Texas Government Insider
News And People

Volume 15, Issue 12- Friday, March 24, 2017
Glenn Hegar
Managing money in our day-to-day lives is quite a balancing act. The key is not to spend more than you have, make stable investments and accrue funds for a nest egg that will serve you well in case of an emergency or during your retirement years. This would be the best-case scenario for everyone, but life happens and that can wreak havoc on anyone's good fortune. Then the inevitable happens...You have to borrow money. Now you are obligated to pay it back with interest and if you let those payments slide or default on that loan, your credit score will suffer. The same concept can be applied to cities and states. 

In December, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar sent a letter to Gov. Greg Abbott and legislative leadership outlining long-term challenges to the state's financial health. "As a former legislator, I know only too well the difficulties that can come with the budget process, as lawmakers attempt to reconcile thousands of competing needs," wrote Hegar in his letter. "The hot-button demands of the next two years always seem more important than issues that can be allowed to slide for 'just one more session.' Unfortunately, delaying action on some of our long-term obligations will only cost us more over time, much like compounding interest on a loan."


Dallas to use $15M donation to build Pacific Park Plaza
Dallas City Council members plan to use a $15 million donation from Parks for Downtown Dallas to transform a parking lot into a new greenspace. The city purchased the 3.2-acre site ten years ago with the support of the Trust for Public Land, which also contributed $1 million for an operating endowment for the park. In the development agreement, city officials agreed to spend between $500,000 to $1.6 million to perform environmental remediation at the site.
 
Plans for the new park have been tentative as another developer had won support from some council members to build a downtown park with an underground parking garage. Construction on the new Pacific Plaza Park should begin early next year when the remediation work is completed. The project build should take a year to 18 months.
Harlingen weighing whether to build proposed $5M transit center
Harlingen City Commissioners asked City Manager Dan Serna to review possible funding sources and a suitable two-acre site to build a proposed $5 million transit center. City leaders are trying to decide whether to proceed with the project that is ranked as number 13 of 17 priorities in Harlingen's 10-year comprehensive plan. 

City officials also would need to find $1 million to qualify for $3.6 million in grants that the Harlingen-San Benito Metropolitan Transportation Organization (MTO) awarded the city to build the new transit center with bus bays for all bus lines providing service to the city. The grant also requires that $1.2 million of the grant funds must be used by September 2018 or risk the loss of that grant, according to Tom Logan, director of the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council which operates Valley Metro. The agency could allot the grant funding to other projects and postpone the transit center project, Logan said. City officials also could seek an extension for the proposed transit center.
Cleveland approves $1.75M airport upgrade and other improvements
Cleveland City Council members approved a $1.75 million project to upgrade the Cleveland Municipal Airport by adding three new hangars in addition to moving forward with six other capital improvement projects.  

Other approved projects include upgrades to the downtown area, a $225,000 plan to add furniture and equipment and repave the parking lot of the public library, paving several streets, adding a splash park, spending $60,000 to install playground equipment at Campbell Park and rehabilitation of a water well, said Bobby Pennington, finance director for the city. To pay for some of the projects the city plans to use $2.7 million in grant funding and money from the city's $4.4 million fund balance.
Houston's new bike plan expected to cost up to $550M
The Houston City Council approved a new bike plan that is expected to build 1,700 miles of new trails and on-street bike lanes in the next ten to 20 years with an expected cost between $300 million and $550 million. Council members, however, allocated no funding to build the new bike lanes. Funding for about 700 miles of the new bike trails may be available under existing ReBuild Houston funding, according to John Long, executive director of BikeHouston, which supports the new bike plan. 

More funding could be available for the bike lanes from private contributions or if voters approve a bond to build more bike lanes, Long said. The bike plan calls for increasing safety by including physical barriers from traffic or widening paths for bikes to provide high-comfort lanes. Of the 500 miles of existing bike lanes in the city, about half are high-comfort but only 39 of those bike lanes are located on streets, many of which have large pot holes, Long said.
Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars
Julie Goonewardene, Associate Vice Chancellor for Innovation and Strategic Investment, University of Texas System

Julie Goonewardene
Career highlights and education:Julie Goonewardene is an experienced entrepreneur, having co-founded and served as president and CEO of Cantilever Technologies, a venture-backed software company that was successfully acquired. Prior to Cantilever, she was president of the Strategic Systems Group (SSG), a boutique information technology consulting firm, and co-founder of Technology Solutions (TSC), a professional IT services firm which went public three years after its inception. Ms. Goonewardene holds a Bachelor of Science with honors in general management and a Master's of Science in health communication both from Purdue University. Julie currently serves as the Associate Vice Chancellor for Innovation and Strategic Investment at the University of Texas System. Julie is responsible for a $50M venture fund, oversees entrepreneurial programs, creates partnerships between UT System institutions and industry, and brings resources to assist companies and start-ups involving university assets.

What I like best about my job is: That my job exists to ensure the life-changing innovations of UT system reach the people that need them. We help make innovation real.

The best advice I've received for my current job is: Be yourself.

Advice you would give a new hire in your office: Check your ego at the door - we are here to serve the people of Texas, the nation and the world.

If I ever left work early, I could probably be found: Spending time with my kids.

People would be surprised to know that I: Am the child of immigrants, who came to the US with only $500.

One thing I wish more people knew about my agency:
 
· 2nd in the U.S. for number of university startups formed in 2015-2016- Association of University Technology Managers 
 · 4th in the world for Top 100 Worldwide Universities Granted U.S. Utility Patents in 2015, according to the National Academy of Inventors & Intellectual Property Owners Association. 
· 1st in the U.S. among public universities and university systems on The World's Most Innovative Universities 2016 list, compiled by Reuters.
Texas State Railroad issues RFP for potential operators
The Texas State Railroad Authority Board approved to send out a request for proposals (RFP) for new, potential operators. The current operator's contract expires at the end of the month and the board has decided to look at other options. 

According to the TSRR Authority Board, the current operator owes them $1.9 million and in December was given 120 days to comply with the contract. If the board goes with another operator, the current one will have 45 days to remove their property from the site after the 120 days expires. 

TSSR has requested that if a new company is chosen, operations should resume right away so there isn't a gap in service. A few members of the railroad board plan to review the bids and rank them in a conference call before presenting their work to the complete board at its March 29 meeting.
Montgomery agrees to seek bids to replace $1.33M bridge
Montgomery City Council members agreed on a plan that would permit city officials to seek bids for a $1.33 million project to replace the Buffalo Springs Bridge which was damaged by flooding in May 2016. 

Plans to proceed with the bridge project anticipate that Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) officials will approve a grant that will pay 75 percent, or almost $997,500, of the cost of the bridge repairs and for $350,000 in disaster relief funding from a Texas Community Development Grant. Council members also set a goal to begin repairs on the bridge by Aug. 1 and complete the project by Oct. 1.
Nueces County considers $3M renovation and future build for overcrowded jail
Pointing out that the county jail is now at 100 percent capacity, Nueces County Sheriff Jim Kaelin urged commissioners to begin planning to build a new jail within the next five to ten years.

While county officials are considering a $3 million project to renovate and expand the McKenzie Annex on the west side of the county to reduce overcrowding, Kaelin said the planned addition of 144 new beds will help in the short term, but that county officials should begin planning for a long-term solution. County commissioners plan to place a discussion on jail overcrowding at the top of the list later this year when the county's budget process begins.
House approves bill that could provide a P3 for Midland's wastewater facility
The Texas House of Representatives gave final approval to House Bill 101 to allow the city of Midland to enter into a public-private partnership with Pioneer Natural Resources to improve the city's wastewater treatment facility and build pipelines in order to transport the water to oil fields outside of the city. State Rep. Tom Craddick said that he had been approached by 10 or 15 other representatives about getting similar projects in their communities. 

The proposed agreement calls for the city to provide the private company with billions of gallons of treated wastewater over a 28-year period for use by hydraulic fracturing operations across the Permian Basin. In return, the private company will provide $110 million to improve the water treatment facility and an estimated $2.5 million a year in revenue to the city for the treated wastewater supplied to the company. The company also agreed to build a $28 million, seven-mile pipeline to transport the wastewater out of the city in an effort to remove the large number of water trucks that now crowd the city. The bill must be approved by the Texas Senate and the governor before it becomes law.
Cities share $2M for keeping Texas Beautiful
Officials of Keep Texas Beautiful (KTB) and the Texas Department of Transportation selected 10 communities in this state to share $2 million in grants for landscape projects as winners of the 2017 Governor's Community Achievement Awards (GCAA).  

The communities that will receive the awards for future landscape projects in June at the 50th annual conference of Keep Texas Beautiful in San Antonio are Athens, Bastrop, Copperas Cove, Flower Mound, Fort Worth, Longview, McAllen, Muenster, Murphy and San Saba. The landscape projects will be located on state-maintained rights-of-way. TxDOT and KTB officials select the awards from 10 different categories based on population. All communities in the state are eligible to submit one GCAA entry per year.
Montgomery upgrades wastewater system with $2.82M
Montgomery city officials plan to use two loans totaling $2.82 million from the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) to pay for upgrades to its water and wastewater systems. 

TWDB members approved a $1.73 million loan from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and $1.09 million from the Clean Water Revolving Fund to install about 4,000 feet of water main, improve the water flow pressure, and build a 10,000-gallon tank, cooling tower and 210,000-gallon ground storage tank. Additional upgrades to the wastewater system include replacing existing lift station pumps and rerouting an existing pipeline. Work should begin on the upgrades to the water and wastewater systems before the end of this year.
Texas Economic Development Corporation searching for new CEO
Texas Economic Development Corporation (TECD) board members are launching a search for a new president and chief executive officer following the resignation of Tracye McDaniel. The goal is to identify and hire a new president and CEO as soon as possible, according to Sanjiv Yajnik, chairman of the TECD board. TECD is an independently funded, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization created to help with economic development, business recruitment and job creation in this state. 

Part of the organization is TexasOne, a public-private partnership of the TECD that coordinates efforts with the governor's office to market Texas nationally and internationally as a business destination. McDaniel, who has worked for more than 20 years in managing public and private economic organizations, is launching a specialized consulting company to work with businesses, government and non-profit organizations.
Utter to serve as provost for academic affairs at Texas Woman's University
Alan Utter
Alan C. Utter is set to serve as provost and vice president for academic affairs at Texas Woman's University on July 1. He now serves as a professor and vice provost for research at Appalachian State University (ASU) in North Carolina. 

At ASU, Utter, whose professional focus is on health and wellness, expanded faculty research to total $16 million between 2014 and 2016, a 50 percent increase over previous years. He was elected to the ACSM Board of Trustees and served as President of the Southeast American College of Sports Medicine. Utter earned his bachelor's, master's and a Ph.D. at the University of Pittsburgh.
Greenville looking to sell coal-fired generating plant
The Greenville City Council approved this month to waive a deadline to sell the coal-fired Gibbons Creek electric generating plant or shut it down. The Greenville Electric Utility Systems (GEUS) Board of Trustees had already voted in February to waive the Sept. 1, 2018 deadline at the request of the Texas Municipal Power Agency (TMPA). 

The GEUS board and the council voted last year to approve a new joint operating agreement with TMPA which includes provisions for creating a plan for shutting down the plant if it can't be sold. Drawing up a decommissioning plan would cost an estimated $100,000 to $200,000, with the actual decommissioning effort costing between $30 to $40 million. The TMPA is comprised of the electric utility systems in Greenville, Bryan, Garland and Denton and operates the plant, which provides power to the communities. The cities have been members of the TMPA since its creation in 1975. The utilities have come to rely less and less on Gibbons Creek over the years due to declining prices on natural gas and alternative energy sources.
Calendar of Events

June 18-20
The 2017 SelectUSA Investment Summit will be held June 18-20 at the Gaylord Hotel - National Harbor in Washington, D.C. The summit's theme "Grow with US" will highlight the innovative business climate in the United States and feature investment opportunities from every corner of the country. Keynote speakers and panelists will lay out a clear roadmap of how businesses of any size, and any industry, can benefit and contribute to the U.S. economy. Register for the event here.
June 25-28
The Smart Cities Connect Conference and Expo will take place June 25-28 at the Austin Convention Center. This Internet of Things technology trade show will include hands-on workshops and smart technology demonstrations. Areas of focus include connected buildings, urban mobility, advanced networks, governance, infrastructure, energy, resiliency, technology and data and citizen life. Register for the event 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.

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

If there's a manual anywhere on public-private partnerships (P3s/PPPs), it may have been written in Washington, D.C. But, not, as one might suspect, by lawmakers in the halls of the U.S. Congress. The manual could have been written by some visionary locally elected leaders of the Council of the District of Columbia. 

Many local government leaders are dragging their feet when it comes to using P3 projects for water and wastewater facilities, new public buildings, school classrooms and a myriad of other public projects. Not true in the District of Columbia! Leaders there are instead jumping feet-first into making P3s a useful and effective alternative funding mechanism to finance long-overdue needs. 

A little over a year ago, officials in the District uncovered a gold mine. They embraced an alternative source of funding for past-due public projects - funding that helps the District avoid additional debt and also does not increase the tax obligation of citizens. The D.C. Council created the Office of Public-Private Partnerships (OP3).



ABIA proposes $250M parking garage
Austin airport officials are seeking approval from the city council to build a new $250 million parking garage at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (ABIA). Plans call for building a six-story parking garage that will provide about 6,000 parking spaces over an existing parking lot that provides about 1,000 parking spaces, according to the public information officer for ABIA. 

The proposed project also includes administrative space of about 77,000 square feet as well as upgrades to roadways and signage. Construction on the new parking facility could begin as early as April if council members approve the request.
Burkburnett planning $4.8M police station 
The city of Burkburnett plans to build a new police station in May of 2018. City officials have worked through most of the building's design and will issue a request for proposals to construction companies on the $4.8 million facility around February or March of next year.

The project will be funded by certificates of obligation. The current police station has foundation problems, roof leaks and old plumbing and electrical infrastructure that is difficult to repair. The new building, which will be located at the corner of College Street and Avenue B, will house the municipal court, animal control department, emergency management personnel and a weather center. Plans also include a temporary holding center for prisoners.


Sivells Bend ISD sets $8M bond election for May
Trustees for Sivells Bend ISD scheduled an $8 million bond election in May to pay for a new building to house pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade students. 

The new building is needed because the existing building is old and too small to provide a classroom for all grade levels, Superintendent Lisa Slaughter said. District officials plan to hold community meetings to provide information about the bond election, she added.


Fort Stockton approves building permit for VA Clinic
The Fort Stockton City Council approved a request to rezone land near 12th and Sycamore streets to permit building a new Department of Veteran Affairs Medical Clinic planned for the city. 

City officials, however, have not adopted a timeline for when VA officials plan to break ground on the new clinic or when it will be completed.


Shenandoah to seek bids for $3M water plant
Shenandoah City Council members agreed to borrow $3 million and to seek bids to build a new water plant with two additional loop lines to treat and distribute water from a water well the city recently purchased to improve water pressure and service.  

Council members plan to vote on a new water rate to help repay the loan this summer, City Administrator Greg Smith said.
McKinstry

Prasil appointed as city manager for Teague
Theresa Prasil was appointed as the new city administrator by the Teague City Council. Prasil has served as the city's bookkeeper for over three years and understands the budgeting process and business side of how the city operates. Prasil was appointed to interim city administrator several months ago following the retirement of Judy Keally.
Lenamon hired as superintendent for McGregor ISD
James Lenamon
McGregor Independent School District has name James Lenamon as the lone finalist for the district's superintendent position. Lenamon, who will replace Kevin Houchin, is currently the assistant superintendent for the McGregor ISD.

Lenamon was hired 15 years ago by the district as assistant principal at McGregor High School. He became the assistant superintendent in 2007. Lenamon earned degrees from McLennan Community College, Baylor University and Tarleton State University. He earned his superintendent's certification from the University of Houston-Victoria.
Frisco ISD superintendent retires
Superintendent Jeremy Lyon of Frisco Independent School District notified district officials that he is retiring at the end of June. The former superintendent of Hays Consolidated ISD joined the Frisco district in January 2013. 

Lyon, who has 31 years of education experience, said he plans to lead a national effort to promote preventive health practices for children. Board members are meeting this week to discuss the search method they will use to find a new superintendent to lead the quickly growing district with more than 56,000 students enrolled.
JOB BOARD
Dozens of public-sector jobs are available. New jobs added this week: 
Click here to view more. Send postings to editor@spartnerships.com.

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How is America fixing structurally deficient bridges over troubled funding?

GOVERNOR'S APPOINTMENTS
Gov. Greg Abbott has announced the following appointments from March 17-March 22:
  • Linda Foster-Smith-Georgetown, Texas Mutual Insurance Company Board of Directors; 
  • Jessica Barta- Austin, Injured Employee Public Counsel;
  • Ryan BrannanAustin, Commissioner of Workers' Compensation at the Texas Department of Insurance;
  • Tony Baer- Austin, Office of Public Utility Counsel.
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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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