Texas Government Insider
Volume 13, Issue 4 - Friday, Jan. 23, 2015
Weber: 'Now the work begins'

TxDOT explaining transportation projects, funding allocations
Joe Weber Texans are finally about to see the results of their passage of Proposition 1 on the statewide ballot last November. "Now the work begins," said Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) Executive Director Joe Weber (pictured). 

Voters approved the proposition that will steer some of the oil and gas tax revenues that historically have gone to the state's rainy day fund into the State Highway Fund. Those funds were earmarked for transportation construction, maintenance and rehabilitation Road Work projects. And, to make the issue more palatable to toll-weary Texans, the language of the proposition prohibited any of the funding being used on toll roads.

The funds are intended to address congestion issues, connectivity, maintenance and repair of roads in the energy sector areas of the state . Those roads have been damaged by increased truck traffic related to oil and gas exploration.

It was determined by the State Comptroller that the net result of that action for FY 2015 budgeting would be $1.74 billion in new dollars for the highway fund. TxDOT officials recently held a public meeting seeking input on more than 200 road projects under consideration statewide. "We've been coordinating with locally elected officials and local planning organizations to identify project priorities," said Weber. Part of the project funding will include Proposition One funds.

Two of the six projects in Travis County relate to Interstate 35. One is a $57.3 million project south of the city where shoulders, auxiliary lanes, ramp improvement and pavement will be added between Stassney Lane and William Cannon. The other project is a bridge replacement crossing south of Slaughter Lane that has a $6.5 million price tag.

In Hidalgo County, a $56.27 million project on US 83 is one of four in the county. The work includes constructing a new four-lane divided rural highway facility. (A searchable list has been made available by TxDOT that offers a description of all projects, their physical locations and costs.)


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Bowen chosen by Gov. Abbott as HHSC Inspector General

Longtime federal public servant served under President George W. Bush
Stuart Bowen After having served in a variety of positions in the federal government, Stuart W. Bowen, Jr. (pictured) will be adding to his public service career, but in Texas, after having been appointed inspector general for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. Gov. Greg Abbott chose Bowen for the position charged with working to prevent, detect and investigate fraud, abuse and waste in state health and human services programs.

For 10 years, Bowen was Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction and had oversight of billions of dollars spent on Iraqi reconstruction. He also is former Deputy Assistant to President George W. Bush and Deputy Staff Secretary and Special Assistant to the President and Associate Counsel. Bowen also was appointed Deputy Counsel to then-Gov. Bush, as Assistant Attorney General of Texas, and as Briefing Attorney to Texas Supreme Court Justice Raul Gonzalez. Bowen served four years on active duty as a United States Air Force intelligence officer.

The HHSC Inspector General nominee, who must be confirmed by the Texas Senate, currently is a senior advisor on Iraq to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. He holds a bachelor's degree from The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, and a law degree from St. Mary's University School of Law in San Antonio.

Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars

 

Priscilla Pipho Priscilla Luzader Pipho, Chief Customer Officer, Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR)

 

Career highlights and education: Currently serving DIR is my career highlight thus far. As Chief Customer Officer, I am able to apply my private-sector and public-sector experience in marketing, communications, strategic planning and public administration to this position that is new to DIR. I earned a bachelor's degree from UT Austin in organizational communications and  a Master of Public Administration from Texas State, both of which have been useful in every job I have held. My public-sector career began working for The University of Texas McDonald Observatory Public Information Office which led me into marketing and communications. After I received my MPA, I worked for the Texas House and then for the State Auditor's Office, beginning to understand how Texas government really works. I subsequently worked in private and nonprofit organizations in marketing, communications and public relations, expanding my understanding of how people learn and how to define excellent customer service. For the last 12 years, I have worked in occupational licensing boards as the deputy to the executive director at the Texas Board of Architectural Examiners and the Board of Professional Engineers, respectively. At TBAE I oversaw IT and web development for eight years, which helped prepare me for working for the state's technology agency by first being a customer of DIR. 

What I like best about my job is: What I like best about my job is the opportunity to work with great people. Our executive team has a clear vision of performance excellence guided by honesty, transparency and discipline. With clarity of purpose, we are able to focus our activities and find the space to prioritize, and with compassionate team members, we are able to work more efficiently in helping one another succeed rather than competing to be on top. The people at DIR bring a deep commitment to their work and to each other, so it's no wonder that we were named one of the 2014 Top Workplaces in Austin by the Austin American-Statesman

The best advice I've received for my current job is: Recently, I attended the Governor's Executive Development Program, which  gave me a wealth of information, and I continue to apply those pearls of wisdom to my life every day. The best advice that was a result of that training was from the executive director of the program, Barry Bales, which was to approach my job with a sense of confidence, purpose and humility, and seek to rise above the noise to gain perspective and provide clear direction as a leader. I am grateful for the opportunity to have attended this program and I believe I will apply what I learned throughout my career.

Advice you would give a new hire in your office: Listen more than you talk, seek to understand more than being understood and try to solve the problems before you ask for help. As hard as we all work, there is never enough time to get it all done, so prioritizing is paramount. Don't be afraid to ask for that clarity from others, and treat team members as partners in discovering the best solution to our daily problems. 

If I ever snuck out of work early, I could probably be found: going to a yoga class or for a hike with my husband. Yoga is such a great way of feeling better physically and helping me to not feel my age. I'm a believer in maintaining a healthy life balance which includes continual learning and growing in all areas. Keeping those I love as a central part of my life nourishes me and helps keep me accountable to the values I hold, and I couldn't ask for a better partner than my sweet husband.

People would be surprised to know that I: love to vegetable garden and to be outside, planting, weeding, watching things grow. It's wonderful to see immediate accomplishments as well as long-term bounty, and to have an excuse to be outside before it gets too hot. My husband says I'm a catch-and-release gardener because so much of what I grow ends up right back in the compost pile. And, I have played guitar since I was 10, which would be a surprise if you ever heard me play!

One thing I wish more people knew about my agency: DIR leads the nation in innovative approaches. As the technology agency for Texas, we serve public entities by providing cooperative contracts for technology purchases, cybersecurity assistance, telecommunications and connectivity, technology planning services, digital government portals and data center services. Seventy-five percent of the entities that leverage our services come from local governments such as counties, municipalities and local school districts.

Hilderbran chosen to head Texas Facilities Commission
Harvey Hilderbran A former member of the Texas House of Representatives has been named executive director of the Texas Facilities Commission (TFC).

Harvey Hilderbran (pictured) will head the agency that oversees state-owned facilities, state-owned office space assignment, leasing and support services to state agencies.

Hilderbran, a businessman, served 13 terms in the Texas House, from 1988 to 2015. He holds a bachelor's degree from Texas Tech University.

Betty Reinbeck, chair of the seven-member TFC, said Hilderbran's business experience and extensive knowledge of state government will make him an asset to the agency.
Governor appoints Daniel to lead state's economic development
Bryan Daniel Gov. Gregg Abbott recently appointed Bryan Daniel (pictured) to lead economic development and tourism efforts in his office. Daniel replaces Jonathan Taylor, who was appointed by the former governor to that job in 2013.

Previously a senior administrator for trade and business development at the Texas Department of Agriculture, Daniel will work with Tracye McDaniel from New Jersey, who was appointed by Abbott to serve as president of the Texas Economic Development Corporation.

Following an auditor's report showing that the Texas Enterprise Fund had awarded more than $170 million to companies that did not apply for the funding, Abbott said he supports reforming economic development programs such as the Texas Enterprise Fund to ensure proper oversight of their activities.
Brian Engle leaving CISO job at DIR to return to private sector
Brian Engle A veteran IT expert with more than 20 years information technology leadership experience in both the public and private sectors is exiting state government. Brian Engle (pictured), chief information security officer (CISO) for the Texas Department of Information Resources (DRI) since 2013, announced this week that he would be stepping down.

In an email to DIR staff, Engle said he was leaving DIR to become executive director for the Retail Cyber Intelligence Sharing Center (R-CISC), a nonprofit that will serve as the Retail Industry Information Sharing and Analysis Center. Eddie Block will serve as Interim State CIO until a permanent employee is hired to fill that post.

Engle is a former CISO for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission and also is a former director of information security for Temple-Inland and held information security roles in the private sector as manager of information security assurance for a major financial institution and as senior information security analyst for Silicon Laboratories. Engle holds a bachelor's degree from Park University.
Grow your business

Squires appointed to Port of Corpus Christi Commission
Corpus Christi City Council members recently appointed Wayne Squires, a drilling company executive, to serve on the Port Commission of Corpus Christi.

Squires replaces Al Jones, chairman of American Bank, on the Commission. Jones, whose term expired on Jan. 1, had requested reappointment to the port commission.

Serving staggered three-year terms, seven port commissioners are appointed. The Corpus Christi City Council appoints three commissioners, Nueces County commissioners appoint three commissioners and San Patricio County commissioners appoint one commissioner.
Two TPWD employees recognized with awards from SEAFW
Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (SEAFWA) recently honored two Texas Parks and Wildlife Department employees. Texas Game Warden Derek Spitzer won SEAFWA's 2014 Texas Wildlife Officer of the Year award, and Chuck Kowaleski was named winner of SEAFWA's 2014 Wildlife Biologist of the Year award.

Spitzer has served with TPWD since 2000, when he began his career as a warden in Harris County. He is A founding member of the Texas Game Warden Dive Team. Kowaleski began his career with TPWD in 1990 as a Coastal Fisheries technician. He later was hired by the Inland Fisheries Division and then the Wildlife Division as one of the first urban fish and wildlife biologists for Houston. In 2001, Kowaleski rejoined the Wildlife Division as its farm bill coordinator and liaison with NRCS.
Mineral Wells bond group begins planning for 2016 bond election
Lance Howerton A Mineral Wells bond steering committee recently began meeting to study facility projects that may be included in a 2016 bond proposal.

Council members appointed the committee last December after City Manager Lance Howerton (pictured) told council the city would pay off previous bonds in 2016.

Howerton also recommended a bond proposal of about $54 million in capital improvement projects for the committee to study, including a new fire station and police station. The bond group also could recommend other projects they believe should be included in the bond proposition, he said.
McAllen bond panel backs $440M proposal to upgrade schools
A McAllen Independent School District bond committee recently proposed a $440 million bond election to pay for upgrades to district facilities.

Noting that demolishing and rebuilding each campus would cost the district nearly $700 million over a 30-year period, committee members pointed out that remodeling and retrofitting older buildings to use new technology would save money. The projects backed by the bond panel include $294 million toward educational needs such as audio/visual learning tools and science labs, $67 million to improve the exteriors and interiors of buildings, $54 million to repair mechanical systems such as roofs, electrical systems, plumbing, air conditioning and heating and $27 million to go toward upgrading safety and security.

The projects urged by the bond panel would meet the needs of the district until about 2045, according to a member of the Facilities Forecast Advisory Committee, which visited district facilities for the last year and one-half. Board members are expected to consider the bond recommendation on Jan. 26.
Travis County studies dates for possible courthouse bond vote
Travis County commissioners are debating on a date for a possible upcoming bond election. The county hopes to pass a bond issue in either May or November to help build a new $294 million Civil and Family Courthouse. To be located at 11th and Guadalupe, the proposed facility would be 14 stories and have 22 courtrooms. It would have underground parking.

A consulting firm recently offered numerous scenarios regarding when a bond vote could be called. Officials are caught between a long-pressing need for more space and a replacement for an outdated facility and the bad taste multi-million-dollar bond issues leave in the mouths of taxpayers. There is also concern of what other bond issues might be held or what other issues might be added to an election. An early vote, in May, would also lessen the time county officials have to inform the public about the project and the need for the project. County Judge Sarah Eckhardt said she is hopeful the court can decide on a date for the bond issue by February.
SPI Training Services

Beaumont ISD gets almost $900,000 in restitution payment
Beaumont Independent School District officials recently received $897,000 in restitution funds from two former employees who embezzled about $4 million from the school district.

The U.S. Attorney's office sent the restitution money as part of its forfeiture efforts against two former BISD employees - former Finance Director Devin McCraney and former Comptroller Sharika Allison. Both were convicted of felonies for their actions, which resulted in the Texas Education Commissioner placing the district under control of a board of managers that replaced the elected trustees.
Sherman OK's $2.5M in bonds to upgrade water treatment plant
Drew Satterwhite Sherman City Council members recently approved issuing $2.5 million in bonds to fund the first phase of a $20 million project to upgrade the water treatment plant.

By issuing the revenue bonds through the Greater Texoma Utility Authority (GTUA) at a preferred interest rate, the city could save as much as $118,709 over the life of the loan, according to an estimate by the Water Development Board, said Drew Satterwhite, general manager of the GTUA. This issue of bonds will finance planning, acquisition and design services for the treatment plant project, Satterwhite said.

The water plant upgrade is expected to double the ability to treat water from Lake Texoma once the new treatment plant is completed in about three years, he said.
Approved by TPWD...

Communities throughout Texas to share $8 million in park grants
Park Grants Communities throughout the state will get a boost in funding for their parks after the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission this week approved more than $8 million in grant funds for Texas parks. Twenty-five of the 55 projects that competed for grant funding were awarded grants. The money comes from a portion of the state sales tax on sporting goods and from offshore gas royalties through the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The money is intended to be used for acquiring and developing outdoor recreation areas and facilities.

There are three types of grants awarded: The Urban Outdoor Recreation Grants go to cities of 500,000 population and more and went to Austin, Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio. The Non-Urban Outdoor Recreation Grants go to municipalities of fewer than 500,000 people and were awarded to 10 communities. Eleven communities received the Small Community Recreation Grants that go to municipalities with a population less than 20,000.

Following is a list of the grant funds awarded by geographic region:

Austin
Austin will receive an Urban Outdoor Recreation Grant of $725,000 to support the development of Colony District Park and includes trails, ballfields, pavilion, and picnic tables.

The City of Leander was awarded a Non-Urban Outdoor Recreation Grant of $400,000 to obtain 125.4 acres by donation and develop Lakewood Community. The proposal includes nature trail, backstops, pavilion, picnic tables, benches, canoe/kayak launch, fishing pier and a dedicated open space.

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Blinn College moves forward with $4.37M renovation plan
Blinn College trustees recently authorized administrators to negotiate a $4.37 million contract with a Brenham-based construction firm to renovate several facilities at their campus in Bryan.

When construction begins in March, plans call for renovating the administration building, bookstore, student center and science building. The renovations are expected to be completed by fall.
P3 Opportunities

Hewitt to seek bids for $4.5 million combined city hall, library
Hewitt City Council members recently agreed to seek bids for a new $4.5 million city hall and library facility after reviewing final design plans.

Work on the 26,500-square-foot city hall and library building funded by a $6.8 million bond package could begin as early as April and the facility open by spring 2016.

Plans include a pet zone, coffee bar and a butterfly garden just outside of the library portion of the building to be located next to a newly completed public safety building. The library will be about four times larger than the current library and includes access to the neighboring city council chamber that also will be used for municipal court hearings and library activities.
College Station ISD exploring bond election in November
Clark Ealy Following a request by Superintendent Clark Ealy (pictured), College Station ISD trustees recently agreed to appoint a bond committee and continue preparations for a bond election in November.

Board members also agreed to use a construction manager-at-risk for projects over $2 million rather than seeking competitive, sealed bids for the larger projects. The district will continue to use the sealed bid process on smaller projects, trustees said.

Bond committee members will be tasked with studying population growth estimates, the financial capacity of the district and conditions at each campus as well as potential capital needs before making a recommendation on a bond election to board members. Trustees have until August to schedule a bond election in November.
Coleman County Hospital District calls for $12M May election
The Coleman County Medical Center Hospital District Board has called for a May bond election. The bond would be for a $12 million project that will include a new inpatient unit, emergency department, surgical and obstetrical services and imaging, laboratory and pharmacy departments. The business office, medical records and other support offices will be relocated to the facility that currently is home for inpatient and outpatient care.

The call for new facilities follows a 2013 facility assessment. Preferred Management Corporation, which will operate the hospital, has committed to purchasing $2 million in equipment for the project if the bond issue is approved.
Research Analysts - Contracts

Fort Bend transit system planning to build new headquarters facility
Officials of Fort Bend County's Public Transportation Department recently began planning to consolidate several separate facilities into a new consolidated headquarters building on a 50-acre site owned by the county in rural Rosenberg.

Preliminary estimates place the cost of the new facility from $16 million to $18 million. County officials already have filed an application for federal funding that could pay up to 60 percent of the construction cost of the proposed consolidated transportation headquarters.

About 100 employees of the Public Transportation Department now operate 53 buses out of four facilities in separate locations, one of which lacks sufficient parking for employees. The new site is southwest of the intersection of US59 and SH36 and adjacent to a county-owned fuel depot. County officials expect to learn within several months if the project will receive federal funding.
Lake Travis ISD advised to build two new schools in near future
Brad Lancaster Lake Travis Independent School District trustees recently began considering a recommendation by a consultant that the district should build and open two new schools between 2018 and 2020 to meet population growth in that district.

Superintendent Brad Lancaster (pictured) noted the need to plan ahead to avoid opening an elementary with too many students because that would mean overcrowding at nearby elementary schools. Lancaster urged trustees to adopt a long-range plan for growth to avoid opening a school with only a few students, an indication of poor planning.

The school district, which has experienced a 12 percent growth in population in the last two years, has the highest growth rate among the 33 school districts in the region, noted the president of the consulting firm. The majority of the growth is in the southern portion of the district, he said.
Contracting Opportunities

Cibolo planning to transform former school into community center
Cibolo city officials recently began considering a $4 million proposal to build a new 24,000-square-foot community center and renovate a nearby former school into city office space and meeting rooms. Voters approved the community activity center in a 2008 bond election.

To be located on four acres of land near Loop 539, the new community center would feature two gymnasiums, an exercise and weight room, a kitchen and locker rooms. The center would be attached to the renovated school, which the city obtained from the Schertz-Cibolo-Universal City Independent School District in 2011.

Plans call for renovating the school to create offices for several city departments, a library, three meeting rooms and more parking. City officials plan to add an amphitheater, sand volleyball courts and a playground to the community center in the future.
Police chief pushes for upgrades to Alvin city hall security
Robert Lee Several incidents that frightened city employees recently prompted Alvin city officials to approve $77,800 to hire a consulting company to study how to renovate the city hall to increase security for employees. The facility was built in 1971.

Police Chief Robert Lee (pictured) urged renovations such as a central reception area, bulletproof glass in the court and areas where customers pay bills, an updated security camera system and creating new exits to allow employees to safely escape some dangerous situations.

City officials expect the report from the consulting company by the end of April.
Your Ad Here!

Denton County seeking bids again to repair communication towers
Denton County officials recently agreed to seek a second round of bids to repair two communication towers that may be structurally deficient to hold new communication systems equipment that must be placed on the two towers.

County officials rejected the only qualified bid submitted for the tower project and encouraged two other companies to submit corrected paperwork with their bids, which had ranged from $200,000 to $300,000.

Repairs on the towers are needed to accommodate equipment from a new communications system designed to increase communications capabilities of the sheriff's department.
Nueces County approves plans for expansion of county jail
Jim Kaelin Nueces County Sheriff Jim Kaelin (pictured) recently won approval of his proposal to county commissioners to expand the county jail. Before the jail expansion can occur, however, the Texas Commission on Jail Standards and county commissioners must approve a final plan.

The sheriff's plan includes adding space for 144 additional inmates by converting the gymnasium, training room and storage areas of the McKenzie Jail Annex into dorm space for prisoners. The current jail is accredited to hold 1,068 inmates, but limited to 90 percent of that capacity in case emergencies or maintenance issues arise, Kaelin said.

The goal is to begin construction on the jail expansion by the end of this year or in early 2016, the sheriff said.
Rowlett council gets recommendation for bond issue
A list of recommendations has been presented to the Rowlett City Council regarding possible projects for an upcoming May bond election. The recommendations come from the Community Investment Program Task Force. If the Council agrees to the project list, its next step will be to adopt bond language, likely in February.

Recommendations include $13.1 million for six projects that address infrastructure issues, $7.2 million for 19 projects dealing with quality of life issues and $5 million for projects related to growth needs. Some of the projects include an advanced traffic management system, several parks and sidewalk projects. A new public safety training center is also on the wish list. Also recommended are a hike and bike trail, a new wing added to the community center and neighborhood road and drainage projects.

 

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Check out our Public-Sector Job Board!

Dozens of public-sector jobs available. New jobs added this week: Public Utility Commission - Engineer, Part-Time Engineer; State Bar of Texas - Legal Assistant.; Tx Military Dept. - Commandant, Asst. Commandant and Program Coordinator for Texas ChalleNGe Academy; Ector County - Library Clerk; Texas Higher Ed Coordinating Board - Technical Writer (Grants) and Senior Director, Special Projects. Click here to view jobs. Free job postings for state and local governments, nonprofits and other public-sector entities. Send your posting to editor@spartnerships.com

Bids for Longview animal shelter come in over budget
Bids for building a new animal shelter in Longview recently came in at least $750,000 more than originally planned and $250,000 more than estimated in the design phase, with the bids ranging from $5.75 million to $6.06 million. The new shelter is to be located on 4.3 acres of land donated to the city by the Humane Society.

City officials plan to review the design plan to identify any less expensive alternatives and look closely at the city budget to identify any way to fund the additional construction costs for the animal shelter, said Assistant City Manager Keith Bonds. The city previously offered four alternative designs to reduce the cost by $100,000, including asphalt paving rather than concrete paving, fluorescent lighting instead of LED fixtures and asphalt shingle roofing in place of standing seam roofing, he said.

The decision of who will build the facility and who will operate the shelter is on the agenda of the next council meeting on Jan. 27.
Chico ISD eyeing four proposals for bond election in May
Trustees for Chico Independent School District recently began reviewing four propositions ranging from $395,620 to $2.6 million for projects to include in a possible bond election in May.

An architect who had assisted district officials in reviewing facility needs provided cost estimates on three of the four bond propositions he outlined for trustees. The first proposition for $1.6 million in safety and security upgrades at all district campuses includes the addition of cameras, electronic card readers, upgrading existing security cameras and replacing the roof and heating, ventilation and air conditioning system at a middle school. The second proposal for $2.6 million includes a new agricultural barn, building a new restroom/concession stand facility at the baseball/softball fields in addition to adding a new canopy over the existing grandstands at the fields.

The third proposition would ask approval of $395,520 to pay for extending the pick-up lane for students at an elementary school, building a path for pedestrians to the middle school and providing more parking at the high school. The architect gave no cost estimate for the fourth bond proposition calling for improving transportation and improving technology. Trustees are expected to vote on the bond election in February.
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Lubbock high school hands out iPads to all 700 students
The Lubbock Independent School District recently began a district-wide technology initiative by delivering an iPad to each of the 700 students at Estacado High School to ensure equal access to technology for all students.

High school officials met with each student and their parents or guardians to hand out and educate students and parents on the use of electronic devices. School officials won a federal grant to improve its educational programs to pay for devices for each student and some faculty at the high school, noted Jimmy Moore, principal of Estacado High School. Students will be allowed access to their school accounts, communicate with teachers and do their homework on the electronic devices, he said.

Eagle Ford Consortium Conference accepting registrations

Online registration has opened and sponsorships are being accepted for the upcoming 4th Annual Eagle Ford Consortium Conference. Exhibitor information is also available. This year's event will be May 27-29 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, 600 E. Market Street in San Antonio. The event will feature a variety of speakers to discuss the impact oil and gas exploration within the Eagle Ford Shale will have on local business, industry, communities and public entities. The agenda and list of speakers will be announced as the date of the conference approaches. For more info, contact info@eaglefordconsortium.org.

Media Notice

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Want to buy customized 
data from a city?

 

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

 

There's a new way for cities to get revenue. And, interestingly enough, it also benefits citizens who need information as well as economic development teams trying to attract new industry to a region. 

Think about it...cities have tons of information and data, more than almost any other entity, and people have proven they will pay for data and information. So, cities are finally getting into the act.

The idea of collecting, managing, analyzing and even selling data makes so much sense that many local governments are creating specialized departments called Geographic Information System (GIS) Divisions.

GIS relies heavily on local mapping combined with all types of government-captured information and historical data. When all the information and data is combined and repurposed, very interesting value can be produced.

For instance, data from the city of Rusk was used to develop a network for fire hydrants and their location in relationship to the city street network. Government information data is usually considered public domain and is therefore free and available to citizens. However, the more innovative cities are offering to provide customized information and reports for a fee. In fact, the city of Kilgore recently agreed to hire GIS services from the city of Longview. 

When all types of data are centralized and categorized, the value benefits public employees as well as citizens. Emergency management officials use GIS to plan for emergencies. Looking at maps, emergency exits, hospitals, flood patterns, public safety offices and traffic patterns is extremely helpful.
 
One very successful GIS system is located in the city of Santa Rosa, California. The GIS software used there manages inventory and all city assets. The system provides locations of street lights, utility meters, water pipes and sewer infrastructure. It also provides names and contact information for people who live in the area in case notification is required when new projects are proposed for the area.
  
  
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Collaboration Nation

Liberty Hill approves $8.7 million expansion of wastewater plant
Liberty Hill City Council members recently approved plans for an $8.7 million expansion of the wastewater treatment plant. The proposal includes $1.4 million to purchase a membrane bio-reactor treatment system for the regional treatment plant.

The expansion is designed to increase the current capacity of 400,000 gallons per day to 1.2 million gallons per day.
Ott reappointed to NLC's transportation-related committee
Marc Ott Marc Ott (pictured), Austin city manager, has been reappointed to the 2015 Transportation Infrastructure and Services Steering Committee of the National League of Cities (NLC). Ott has previously served on the committee with other elected officials and public administrators.

The committee is charged with developing federal policy positions on transportation. That includes the planning, funding, safety and security of public transit, streets and highways, aviation, railroads and ports. Committee members will work to shape NLC's policy positions and advocate before Congress for the nation's cities and towns.
San Antonio moves forward with $43.5M renovation of Alamodome
San Antonio City Council members recently approved a $43.4 million renovation to the Alamodome.

Current plans area to add a new video wall, new corridors, entrances and exits along with better seating. Plans also call for improving access to public transportation.
Halff

Big Spring ISD taps White as interim assistant superintendent
Big Spring Independent School District officials recently selected Jim White, a retired superintendent at Colorado ISD, as the interim assistant superintendent until a new assistant superintendent is hired.

White, who has 33 years experience in public education before he retired in 2010, will replace former Assistant Superintendent Danny Ferrell, who died in early January.

Is your city participating in 2015 Mayors Day of Recognition?

Is your city participating in the 2015 Mayors Day of Recognition for National Service?  The second annual Mayors Day of Recognition for National Service was held on April 1, 2014. In total, 1,760 mayors across the country signed on to pledge their support of national service - of these, Texas ended up the #2 state in the nation with  130 Texas mayors participating!  We would like to be #1 in 2015!   Participation can be anything  from a proclamation to an event to an online pledge.  Click here for more information on the Mayors Day of Recognition for National Service, and save the date for Mayors Day 2015 - April 7, 2015! Questions? Contact tx@cns.gov.

Kilgore narrowing list 
of applicants for city manager
Kilgore City Council members recently met in executive session to begin narrowing down the list of 40 applicants for city manager. More than half of the applicants are from Texas, city officials said.

The new city manager will replace Scott Sellers, who resigned to serve as city manager in Kyle. The goal is to begin interviews with finalists for city manager within two months.
HDI Solutions

Smith to serve as municipal 
judge for city of Tomball
Cindy Bennett Smith recently won appointment as the judge of the municipal court of Tomball for a term to expire on Aug. 31, 2016.

An attorney, Smith has 13 years experience in private law practice. She also is admitted to practice in the United States Supreme Court, Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, the State of Texas and the Southern, Eastern, Western and Northern Federal District Courts of Texas.
TWDB meeting to address water solutions, financial assistance
The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) will hold two sessions regarding innovative water technology solutions for the state and to discuss financial assistance for water projects in Texas. The two meetings will be Thursday, Jan. 29, in Room 1-111 of the William B. Travis Building, 1701 Congress in Austin. The first session will begin at 9 a.m. and the second starts at 12:30 p.m.

Presentations and discussions on innovative water solutions to help conserve and manage current water supplies in the state will be part of the first session. The session will also provide for discussion on developing new water supplies in the state. The second session will focus on financial assistance for multiple communities throughout the state and will feature briefings and discussions on TWDB's Quarterly Investment Report, agency financial policies and drought conditions. More information is available on the TWDB Web site.
Olsen retiring as Sherman 
city manager after eight years
George Olsen City Manager George Olsen (pictured) of Sherman recently told city officials he plans to retire on March 31 after 28 years with the city and eight as city manager.

Beginning work in human resources, Olsen served as director of community resources before becoming city manager. He said he has no plans to accept another post, but will spend more time with his family.

City officials have not yet decided on a transition plan, but the mayor said she is not ruling out support for Assistant City Manager Robby Hefton as interim city manager. Council members soon will make a decision on selecting an interim replacement and the process for finding a permanent replacement for Olsen, the mayor said.
Northrop Grumman

Former judge hired as El 
Paso assistant city attorney
Don W. Minton, a former district court judge, has been hired as an assistant city attorney for the city of El Paso. Minton served two years as a district judge and served nine years as president of the Minton Law Firm. H will serve in the litigation section of the City Attorney's Office.

Minton also served as a child support judge for El Paso, Hudspeth and Culberson counties. He earned his law degree from The University of Texas School of Law.
Hugman resigns as assistant 
city manager in Wichita Falls
Kevin Hugman Assistant City Manager Kevin Hugman (pictured) of Wichita Falls recently resigned to become the new city manager in Duncanville.

A 26-year veteran of the U.S. Navy, Hugman served as an assistant city manager in Southlake before joining Wichita Falls as an assistant city manager in 2010.

Duncanville city officials selected Hugman from a field of 35 applicants and five finalists.
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Hillsboro ISD names three 
as interim superintendents
Hillsboro Independent School District board members recently appointed three administrators to serve as interim superintendents to replace former Superintendent Buck Gilcrease.

Kelly Hestand, the assistant superintendent of teaching and learning; Jimmy Adams, senior executive director of finance, and Barbara Robinson, senior executive director of human resources, will share the duties of superintendent until a new superintendent comes on board.

Trustees also agreed to hire a Fairview-based search firm to assist in finding a new superintendent. District officials will accept applications until Feb. 23, interview candidates in late March and name a new superintendent by March 30, who will join the district by May 15.
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Architect sought for new public safety building in San Juan
Interested firms are being asked to submit their qualifications to serve as architect for a new public safety facility to be built in San Juan. City officials, however, are still debating whether the building, which will be built on Ridge Road, should be a substation or a larger facility.

If a substation is built, it would rely on local funding alone. The 5,000-square-foot facility would cost no more than $750,000 and would be home to the police and fire department personnel. The other option is for a complex with a $23.1 million price tag to house the police station and municipal court and a $5.5 million facility for the fire department.
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Bell County asks Killeen to back tax hike to upgrade expo center
Bell County officials recently requested Killeen City Council members to support a proposed 2 percent increase in the hotel/motel occupancy tax to pay for expanding and improving the Bell County Expo Center in Belton.

Other cities in the county have agreed to support the proposed increase in the hotel/motel tax to pay for needed renovations, but Killeen city officials have not yet indicated support for the project, the county judge said.
Bridges to serve as new city administrator in Stephenville
Pat Bridges Pat Bridges (pictured), recently signed a two-year contract to serve as the new city administrator in Stephenville.

Previously the police chief and then interim city administrator in Stephenville, Bridges replaced Mark Kaiser, who resigned as city administrator in August.

Victoria looking at new 
sports complex to attract visitors
Victoria City Council recently began discussion whether to support changes to the law governing the hotel/motel occupancy tax fund to help the city pay for a new sports complex to host athletic tournaments that would attract more out-of-town visitors.

The current law does not allow small cities to use the hotel/motel occupancy tax fund to build facilities, according to the communications director for the city. City officials are meeting with legislators to introduce a change in the hotel tax with a goal of using the additional funding to build a sports complex, he said.
Kennedy tapped as lone finalist 
for superintendent at Burton ISD
Edna Kennedy Edna Kennedy (pictured), currently superintendent at Marion Independent School District, recently won selection as the lone finalist for superintendent at Burton ISD.

Kennedy will replace current Superintendent Jim Palmer, who is retiring after 12 years with the Burton district.

Until the required waiting period is over and the contract with Kennedy finalized, Karen Steenken, a high school principal, will continue to serve as interim superintendent for the district.
Cyndy Powell leaving post 
as city administrator in Ovilla
Ovilla City Council members recently voted to authorize the mayor to present City Administrator Cyndy Powell with a written termination agreement and release. Powell had worked in that post since summer 2013.

City officials have not yet appointed an interim city administrator or begun a search to find a new city administrator.
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Clifton taps Harvey as new 

city administrator, city secretary

Clifton city officials recently appointed Pam Harvey as the new city administrator and city secretary, effective on Feb. 1. Harvey previously served as interim city administrator.

Texas Government Insider Archives  

Governor's appointments
Gov. Greg Abbott has announced the following appointments:
  • Sara Martinez Tucker of Dallas, The University of Texas System Board of Regents; 
  • David Beck of Houston, The University of Texas System Board of Regents;
  • R. Steven "Steve" Hicks of Austin, The University of Texas System Board of Regents; 
  • William "Bill" Mahomes, Jr. of Dallas, Texas A&M University Board of Regents; 
  • Robert L. "Bob" Albritton of Fort Worth, Texas A&M University Board of Regents; 
  • Phil Adams, Bryan-College Station, Texas A&M University Board of Regents; 
  • Christopher M. Huckabee of Fort Worth, Texas Tech University Board of Regents; 
  • Ronnie "Ron" Hammonds of Houston, Texas Tech University Board of Regents; 
  • Mickey Long of Midland, Texas Tech University Board of Regents.
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