Texas Government Insider
Volume 11, Issue 2 - Friday, Jan. 11, 2013

Wilson outlines TxDOT maintenance, infrastructure needs


Says public-private parnterships could be part of solution to agency's budget needs

New Tollway
The Manor Expressway on U.S. 290 East is one toll road the Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority has under construction.

There was good news on the state fiscal front this week. The State Comptroller predicted an $8 billion surplus going into the current legislative session, a Rainy Day fund that could top $11.8 billion and a revenue estimate of $101.4 billion. Then came news that state sales tax revenues topped $2 billion in December. The wrangling for some of that funding will begin in earnest soon, now that the 83rd Texas legislative session is under way.


Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) Executive Director Phil Wilson (pictured) made his case for a major  portion of those funds Thursday, telling those attending the 35W Coalition meeting at Texas Motor Speedway that his agency needs another $1 billion per year just to help meet the state's infrastructure maintenance needs. Wilson also noted that TxDOT will Phil Wilsonprobably need an additional $3 billion per year to come up with a long-term method for addressing traffic congestion.


Because of the state's size alone, Texas has the most road and street miles of any state in the nation - about 300,000 miles. It also has nearly 50,000 bridges. That means a lot of maintenance. And with the state's growing population, more infrastructure is needed to facilitate motor vehicle movement throughout the state. Hard to do on a $10 billion per year TxDOT budget.


The state funds its transportation needs with federal aid, state and federal motor fuels taxes, vehicle registration fees, bond proceeds and toll road revenues. Some members of the legislature have discussed the possibility of increasing vehicle registration fees and/or increasing its motor fuels tax - which currently stands at 20 cents per gallon and hasn't been increased since 1991. The revenue from that tax has declined in recent years thanks to more fuel-efficient vehicles and a driving public that is driving less because of gas prices and the economy.




Texas state sales tax revenues for December top $2 billion


Comptroller issues $530.8M to cities, counties, transit, special purpose districts

CashOn the heels of her announcement earlier this week of a strong revenue forecast for the State Legislature to shape its biennial budget, State Comptroller Susan Combs added even more fiscal good news Wednesday with her sales tax report.


According to Combs, revenue from state sales tax in December 2012 totaled $2.17 billion, up 9.5 percent for December 2011 figures. Combs said the healthy figures represent strong sales tax collections in most major economic sectors of the state. The comptroller issued payments totaling $530.8 million to Texas cities, counties, transit systems and special purpose taxing districts, representing January sales tax allocations. That figure represents an increase of 7.3 percent over January allocations from last year.


Cities shared tax revenues of $349.3 million, up 7 percent from January of last year. County allocations were up 11 percent, at $36.6 million. Transit systems shared a total of $118.2 million, up 7.2 percent over January 2011 and special purpose taxing districts were allocated a total of $26.7 million, up 12.5 percent.


Allocation figures are available by city and by county.


Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars


Rich McMonagleRich McMonagle, director, Infrastructure Division, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department 


Career highlights and education:  After receiving a BS in civil engineering from the University of Notre Dame, I was commissioned in the United States Marine Corps. During the next 25 years, I served as a Marine infantry officer, having many great assignments and being fortunate to command at every rank from second lieutenant to colonel. I also received master's degrees from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College and the U.S. Naval War College. I retired from the Marine Corps in 2008, and after settling with family in Austin, was hired by TPWD. After spending 25 years in destruction, I am happy to finally be putting my degree to use in construction.

What I like best about my job is:  that not only do I get to visit state parks, wildlife management areas and fish hatcheries that span the varied ecosystems, terrain, climate and history of the state, but I also get to work to improve them to enhance outdoor experiences for all Texans.
The best advice I've received for my current job is:  something a boss once told me, "Everything in life requires balance," and there is much balance required in our capital construction program. Our capital construction repair and development needs greatly exceed our funding.  Many of our aging buildings and utilities need to be analyzed for replacement versus continued short-term repair, which has payback to our citizens by lowering energy use and staff time dedicated to repair. As a natural and cultural resource agency, we are driven to invest in sustainable design and construction methods which can add to initial construction cost.  In summary, therefore, we must balance repair needs, funding, sustainability, construction cost and lifecycle costs while providing the best value for the State of Texas.

Advice you would give a new hire in your office:  To focus on our role in supporting the TPWD mission by building the facilities that allow TPWD to manage and conserve the natural and cultural resources of the state and provide hunting, fishing, and outdoor recreation opportunities.  Never forget that our direct customers are the state parks, wildlife management areas, and fish hatcheries, and our ultimate customers are the citizens of Texas.
If I ever snuck out of work early, I could probably be found: riding my mountain bike.

People would be surprised to know that: as a Marine and son of a Marine, I have lived in 30 homes in 11 states and Japan, and traveled to 36 countries on five continents. 

One thing I wish more people knew about my agency: We steward the lands, waters, fish and wildlife for the state and promote the activities that are compatible with that stewardship. 

Vilanilam to lead DIR Statewide Project Delivery Program

P.J. VilanilamPrakash John "P.J." Vilanilam (pictured), MBA, PMP, has been named to lead the Statewide Project Delivery Program (Framework) at the Texas Department of Information Resources. Vilanilam will join Deborah Hujar, director of Technology Planning, Policy and Governance, as a member of the agency's Quality Assurance Team. He brings to his new job an excellent working knowledge of the Framework and IT project planning and management. 


Vilanilam has 10 years of experience in the public and private sectors working in software development, project management and as a business analyst.  He comes to DIR from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, where he led the initial phase of the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (TERP) Program Database Management System.


Vilanilam has an undergraduate degree and a master's in engineering from Penn State University and an MBA in nanagement information systems from Pace University.  


School Land Board to release another $300 million to public schools

School Land Board officials recently voted to release an additional $300 million from the Permanent School Fund to public schools during the 2013 fiscal year.


The $300 million appropriation is in addition to $500 million released during the 2012-2013 fiscal biennium and will be sent to school districts in two installments of $150 million in February and June, land board officials said. Under current guidelines of the bond guarantee program operated by the Permanent School Fund, the program can guarantee up to $9 million in school district bonds that usually result in lower costs to borrow and higher credit ratings for school districts.


Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson, chairman of the land board, cast the only vote against the additional payment while claiming legislators approved a flawed budget that addressed short-term problems without a coherent vision of the future. Patterson also said he opposes any future raids on the fund by legislators because he supports continued investment to grow the fund as envisioned in 1876 when it was created. After diversifying the school fund to include more real estate investments, the fund earned more than a 12 percent return on those investments last year, Patterson said. The School Land Board manages about 10 percent of the Permanent School Fund and since 2003 has been credited for providing up to one-third of the total funding released each year from the fund to public schools.


UT creates Clements Center on History, Strategy, Statecraft

William InbodinUniversity of Texas at Austin officials recently created the Clements Center on History, Strategy and Statecraft to honor former Texas Gov. Bill Clements and to train leaders on the history of diplomacy, national security, military and international history. Leadership at the Clements Center will include some of the nation's top diplomats and historians, many of whom already serve on the faculty at UT Austin, noted William Inboden (pictured), executive director of the center.


University officials worked with the Clements family, who initially contributed $2.5 million to the university, to create the Clements Center. Friends and UT alumni also pledged to support the mission of the center that also will offer courses and studies in Austin and in foreign countries. They will be serving undergraduate and graduate students as well as providing forums, research grants and fellowships to students.


The goal of the center is to fill a void that has emerged nationwide in the study of history and statecraft. The program will be designed to improve national security, train private-sector leaders and strengthen citizenship, said Inboden, who also is on the faculty of the LBJ School of Public Affairs and a Distinguished Scholar at the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law. He also served on the staff of the National Security Council under former President George W. Bush.


From Data to Knowledge

Lubbock demolishing health department facility

Lubbock city officials recently began demolishing a 63-year-old building that was home to the city's health department. The mayor said he supports building a new fire station on the 2.39-acre tract, but city council has not yet approved the project. City staff currently are working on a report to prioritize the needs of city facilities to present to council members for their study, noted West Everett, director of facilities for the city.


Fire department officials have urged city officials to replace the outdated downtown fire station that is too small for some fire trucks, has aged plumbing and asbestos tile and does not comply with the Americans With Disabilities Act. The mayor said he supports asking voters to approve funding for a new fire station in a bond election preliminarily planned in May 2014. 


Sharp tapped to lead UT technology commercialization

Dan SharpUniversity of Texas officials recently selected Dan Sharp (pictured) as an associate vice president for research and director of the Office of Technology Commercialization. The office is charged with helping link research and discovery at the university with commercial and social uses.


A veteran attorney in intellectual property and technology law, Sharp previously was the associate director of intellectual property and licensing. He also served as interim director of the technology commercialization office during the previous year.


In the last 10 years, the UT Office of Technology Commercialization has earned nearly $115 million in licensing revenue for the university, processed almost 1,400 invention disclosures and created 65 start-up companies, 45 of those in Texas, according to UT officials.


Research Analysts - Contracts

Baylor College of Medicine selects Keathley as president

Wayne KeathleyBaylor College of Medicine officials recently selected Wayne Keathley (pictured) as the new president of the Baylor Medical Center and Health Network.


Keathley, who now heads Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, was chosen to help transform the facility from a teaching hospital into a leading outpatient care center to meet current and future needs of health care, said Dr. Paul Klotman, president of the Baylor College of Medicine. Keathley is expected to begin his new duties in mid-February, said Klotman.


Baylor officials announced last year that rather than returning to work on a hospital project halted in 2009 because of the bad economy and planning concerns, Baylor would transform the new facility into an ambulatory care center to treat and discharge patients more efficiently and quickly. The medical school ended its partnership with Methodist Hospital in 2004 and with St. Luke's Episcopal Hospital in 2007. It has not partnered with a private adult hospital since then and suffered a loss in revenue. The new Baylor ambulatory care center on 35 acres on Old Spanish Trail will have a small number of hospital beds available to patients when it opens in 2014, Klotman said. The new outpatient center is expected to increase revenue for the medical school, he added.


Kirk leaving Obama Cabinet; Hutchison mentioned for DOT post

While one Texas member of President Barack Obama's Cabinet is apparently headed home to Texas, another Texan could be in the running for a prime post in Obama's second term.


U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk of Dallas will leave that job to return to his home state. Kirk, former Dallas mayor, indicated when he took the post that it would be for one term. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that Kirk is headed home to return to private sector business.


While Kirk is apparently headed back to the Lone Star State, another Texan in Washington, D.C., is reported by congressional publication The Hill as possibly being considered as the next Transportation Secretary. Kay Bailey Hutchison, who has represented Texas in the U.S. Senate since 1993, but did not seek re-election, is reportedly among at least three females being considered for the post. The others are Washington State Gov. Christine Gregoire and former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm. Hutchison is the only Republican of the three.


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For more information and to order your copy, click here.


Denton looking at bond election in May to upgrade fire stations

Denton firefighters recently took city council members and city staff on a tour of four of the seven fire stations. Their goal is to convince city council to ask voters in May to approve from $13 million to $15 million in bonds to pay for renovating the three oldest fire stations.


Thee of the fire stations are between 34 and 46 years old and are too small to accommodate the new trucks that are taller and wider than previous vehicles, a spokesperson for the fire department said. The firefighters also recommended building the first phase of a training facility for firefighters, a new $9.4 million fire station at the airport in 2014, spending $900,000 to upgrade two more fire stations in 2015 and allotting about $1.1 million to buy property for two new fire stations in 2016.


After a suggestion to consider adding the $15 million fire station proposition to a $55 million bond proposal, council previously discussed for November 2014, council members requested staff to provide additional information, including a list of potential projects and financial forecasts. Council members also discussed whether voters would be ready to approve another bond proposal so soon after approving $20.4 million in bonds in November to pay for street improvements.


Longoria appointed chair of Houston Port Commission
Janiece LongoriaJaniece M. Longoria (pictured), a member of the Port of Houston Authority since September 2002, has been appointed chair of the Port Commission of the Authority. Her appointment was made during a joint session of the Harris County Commissioners Court and the Houston City Council. She has represented the city of Houston since her appointment more than 10 years ago. She will also serve as chair of the Board of Pilot Commissioners for Harris County ports.


Longoria, who also is a member of the Port Commission's Governance and Procurement task forces, replaces former Port Chair James T. Edmonds, who had announced he would not seek reappointment after having served as chair since 2000.


The new Port Commission chair is a partner in the Ogden, Gibson, Broocks, Longoria & Hall, LLP law firm. She is an honors graduate of The University of Texas at Austin and earned her law degree from The University of Texas School of Law.


SPI Training Services

Deputy commander at Fort Bliss promoted to brigadier general

Al ShoffnerThe deputy commander of Fort Bliss, Col. Al Shoffner (pictured), recently won promotion to brigadier general. Shoffner, who has served 24 years in the U.S. Army, is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.


Shoffner has served as one of the two deputy commanders at the El Paso Army base since June 2012, where he is deputy commander for the 1st Armored Division at Fort Bliss. Brig. Gen. Wayne Grigsby is the deputy commander for operations at Fort Bliss.


Austin group urges higher goal for use of solar power

A committee appointed by Austin City Council members recently urged city officials to set a new goal of producing 400 megawatts of electricity using solar power by 2020. Local Solar Committee members also urged city officials to consider using smaller solar projects and promote more use of solar panels for commercial buildings.


Committee members recommended the city gradually reduce subsidies now offerred for solar power projects and pursue more contracts with local solar companies rather than contracting with larger solar projects in West Texas. Prices for solar panels are going down, which will bring the cost of electricity produced from solar more in line with other generating methods, said Steve Wiese, who chairs the committee. Using local companies for solar projects also will produce good jobs in Austin and help with economic development, Wiese said.


Austin currently has about 6 megawatts of rooftop solar. Austin Energy, the city-owned utility, operates a 30-megawatt solar facility east of Austin and has been considering solar arrays in West Texas to supplement that facility to reach its current goal of generating 200 megawatts of electricity using solar energy by 2020.


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El Paso to seek court decision to silence critics of new stadium

In an effort to end a string of petitions and lawsuits to halt demolition of the city hall to make room for a new baseball stadium, El Paso city officials recently agreed to ask a state court to rule whether the city can issue bonds to pay for a proposed new downtown ball park. City representatives also awarded a $40 million contract to an El Paso contractor and a private company to build the new stadium.


Following the advice of its outside bond counsel, city council members authorized attorneys for the city to file an expedited declaratory judgment lawsuit, possibly in Travis County, that will produce a ruling that the bonds and associated contracts are lawful, valid and enforceable. The city needs the revenue from the bonds as the city is already incurring costs for the projects, the bond attorney said.


Two city representatives, Eddie Holguin and Carl Robinson, voted against the resolution and oppose demolition of the current city hall. City officials hope a trial can be scheduled by mid-February and most likely will involve the office of the Texas Attorney General, which must approve all bonds issued by cities in Texas as well as the various parties filing suits and petitions opposing the demolition and new ball park, the bond attorney said.


Henderson ISD revives hope for bond proposal for middle school

Jamey HolmesAfter voters narrowly defeated bond proposals in 2010 and 2011, Henderson Independent School District trustees recently began discussion on calling a third bond election in May to pay for a new middle school.


The new middle school is badly needed to replace the current facility built in 1953 that houses students in grades 6, 7 and 8, said Jamey Holmes (pictured), a member of the school board.


The bond proposal presented in November 2011 was defeated by fewer than 100 votes, Holmes noted. Trustees recently requested a consultant specializing in public school financing options and an architect and construction planner to meet with board members in February to provide more information on the bond proposal.


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Prosper approves public-private partnership for mixed-use project

Prosper Town Council members recently approved agreements for a public-private partnership to develop a 157-acre, mixed-use project that will eventually feature retail, office, hotel, entertainment, medical, hotel and residential development at the corner of the Dallas North Tollway and US380.


As part of the agreement, the Prosper Economic Development Corporation will be responsible for marketing, soliciting and incentivizing commercial development and will work with Matthews Southwest (MSW), which expects to build more than 3 million square feet of mixed-use development in Prosper, a small town with about 12,000 residents located about 30 miles north of Dallas.


Fort Worth looking at $276 million bond proposal in May 2014

Fort Worth City Council members recently instructed city staff to plan on a $276 million bond election in May 2014 instead of the earlier estimate of $242 million, as the city is repaying debt and property values are improving. City staff recommended the May 2014 election date because school district officials are considering a bond election in November.


Currently, staff is reviewing a list a $1.8 million in projects submitted for consideration and requested council members help narrow down the list of projects, discuss possible projects with constituents and even add projects, if desired.


Capital projects being considered include as much as $196.8 million to upgrade fire stations, the municipal complex, service center, an animal shelter, a library and 40 playground projects in addition to several street and road projects. Staff members also assured that streamlined processes and hiring of an outside consultant to help manage projects will help projects funded with previously issued bonds to be completed before May 2014.


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City of Galveston eyeing revival of trolley system

Galveston City Council members expect to decide soon whether to replace a trolley service that was disabled during Hurricane Ike. A consulting firm is scheduled to deliver the results of a study on the repairs needed to restore the trolley service and the costs, including maintenance expenses.


Council members expect to study the report on the trolley service and decide in late spring on whether to revive the trolleys by replacing the damaged chassis on the trolley cars and repairing the trolley tracks.


Centex Chapter of ASPA plans officer election, mixer

The Centex Chapter of the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) will meet Thursday, Jan. 24, for a mixer and to nominate and vote on a new slate of officers and council members. The mixer will be from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Nuevo Leon Mexican Restaurant, 1501 E. 6th Street, Austin 78702. Those attending will have the opportunity to network with new and continuing officers as well as members representing practitioners, academics and students in the fields of public and nonprofit leadership. The event is also open to non-members. Free appetizers and non-alcoholic beverages will be provided. Please RSVP at CenTexASPA@gmail.com. More information is available at www.CenTexASPA.org or by calling Robert Ochoa at 210-857-8458.


Summer Institutes on Evidence-Based Quality Improvement slated

The 2013 Summer Institutes on Evidence-Based Quality Improvement, hosted by the Academic Center for Evidence-Based Practice (ACE), School of Nursing at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, is planned for Tuesday through Saturday, July 9-13, at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in San Antonio. Specialty pre-conferences are set for July 10. The abstract submission deadline is at 5 p.m. Monday, March 4. The institute provides clinicians, educators and researchers the opportunity to share their EBP successes. The Institute is aimed at building capacity for health care providers to improve quality and safety in health care through translating evidence into practice. Event and registration information is now available or contact Kandice Hall at HallKM@uthscsa.edu.


Texas Department of Insurance 15th Annual Fraud Conference

The Texas Department of Insurance will host the 15th Annual Fraud Conference on Feb. 11-12 in Austin. New insurance fraud investigation techniques, changes in fraud laws and an update on various fraud schemes will be discussed. Insurance industry special investigative units, attorneys, legal staff and law enforcement officers are encouraged to attend to network and learn about insurance fraud. Continuing education credits are available.  Registration for the TDI Fraud Conference is available now.

Leadership Fusion Summit to address educational trends

Join educational leaders from across Texas for Leadership Fusion 2013 - Learning in the 21st Century, Leading in Tomorrow's World. Each year, Leadership Fusion focuses on topics that are relevant to current educational trends. This year, the summit explores how emerging technology is motivating and engaging students, how brain-based research can impact higher learning and how the universal principles of exemplary school leadership can accelerate student success. Participants will gain best practices and innovative strategies to help them excel as educational leaders. Featured speakers include: Eric Jensen, a leading authority on the science and applications of brain research in education; Alan November, international leader in educational technology; and Lonnie Moore, leadership development expert and author of The High-Trust Classroom. Visit www.leadershipfusion.net to learn more or e-mail solutions@esc4.net.


TxDOT to host 2013 Small Business Briefings across Texas

The Texas Department of Transportation's (TxDOT) Office of Civil Rights-Supportive Services Section will conduct briefing conferences around the state for small, minority- and women-owned businesses providing contract opportunities and information on how to do business with TxDOT and the state. Corpus Christi was the location of the first of four briefings events being offered in fiscal year 2013. The day-long briefings include general industry sessions and specific information on how to do business in the construction, goods and services, information technology and professional engineering service industries. Breakout sessions will cover small and minority-owned business certifications, resources for business development, marketing for state contracts and information on TxDOT toll projects. Each briefing also includes a contracting opportunity fair, industry sessions and a multitude of networking opportunities. Please join us! Briefings include Wednesday, March 20, in Arlington; Tuesday, April 23, 2013, in Lubbock and Tuesday, June 11, 2013, in Odessa. To register, click here. For more information call 1-866-480-2518, Option 1. For questions regarding the Office of Civil Rights-DBE/HUB/SBE and Supportive Services programs, click here or call 512-486-5510.


P3C, public-private partnership conference, set in Dallas

P3C, the Public-Private Partnership Conference, is scheduled for Feb. 21 and 22, 2013, at the Sheraton Downtown Dallas Hotel in Dallas, Texas. The event brings together real estate community development professionals and municipal leaders to highlight the latest development trends and opportunities involving public-private partnerships across the United States. The conference is a high-profile setting for municipalities to announce, unveil and discuss upcoming development projects. More than 30 cities and public agencies from across the country will take the stage next year at P3C to showcase their capital projects to a nationwide audience of developers, builders, architects and investors. P3C attendees participate in multiple networking elements within the conference, which provides presenters broad industry exposure to their projects. The agenda is designed to touch upon the most relevant and pressing issues vital to today's successful public-private partnership ventures. The event will bring together more than 65 thought-provoking and engaging speakers to exchange valuable insights with the country's leading development organizations. For more information and to register, visit www.P3C2013.com.


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New state budget expected
to include mega-millions
for technology purchases


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


Technology firms are positioned well for new business in 2013. A forecast by Gartner, Inc. predicts that global IT spending for everything from telephones to tablets will reach $3.7 trillion this year.


Telecom services, according to the forecast, should total more than $1.7 trillion, representing the largest IT spending segment. IT services will account for $927 billion, with data center system spending predicted at $147 billion and enterprise software spending at $296 billion. And, spending on devices only may reach $666 billion, up 6.3 percent from last year. That includes personal computers, tablets, mobile phones and printers.


Technology spending is rampant in the commercial marketplace. The same is true for government. State and local governments and institutions of higher education are major technology buyers - spending millions each year on technology products and services.


With this week's start of the 83rd Texas Legislature, members of the House and Senate will be tasked with designing the state's biennial budget. Technology spending requests have been submitted by virtually every public entity that receives state funding. And, legislators will approve a large percentage, if not most, of those requests because there is justification for them and to deny updated technology would cause all kinds of economic hardships.


Some examples include:

  • The Texas Department of Public Safety wants to purchase and install new in-vehicle mobile laptops for electronic ticketing in state-owned patrol vehicles. The agency has asked for $16.2 million in state funds.
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City of Lamesa to seek

bids for two road projects

Lamesa City Council members recently agreed to seek two separate bids for two projects that are part of the larger project to rehabilitate the Lamesa Road Corridor. One projects is to replace traffic signals at two intersections and the second project is for pedestrian access upgrades along Lamesa Road between Wadley Ave. and Walnut Lane.


City officials expect to begin construction this spring and have the project completed in about seven to 10 months. Once the pedestrian access project is substantially completed, city officials plan to begin reconstructing and resurfacing Lamesa Road.


Former DISD CFO King returns

to lead audit department

Alan KingFormer Dallas ISD Chief of Staff and Chief Financial Officer Alan King (pictured) has been rehired by the district on a temporary basis to run its internal audit department. King resigned from the district last October after serving as interim superintendent, and will report to his new position today, Friday. King will replace LaNita Ray, who was serving as interim internal auditor. Ray will return to her management duties within the department.


Ray recently completed an audit involving Superintendent Mike Miles and other managers in the district that revealed some procedures were not followed relating to hiring and relocation expenditures by the district after Miles was hired.

Board President Lew Blackburn said bringing King back is expected to add some stability to the internal audit department.


King served as CFO from January to June of 2011, when he was moved to interim superintendent. King interviewed for the superintendent's job. When Miles was hired, King was moved into the chief of staff role that included some of the tasks of CFO as well.


Longview plans $5M upgrade

to Center Street in 2014

Longview city officials are planning to begin work on a $5 million project to rebuild Center Street in the downtown area in summer 2014. City officials also expect an $8.6 million project to upgrade Cotton Street to begin in summer 2015.


Voters approved $52.6 million in bonds in 2011 to pay for 13 capital improvement projects, including the addition and upgrade of sidewalks as well as adding lanes to several streets and upgrading traffic signals on several streets and roads.


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City of Sugar Land examining calling November bond vote

A bond election of up to $50 million is being considered by the city of Sugar Land for hike-and-bike trails, a community park in a planned community, a festival site along the Brazos River and amenities for Phase II of the Brazos River Park.


The City Council may consider calling the election during its Jan. 15 meeting. The last bond election in the city was in 1999 and the last project funded by those bonds has been completed. Officials say they will be looking to a bond committee for guidance on how to spend the bond proceeds on the proposed projects and the impact a bond vote would have on the local tax rate.


Flour Bluff ISD selects Moffett

as interim superintendent

Flour Bluff Independent School District trustees recently selected Carol Ann Moffett, a former superintendent for that district, as the interim superintendent. Julie Carbajal, the current superintendent, is retiring in March after 10 years on the job. Moffett led the district right before Carbajal took over as superintendent.


Moffett is the owner and principal consultant for Texas School Solutions that helps public and private schools find qualified candidates for leadership positions. That firm contracted with Flour Bluff officials to conduct the search for the new superintendent. District officials plan to finalize the contract for interim superintendent on Jan. 31. Moffett will act as interim superintendent until a new superintendent is hired.


Ogden named 'Deep East Texas Legislator of the Year 2013'

A group from East Texas recently named former State Sen. Steve Ogden of Bryan as the "Deep East Texas Legislator of the Year 2013." Ogden served as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee during the 82nd Legislature, but did not seek re-election in November.


The award was presented at the Deep East Texas Reception in Austin attended by more than 300 people the night before the 83rd Legislature convened.



El Paso ISD taps Samples

as new in-house attorney

Trustees for the El Paso Independent School District recently hired Linda Samples as the first in-house attorney for the school district that has been rocked by a recent scandal involving testing scores. Trustees also selected Manuel Castruita as the new director of guidance services.


Samples, a former trustee for Canutillo ISD, currently is employed by the Baskind & Hosford law firm that represents many school districts in West Texas. District officials are working on the transition from primarily using an outside law firm to having an in-house attorney's office.


Currently the coordinator for counselors at Ysleta ISD, Castruita will replace Kathleen Ortega, who retired in December after being interviewed about the cheating scheme that allegedly placed students with limited ability to speak English in wrong grades, pushed some students out of school and denied enrollment to other students.


Bulverde seeking bids to build new $1.5 million city park

After rejecting previous bids considered too high for a new park, Bulverde City Council members recently agreed to seek bids again after revising designs for a new $1.5 million city park.


The revised plans include a gazebo, ball parks, splash pad, new parking lot and a basketball court that is not covered. Alternative projects include an enclosure for the basketball court, playgrounds, umbrellas for shade and rainwater harvesting that could bring the cost over the $1.5 million city have allotted for the project, the architect said. Council members will begin reviewing the bids that are due by the end of this month and plan to select the winning bid in February, city officials said.


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Tyler taps Guthrie,Trimble

for leadership positions

Tyler City Council members recently selected Susan Guthrie as an assistant city manager and Keidric Trimble as the chief financial officer. Council also appointed Russ Jackson as manager of the solid waste and vehicle services department.


Guthrie previously was the director for external relations where she managed the communications department, the Main Street Department, City University Liberty Hall and the Lean Sigma Program. Previously employed by the University of Arizona, the city of Mesa and a private company, Guthrie has a bachelor's degree from Arizona State University and is seeking a master's degree at The University of Texas at Tyler. She also graduated from the Senior Executives in Local Government Program at the Kennedy School at Harvard University.


Trimble replaced Daniel Crawford, who resigned as CFO in May 2012. A city employee for 13 years, Trimble has served as acting CFO, an internal auditor and an accountant. He has a bachelor's degree from The University of Texas at Arlington and is seeking a master's degree at The University of Texas at Tyler. Jackson joined the city in 1985 where he has worked for the police department and in the vehicles services department, where he began serving as a fleet manager in 2005.


Miller terminated as city

manager in Granite Shoals

Judy MillerGranite Shoals City Council members recently voted against renewing the contract of City Manager Judy Miller (pictured).


While immediately suspended from her duties, Miller's termination becomes officially effective on Feb. 7.


Conroe OK's $170K to buy land

to expand community center

Conroe City Council members recently approved spending $170,000 to buy two acres of land to expand the Oscar Johnson Jr. Community Center. The land is located across the street from the community center.


City officials are still working on plans for the expansion of the community center that currently features a swimming pool, outdoor basketball court and a playground area. The center also offers after-school programs and a summer camp program.


Government News

Check the GOVERNMENT NEWS section of the SPI Web site for these and other press releases.

  • TCOG's 2-1-1 Texoma awarded National Accreditation

  • January designated as Crime Stoppers month

  • AgriLife Extension honors Travis Co. Commissioners Court

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Recent Reports
Texas Government Insider Archives
Volume 1-10 Archives - 11/7/03 - 1/4/13
Governor's appointments
Governor Rick Perry has announced the following appointments:
  • Ernest "Ernie" Kuehne Jr. of Dallas, University of North Texas (UNT) System Board of Regents;
  • Bradley S. Hart of Humble, judge of the 230th Judicial District Court in Harris County;
  • Maceo Crenshaw Dailey Jr. of El Paso, Humanities Texas;
  • Joy Ann Havran of Fort Worth, Humanities Texas;
  • Venus Strawn of Austin, Humanities Texas;
  • Henry Borbolla III of Fort Worth, Trinity River Authority Board of Directors;
  • Tom Fordyce of Huntsville, Trinity River Authority Board of Directors;
  • Kenneth Motl of Port Lavaca, Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority Board of Directors

Corpus Christi partners for new $2.2M fire station at high school

Corpus Christi City Council members recently partnered with the Corpus Christi Independent School District to relocate a fire station next to Miller High School. The new fire station will provide fire science students working through a college credit program a close look at the lifestyle of emergency responders.


Plans for the fire station currently located on Leopard Street call for demolishing an empty athletic building on campus and building the new fire station with a separate classroom for students in the Fire Science Academy and other classes. The new fire station replaces a 50-year-old facility that is outdated and offers little privacy for on-duty firefighters who sleep at the station during long shifts.


Once the new fire station is open in spring of 2014, students can enroll in the fire services program offered by Del Mar College. They will receive college credit for courses to prepare to be firefighters and emergency medical technicians.


Sugar Land eyeing $50 million bond election in November

Sugar Land City Council members recently began discussing the creation of a citizen's bond committee to help win support for a possible $50 million bond election in November. Proceeds from a successful bond issue would be used to pay for four capital improvement projects.


Projects being considered for the bond proposal are new hiking and biking trails, a new park, phase 2 of the Brazos River Park and a festival site to be completed within seven years, city officials said. Projects to upgrade streets, drainage, sidewalks, wastewater facilities and existing parks will be done using revenues generated under the existing tax rate, city officials said.


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Poteet selects Moore

as new city administrator

Following a six-month search, Poteet City Council members recently selected Scott Moore from a field of 79 candidates as the new city administrator.


Moore previously was a city manager or assistant city manager in Peoria, Illinois, Wichita, Kansas, and Ellsworth, Kansas, and a budget analyst in Austin. He has a bachelor's degree from Texas State University at San Marcos and a master's degree from Wichita State University in Kansas. 


Pippen resigns as city administrator in Karnes City

Larry Pippen, city administrator in Karnes City for the past seven and one-half years, recently resigned from that post. City officials have not yet selected a new city administrator to replace Pippen, who came out of retirement to accept the post.

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.
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