Volume 17, Issue 15- Friday, April 12, 2019Optional Link
Property taxes at the forefront during Legislative Session
After a day of meetings regarding property taxes, the Senate and the House postponed a proposal to a later date. The House plans to take up House Bill 2 again on Monday. HB 2 and Senate Bill 2 would require cities, counties and other taxing units to receive voter approval before levying 2.5 percent more property tax revenue than the previous year. The current law allows local governments to increase revenues by as much as 8 percent before voters can weigh in via a petition drive. 

HB 2 includes a carry-over provision that would allow taxing units to build up unused revenue growth for five years, allowing them to avoid the election trigger if they had less than 2.5 percent growth in preceding years. The bill also exempts school districts, emergency service districts, hospital districts and junior college districts from key provisions. The Senate version does not exempt school districts. The rational is that this would lessen the burden on local governments when property taxes were reduced. 

Next week, House Joint Resolution 3 may be presented to the Ways and Means committee. That bill would lay out a plan to generate $5 billion dollars a year by increasing the sales tax one additional cent. The bill is being called a sales-tax-for-property-tax swap by some. 

Texas imposes a 6.25 percent state sales and use tax on all retail sales, leases and rentals of most goods, as well as taxable services. Local taxing jurisdictions (cities, counties, special purpose districts and transit authorities) can also impose up to 2 percent sales and use tax for a maximum combined rate of 8.25 percent.Texas is currently listed as having the 12th highest sales tax rate in the country. 

The proposed legislation, as it now stands, will require a constitutional amendment and voters would have to approve the sales tax increase. A constitutional amendment means that the legislation must pass each chamber with a two-thirds vote.
Fort Worth to spend $380M for larger convention center
Convention Center Arena
The city of Fort Worth's arena is 50 years old and its age and size are two factors, along with the opening of a new arena in November, that are contributing to a demolition of the facility to make way for an expanded convention center. A new arena also is opening in November. Hotel rooms and convention space would be added in place of the arena, built in 1968. 

The project, to be implemented in phases, is estimated to cost around $380 million with the expansion taking place in 2022. Designs would be put together to include a new ballroom and kitchen. Commerce Street would need to be straightened out since it curves around a section of the building. The second phase would begin in 2024 and includes the demolition of the arena and expansion of the convention center.
CapMetro developing an 'Orange Line' of transit possibilities  
In preparation for a bond proposal in 2020, Capital Metro (CapMetro) is requesting feedback on the Orange Line, part of the transit agency's Project Connect plan. The Orange Line would run north/south and approximately 12 miles between North Lamar Boulevard at U.S. 183 south to South Congress Avenue, south of Lady Bird Lake. The transit agency, last month, hired an engineering firm to begin design work on this mass transit line. Either rail or bus is still an option for the route which would need to be designed without reducing any existing lanes for traffic. 

An open house was held last week in Austin and CapMetro is also taking online feedback at Feedback@ProjectConnect.com. After the Orange Line, CapMetro plans to focus on the Blue Line, a route that runs from the airport to downtown. The Project Connect map also includes a Brown Line down South Congress Avenue to Slaughter Lane, plus several other less-traveled corridors the agency would like to develop. 
Dallas-Fort Worth airport may add another terminal  
Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) International Airport officials are considering a new terminal at the site of the South Express Parking. The plan for Terminal F would be to build it in a way that it could accommodate more airplanes to park in a smaller space. The design of the terminal would feature a different layout instead of the formation of a half-circle. Currently, planes at DFW airport can only park on one side of the terminal. 

Rough estimates of the preliminary plans, plus improvements on terminals already in place, would cost up to $4 billion through 2025. The new terminal would need 30 to 35 gates and could include international gates that would connect to a customs processing center already in place at Terminal D. Adding more parking spaces is currently not part of the plan. Airline officials could revisit talks on the plan as early as 2020.  
Bailey appointed/Allensworth named chair of TFC  
Brian Bailey
Brian Bailey has been appointed to the Texas Facilities Commission for a term set to expire on Jan. 31, 2021. Additionally, William Allensworth has been named chair of the TFC. The commission controls state buildings, grounds or property and is responsible for maintenance, repair and construction of state buildings for Texas. 

Bailey of Austin is president of a home building business. He is currently serving as a gubernatorial appointee on the Texas Industrialized Building Code Council and is a member of the Austin Crime Commission and The University of Texas Chancellor's Council
William Allensworth
Executive Committee. His appointment is subject to Senate confirmation.

Allensworth of Austin is an attorney who practiced in the firm he founded until his retirement in 2016. He was the adjunct professor of Construction Law for nearly 30 semesters at The University of Texas School of Law. He is a member of the State Bar of Texas, a Fellow of the American College of Construction Lawyers, and an honorary member of the Texas Society of Architects.  
MOU is approved for new multipurpose arena in Lubbock County  
Lubbock County Commissioners this week approved a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Lubbock County and the Lubbock County Expo Center, Inc. to develop a plan for a new multipurpose arena that voters approved during November's election. Approved was a 2 percent increase to hotel/motel occupancy taxes to partially fund the expo center. The tax will provide a bond between $25 and $35 million. 

The MOU allows the Lubbock County Expo Center, Inc. (LCEC) to hire legal counsel to guide the creation of a Public Facilities Corporation to own the Lubbock County Expo Center, subject to the approval of Lubbock County. LCEC will develop a clear path forward for the design and preliminary schedule for the completion of the various phases of the project. A written plan, approved by the parties, will provide for the design, construction and management of the facility. This will include private fundraising for a portion of the capital costs of the project. The goal is the have the facility open by 2021.
Tax-free holiday for emergency supplies   
The 2019 hurricane season is June 1 through Nov. 30 and in Texas, tornadoes tend to occur with greatest frequency during the late spring and early summer months. Between April 27-29, emergency preparation supplies will be tax-free in Texas. The state's sales tax holiday, approved by the Texas Legislature in 2015, is estimated to save shoppers $1.6 million in state and local sales taxes. There is no limit on the number of qualifying items that can be purchased. These include:
- household batteries, fuel containers and flashlights priced at less than $75; 
- hurricane shutters and emergency ladders priced at less than $300; and 
- portable generators priced at less than $3,000. 

A complete list of items that qualify as tax-free over the three-day period can be found here.  
League City continues discussions on Epicenter
The city of League City is proposing an area that features concerts and sports events, shopping, dining, swimming and other activities at a location being dubbed as the Epicenter. The Epicenter currently is a proposed public-private partnership that the city is looking to form with a private developer that would essentially rent the land. 

The city is located on Interstate 45 between Galveston and Houston and receives more than 12 million tourists annually. The Epicenter would replace the Sportsplex, located right off I-45 and on SH-96, which has reached its maximum capacity for sporting events. If the Epicenter is approved private funding would be needed to build and sustain this million-dollar plan. Discussions on the plan are progressing.
Abilene ISD begins projects proposed in voter-approved $138.7M bond  
Abilene Independent School District officials are negotiating projects following a voter-approved $138.7 million bond that passed in November. While some bid submission dates have passed, other projects, such as building a new athletic complex at Shotwell, are underway with a plan to award negotiating rights at a special school board meeting at noon April 22. 

Austin and Taylor elementary schools will be entering the construction document phase. The phase will last until June 10, when bids close for Austin. Taylor bids will close June 24. Construction will begin at Austin on July 22, while Taylor will begin on Aug. 5. The design phase is underway for the new Career Technical Education high school. The school, which is slated to open in August 2021, will next go through a programming phase before architects complete site and floor plans.  
Waxahachie prepares for future capacity needs for city employees  
Waxahachie City Hall has reached its capacity limit of city employees and a building across the street could help with any future growth in personnel. In 2009, the city acquired a two-story lumberyard building, located across from City Hall, for future office space. Funding has been designated in this year's operating budget to begin preliminary engineering and abatement services on the building. 

An architecture firm has been hired for the project and the planning effort will take approximately four months to complete. A new agreement for a construction plan development will be presented to the City Council for consideration in July. The building currently houses a business with a lease that expires in November.  
Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars 
Joe Zimmerman
Joe R. Zimmerman, Mayor, City of Sugar Land

Career highlights and education: Joe Zimmerman is a senior consultant at a private civil engineering consulting firm founded in 1950. He has extensive business experience, having served in senior management positions in a number of different industries including consulting engineering, water and wastewater operations, land acquisition/land development/homebuilding as well as an international assignment in Libya. He served as vice chair of the Government Relations Committee for the Fort Bend Chamber of Commerce from 2000-2001 and 2013-2015. Zimmerman has served on the boards of the Literacy Council of Fort Bend, Fort Bend County Toll Road Authority and Beechnut Street, Inc., which is associated with Houston Baptist University. 

Zimmerman was elected the 10th mayor of Sugar Land on June 11, 2016 after serving four years as the At-Large, Position 2, city councilman. He serves on the Economic Development Committee, Intergovernmental Relations Committee, Compensation Committee and as the COSL representative to the HGAC Board of Directors and Transportation Policy Council. Prior to being elected to City Council, he was a member of the Planning and Zoning Commission for eight years, serving six years as chairman. He is a 2015 graduate of the Sugar Land Regional Airport Academy. Zimmerman earned his BSCE from the University of Houston and MBA from Houston Baptist University and is a licensed professional engineer in Texas.  

What I like best about my public service: Representing all the various cultures and citizens of Sugar Land.  

The best advice I have received for my current job: Treat others with respect.  

Advice you would give a new hire in your office: Build strong relationships with those people that you respect and admire.

If I ever had the opportunity to leave work early, I could probably be found: You would find me taking my daughter, granddaughter and grandson to lunch, playing golf or hunting birds in south Texas.  

People would be surprised to know that: I started a homebuilding company when I was 22 years old, before I obtained my college degree.   

One thing I wish more people knew about the city of Sugar Land: Sugar Land really is the BEST PLACE TO LIVE, WORK, PLAY AND SHOP!
Margaret McDermott Bridge approved for repair   
Margaret McDermott Bridge
The Dallas City Council has approved spending around $7.1 million to repair and open the hike-and-bike sections of the $115 million Margaret McDermott Bridge. The problems on the bridge were identified in 2016 when three rods that hold the cables cracked. A system of cables, rods and anchors support the bridge. The hike and bike paths on both sides of the bridge are barricaded from use. The approved $7.1 million will allow all the cables, rods and anchors to be replaced. The fix would take three years to complete. 

The funds to fix the bridge will come from a construction contingency fund, which consists of money the Texas Department of Transportation paid the city for right-of-way acquisition and easements needed to reconstruct the Interstate 30 overpass. The city plans to look at other funding options and it's also possible that the city will pursue legal action against some of the parties responsible for the bridge's construction.
TxDOT developing border transportation master plan   
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has launched a border master plan aimed at improving the facilitation of trade and travel between Mexico and Texas. The development of the Texas-Mexico Border Transportation Master plan will take up to 18 months to finish. TxDOT plans to study all 28 international ports of entry on the border from Juarez, Mexico to Brownsville, Texas. Technical working groups will be formed within each border region to focus on specific infrastructure needs. 

The 18-month study will involve U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the General Services Administration and their counterparts in Mexico. The CBP will look at federal or state policy being implemented to help people or goods move across the border and will make sure it's being equally applied at all 28 ports of entry. TxDOT implemented a similar overhaul of the ports of entry in 2013. New improvement projects are needed soon due to the increase in population and registered cars crossing the border.
HHSC receives $24M for State Opioid Response grant program   
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services this week announced an additional $24 million in funding for Texas to supplement the State Opioid Response grant program. To date, Texas has been awarded more than $176 million in federal funding related to fighting the opioid crisis under the Texas Health and Human Services Commission's (HHSC) Texas Targeted Opioid Response program (TTOR). The new funding will expand access to treatment options including medication-assisted treatment, which combines approved medications with counseling and behavioral therapies. The funding will increase access to treatment and aims to reduce opioid overdose-related deaths through prevention and recovery strategies. 

Details about the new $24 million in grant funding, including information about individual projects and recipients, will be finalized in the coming weeks. More information about opioid misuse prevention is available on the Dose of Reality website, a collaboration between the Texas Attorney General, HHSC, and the Texas Department of State Health Services. To meet federal grantee requirements, streamline deployment of funds and maintain quality services, HHSC plans to expand existing contracts and partner with governmental entities such as academic institutions and local mental health authorities.
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Calendar of Events

April 17 / Austin, Texas
The University of Texas (UT) at Austin and The UT System are hosting the annual Historically Underutilized Business (HUB) Economic Opportunity Forum, "Open for Business Diversity." The forum will be held on April 17 from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. in the Lone Star Room at the Frank Erwin, 171 Red River St., Austin. 

HUB vendors are invited to meet and greet key purchasing personnel from some of the top spending departments at the university. This year's forum includes a "Co-Opportunities" panel from Buyboard, Premier, E&I Cooperative and The UT System Supply Chain Alliance. The panel will provide HUB vendors insider knowledge on group and cooperative purchasing organizations and contracting processes. Learn about essential steps to take for your company to get involved with these organizations and build essential business relationships. 

To register, visit here and look under "Upcoming Events." Please register by April 5 at 5 p.m.
June 12 & 13 / Georgetown, Texas
Plan to join the Texas K-12 Chief Technology Officers (CTO) Council in Georgetown for their Summer Clinic 2019! The event will be held at the Georgetown Sheraton Hotel and Conference Center, 1101 Woodlawn Ave. on June 12 and 13. This annual event is the premier professional training conference for technology education leaders in Texas, bringing together leaders from around the state and the region to discuss pressing issues in education technology. 

This year the clinic will focus on building a "trusted learning environment," which includes physical, network and data security. Register for the event here.

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

Something good could happen as a result of congressional action. A recently introduced bill would provide a $5 billion boost for the construction and rehabilitation of government-owned buildings. The Public Buildings Renewal Act (S. 932), if passed by Congress, will open up tax-exempt financing for public buildings - many of which are in dire need of salvaging and/or improving. 

Bill sponsors say the bill will encourage public-private partnerships for construction projects, lower the cost for taxpayers and incentivize investors. It would also create jobs and provide an economic boost.  

Many government facilities which heretofore have been ineligible for federal tax-exempt funding could get significant attention because of the bill. Eligible facilities would include the following: 

* an elementary or secondary school; 
* facilities of a state college or university used for educational purposes; 
* a public library; 
* a courthouse; 
* hospital, health care, laboratory or research facilities; 
* public safety facilities; or 
* offices for government employees. 

The financing vehicle for the tax-exempt funding will be private activity bonds. 

Successful public-private partnerships are increasing rapidly in the United States. Allowing private activity bonds to cover public building projects would not only provide a new financing option, but it would also open up a robust marketplace with incentives for private-sector contractors and investors. The $5 billion would be leveraged to bring in additional funding so public officials would also be highly incentivized to rehabilitate public facility assets that qualify.  

Abilene hires von Wolffradt as CIO  
Robert von Wolffradt
Former Iowa Chief Information Officer (CIO) Robert von Wolffradt was hired as the first CIO of Abilene. 

Von Wolffradt, who left in January after six years with the Iowa state government, will begin his new role later this month in Abilene. Von Wolffradt was also Wyoming's CIO from 2007 to 2011.  
Criswell heading to Mineral Wells  
Randy Criswell
City Manager Randy Criswell is leaving Canyon and the city commission has named Assistant City Manager Jon Behrens as the interim city manager. Criswell will be leaving for a new opportunity in Mineral Wells. 

Criswell started with the city in 1994 as a public works director, was promoted to assistant city manager in 2004 and then city manager in 2008. Criswell will begin his new role on May 6.

Arrington named Clarksville city manager  
Julie Arrington
Clarksville City Council members have selected Julie Arrington as the new city manager.  

Arrington most recently worked as an administrative assistant for the city of Corinth and prior to that was the deputy city secretary for the city of The Colony. Arrington's hire comes after former city manager Shannon Barrentine resigned in August.  
Sladek promoted to El Campo city manager  
Courtney Sladek
El Campo Deputy City Manager Courtney Sladek has been promoted to city manager. Sladek's promotion becomes effective May 1, one day after current City Manager Mindi Snyder steps down. 

Sladek came to El Campo in September 2006 as an accounting analyst. Becoming city manager will be her fourth promotion.  

Trotter selected as Cleveland ISD superintendent  
Chris Trotter
Chris Trotter has been named the lone finalist in Cleveland Independent School District's superintendent search. 

Trotter is currently the chief administrative officer for Tomball ISD. Trotter has worked at Tomball ISD for nine years. The Cleveland ISD Board of Trustees will vote April 25 on the hiring of Trotter.  
Gov. Greg Abbott has announced the following appointments/reappointments from April 5 - April 11:

Kenny Koncaba- Friendswood, State Securities Board
Pat Hickman- Canyon, Texas Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors
Vicki Hollub- Texas Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors (vice chair)
Woody Hunt- El Paso, Texas Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors
Jim Lentz- Westlake, Texas Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors
Drayton McLane Jr.- Temple, Texas Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors (chair)
Abid Neemuchwala- Coppell, Texas Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors
Scott Prochazka- Houston, Texas Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors
Bryan Sheffield- Austin, Texas Economic Development Corporation Board of Directors
Joe Williams- Sugar Land, Texas Public Finance Authority
Billy Atkinson Jr.- Frisco, Texas Public Finance Authority (reappointed)
Wade Hayden- San Antonio, Texas Private Security Board (reappointed)
Debi Mertz-Ulmer- Houston, Texas Private Security Board (reappointed)
Stephanie Leibe- Austin, State Pension Review Board (chair)
Marcia Dush- Austin, State Pension Review Board (reappointed)
Denise Oncken- Houston, Advisory Committee to the Texas Board of Criminal Justice on Offenders with Medical or Mental Impairments (reappointed)
Sanjay Adhia, M.D.- Sugar Land, Advisory Committee to the Texas Board of Criminal Justice on Offenders with Medical or Mental Impairments
Roger Rodriguez- El Paso, Advisory Committee to the Texas Board of Criminal Justice on Offenders with Medical or Mental Impairments
Yolanda Waters, Ph.D.- La Marque, Advisory Committee to the Texas Board of Criminal Justice on Offenders with Medical or Mental Impairments
Robb Catalano- Fort Worth, Advisory Committee to the Texas Board of Criminal Justice on Offenders with Medical or Mental Impairments (reappointed)
Trent Marshall- Burleson, Advisory Committee to the Texas Board of Criminal Justice on Offenders with Medical or Mental Impairments (reappointed)
Brian Eby- Wichita Falls, Advisory Committee to the Texas Board of Criminal Justice on Offenders with Medical or Mental Impairments
Alicia Giordano- Humble, Continuing Advisory Committee for Special Education
Jen Stratton- Austin, Continuing Advisory Committee for Special Education
Ray Tijerina- San Antonio, Continuing Advisory Committee for Special Education
Shemica S. Allen- Allen, Continuing Advisory Committee for Special Education (reappointed)
Teresa Bronsky- Plano, Continuing Advisory Committee for Special Education (reappointed)
Stephanie Martinez- Laredo, Continuing Advisory Committee for Special Education (reappointed)
Jana McKelvey- Austin, Continuing Advisory Committee for Special Education (reappointed)

Dozens of public-sector jobs are available. Click here to view all job openings and guidelines for job submissions to SPI. New jobs added this week: 
  • Texas State Securities Board- Financial Examiner I
  • Texas Comptroller of Pubic Accounts- Information Technology Auditor I, II, III
  • Texas Department of Information Resources- Data Analyst III 
  • Texas Education Agency- Senior Policy Analyst/ Education Specialist IV
  • Texas Department of Public Safety- Preparedness Program Supervisor
  • Texas Department of Insurance- Program Specialist IV in Houston
  • Texas Department of Motor Vehicles- Director II/ Assistant CFO
  • Texas Department of Agriculture- Case Preparation Officer
  • Texas Department of Environmental Quality- Administrative Assistant IV
  • Railroad Commission of Texas- Accounting Technician II
  • Texas Real Estate Commission- Program Supervisor V
  • City of Houston- Supervising Engineer/ Facilities
  • City of Austin- Executive Secretary for Assistant City Manager
  • City of Dallas- Office Assistant II
View our Texas Government Insider and Government Contracting Pipeline newsletter archives

Texas Government Insider is a free weekly newsletter detailing important happenings throughout the state and summarizing current political issues relevant to individuals interested in government.   
Publisher: Mary Scott Nabers
Editor: Kristin Gordon 
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, the SPI Team has developed a national reputation for partnering public and private sector entities.   
To learn more about SPI services, click here or contact our sales department at 512-531-3900. 
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