Texas Government Insider
News And People

Volume 15, Issue 31 - Friday, August 11, 2017
Continued advancements in technology and funding are steadily making the airport experience much more efficient and pleasurable. Before technology can occur, funding must be available, and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been busy this year approving grants through their Airport Improvement Program (AIP) for transportation facilities ready to take on big and small projects. 

Airports are entitled to a certain amount of AIP funding each year, based on passenger volume. If their capital project needs exceed their available entitlement funds, then the FAA can supplement their entitlements with discretionary funding. The U.S. Department of Transportation has been announcing hundreds of awards that the FAA has provided this year in airport infrastructure grants. Here are a few of the grant disbursements from Texas:
 
- San Angelo Regional/Mathis Field in San Angelo, Texas, $3.1 million- Funding will be used to construct improvements to the taxiway system to enhance the safety of aircraft operations; 
San Antonio International Airport in San Antonio, Texas, $6 million- Funds will be used to sound insulate homes near the airport;
Tyler Pounds Regional Airport in Tyler, Texas, $10.1 million- Funds will be used to repair a runway;  
- Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in Austin, Texas, $10.8 million- Funds will be used for the expansion of the terminal apron to provide additional space for aircraft parking;
Jack Brooks Regional Airport in Beaumont, Texas, $3.3 million- Funds will be used to reconstruct Taxiway Delta;
Fort Worth Alliance Airport in Fort Worth, Texas, $10 million - Funds will  be used to extend runways;
- El Paso International in El Paso, Texas, $11.6 million- Funds will be used to reconstruct a runway;
- Valley International in Harlingen, Texas, $2.1 million- Funds will be used to extend the taxiway;
- Laredo International Airport in Laredo, Texas, $6 million- Funds will be used to repair the air cargo apron and widen a taxiway. 

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Coldspring-Oakhurst CISD sets $19.8M bond vote in November
Coldspring-Oakhurst Consolidated Independent School District board members scheduled a $19.8 million bond vote for the November ballot. If voters approve the bond, the proceeds will be used to pay for replacing portable buildings at an elementary and a junior high school campus, to update and improve science and technology classrooms and to expand the Career and Technical Education Program, said Superintendent Leland Moore.  

Board members are still identifying projects that may be included and will hold meetings with district employees in August and public hearings with community members in September and October. Renderings of improvements and the expenditure of funds will be released to the public before the election so voters are aware of the proposed capital projects on the bond ballot.
TxDOT receives $7M grant to rebuild railroad bridge
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) received a $7 million federal grant to rebuild a damaged rail bridge in the cities of Presideo and Ojinaga. The grant will be part of a public-private partnership to replace this international bridge that was damaged by fire in 2008 and has remained closed since then, blocking one of seven rail gateways between the United States and Mexico. 

The funding will also be used to renovate 72 miles of railroad track on a state-owned, 391-mile-long rail line running from the border to near Coleman in the Texas Panhandle. The Infrastructure for Rebuilding America grant is from the U.S. Department of Transportation and will provide a safe and efficient freight line for the agriculture, oil and gas industries in West Texas through the South Orient Rail Line, said Tyron Lewis, chairman of the Texas Transportation Commission. The total reconstruction and rehabilitation project is estimated to cost $16.2 million.
New schools on proposed $62M bond ballot at Stafford MSD
Stafford City Council members agreed to ask voters to approve $62 million in bonds to pay for a new middle school, a magnet school and administration building for the Stafford Municipal School District (MSD). The vote followed a recommendation for the bond proposal by the long-range planning committee and board members of the municipal school district, the only municipal school district in the state. 

Current plans call for a new, 139,000-square-foot middle school with a capacity for 850 students in grades 6 through 8. The school will feature an auditorium, cafeteria, library and gymnasium with natural light and flexible space. The estimated cost is $33.8 million. The new magnet school of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math is expected to cost $2.9 million and is located in the former middle school to serve students in grades 3 through 12, district officials said. The new administration building is expected to cost $7.7 million and the 30,000-square-foot facility will feature a larger room for board meetings, training rooms, offices and a visitor center/museum for the district. The current administration building will be renovated into a volunteer and community center at the estimated cost of $1.1 million.
Frisco mayor moves forward with plans for 350-acre park
The mayor of Frisco announced plans to begin construction in 2018 on Grand Park, a 350-acre regional park to be located near the downtown area that has been in the planning phase since 2005. The proposed regional park calls for a lake, walking trails and open space combined with commercial development fronting the lake. The site surrounds land that once housed a closed-down plant that recycled batteries that left hazardous waste leaking into a nearby creek that would feed that lake. A permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to create the lake for the regional park could be issued this year. 

To be developed in phases, the new regional park eventually could include land east of a toll road and south of the Frisco Discovery Center if city officials decide to purchase the land to expand the park and open space to up to 600 acres, Frisco City Manager George Purefoy said. Moving forward with plans to acquire the site of the former battery recycling plant hinges on the city being able to clean up hazardous materials remaining on that site as per an agreement with the Texas Commission of Environmental Quality.
Dallas approves $1B bond election, forms LGC for Trinity Park
Dallas City Council members added an additional $25 million to the proposed bond package prior to scheduling a $1.05 billion bond election in November to fund street repairs, upgrade parks and build new libraries and a fire station. Voters in November will be asked to approve 10 bond propositions that include $526 million in street improvements, $262 million for parks and recreation, $55 million for economic development and $50 million to improve Fair Park. Other proposals include $49 million to fund flood prevention projects, $32 million for public safety facilities, $20 million for facilities to help the homeless and $14 million for cultural facilities. 

The new projects added to the bond ballot are improving Klyde Warren Park, streetscape upgrades in the medical district and a public-private partnership water gardens project in the southern area of the city, according to Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax.  

The Dallas City Council has also created a Local Government Corporation (LGC) to build and manage Trinity Park, a proposed 200-acre park along the Trinity River near the downtown area. Michael Ablon, chair of the LGC, said the group will accept a $50 million donation from the family of Harold Simmons and work to raise an additional $200 million for the project. The goal is to begin construction in three years.
Sherman ISD bond panel considers $170M bond election this fall
A bond advisory committee for the Sherman Independent School District agreed with school trustees to schedule a $170 million bond election in November, but also provided three options for proposed bond projects ranging up to $187 million. The $170 million bond proposal includes a new high school that is expected to cost $157.8 million. 

District wide upgrades to the technology system and purchasing new devices at a cost of $12.6 million would round out the bond proposal. Three other options backed by the bond panel were $176 million, $182 million and $187 million in capital projects that would include renovations to the existing high school campus and a middle school. Committee members will present the recommendations to board members, who are expected to decide by Aug. 21 on which of the proposed bond packages to place on the November bond ballot.
Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars
Diane Rath, Executive Director, Alamo Area Council of Governments

Diane Rath
Career highlights and education: I have been very fortunate to have had a wonderful career that is a mix of both private and public sectors. I believe the private sector experience has enabled me to strengthen and transform the policies and procedures in the public agencies. People are always surprised that I am a physical therapist by background and I still maintain my license. But the background of science and analytics has served me very well throughout my career. My decisions are always made on facts and data, not feelings nor thoughts. I practiced physical therapy for 15 years, then led the public affairs department at a publicly traded medical device company until I was appointed Commissioner of the newly created Texas Workforce Commission. I had the honor of serving as Commissioner and Chair for over 11 years as we created the most complex agency in state government and a new system of service delivery. I was nominated to be an Assistant Secretary at the Texas Department of Health and Human Services but Congress did not confirm anyone with regulatory authority in 2007-2008. I then returned to the private sector and led the Workforce Services Division of a public company that is one of the largest providers of human services in the country, overseeing operations in 28 states. After 20 years on the road, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to serve the residents in the Alamo region at AACOG.

What I like best about my job is: I love the opportunity to provide a broad and diverse array of services in the region. It is so enjoyable to work with the dedicated elected officials in this region and the many committed agencies and individuals. It is very rewarding to introduce best practices from the business sector which is allowing AACOG to operate with much greater efficiency and effectiveness.

The best advice I've received for my current job is: It is very important to be sensitive to the needs of the entire region and balance the great variations in the Alamo area. The demographics and capacity of the northern counties is very different from our southern counties, but our Board is truly committed to the entire region.

Advice you would give a new hire in your office: The advice I give to anyone is to take advantage of every opportunity, whether in the workplace or volunteer. You can learn from each experience and relationship. You must be committed to the task at hand. Success is usually a combination of hard work, preparation and luck!

If I ever left work early, I could probably be found: Taking my dogs for a walk.

People would be surprised to know that I: Love true crime books and TV shows!

One thing I wish more people knew about the Alamo Area:
I wish people understood the tremendous diversity of our culture, people and industry. The German heritage in New Braunfels with growing industry, Polish in Karnes with exploding Eagle Ford operations, Hispanic in Frio and strong ranching background, all merge to create a region of strong families and traditions that celebrate our shared heritage. We are really a large region that is a very small town in attitude!
El Paso approves $68.75M to fund streets, parks and infrastructure
El Paso City Council members agreed to sell $68.75 million in certificates of deposit to fund capital improvement projects in four categories. Much of the funding will be used to pay for several quality-of-life projects approved in a 2012 bond election that were underfunded and delayed, noted El Paso City Manager Tommy Gonzalez. 

Council members allotted the largest share of the funding, $25.1 million, for public safety to buy more vehicles and equipment for the police and fire departments. They also set aside $22.9 million for quality-of-life projects that includes $10.1 million for three aquatic facilities and $6.7 million to pay for two 50-meter swimming pools. Street projects will receive $13.3 million with $7.7 million of that funding to pay for the city's matching share with the Metropolitan Planning Organization. Intersection signage will cost $4.8 million while infrastructure projects, such as a $1 million upgrade to the Northgate Transfer Center and $950,000 in repairs at Cohen Stadium, will receive a total of $2.65 million.
Harris County to build new $2M environmental education center
A Harris County official announced plans to build a $2 million environmental education center in the Katy Prairie overlooking an 860-acre park that also serves as a very large detention pond being built to reduce flooding in that area. Using a $1 million grant from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission and $1 million in funding from commissioners representing Precinct 3, county officials plan to begin construction in early 2018 on the John Paul's Landing Park Environmental Education Center. 

The 8,000-square-foot center will sit on a small hill and feature two classrooms and a very large outdoor deck that overlooks the John Paul's Landing Park near Katy Hockley Road. The Harris County Flood District is building the large detention pond as part of its regional approach to flood control, county officials said. The new education center will be open to youth camps, senior groups and community groups to attend seminars and discussions on wildlife protection and conservation.
Cedar Park to work with TxDOT on realigning part of U.S. 183
Cedar Park City Council members authorized City Manager Brenda Eivens to negotiate a financial agreement with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) in a project to realign a portion of U.S. 183, also known as Bell Boulevard. The agreement would also allow the creation of a mixed-use center with a park, residential units, retail establishments and restaurants to be funded by some of the proceeds of a $96.7 million bond election in 2015. The realignment will take place between Brushy Creek Road and Park Street and move less than a mile of the existing roadway to align with Old Highway 183, said Alan Green, the senior engineering associate for the project. 

TxDOT officials agreed to fund, but not charge, the city for costs incurred for the realignment because it represents a big improvement in safety to the roadway system. The design for the highway is expected to be completed in 2019 and construction to begin shortly after that. Realigning the roadway will provide space with 40 acres of land that can be developed and a 12-acre park, said a consultant who urged city officials to consider using a public-private partnership to develop the southern portion of the affected area. The city most likely would need to spend about $47.4 million in the 40-acre area, the consultant said. The redeveloped area would attract more visitors and could become a vibrant corridor that could generate between $103 million and $126 million in sales and property tax revenue for the city.
Marble Falls weighing $4.5M parking garage in updated plan
Mable Falls city officials are reviewing the addition of a $4.5 million parking garage to be built along Lake Marble Falls. The garage would be adjacent to a proposed hotel and conference center complex that was included in the update of the city's Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). Projects slated for the CIP include upgrades to other city parks as well as a new city hall, fire station and upgrades to 11 streets. According to Marble Falls Assistant City Manager Caleb Kraenzel, projects are to be completed in three phases over the next five years. Funding for the 277-space parking garage would come from the issue of certificates of obligation. 

Those certificates would be repaid through a 10 percent contribution of the city's private partner in the proposed hotel and conference center, hotel occupancy taxes and revenue from the proposed garage. The CIP also includes the addition of an amphitheater with seating for up to 1,500, a smaller amphitheater, walking trails, a beach, boardwalk and other amenities. These attractions will steadily draw more visitors to the downtown area which will create a need for more parking space than is available. The entire downtown parks project could be completed by 2022.
The Colony approves development plan for new fire station
The Colony City Council approved the development plan for a new 22,400-square-foot fire station to be located at the intersection of Destination Drive and Plano parkway. Plans call for construction on the new fire station to begin early next year, according to Terry Gilman, the environmental/facilities manager for the city. 

The new fire station will feature the latest in information technology, access control lighting, heating and air conditioning system as well as a ventilation system designed to reduce the emission of toxins. The new facility will also house members of the police and the information technology departments and will have five bays to provide space for a fire engine, ladder truck, two ambulances and a battalion chief.
Pflugerville looking at options for Blackhawk Golf Club
Pflugerville city officials have decided not to purchase the Blackhawk Golf Club and operate it as a municipal golf course. A community action committee, called Save the Blackhawk Golf Course, has urged the city to buy the 157-acre, 18-hole golf course and has also suggested seeking public-private partnerships to allow the land to remain a place to play golf. City officials explored several options to buy the golf course, including a suggestion that the city could then sell home sites on the course to generate some revenue, but could not identify a viable option to proceed with the purchase, said Pflugerville City Manager Brandon Wade. 

The city does not have the $1 million to $5 million needed to buy the golf course and has no plans to schedule another bond election until the projects approved in the 2014 and 2015 bond elections are completed, he added. Wade advised the community action group to consider organizing owners of the 175 homes located on the golf course and the 466 homes in the Fairways at Blackhawk to purchase and manage the golf course. He assured them that city officials will use regulatory authority to ensure that the owners of the golf course would impact the neighborhood in the least intrusive way.
Calendar of Events

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.

Two city bridge superstructures demolished, moved and replaced in 16 hours? Impossible? No...it can happen and Utah's Department of Transportation just proved it. 

This impossible-sounding accomplishment is a result of a program called Accelerated Bridge Construction (ABC). It allows completion of bridge projects in record time. But, these kinds of success stories are not just happening in Utah. 

Numerous other states can also point to highly successful accelerated bridge construction projects. In fact, almost all 50 states have either completed or are currently working on an ABC project. 

To increase interest in this construction method, the Texas Department of Transportation has scheduled seven regional workshops through the end of 2017 to provide information on accelerated bridge construction strategies. The workshops focus on issues such as project selection and development and construction concepts. 

Since its inception in 2009, Massachusetts' ABC program has resulted in the repair of about 200 bridges in the state, reducing the number of structurally deficient bridges from 543 to 432. Not only does the program save taxpayer funds, but the bridge projects also often create new jobs. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation has advertised 200 ABC-related construction contracts totaling $2.45 billion.





Harlingen proposes $1.9M for 14 street projects
Harlingen City Commissioners are considering a proposal to allot $1.9 million for 14 street projects in the city's $43.5 million city budget for 2017-2018. Revenue from a new street maintenance fee charged to utility customers and $300,000 in federal community block grant funding aimed at low-income neighborhoods will be used to pay for the streets in all areas of the city, said City Manager Dan Serna. 

Roads to be improved throughout the city are selected using the criteria of their condition and volume of traffic. The new street maintenance fee is expected to generate an additional $1.4 million in revenue for improvements to city streets during the next fiscal year.
Plano plans $7.5M senior center upgrades
Plano city officials are expected to seek bids this month on a $7.5 million project to upgrade the senior recreation center. 

Voters in 2009 approved bond funding, but the project was delayed because of the economic downturn and subsequent flood plain concerns, said Robin Reeves, director of parks and recreation. Included in the proposed expansion is the fitness area, dining room, exercise space, classroom space, a larger wellness center, more parking spaces and restrooms.




Lakeway weighing projects for updated CIP
Lakeway City Council members are considering an updated five-year capital improvement plan (CIP) that includes major street upgrades and an expanded city hall complex. The council is expected to approve a new CIP when adopting the city budget for the fiscal year beginning in October. 

The proposed plan includes a $3 million upgrade of Lakeway Boulevard and $6.5 million in improvements to Ranch-to-Market Road 620, Lakeway City Manager Steve Jones said. The five-year CIP being considered by council also includes a $3 million project to remodel city hall and build a new annex building, a $500,000 renovation of the justice center and $352,584 to build a new restroom and concession area at the city park in 2018.
Brownsville ISD adds $24M to budget
Trustees for the Brownsville Independent School District amended the district's operating budget to add $24 million in revenue from a tax increase approved in June. This will allow the district to move forward with a plan to borrow up to $100 million to pay for new facilities and upgrade other facilities. 

Borrowing the money and repaying it during the next five years, rather than asking voters to approve bonds, will permit the district to begin construction sooner on projects such as building a new gymnasium at the Hanna Early College High School, a performing arts center, improving access for the disabled at Sams Memorial Stadium and several other renovation projects at district facilities.


Fort Hood receives $145M to upgrade barracks
As part of funding approved by the United States Congress earlier this year for fiscal year 2017, Fort Hood officials will receive $145 million in appropriations to pay for renovating barracks at the Army base, some of which had been condemned.  

The funding will upgrade 15 housing barracks built in the 1980's to accommodate enlisted personnel by replacing heating and cooling units, electrical systems, lighting, ceilings as well as repairs to the exteriors.
Kaye chosen as lone finalist for Midland city manager
Brad Kaye
Brad Kaye, currently Midland's assistant city manager, was selected over 39 other applicants as the lone finalist for city manager. Kaye will replace Jon Lynch, the former Midland city manager who resigned in May to join a private company. Kaye joined the city as director of planning and community development in early 2012 and was promoted to assistant city manager in July 2015.

He previously had worked for a private engineering firm in Traverse City, Mich., prior to his move to Midland. A member of the International County Management Association and the Michigan Municipal Executives group, Kaye also attended a leadership development program at the John F Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.


Jones promoted to deputy city manager of Mesquite
Jeff Jones
Mesquite Assistant City Manager Jeff Jones has accepted the promotion as the deputy city manager. Before joining Mesquite in April 2016, Jones began his career as a budget analyst for the State of Kansas, worked for the cities of Casper and Wyoming and joined the city of Hurst in 1998 as assistant to the city manager and then as the assistant city manager. 

Jones has a master's degree from Texas Tech University and graduated from the Public Executive Institute of the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin. He earned his credentials as city manager from the International City/County Management Association.
De Leon to serve as city manager in Laredo
Horacio De Leon
Laredo Interim City Manager Horacio De Leon has agreed to serve as the permanent city manager of the border city. He had served as interim city manager since May after being an assistant city manager for 12 years during his 24 years of service as a city employee.  

Once his contract is finalized, De Leon will replace former City Manager Jesus Olivares. Council members also approved a recommendation by Olivares to hire Jose Valdez Jr., a former city councilmember, to serve as the new city secretary. Olivares also told council that he was still searching for a new city attorney and will present his recommendation to council as soon as possible.




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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
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