intersection improvements along several major corridors in the Cy-Fair area, including North Eldridge Parkway and Spring Cypress Road. Intersection improvements vary from the installation of new traffic signals, the addition of dedicated turn lanes and the installation of battery backup systems to keep signals running during power outages. 

Construction is expected to get underway next summer. Improvements targeting the intersection of North Eldridge Parkway and FM 1960 will not be funded until fiscal year 2018-19. Precinct 4 will begin the bid process once the agreement between Harris County and TxDOT is executed.
Hall appointed as new police chief in Dallas
Ulysha Renee Hall
Ulysha Renee Hall was recently chosen as the police chief in Dallas following a nationwide search that produced a field of eight finalists for the job. If confirmed, Hall, who now serves as a deputy police chief in Detroit, will be the first female to serve as police chief in Dallas. She will replace former Police Chief David Brown, who retired in October. 

Hall joined the Detroit police force at age 29. Her father, a police officer, was killed while on duty when she was six months old. She established and managed a neighborhood policing program that produced large reductions in homicides and violent crime in that city. She will begin her new duties on Sept. 5.
San Marcos names Lumbreras as lone finalist for city manager
Bert Lumbreras
San Marcos City Council members selected Bert Lumbreras as the lone finalist for city manager following a search that attracted candidates from 21 states. Currently an assistant city manager in Austin, Lumbreras also was an assistant city manager in Waco and served as the city manager in Alamo, Dilley, Floresville and Uvalde. 

He also served as an intern for the city of San Marcos while in college. He will replace Jared Miller, who resigned in January to become the city manager in Amarillo. Lumbreras holds a bachelor's degree from Southwest Texas State University and earned designation of a credentialed manager from the International City/County Management Association.


Gallagher chosen as superintendent of Little Elm ISD
Daniel Gallagher
Daniel Gallagher won selection as the lone finalist for superintendent of the Little Elm Independent School District. Gallagher will replace Superintendent Lowell Strike, who is retiring in December. 

Gallagher currently serves as the assistant superintendent for educational services for the Little Elm district and previously was a director of education services for the Eagle Mountain Saginaw ISD and a principal for Arlington ISD and the Eagle Mountain-Saginaw district. He has a bachelor's degree from The University of Texas at Arlington, a master's degree from Texas Wesleyan University, an ED.S from Arkansas State University and his certification as a superintendent from The University of Texas at Tyler.


Laumer selected as city manager in Celina
Jason W. Laumer
Jason W. Laumer won selection as the new city manager in Celina effective on Aug. 28. A certified engineer and floodplain manager, Laumer now serves as the director of development services in Little Elm, where he also was the town engineer. 

He also was a consulting engineer that worked with several cities on a variety of projects. Laumer holds a bachelor's of science degree in engineering from Texas A&M University.
Alice terminates services of city manager and attorney
Alice City Council members voted to terminate the employment of Andy Joslin as city manager and David Towler as city attorney. Council members also named Diana Lopez as the interim city manager and John Lemon as the interim city attorney. 

Lopez agreed to accept the interim city manager post if council members said they would begin the search immediately to find a new city manager.




Phipps to resign as Friona city manager
Friona City Manager, Patricia Phipps, informed city council members she plans to resign from the job she has held for 8 years effective on Dec. 31, 2017.

She has worked for the city for 32 years. Council members also appointed two council members to serve as a subcommittee to lead the search for a new city manager.
Tucker resigns as city manager in Childress
City Manager Bryan Tucker resigned as city manager of Childress after serving in that job since 2008. 

Assistant City Manager Kevin Hodge will serve as interim city manager until council members select a replacement for the position. City officials have not yet set a timeline to hire the new city manager.


JOB BOARD
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Texas Government Insider is a free weekly newsletter detailing important happenings throughout the state and summarizing current political issues relevant to individuals interested in government.   
Publisher: Mary Scott Nabers
Editor: Kristin Gordon
TGI is published by Strategic Partnerships, Inc. (SPI), a research and consulting firm. Founded in Texas in 1995 by former government executives and public sector experts, SPI has developed a national reputation as the premier marketing partner dedicated to helping companies secure contracts in the $1.5 trillion state and local government marketplace.   
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