Texas Government Insider
News And People

Volume 14, Issue 41 - Friday, October 28, 2016
CPS reform plan urgently needed
Sen. Jane Nelson
The fate of children in the care of Child Protective Services (CPS) was hotly debated this week. The Texas Senate Finance Committee met on Wednesday to discuss reforms to CPS after a recent Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) report revealed nearly 1,000 children were not checked on over the course of six months and caseworkers did not see 1,800 children within 24 hours of reports of abuse or mistreatment. The currently reported backlog of at-risk children awaiting CPS assistance is 2,844. 

Hank Whitman
"We have to get it right on CPS," said Senate Finance Chair Jane Nelson. "We need to better understand what investments are working and what improvements are needed. We need an action plan that will keep children safe." 

DFPS Commissioner Hank Whitman appeared before the committee with a plan to hire 550 new caseworkers and overhaul CPS. His $53.3 million proposal also included hiring special investigators who can find missing children. Whitman followed up his proposal on Thursday with a request for an additional $8.2 million to help raise salaries for CPS employees and increase retention in the high-turnover field.

Texas ranked second-worst for uninsured children
A new report ranks Texas as the second-worst in the nation for health insurance coverage for children. The report by the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families shows only Alaska ranked worse in rates of uninsured children. Texas has the largest number of uninsured children with 682,000 out of the nationwide total of 3.5 million.  

The state has been making progress in reducing the rates of uninsured children. The report shows that the rate of uninsured children in Texas fell from 16.6 percent in 2009 to 9.85 percent in 2015. However, that rate is still about double the national average of 4.8 percent. 

Click here for the full report.
Rural schools task force formed
Mike Morath
Commissioner of Education Mike Morath announced the formation the Texas Rural Schools Task Force, which met for the first time this week. Members have been asked to identify challenges and best practices for rural school districts. More than 2,000 campuses in Texas are classified as rural by the U.S. Department of Education. 

"Rural school districts across our state are committed to successful student outcomes, but face many educational challenges unique to their size and region," said Morath. "The Texas Rural Schools Task Force will provide an opportunity to identify common issues, exchange strategies for success and provide an avenue to share innovative practices that can strengthen educational opportunities for all students." 

Task force members will meet several times and hold regional forums in January. Recommendations will be presented to the commissioner in March.
Sunset Commission meets Nov. 10
The Texas Sunset Advisory Commission will meet on Nov. 10. Commissioners will hear public testimony regarding the Texas Board of Chiropractic Examiners, the Texas State Board of Podiatric Medical Examiners, the Texas Board of Nursing and the State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners.

False fuel claims lead to $2.8M settlement for Texas
The Consumer Protection Division of the Attorney General's office has received $2.8 million as part of a multi-state settlement from two automakers. Texas and 32 other states accused the automakers of deceiving unsuspecting consumers and profiting from false mileage claims that were advertised during a period of high gasoline prices. 

The nationwide settlement totaled $41.2 million and came after an investigation found evidence that mileage and fuel economy ratings were misrepresented in some 2011-2013 vehicles. The practice is a violation of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act. Officials said the settlement funds will be used to help deter future false advertising, protect consumers and ensure fairness in the marketplace.
Ysleta ISD seeks proposals for $25M middle school
Board members for Ysleta Independent School District moved forward with plans to consolidate and renovate schools in the district. A total of 31 projects are part of a $430 bond proposal approved by voters in November 2015. 

Construction on a $25 million middle school is currently open for bids. Information about the Bel Air Middle School project and other projects is available here. The deadline for proposals is Nov. 10.
Athens moves forward on Cain Center renovations, additions
Philip Rodriguez
Athens City Council members moved forward on the Cain Center project by authorizing City Manager Philip Rodriguez to select an architect for the project. Earlier this year, the council agreed to issue $12.5 million in certificates of obligation to pay for the project. 

"The revamped Cain Center will include both public recreation and city operations," said Rodriguez. "All of the administrative services for the City will soon office out of the center. A new police station will also be built on site, giving our police department a 21st century facility to work from, which has been one of our greatest needs. We also anticipate overhauling the pool for both public use and swim competitions."
Child abuse facility moves forward with $5M donation
The founder of a successful technology solutions company donated $5 million to ChildSafe of San Antonio to build a new 70,000-square-foot center to treat children and families affected by abuse and neglect.  

To be located on 36 acres off Interstate-10 east of the city, the new facility will include treatment rooms and administrative offices. It will also include space for Child Protective Services, law enforcement personnel and assistant district attorneys in addition to treatment rooms and administrative offices. 

The larger facility is needed to handle the increasing number of reported child abuse and child neglect incidents in Bexar County. Current plans are to begin construction on the new child abuse and neglect treatment center in May 2017. The new facility is expected to be completed in late 2018.
Abilene chamber endorses $55M bond for expo center
Abilene Chamber of Commerce officials endorsed a $55 million bond to pay for improvements to the Taylor County Expo Center in Abilene. If approved by voters, bond funds would be used to expand the facility. 

Plans include expanding the concourse of the coliseum by 20,000 square feet, building a new entrance, a new livestock barn and pavilion, a new multipurpose center, additional parking, an exterior entertainment area and improved restrooms.
TxDOT to pilot $18M program to relieve Houston congestion
Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) officials are planning an $18 million, three-year pilot program in Houston to quickly alert motorists of travel options when traffic congestion occurs. The ConnectSmart system tracks and analyzes traffic information and uses smartphone applications, the internet and message signs on local highways to inform motorists of options to avoid congestion and accidents on the area's crowded roadways.  

The travel information offered through ConnectSmart could include advising motorists to leave earlier than planned, the availability of public or alternate transportation and alternate routes to more quickly reach a destination. The project is funded in part by a $8.9 million federal grant.
Corpus Christi approves $25 million regional sports complex
Corpus Christi city officials are moving forward with a proposal by a San Antonio-based sports and entertainment company to form a public-private partnership to build a $25 million regional sports complex. 

The project is planned to include multiple baseball, softball and soccer fields, an indoor center and sports-themed restaurant to be built on 68 acres of land owned by the city near the Crosstown Expressway. City council members approved a 40-year contract with the company to manage the facility. Construction is expected to begin on the project in the summer of next year.
North Central Texas COG awarded $1.4M for regional transportation
North Central Texas Council of Government (NCTCOG) officials received a $1.4 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to pay for improving accessibility and land use at 28 Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) stations located on two of the system's lines in Dallas, Garland, Plano and Richardson.

Some grant funding will be used to help pay for a study to assist in understanding how passengers arrive in their last miles to the station, how land around the transit stations is used and how parking at transit stations is used. A survey of passengers to determine their preferences and thoughts on accessibility also will be conducted. Once the study and survey are complete, results will be used to decide at which stations to increase or revise the size and design of parking areas to better manage transit-oriented land use and accessibility. 

NCTCOG officials partnered with the four cities and DART to be eligible for the Capital Investment Grant designed to improve regional accessibility to transportation. NCTCOG agreed to pay $300,000 of the $350,000 in matching funding required to be eligible for the grant. The participating cities are contributing the remaining matching contribution. The study and survey should be completed in about two years, NCTCOG officials said.
Plano ISD to buy land for new, $4.28M performing arts facility
Board members for Plano Independent School District agreed to buy almost 16 acres of land to build a new, $4.28 million performing arts facility near Academy High School. 

The new center will feature a performance space with seating for 1,500, a black box theater, a pit, dance floors and flexible space for rehearsals and professional development. The facility will be available for use by community groups, bands, dance groups, orchestras, choirs and meetings, district officials said.  

The next step is to select an architectural/engineering firms to design the projects by the end of December, according to Steve Fortenberry, chief financial officer for the district. Planning and design should be completed in about 18 months and construction on the performing arts facility is expected to be finished in three years.

Fairview plans $100M capital improvements
As part of a $100 million 10-year capital improvement plan, Fairview town council members are considering asking voters to approve an estimated $36 million in bonds in November 2017 to pay for upgrades to infrastructure to attract more economic development. 

About one-third of the proposed upgrades in the 10-year plan are aimed at improving roads and facilities in the commercial area west of town. Council members also want to build a new fire station to replace an existing station, a new public works/administrative building and a new police station as part of the approved 10-year plan. 

Officials plan to use a variety of methods to pay for the plan, including general revenue funds, intergovernmental agreements, tax increment financing districts and developer impact fees.
Infrastructure needs take center stage at CG/LA-sponsored forum
Mary Scott Nabers (right) spoke at the CG/LA North American Infrastructure Leadership Forum in Denver.
The nation's infrastructure has become a top priority for Americans as well as for both the Republican and Democratic candidates seeking to become the next U.S. President. That's the word coming from this week's eighth North American Infrastructure Leadership Forum in Denver. Dozens of elected officials, government agency representatives, private-sector professions and industry executives shared their experiences and expertise related to infrastructure projects nationwide. Some of that information included a recent major poll taken across the country that indicates that infrastructure, when tied to job creation and for economic viability, is a top priority for Americans. 

Representatives of both major candidates for the presidency also have said that their respective candidates' platforms indicate that, for whichever of them becomes president, infrastructure issues could be among the priority projects of their first 100 days in office. 

Mary Scott Nabers, president and CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc. (SPI) and a recognized expert in public-private partnerships (P3s), was a participant in the forum, where the top 50 infrastructure projects required to ensure global competitiveness and create jobs are being presented. She noted that making infrastructure a "first 100 days" priority for the next president would "get infrastructure projects moving in this country." Also attending from SPI are Consultants Chelsea O'Hara and Elizabeth Sohns.
Grapevine-Colleyville ISD unveils $18M stadium renovation plan
Grapevine-Colleyville Independent School District trustees unveiled plans for an $18 million project to renovate the football stadium in Grapevine.The project is funded in part from a $249 bond proposal approved in May and revenue from tax incremental finance zones. 

The plan includes building new restrooms, concession stands, spirit shops and a new press box as well as upgrading security and access to the stadium. The upgrades are designed to blend with the historic appearance of Grapevine. Concrete repairs to the stadium have been estimated to cost $6 million. 

The first phase of the project will be to repair the concrete, while the second phase is scheduled to begin in fall 2017 after the football season is completed. The goal is to complete the stadium upgrades in 2018.
Schertz-Seguin seeking $43.6M for water projects
Board members of the Schertz-Seguin Local Government Corporation agreed to apply for a $43.6 million loan from the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas (SWIFT) managed by the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB). 

The 30-year loan would be used to fund several local water projects to improve drinking water quality and accessibility in that area. The loan application also must be approved by the city councils in Seguin and Schertz before being submitted to TWDB for approval in mid-November. 

If approved, the loan would fund expanding the wellfield in Guadalupe County and building a new treatment plant along with a storage and pump system. Plans also include construction of a 43-mile long pipeline from Seguin to Schertz. Once designs for the water improvement projects are completed in September of next year, construction on the Guadalupe Project could begin in June 2019 and be completed in early 2021.
Arlington requesting bids for $1M body camera project
Arlington City Council members agreed to request bids to purchase 350 body cameras for police officers along with the necessary storage and processing equipment to support the use of the body cameras.  

The body camera program is estimated to cost about $1 million. A portion of that cost will be used to pay an open-records attorney to assist in deciding how to store and manage the videos, some of which are routine encounters between citizens and police officers while other videos of encounters between police and citizens could be used as evidence in prosecuting crimes.
Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars
Leonard Martin, City Manager, City of Carrollton
Leonard Martin
Career Highlights and Education: I have BA and MA degrees in political science from Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas. I am in my 43rd year of city management. I have served cities in Texas, Arkansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Prior to transitioning to the city management profession as an assistant to the city manager in Wichita Falls, I worked as a police officer for the city of Wichita Falls. My first actual city manager job was in Malvern, Ark., a job I left after 22 months like I came - fired with enthusiasm. I have been recognized as City Manager of the Year in the states of Missouri and Oklahoma and the American Public Administration Society Administrator of the Year in Oklahoma. In January, I plan to transition to a new career after almost 43 years working in city management.

What I like best about my job is: If I could live my life over again, I would be a city manager. I have been blessed to have the opportunity to live my life philosophy of leaving the world in a little better condition than I found it 70 years ago. I have been honored to meet many great people along the journey who strive to likewise make things better. My job has never been work.

The best advice I've received for my current job is: As a public official, I am often subjected to criticism, some deserved and some unfairly directed at me. Long ago, I was told by my mentor that we are here to win the war, not battles. That advice has guided me throughout my career and helped me to not take things personal, choose the battles I fight wisely and to focus on the mission, not people.
Advice you would give to a new hire in your office: While I sit at the top of the organization and am paid the highest salary, I am no more important to the organization than the newest employee in the lowest pay grade. Everyone is valuable as long as they are passionate about what they do and how they do it. If their job becomes work, then it is time to seek other opportunities that will be more fulfilling. It is not "what" we do in life but "how" we do what we do that matters in the end. Never work for money as a goal. No one gets to take an ATM machine to the grave with them to spend their financial wealth so focus on building emotional wealth by doing what we love with passion.

If I ever snuck out of work early, I could probably be found: I love working with my hands and doing physical work. I can fix just about anything so if I am not working at my regular job, I am found being a jack-of-all-trades handyman. No project is too menial or too challenging. Woodworking is another interest of mine and I have made several pieces of furniture for family and friends.

People would be surprised to know that I: I am passionate about fixing the healthcare system. I grew up with zero healthcare, so I personally understand the necessity for everyone having access to quality healthcare. In just about any organization today, a business' second largest expenditure is for healthcare - the costs are out of control, people are unable to access quality care. Healthy employees are more productive. There are things we can do to improve the system. About 40% of my work time is directed toward trying to control the second largest expenditure at the city of Carrollton. When I transition to a new career in January and leave the city of Carrollton and the city management profession, I will likely end up working in healthcare.

One thing I wish more people knew about the City of Carrollton: Unlike too many cities that are plagued with political and organizational conflict, during my 15-plus year tenure in Carrollton, we have enjoyed nothing but positive political leadership that has been focused on making the city a premier place to choose to live. Our employees likewise have been able to accomplish amazing results as part of a strong elected official and staff team. The competitive service business culture within our organizations drives a continual focus on delivering services cheaper, better, faster and friendlier.
Calendar of Events

Jan. 23-25, 2017

The Water for Texas 2017 Conference in Austin, Texas, will showcase innovative scientific, planning and financial solutions to water challenges; interactive data and technology; and compelling conversations on water issues that affect all Texans. Panel discussions, workshops, and exhibits will offer the opportunity to network and engage with industry leaders, elected officials and TWDB Board members and staff. A conference agenda is available. Register here.


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

Community colleges in Texas are outpacing schools in other states. The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center reports that community college enrollment nationwide is on the decline. That's definitely not the case on most campuses in Texas. 

Lone Star College in Houston is not just showing increased enrollment figures, the system set an all-time record enrollment of 85,661 students this fall. That represented a 2 percent increase over the previous year. 

In Corpus Christi, Del Mar College's enrollment in continuing education courses, including workforce training and certifications, has doubled since 2011. And the overall headcount at Del Mar was up 4 percent from fall 2014 to fall 2015.

Montoya named Texas Public Sector CIO of the year
Rudy Montoya
Rudy Montoya, chief information officer (CIO) for the Office of the Texas Attorney General has been named Texas Public Sector CIO of the Year. The award is presented by the Texas CIO Academy for exemplary leadership, strategic vision, innovation and collaboration. 

Montoya has worked in the attorney general's office since 1988. He started his career there as an intern and held various positions of increasing responsibility until becoming CIO in 2012. Montoya manages the information technology systems for the child support, administrative and legal divisions at the office.  

He also served 11 years as a trustee for the Austin Independent School District and is a past president of the Texas Association of State Systems for Computing and Communications.
Barnes tapped as vice chancellor, CFO for Texas Tech
Gary Barnes
Gary Barnes was selected as the vice chancellor and chief financial officer (CFO) for the Texas Tech University System. When Barnes begins his new duties on Dec. 1, he will replace Jim Brunjes, who retired after 17 years with the Texas Tech System. 

In addition to managing the current annual operating budget of more than $2 billion annually, Barnes also will oversee several departments and services such as Treasury and Cash Management, Information Technology, Office of Investments and Risk Management. Now serving as associate vice president for finance and university controller at Texas A&M University, Barnes was also the CFO at West Texas A&M University after serving in several accounting positions.

DART greenlights $2B transit projects 
Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) officials are moving forward on two major transit projects, a new rail line connecting Plano and DFW Airport and a new downtown subway. Each of the projects is expected to cost about $1 billion, but officials said the cost estimates could change once designs for both projects are finalized. 

The new Cotton Belt line between Plano and DFW Airport and the subway, now known as D2, are dependent on federal grants and loans to move forward. Current projections for the Cotton Belt line could be completed by 2022 and the D2 subway line project by 2024, the spokesperson said.
Coleman named city manager of Palestine
Kevin Coleman
 Palestine City Council members voted to hire Kevin Coleman as the new city manager. Coleman will assume the role pending contract negotiations. 

Now serving as city manager in Yoakum, Coleman was previously a city manager in Dewey, Okla., and director of development services for Kerrville. He also was director of construction for Abilene Habitat for Humanity. Coleman has a bachelor's degree and a master's degree from the University of Kansas

Bryan to purchase land for major park
Jason Bienski
Bryan City Council members authorized the mayor and mayor pro tem to negotiate a contract for the possible purchase of land for a large park west of the city.  

City officials plan to use hotel occupancy tax funds to help pay for the park . The new park will focus on youth baseball, soccer, football and other sports, said Mayor Jason Bienski. The park could host tournaments and other activities that attract competing teams and their supporters to travel to the city and spend money for hotels, restaurants and shopping.

Groom ISD eyes $19.5M bond for facilities improvements
Groom Independent School District officials have proposed a plan for building additions and improvements. If voters approve a $19.5 million bond election on Nov. 8, renovations to the main building, which was constructed in 1951, will be one of the top priorities for the district. 

Other additions and renovations to improve the school and enhance security are included in the plan.

Windwehen to serve as interim city manager in Gonzales
Charles Windwehen
Charles Windwehen was selected as the interim city manager in Gonzales. He will replace Allen Barnes, who left that position in mid-October, until a new city manager is selected. 

In 2011, Windwehen also served as interim city manager when he replaced David Hussman, who left his post as city manager. Windwehen previously served as city manager of Victoria.
New school, athletic complex on ballot for Smithville ISD
A new junior high school and an athletic complex top the $35 million bond proposition being decided by voters in the Smithville Independent School District on Nov. 8. The projects are part of a $63 million long range plan to improve facilities. 

District officials are proposing to build a new junior high school campus on high school property that will feature a regulation stage to be shared by the high school. The bond proposal also includes funding to build an athletic complex for use by students in grades six through 12. 

If voters approve the proposition, district officials also plan to upgrade the main campus, demolish the sixth-grade building and dispose of all portable buildings now in use.

Elsa moving forward with $6.9M renovation
Elsa city officials are moving forward with a $6.9 million project to upgrade an existing 50-year-old building into a 300,000 square-foot, two-story municipal complex to house the police, fire, parks and recreation departments. The municipal library and the Economic Development Corporation also will be housed in the new municipal complex. 

Solar panels will also be installed on the roof of the new municipal complex. The project could be completed by the end of 2017, city officials said.

Greenville moves forward on sewer system upgrade
Greenville City Council members plan to make final offers on the last two properties needed to build a new million-gallon sewer lift station to serve the southwestern side of the city. 

The goal is to avoid condemnation proceedings on the two properties. The city began attempting to purchase the properties in 2014 to upgrade the water and sewer system as part of a plan to encourage development in the southwestern side of town.

Paris moves forward on new EMS facility
Paris City Council members approved a contract with a local architect to design a new emergency medical services (EMS) facility. Officials plan for the design to be completed within two months. Contractor bids may be accepted soon after. 

The proposed 2,600-square-foot EMS station would be located in the northwest section of the city. The new building will give paramedics additional work space and decrease response times, said EMS Director Kent Klinkerman.
Dozens of public-sector jobs are available. New jobs added this week include:  

Click here to view more. Send postings to editor@spartnerships.com.

On Our Website 

Transportation measures will total more than $175 billion on election day

Gov. Greg Abbott has announced the following appointments:
  • William R. Rector, Kerrville, Upper Guadalupe River Authority;

  • Jerry Gipson, Longview, Sabine River Compact Commission.
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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: Priscilla Loebenberg 
TGI is published by Strategic Partnerships, Inc. (SPI), a research and consulting firm. Founded in Texas in 1995 by former government executives and public sector experts, SPI has developed a national reputation as the premier marketing partner dedicated to helping companies secure contracts in the $1.5 trillion state and local government marketplace.   
To learn more about SPI services, click here or contact our sales department at 512-531-3900. 
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