Texas Government Insider
Volume 10, Issue 17 - Friday, April 27, 2012

Local communities to share $2 billion in transportation funds


 Officials hopeful to leverage up to $4 billion in projects throughout the state

Transportation ProjectsIt's been a while since local communities throughout the state got "more" funding from the state and federal governments instead of "less." Thus, Thursday's announcement by the Texas Transportation Commission that an additional $2 billion in state and federal funds was being allocated to communities throughout the state was welcomed news.


In February, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) said it planned to leverage up to $2 billion over the next two years to accelerate construction on key projects throughout the state. The extra money was to come from the more efficient management of tax dollars and anticipation of future federal funds.


The Transportation Commission Thursday announced it was allocating about $1.6 billion using existing funding formulas, with Phil Wilsonthe remaining $400 million going to projects the Commission selects that focus on strategic partnerships and statewide connectivity.


"Our $2 billion is expected to deliver more than $4 billion in projects, plus additional opportunities beyond this," said Phil Wilson (pictured), TxDOT executive director. He said the additional funding will allow the agency to work with partners in the communities in the state to positively impact the state's mobility issues.


Those partners include Metropolitan Planning Organizations and other districts to identify projects that focus on safety, congestion, maintenance and statewide connectivity. TxDOT officials are hopeful the communities receiving the funds will be able to leverage them with other funds or opportunities.


The $2 billion in funding includes Texas Mobility Fund bond proceeds, anticipated funding from the federal government and savings realized on current projects. After the February announcement of the availability of funds, TxDOT solicited input from local transportation officials throughout the state regarding possible projects and priorities. Among the projects on which TxDOT plans to partner with MPOs and regional transportation agencies are sections of the North Tarrant Expressway, I-35 East in Dallas and US 290 in Houston. On each of those projects, $100 million to $400 million investments by TxDOT leverage up to $1.4 billion.




Amazon deal to lead to jobs, $200M investment in Texas

Amazon.com, Inc. and the State Comptroller's Office have inked an agreement that Amazon says will lead to the creation of at least 2,500 new jobs, result in at least $200 million in capital investments in Texas and resolve the dispute between the state and the online seller over a sales tax issue. Amazon.com will begin collecting Texas sales tax on July 1. State Comptroller Susan Combs said the agreement is a step toward "leveling the playing field" in Texas and also urged the federal government to pass legislation to give states access to revenues that already are due. Amazon has never collected sales tax on items sold to Texas consumers, resulting in the state filing a $269 million tax lien against the company. Today's announced action absolves Amazon.com from having to pay any of those back taxes.




Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars


Andy MartinezAndy Martinez, president/CEO, Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce 


Career highlights and education:  Retired IT executive - IBM for 25 years; Lemark, six years; and Permond Solutions five years. Ran the Round Rock Health Clinic as CEO for three years. President/CEO of Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce since 2006.
What I like best about my job is:  Helping people achieve their business and personal goals...working and meeting the great folks in the greater Austin area.

The best advice I've received for my current job is:  Pace yourself...lots to do!

Advice you would give a new hire in your office:  Take ownership of what you do...ALWAYS give it your best effort, in all that you do!

If I ever snuck out of work early, I could probably be found:  playing golf.

People would be surprised to know that I:  don't eat chicken!

One thing I wish more people knew about the Greater Austin Hispanic Chamber of Commerce: All of the wonderful results we achieve year-in and year-out...helping small businesses enhance their business growth.

Waterworth selected as Houston Port Authority executive director

Leonard WaterworthLeonard Waterworth (pictured), who has been serving as interim executive director of the Port of Houston Authority for the last three months, has been named full-time executive director. He replaces former Executive Director Alec Dreyer, who resigned


Prior to joining the Port Authority, Waterworth was president and CEO of Dannenbaum Engineering Corp. in Houston. Waterworth takes over as the port is preparing for the expansion in 2014 of the Panama Canal, which promises to bring larger ships with more cargo into the Houston port. Thus, an upgrade of facilities is on the horizon.


Austin cuts back list of possible bond projects by half

Starting with a list of potential bond projects that would cost $1.5 billion, Austin bond committee members have trimmed that list to $659 million, and are hoping to cut the list another $300 million to $500 million. Once completed, the list will go to City Council, which will decide what goes on a probably November bond election.


Among the projects that are still on the list are several library renovations, Women's and Children's Shelter repairs, land purchases, park improvements and renovations at Barton Springs Pool. The recommendations of the committee did not recommend funding for a new police headquarters. The recommendations do include funding for affordable housing, construction and renovation of a variety of city facilities, money for parks and open-space projects and for transportation projects. More public input on the recommendations will be sought in meetings next week.


North Texas project in line for TIFIA financing program

Betsy PriceThe North Tarrant Expressway project has been pushed to the top of the U.S. Department of Transportation priority list in line for $415 million in Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) funding. The project was selected because of its addressing of safety concerns and congestion. The project provides improvements to sections of I-35W and construction of an interchange at I-35W and I-820. It also develops multimodal managed lanes to serve the region's public transportation providers.


The Expressway has sought funding in recent years not only from TIFIA, but also through TIGER III and TIGER IV funding. The areas of I-35W are both in the top 25 on the list of the state's most congested highways. Construction is expected to begin in 2013


"This is a perfect example of how public-private and public-public partnerships can work for the greater good of a community," said Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price (pictured). "This $415 million removes significant obstacles to expanding I-35W, and it will ultimately help us preserve the good quality of life and economic prosperity that we've enjoyed here in North Texas."


May 2012 Tx Bond Elections

Texas A&M veterinary lab selects Cochran as assistant director

Matt CochranThe Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory of Texas A&M University recently selected Dr. Matt Cochran (pictured) as the assistant director of the agency. His duties include administering and managing diagnostic services for the laboratory in College Station and to act as a liaison with clients and partner organizations such as the Texas Animal Health Commission, the Texas Department of Health Services and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.


Cochran has a bachelor's degree, a master's degree and a Ph.D. from Texas A&M University. He previously was the assistant executive director of administration and disease traceability at the Texas Animal Health Commission and also served as the emergency management veterinarian.


Seton agrees to pay up to $250 million for teaching hospital in Austin

Seton Healthcare Family officials recently agreed to pay up to $250 million toward building and equipping a new teaching hospital in Austin to support a proposed medical school and replace the aging, publicly owned University Medical Center Brackenridge (UMC Brackenridge). Seton operates the UMC Brackenridge facility under a 60-year lease with Central Health, a taxing authority that owns the current hospital.


Plans call for Central Health and the Seton Healthcare Family to negotiate a 100-year lease that will include more taxpayer funding for providing more services such as adding psychiatric beds as well as establishing a medical school to train new physicians under the auspices of The University of Texas at Austin.


The new UMC Brackenridge facility also would continue to provide health care for low-income patients and persons who are traumatically injured. A decision has not been made whether to locate the new hospital at the site of the current hospital at 15th Street and Red River in Austin or relocate the hospital to another site. Current plans are for Seton Healthcare Family to own the hospital and Central Health to own the property on which the hospital is located. The construction phase of the project will take about three years, a Seton official said.


Veteran city employee Hart will be Austin's new CFO

Elaine HartTwenty-year City of Austin veteran Elaine Hart (pictured) has been named by City Manager Marc Ott as the city's new chief financial officer. Hart brings a 30-year career in the financial industry to her new charge. Hart was chosen after the city conducted a nationwide search.


Hart most recently was Senior Vice President of Finance and Corporate Services for Austin Energy. She also previously served in other positions with the city, including Director of Financial Services, Controller and Deputy City Auditor. She began working with the city in 1975 as a member of an external audit team responsible for the city's financial accounts.


Hart holds a bachelor's degree from The University of Texas at Arlington and is a Certified Public Accountant, licensed in the state of Texas.


Special investigation leads to shakeup at UT Southwestern in Dallas

A special investigation into spending by former University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas has led to a shakeup in administrative personnel at the center. The investigation centered on the spending of former President Dr. Kern Wildenthal and noted at its conclusion that the former president "exercised questionable judgment" in spending decision.


As a result, Wildenthal, who was serving as assistant to the current president, has resigned that post and will remain as a tenured professor on the UT Southwestern faculty. Additionally, Robert Rubel, UT Southwestern's director of internal audit, has resigned and the UT System's chief audit executive, Charles Chaffin, has retired.


UT Southwestern President Daniel Podolsky said the center will improve its auditing system immediately.


May takes over as provost, vice president at Angelo State

Brian MayBrian J. May (pictured), dean of the College of Graduate Studies at Angelo State University who has served as interim provost and vice president for academic affairs since last July, has won the position permanently. May was one of four finalists named for the post. ASU President Dr. Joseph C. Rallo said May's knowledge of ASU, where he has worked since 1994 and his leadership skills make him "a perfect fit" for the post.


May is also a professor of animal science and a research scientist. He also has been special assistant to the president for external affairs since 2007.


May holds bachelor's and master's degrees from Angelo State and earned his Ph.D. from Texas A&M University.


Texas A&M tops in awarding public contracts to HUB firms

Phillip RayA recent report by the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts ranks Texas A&M University as the best in the state in the percentage of public contracts awarded to historically underutilized businesses (HUBs) that are at least 51 percent-owned by persons who are Native Americans, Asian Pacific, Black, Hispanic or women. A&M officials spent $31.1 million, or 37.2 percent, of its qualifying expenditures with HUBs during the six months between September 2011 and February 2012, said Phillip Ray (pictured), associate vice president of finance.


The two institutions with the next highest percentages of awarding contracts to businesses owned by minorities and women are Prairie View A&M with 36.8 percent, or $6.9 million, and Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi with 36.4 percent, or $3.3 million, Ray said.


Brownsville wins $24.5M grant for wastewater services to colonias

The Brownsville Public Utilities Board recently won a $24.5 million grant to provide wastewater services for the first time to residents of several colonias along FM 802 and FM 511.


The Texas Water Development Fund provided the grant to the area, which has a median household income not greater than 75 percent of the median state household income, said a spokeswoman for the Economic Development Assistance Program of the Texas Water Development Board. The colonias, or neighborhoods, that qualify for the grant funding to provide sewer service are Stuart Subdivision, King Subdivision, Saldivar II, Barrio, Keller's Corner, Illinois Heights and other areas near the airport on South Padre Island. Utility board members also obtained an $840,000 loan to pay for construction, with work expected to begin in 2013 and the project completed in 2015, the spokeswoman said.


Did you miss Government Contracting Pipeline?

Killeen-Temple planning group pledges $10 million to expand US190

Officials of the Killeen-Temple Metropolitan Planning Organization recently pledged $10 million to pay for expanding US190 to Harker Heights. So far, about $50 million in state funding has been approved to expand the highway by six lanes from the gates of Fort Hood to W.S. Young Drive in Killeen. Local officials have set a goal to eventually expand US190 from Fort Hood to Belton, where the state highway joins Interstate 35.


While no local funding is required for the highway expansion at Harker Heights, Bell County officials have approved $2 million and the city of Killeen approved $3 million to help pay for the Killeen phase of the highway expansion project, a spokesman for the planning organization said. The state expects to ask for bids for the expansion of US190 at Harker Heights in the fall, he said.


Dallas taps Bright as chief of Fire and Rescue Department

Louie BrightDallas City Council members recently tapped Louie W. Bright, III (pictured) as the new chief of the Fire and Rescue Department. Bright, who served as interim chief since July 2010, joined the department in 1981.


Beginning his career as a firefighter at Station 24 near where he grew up in South Dallas and Oak Cliff, Bright also served as a medic, led the department's training department and support services bureau and served as a deputy chief.


He has an associate's degree from Cedar Valley College and is pursuing a bachelor's degree at Columbia Southern University.


Midland group kicks off efforts to raise $20 million to endow parks

Members of the Parks Endowment Fund in Midland recently agreed to begin efforts to raise $20 million in contributions to create an endowment fund to help pay for improvements to parks and recreation facilities.


The goal is to raise $5 million during the first two years of the campaign and $20 million by 2020 for the new park endowment fund, said the vice chairman of the Parks and Recreation Committee. Midland city officials approved a $30,000 contribution to the endowment fund, which now has a balance of about $3,400.


   Looking for a public sector job?

Help WantedWe post dozens each week, including these recently posted openings: attorney, connection care specialist for telephone inquiries, Web development and accessibility specialst. Click here to view all jobs. Free job postings for state and local governments, nonprofits and other public sector entities. Send your posting to editor@spartnerships.com.


Moody Foundation of Galveston provides $2.5 million to UTMB

Moody Foundation of Galveston officials recently agreed to contribute $25.5 million to The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB) to support research and an intensive care unit at the new Jennie Sealy Hospital.


Moody Foundation officials pledged $9 million to $18 million to support research endeavors at UTMB and committed $16.5 million to build and equip a 54-bed intensive care complex at the $438 million Jennie Sealy Hospital on which construction recently began. The foundation, created in 1942 by W.L. Moody and Libbie Shearn Moody, has contributed more than $54 million to projects at UTMB, including the Mary Moody Northen Pavilion, the Moody Medical Library and several research initiatives at the medical school.


Corpus Christi approves tax to pay for neglected street maintenance

Nelda MartinezCorpus Christi City Council members recently agreed on a new utility tax to pay for street maintenance that city officials said was ignored many years because of lack of funds. Council member Nelda Martinez (pictured) joined with another councilman to recommend implementing the new fee as soon as possible rather than asking voters in November to approve it. The need for street maintenance is too critical to wait that long, she said.


City council budgeted $10.5 million for street maintenance this fiscal year and supporters predict the new user fee could raise as much as $55 million annually, with half of the money allotted to maintenance and the other half dedicated to reconstructing streets.


The proposed street user fee, similar to fees in Austin and Bryan, is based on land use and trips generated from the property, with businesses such as fast-food restaurants paying a higher tax or fee than residential property owners, city officials said. City staff members are conducting further research on the proposed new street user fee and expect to present a detailed proposal as early as June, City Manager Ron Olson said.


Gillespie County hires architect to design new $10.3M county jail

Gillespie County commissioners recently agreed to hire an architectural firm, Wiginton Hooker Jeffry Architects, to design a proposed $10.3 million, 96-bed jail facility to be located behind the law enforcement center west of Fredericksburg on US290.


Commissioners plan to ask voters in November to approve bonds to pay for the jail expansion. The expansion would avoid spending about $300,000 annually to house prisoners at other jail facilities to avoid overcrowding at the current jail. County officials have requested the jail design to permit a future expansion to 144 beds when needed, the sheriff said.


Liberty County nixes domed shelter, moves on with other plan

After learning that the Federal Emergency Management Agency changed requirements for a proposed domed shelter to house special-needs residents during emergencies, Liberty County commissions canceled plans to build the domed shelter. It was to be paid for using 75 percent federal funding. The new federal requirements would have forced county officials to transport special-needs residents to a shelter in Athens within 24 hours. The city had planned to maintain those residents at the domed shelter in Liberty as county officials and residents had planned, the county judge said.


Instead, commissioners agreed to hire an engineering firm to design a proposed emergency shelter to be built on three acres of land next to the jail and to seek bids for the shelter project once the design is approved and the land is purchased. Commissioners also authorized the county judge to work with the Texas Land Office for a grant to help pay for the emergency shelter. The proposed shelter facility cannot house county offices, but can be used as a community center under terms of that grant from the Texas Land Office, county officials said.


Subscribe to the Government Contracting Pipeline

Cap Metro approves $520M for contracts to outsource bus services

Capital Metro board members in Austin recently approved two contracts with private companies to provide most of the bus and paratransit services for the transit agency.


Board members approved a $470 million contract with Fort Worth-based McDonald Transit Associates Inc. that calls for the company to take over 70 percent of regular bus routes. Those routes are currently driven and maintained by an affiliate of Capital Metro, StarTran, which has about 850 union employees. The three-year contract with McDonald, which also includes options to annually renew the arrangement for an additional four years, begins on Aug. 19. Board members also awarded a $111.5 million contract to MV Transportation, Inc. of Dallas to manage paratransit operations providing door-to-door service for people with qualifying disabilities


That three-year contract also becomes effective on Aug. 19 and has the option to be renewed annually for an additional three years. An analysis by the Texas Transportation Institute indicated Capital Metro could realize about $35.5 million in cost savings over the next seven years as a result of the two contracts with private companies and result in about $73 million combined savings by 2019. First Transit and Veolia, the two companies that currently provide 30 percent of the transit agencies bus routes including the shuttle system for The University of Texas, will continue to operate those routes as well as Herzog Transit Services which operates the MetroRail for the transit agency.About 240 administrative employees of the current 1,200 employees of Cap Metro will remain on the job to perform the duties of route planning, marketing, purchasing of new buses and rail equipment, plan for major construction, provide financial services and monitor the activities of the six private companies now providing transit services.


TSABAA announces 43rd Annual Summer Conference in June

The Texas State Agency Business Administrators' Association (TSABAA) 43rd Annual Summer Conference will be June 7and 8 at the Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center in San Marcos. An agenda will be posted on the Web site on Monday.  Some of the topics include Challenges Facing Employee Benefits; Lead Your Team, Don't Just Manage the Process; the State Audit Plan; and Data Center Consolidation & Technology Sourcing.  The conference registration deadline is May 18 and the hotel reservation deadline is May 7.  Click here to register. Nominations will be accepted through April 30 for the TSABAA Administrator of the Year. Submission instructions can be found on the TSABAA Web site. Questions should be addressed to Trina Edwards at trina.edwards@dps.texas.gov or by phone at 437-4056. The TSABAA Past Presidents are also accepting nominations for anyone interested in serving as an officer. Past presidents will review all nominations and consider the nominee's participation and leadership in TSABAA as well as leadership demonstrated within the nominee's respective state agency. To make nominations, contact Cecilia Whitley at cecilia.whitley@dfps.state.tx.us or by phone at 438-4072 by May 3.


Third Annual Texas Unites Conference planned in June

The Texas Citizen Corps Program and the Texas Volunteer Organizations Active in Disaster are sponsoring the 3rd Annual Texas Unites Conference on June 13-15. The conference will be at the Hyatt Regency Riverwalk in San Antonio. The Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) has joined the conference by bringing professional speakers and workshops on public health preparedness issues. By bringing these organizations together again for a third time, the Texas Unites Conference will provide additional training opportunities, discipline tracks and continuing education credits to participants. This year's conference is on track to be one of the largest annual professional, volunteer and emergency management training summits in Texas to include all Citizen Corps, VOAD, MRC and other affiliate partner programs. Featured keynote speaker is Scott Huse, personal and team development motivational speaker. Other invited speakers include Tony Russell, FEMA Region 6 Administrator; Steve McCraw, director - Texas Department of Public Safety, and Nim Kidd, chief of Texas Division of Emergency Management. For specific workshop and agenda information, or for online Registration, click here. For hotel information and reservations, click here


Texas State offering HUB networking, training event

Texas State University-San Marcos' HUB (Historically Underutilized Business) Outreach Program, Facilities Planning Design and Construction and the Hispanic Contractors Association de San Antonio Inc. is sponsoring an afternoon of networking and training from 1 to 4 p.m. on May 22. The event will be at the Embassy Suites San Marcos, 1001 E. McCarty Lane in San Marcos. Registration will begin at 12:30 p.m. This free event will provide businesses a venue to connect with Texas State staff, prime contractors, other universities/colleges and other government agencies to learn about their procurement opportunities. There will be focused training sessions, which will offer information and education on doing business with the governmental entities. Those attending should RSVP no later than May 14 by emailing Texas State HUB Specialist Yolanda Strey at ys12@txstate.edu  or calling 512.245.2523.


AACOG announces four upcoming workshops

The Alamo Area Council of Governments (AACOG) has four workshops coming up of interest to government officials. A Texas Notary Law and Procedures Seminar is planned for 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. on May 16. The event will be in AACOG Classroom 1-01. The event is for current, new and non-notary participants. For more information, click here. On July 27, from 8:40 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., AACOG will host a Newly Elected Officials Workshop in the A. J. Notzon III Board Room at 8700 Tesoro Drive, Suite 100 in San Antonio. The workshop is for newly elected mayors and city council members or alderman; however, any and all elected officials and city staff are welcome to attend. For information, click here. A Planning and Zoning Officials Workshop is planned for 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Aug. 16 at the Tesoro Drive address. Among the topics are comprehensive plans, importance of planning and more. For information, click here. Finally, on Sept 7, AACOG will host a Basics of Economic Development for Elected Officials Workshop. This workshop will also be at the Tesoro Drive address from 8 a.m. to 12 noon. Presentations will be provided by Charlie Zech with Denton, Navarro, Rocha, and Bernal, P.C. For more information, click here.


FEMA Region VI, University of North Texas co-hosting conference

The University of North Texas (UNT) and FEMA Region VI are co-hosting the 2012 VI Mitigation Conference, Recipe for Resilience, on May 1-3 in the Union on the UNT campus. For conference registration, which is free, contact FEMA at taran.roddy@fema.dhs.gov. A luncheon on Tuesday, May 1, is a separate ticketed event that features as the speaker Dr. James Kendra, director of the Disaster Research Center at the University of Delaware. The cost of the luncheon is $13. Contact UNT at 940-565-2165 for tickets. UNT is home to the nation's first undergraduate degree program in Emergency Administration and Planning, established in 1983 as a joint venture with FEMA Region VI. The program, located in the Department of Public Administration, has more than 800 graduates serving in disaster-related positions in local, state and federal governments and with such nonprofit disaster service providers as the American Red Cross. 


CenTex ASPA sets 2012 Public Service Recognition Week banquet

The Central Texas Chapter of the American Society for Public Administration (CenTex ASPA), a nonprofit, professional organization serving the interests of public servants, is hosting its annual banquet and awards ceremony honoring Central Texas public professionals in several categories. The banquet is May 10 at 6 p.m. at Green Pastures in Austin, Texas. The banquet keynote speaker will be Admiral (Ret.) Bobby R. Inman, former director of the National Security Agency.Celebrated since 1985, Public Service Recognition Week (PSRW) is a nationwide public education campaign honoring the men and women who serve as federal, state, and local government employees who ensure that the nation's government is the best in the world. Annually the President and Congress designate the first full week of May as PSRW and activities are held nationwide in celebration of public employees who put service above self. For more information please visit www.CenTexASPA.org or email John Sone at vicepresident.centexaspa@gmail.com. To register, click here. Nomination forms are available here.


UK Minister of State, Dept. of Energy, Climate Change, to speak

The World Affairs Council of San Antonio, Mission Verde Alliance and San Antonio Clean Technology Forum will host Gregory Barker, UK Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change and his delegation of sustainable and clean energy UK business leaders on Tuesday, May 8. Their trip addresses strengthening UK-US trade relations and building the economic and business case for transitioning to a low-carbon economy. They will use leading examples of UK sustainable businesses to show the compatibility of green and growth, as well as offering opportunities for companies to connect with new or existing business partners. Barker will speak on "Energy Independence Through Efficiency." Opening remarks will be given by Doyle Beneby, President and CEO of CPS Energy. The event will be at Pearl Stable, 307 Pearl Parkway in San Antonio, beginning with 11:15 a.m. registration and lunch and the program at 11:50 a.m. Tickets purchased before April 27 are $45 and $60 after that date. Table sponsorships are available for $500, $750, $1,000 and $2,000. Register online at http://www.wacofsa.org/ or contact the World Affairs Council: (210) 308-9494 or email rachna@wacofsa.org.


LBJ School program on leadership, strategy, decision-making

In serious decision situations, the pressure is on leaders to move quickly to action, often without fully identifying and understanding the background and context that affect the situation. "Leadership, Strategy, and Decision-Making," part of the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs Executive Education revitalizes leadership skills with practical wisdom drawn from the issues faced by great leaders of our time. This two-day program (May 3 and 4) led by Dr. Jeremi Suri takes leadership training beyond the necessary skills and tactics to a higher and more dynamic level. "Leadership, Strategy, and Decision-Making" offers new insights based on the innovative approach to leadership education in a changing world that is at the core of the LBJ School of Public Affairs. This program immerses participants in an experiential process of redefining your decision-making as a leader. To view the brochure with registration details, click here. For more information on the program, click here. 


Institutes on Evidence-Based Quality Improvement set in July

The 2012 Summer Institutes on Evidence-Based Quality Improvement will be held July 17-21 at the Grand Hyatt Riverwalk Hotel in San Antonio. The event is being offered by The Academic Center for Evidence-Based Practice (ACE), Improvement Science Research Network (ISRN) and The University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio. Pre-Conferences are planned for July 18. For more information, click here or contact Kandice Hall at HallKM@uthscsa.edu.


DIR to host 12th Annual Information Security Forum

The 12th Annual Information Security Forum, hosted for government personnel only by the Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR), is slated for Tuesday, May 15. The free, one-day event is co-sponsored by the Texas Association of State Systems for Computing and Communications (TASSCC). Conference focus this year is "Security Program Maturity," with possible topics to include security assessment process, threat landscape/risks, legal and privacy landscape, why it's important to improve security program maturity, implementing enterprise solutions and governance. Interested vendors are invited to exhibit and/or provide speakers. Sessions should be purely educational and not promote products or services. The event is targeted to Information Resource Managers and other IT and security decision-makers. For more information, contact Joy Hall Bryant at joy.bryant@dir.texas.gov or Sue Atkinson at sue.atkinson@dir.texas.gov.


E-Learning Symposium 2012 planned for June 13 in Austin

Professionals who manage and design E-Learning programs in health care, government, higher education, energy and corporate settings will not want to miss this year's E-Learning Symposium 2012 Austin. The symposium is an interactive conference designed to help professionals and key decision-makers learn how to execute E-Learning programs within their organizations. The event is scheduled for 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, June 13, at the Omni Southpark Hotel, 4410 Governors Row in Austin. The event features leading industry experts who share their knowledge on of-the-moment topics, processes and technology within E-Learning. For more information, click here.


Media Notice

Subscribe to TGI Subscribe to Pipeline

Taxpayers deserve better than this!


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


Government revenues continue to decline, transportation infrastructure is in dire need of repair, and Congress cannot seem to find a way to pass a long-term Surface Transportation Act. This puts state and county officials in an untenable situation.


As roads and bridges deteriorate, public officials are unable to commit to transportation initiatives because there is no guarantee of continued funding. Critical infrastructure is being neglected throughout the country. The Federal Highway Administration says that half of the total highway miles and more than 228,000 bridges are under the control of counties. Most of the rest are the responsibility of state officials.


The Surface Transportation Act provides federal funding for states and counties for construction and maintenance of infrastructure. The Highway Trust Fund imposes taxes including a gasoline tax that is allocated for local transportation projects. But, the last time the federal gas tax was increased was in 1993. And, with the most recent extension of the Surface Transportation Act, officials say that tax funds in the Highway Trust Fund are not sufficient to maintain the nation's highways and bridges.


Because of this, citizens everywhere are watching carefully to see if Congress will pass a long-term transportation bill. Both the House and Senate this week named appointees to a conference committee. This group will try to settle the differences between the House and Senate versions of the proposed transportation bill.


The National Association of Counties (NACo) recently released a survey from county engineers nationwide regarding transportation infrastructure. More than 50 percent of respondents said they have suffered funding cuts of between 10-25 percent.



Follow Mary on Twitter Like Mary on Facebook View Mary's profile on LinkedIn



Gemini Global Group

Bastrop Co. stays with CIP

despite wildfire losses

Despite challenges posed by the wildfires that scorched much of the county in September 2011, Bastrop County commissioners recently reaffirmed their commitment to the previously approved $19 million Capital Improvement Plan for fiscal years 2012 through 2017.


Plans call for the county to spend about $5.5 million per year on road improvement projects in each of the four precincts during the 2013-2014 fiscal year, $4 million on the Law Enforcement Administration Building and $9.5 million to pay for a jail expansion, radio tower and a new judicial complex in 2015-2016.


Winona ISD selects Shetter as lone finalist for superintendent

Denise ShetterTrustees of the Winona Independent School District recently selected Denise Shetter (pictured) as the lone finalist for superintendent. Shetter currently is the director of research and development for Ector County ISD and will replace Superintendent Wiley Vonner, who is retiring from Winona ISD in June.


El Paso moving forward

on quality-of-life bonds

El Paso City Council members recently agreed to go forward with plans to ask voters to approve $682 million to $870 million in quality-of-life bonds to pay up to $200 million to upgrade streets, as much as $500 million to revitalize certain areas of downtown and $170 million for other projects to improve the quality of life in that city. Council members plan to discuss specific projects for the proposed quality-of-life bond election on May 24.


Health Information Designs

Aransas County ISD looking at conversion to natural gas buses

Trustees for the Aransas County Independent School District recently began discussions on converting their current bus fleet into vehicles that operate on compressed natural gas (CNG).


The estimated cost of between $110,000 to $120,000 to convert the current bus fleet into CNG-powered vehicles should result in almost that much in savings for fuel and maintenance, said Jimmy Kendrick, transportation director for the district. The current price for natural gas is about $2 per gallon and is going down, he said. District officials also have discussed building a CNG station at the district's bus barn.


Cottonwood Shores eyeing expansion of police station

Cottonwood Shores City Council members recently began discussions about buying two lots east of the current police station to allow for expanding the facility. Members of the Crime Control & Prevention District proposed that Development Committee members negotiate a contract for the two lots on Cottonwood Drive to allow for the expansion of the police department as well upgrading the facility. Council members will wait for a recommendation from the Development Committee before voting on whether to purchase the two lots.


Baine resigns his position

as Huntsville city manager

Bill BaineBill Baine (pictured), a former military officer hired in fall of 2008 as the city manager in Huntsville, recently resigned from that post. No reason was provided for the resignation, city officials said.


Kerr County approves $6 million for technology, show barn, cars

Kerr County commissioners recently approved the issue of $6 million in bond funds to pay for a $2 million show barn, $800,000 to upgrade information technology, $500,000 for the Hill Country Youth Exhibit Center and $500,000 for police vehicles.


Commissioners also authorized $555,917 to upgrade sewer facilities, $350,000 for a bridge on Cade Loop and $375,000 to improve the radio system. Commissioners failed to approve a previously discussed plan to spend about $3 million to expand the county jail by 48 beds.


Your Ad Here!

Potts resigns as city manager in Overton after seven-year term

After nearly seven years on the job, B.J. Potts recently resigned as city manager in Overton. Potts, who has a bachelor's degree from LeTourneau University, became city manager in Overton in 2007 and previously was employed by private businesses in the Panhandle, Houston, Dallas and North Texas.


League City selects Loftin

as its next city manager

Mike LoftinLeague City council members recently selected Acting City Manager Mike Loftin (pictured) as the new city manager.


Loftin has been serving as acting city manager since February, but had not applied for the post until late March. He was the assistant city manager for management services prior to being appointed the acting city manager.


Copperas Cove ISD tags Burns

as lone finalist for superintendent

Trustees for the Copperas Cove Independent School District recently selected Joe Burns as the new superintendent to replace Rose Cameron, who is retiring in June.


Burns, who currently is superintendent at Vidor ISD, previously served as superintendent of Kirbyville Consolidated ISD and at Hubbard ISD. He also taught at school districts in Jasper, Lufkin and Zavalla. Burns holds a Ph.D. from Stephen F. Austin State University.


Evadale ISD selects Kilgo as

lone finalist for superintendent

Evadale Independent School District board members recently selected Jay Kilgo as the lone finalist for superintendent. Kilgo, who is currently a high school principal for Vidor ISD, will replace Superintendent Brenda McDaniel after she retires in June.


Interested in P3's?

Spring rains push Conroe to upgrade sewage treatment plant

After heavy rains forced the Conroe wastewater plant to discharge 7.5 million gallons a day for three consecutive days, Conroe City Council members recently approved financing for a $1.25 million project to increase the capacity of the city's wastewater treatment plant.


The funding will be used to hire an engineering firm to do preliminary and final design of the upgrade to the wastewater treatment plant and oversee bidding for the project to add more filtration to the treatment plant, the public works director said. The design should be complete in about six months, he added.


Guadalupe County taps Willmann to serve as interim county judge

Guadalupe County commissioners recently tapped Charles J. Willman, a former county commissioner who served from 1988 until 1992, as the interim county judge until a new county judge is elected in November. Willman replaces former County Judge Mike Wiggins, who resigned after being charged in February with misdemeanor possession of marijuana in College Station. Willman, 87, said he will not seek election for county judge.


SPI on Twitter

Crawford to retire as chief financial officer in Tyler

Daniel CrawfordAfter 16 years with the city, Daniel Crawford (pictured) recently announced plans to retire as the chief financial officer for Tyler. City council members selected Keidrick Trimble, currently a budget and internal auditor for the city, to serve as interim chief financial officer until a new CFO is hired. Crawford will remain on duty for about a month to work alongside Crawford and help smooth the transition, city officials said.


Recent Reports

Howard Co. agrees to $12,000 grant for law enforcement

Howard County commissioners recently agreed to accept a $12,000 grant to help pay for upgrades to the Howard County Sheriff's Office and the Big Spring Police Department.


Because the funding is based on crime statistics, the police department in Big Spring will receive about 90 percent of the grant and the sheriff's department will get about 10 percent, or about $1,100, Sheriff Stan Parker said. The sheriff said he is meeting with police officials to decide on the best use for the grant funds. They are discussing whether to use the money to upgrade technology at a proposed joint law enforcement center. Howard County and Big Spring officials both support a joint venture with the sheriff and the police departments sharing the county's detention center on SH 80 as a joint law enforcement center.


Texas Government Insider Archives
Volume 1-10 Archives - 11/7/03 - 4/20/12
Governor's appointments
Governor Rick Perry has announced the following appointments:
  • Louis Bronaugh of Lufkin, Angelina and Neches River Authority Board of Directors;
  • Patricia Dickey of Crockett, Angelina and Neches River Authority Board of Directors;
  • Julie Dowell of Bullard, Angelina and Neches River Authority Board of Directors;
  • Nelson Balido of San Antonio, Texas Historical Records Advisory Board;
  • Anne Keene of Austin, Texas Historical Records Advisory Board;
  • Ryan Bridges, Sam Houston State University, student representative, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board;
  • John "Quinten" Womack, Texas A&M University-Kingsville, student regent, Texas A&M University;
  • Holly Alsup, student regent, Midwestern State University;
  • Jourdan Dukes, student regent, Stephen F. Austin State University;
  • Juan Sorto, student regent, Texas Southern University;
  • Andrew Greenberg, Lamar University, student regent, Texas State University;
  • Suzanne Taylor, student regent, Texas Tech University;
  • Adriana Blanco, student regent, Texas Woman's University;
  • Gage Raba, student regent, University of Houston;
  • Alexandria Perez, student regent, University of North Texas;
  • Ashley Purgason, The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston, student regent, The University of Texas at Austin.

Henderson approves design for

making armory its PD station

Henderson City Council members recently approved design plans to convert an old armory into a $1.3 million police station. City officials in 2011 paid $195,000 for the 58-year-old National Guard Armory at Lake Forest Park. A design plan for the renovated police station should be completed by Aug. 1, city officials said.


Help us share this message.
To ensure delivery and proper formatting of the newsletter, be sure to add editor@spartnerships.com to your safe senders list. Otherwise, the newsletter may be flagged as spam and automatically routed to your junk e-mail folder.

Corpus Christi ISD moves forward on new $28 million middle school

Corpus Christi Independent School District board members recently moved forward to build a new $28 million, 145,000-square-foot middle school by approving the design plan and site for the new facility. The architect encouraged board members to seek construction bids for the New Adkins Middle School since the design team would like to seek bids for a new high school and the middle school at the same time.


The new middle school is designed to accommodate 1,000 students and will feature learning communities of classrooms by grade level and an exhibit area for displaying student work projects. Construction on the new middle school is expected to begin this fall and to open for classes in fall 2014.


Pine Tree ISD requests new bids for proposed $15.4M complex

Trustees for the Pine Tree Independent School District recently agreed to ask for a second round of bids for a proposed $15.4 million athletic complex after the first round of bids came in $2 million over the estimated cost of the project.


A factor in the price increase is that the project was bid on a price of $85 per cubic yard of concrete while the actual bids ranged from $96 to $98 a cubic yard, the project manager said. Board members also are considering modifications to the design to decrease the amount of concrete used in the project in an effort to reduce the price.


The superintendent also advised trustees to concentrate more on the interior elements of the complex because additions such as parking lots could be added later. District officials had planned to complete the athletic complex by fall 2013.


Linden nabs grant to rebuild homes for low-income residents

Texas Department of Community Affairs officials recently awarded a grant to the city of Linden to help pay for rebuilding homes for low-income residents. The grants will pay to demolish substandard housing and build a new house on the same site owned by qualified homeowners. The home must be located within city limits. The residents also must own the home, be current on property taxes and have an income at or below 60 percent of the median income for the area. Residents may obtain applications for the home assistance at city hall on Main Street.


The Texas Government Insider is a free weekly e-newsletter detailing important happenings throughout the state and summarizing current political issues relevant to individuals interested in government.
Publisher: Mary Scott Nabers
The Insider is published by Strategic Partnerships, Inc. (SPI), a research and consulting firm. Founded in Texas in 1994 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.
To learn more about SPI services click here or contact our sales department at 512-531-3900.
Barton Oaks Plaza One, Suite #100
901 S. Mopac Expressway
Austin, Texas 78746