Texas Government Insider
News And People

Volume 14, Issue 33 - Friday, September 2, 2016


New fees will cover budget gap


The Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (TxDMV), which was intended to be a self-funded agency, may be able to fully meet that goal after a new fee structure is implemented in January.


The TxDMV began operations in November 2009 after the 81st Legislature created it to be a stand-alone agency able to provide a more customer-focused approach to providing motor vehicle services to Texans. Previously, the agency's duties were under the umbrella of the Texas Department of Transportation.




Athens City Council members authorized $12.8 million to pay for capital improvements on Monday. About $8 million of those funds are to be used for the Cain Center. City officials intend to renovate the center and use it for city operations as well as public events and recreation. 


A limited number of reservations remain available for the 2016 Biennial Legislative Communication Conference. 
Register now to ensure a spot.

The director of the Palestine Economic Development Corporation plans to ask city council members for approval to seek proposals from buyers to purchase a mall near Loop 256.


Council members will hear the proposal to sell the city-owned property at their next meeting. 


South Padre Island South Padre Island city officials have agreed to ask voters to approve a 2 percent venue tax in November after discussing the possibility of building an amphitheater large enough to attract top musicians.


The proposed tax, which is expected to produce about $2 million in annual revenue, could be used to finance a venue that would attract artists who usually perform in larger cities such as San Antonio and Houston, the mayor said. The funding from the new tax also could be used to improve infrastructure on the island that would help both visitors and residents, he said.


Swisher County officials, along with the city of Kress, won approval of $3.8 million in loans and grants from USDA Rural Development to renovate the courthouse, replace a water tower and buy a truck.


The county won approval of a $2.99 million loan to replace windows, upgrade the air conditioning and heating system, replace the roof, meet the standards of the Americans With Disabilities Act and improve interior finishes at the courthouse. County officials also plan to replace the roof and air conditioning and heating system at the jail and in the Annex building.


Kress city officials won approval of a $10,000 Communities Facilities Grant to buy a sewer jet truck as well as a $211,000 loan and a $631,750 grant to replace an elevated storage tank in order to comply with state regulations.


School district and city officials in Round Rock are eyeing two options outlined in a study to determine the feasibility of partnering in a project to build a new indoor swim center near the Texas A&M Health Science Center.


City officials, school board members, the YMCA and a private donor who plans to donate the land for the new swim facility paid for the feasibility study. Officials are considering asking voters to approve bonds in May to help pay for the swim center. The study presented two options. The $31 million option is similar to state swim meet venues at large universities. The $24 million option has fewer features. 


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Trustees for San Antonio Independent School District called a $450 million bond election in addition to a tax ratification election to raise the tax rate for maintenance and operations to improve facilities throughout the district.


Bond proposals include renovating 13 schools; replacing heating, cooling and ventilation systems; upgrading science labs and expanding classroom spaces to meet state guidelines. Board members propose spending the increased revenue for maintenance and operations to provide updated technology and other enhancements to classrooms throughout the district.


Amarillo project mapAmarillo officials have posted an interactive map on the city's website with details of projects included in the November bond election. Projects totalling $300 million are under consideration in seven bond propositions. 


The projects include $89 million for streets, $20 million for public safety, $43 million for municipal facilities, $22 million for parks, $83 million for a civic center expansion, $66 million for athletic facilities and $15 million for fleet acquisitions and support.


 Round Rock Independent School District trustees selected a site for a sixth high school. Board members also began discussions regarding a bond election in May 2017 to pay for the new school and other facility upgrades.

District officials bought the 182-acre site for new schools seven years ago and have already build a transportation facility and elementary school on part of the land. They are also planning to open a new middle school in the fall of 2017.


Trustees plan to appoint members to a citizens bond committee this fall that will begin reviewing other facility projects to add to the bond ballot. Board members will have until Feb. 17, 2017, to call a bond election in May.

Calendar of Events

Sept. 15, 2016

"The Long and Winding Road to Smart City P3s" workshop, is co-organized by Smart & Resilient Cities and Meeting of the Minds.

Hosted by Georgetown University's Master of Professional Studies in Urban and Regional Planning program and Professor Uwe Brandes, the half-day, two-panel program will utilize the rich resources of Scranton Gillette Communications and Meeting of the Minds to explore the position of  Public Private Partnerships for Transportation (P3s) in the modern infrastructure portfolio and conclude with a networking reception. Register here.

Oct. 3-4, 2016

Public-private partnerships are helping higher education officials meet their needs for new and renovated facilities. How this trend is growing will be discussed at the upcoming Public-Private Partnership Higher Education Summit. The summit is being described as "the premier conference for collaboration between university officers and development professionals pursuing public-private partnerships." The gathering, scheduled for Oct. 3-4 in San Diego, will feature influential decision-makers from throughout the country. Those attending will participate in two days of in-depth learning, business development and networking opportunities with facility planning, finance and business officers who are involved in public-private partnerships across the country. Speakers will show how P3s on college campuses are no longer just for student housing, but have expanded to include classrooms, laboratories, research facilities, athletic spaces and other campus infrastructure. Registration is now open and a  program schedule has been released.

Oct. 11, 2016

Started seven years ago by San Antonio Clean Technology Forum, the annual Water Forum brings together municipal, educational, economic and political interests for engaged, informed discussions regarding regional water issues. This year's event, Water Forum VII: A Legacy - Edwards Aquifer Authority at 20 Years, will feature the fifth annual Water for Life Award, presented by the San Antonio Clean Technology Forum. Click here for details and registration.


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.

Sept. 20-21, 2016

Buyers, contract administrators and project managers interested in earning a construction purchasing certificate can do so through The University of Texas at Austin's LBJ School of Public Affairs. The program aids in understanding and using new terms, remaining compliant with unfamiliar laws, developing control plans and schedules and staying on budget. The LBJ School's Construction Purchasing Certificate Program consists of four core courses and one elective to be completed over a period of two years. The goal of this certificate program is to provide participants with the skills and knowledge to ensure that their organization's construction projects are well managed and secure the intended results and value. The courses are complementary in nature, and each course repeats annually. The next available course is Basics of Construction Purchasing and will be held Sept. 20-21.
Mobility solutions come with high price tags!

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

Nationwide, city executives and transportation officials are examining mobility issues and trying hard to solve congestion problems. Funding is never adequate and frustration grows in both the public and private sectors as traffic congestion becomes almost unbearable. With little relief in sight and transportation needs escalating, citizens throughout the U.S. will be asked to vote on bond packages or tax increases worth billions of dollars in November. 

Hart appointed interim city manager for Austin


Elaine Hart
Elaine Hart

Elaine Hart was selected Thursday as the interim city manager for Austin while the city searches for a permanent city manager. Hart is the city's chief financial officer. She will take on the duties of City Manager Marc Ott, who announced he was leaving Austin to become the executive director of the International City/County Management Association in Washington, D.C.


Texas A&M provost to step down


Karan Watson
Karan Watson

Provost Karan Watson will step down from her position at Texas A&M University at the end of the current academic year, said President Michael K. Young in a statement.


Watson joined Texas A&M in 1983 and became the first female associate dean in engineering. She became the university's first woman provost in 2011. She also served as dean of faculties and associate provost. Young said even after she steps down, Watson will continue to work with the university. 

Austin eyeing $600 million plan to expand convention center


Austin city officials are considering a plan to spend from $400 million to $500 million to expand the convention center to attract more visitors throughout the year.


The proposed expansion would be funded through the hotel occupancy tax, according to the director of the Austin Convention Center Department. City council members, who must approve the proposal, also have discussed using the hotel tax revenue for other purposes.

Dallas police chief retiring


david-o-brown David Brown is retiring as police chief of Dallas. Assistant Chief David Pughes will serve as interim chief as the city begins a nationwide search for a replacement. Brown joined the Dallas force in 1983 and is the longest-serving police chief in the city since 1960. Brown's last day will be Oct. 22.

Sikes selected as lone finalist for superintendent for Walnut Bend ISD


Debra Sikes is the lone finalist for superintendent at Walnut Bend Independent School District. A former teacher, counselor, principal and curriculum director, Sikes also was a director for Region 7 Education Service Center in Kilgore. Sikes expects to begin her new duties at the Walnut Bend school district on Sept. 14.


Nocona ISD sets $16.8M bond election


Trustees for Nocona Independent School District agreed to schedule a $16.8 million bond election on Nov. 8 to build a new high school. Voters in May rejected a similar bond proposal.


Current plans are to build three science laboratories, add three more classrooms and space for art programs if this bond proposition wins voter approval. 

Round Rock moves forward on flood prevention project


The Round Rock City Council approved a contract for the designing and permitting of a new $20 million dam. The project, in partnership with the Upper Brushy Creek Water Control & Improvement District, is planned to mitigate flooding in the western area of the city.


The dam, titled Dam 101, would be designed to remove more than 60 homes from the risk of flooding in a 100-year storm, city officials said. Upper Brush Creek Water Control & Improvement District officials approved a design contract in August to build Dam 102 to work along with Dam 101. 

On Our Website 

House Research Organization - State examines ways to curb financial exploitation of older Texans

Gov. Greg Abbott has announced the following appointments:
  • Joe Martino, Marshall, Texas Crime Stoppers Council;

  • Greg New, Waxahachie, Texas Crime Stoppers Council;

  • Steve Squier, Cleveland, Texas Crime Stoppers Council;

  • Clement Marcus, El Paso, Product Development And Small Business Incubator Board;

  • Kelli Frias, Ph.D., Lubbock, Product Development And Small Business Incubator Board;

  • Jimmy Mize, Nacogdoches, Product Development And Small Business Incubator Board
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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 
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