Volume 17, Issue 18 - Friday, May 10, 2019Optional Link
Proposed I-35 expansion in Austin
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) gave Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) officials a glimpse of a possible $8 billion expansion to Interstate 35 on Monday night that adds proposed lanes to every section of the highway in Austin and two subterranean tunnels close to The University of Texas-Austin.

TxDOT representatives delivered a presentation to CAMPO board members that showed one managed lane both northbound and southbound from U.S. 290 East to Texas 45 South and two tunnels that would go from Airport Boulevard to Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The preliminary plan is likely to undergo multiple revisions in the years to come as outreach efforts collect public feedback, TxDOT officials said.

CAMPO members voted to inject $400 million to boost the project higher up state and federal funding priority lists. Construction on the project, which CAMPO board members voted to include in their regional transportation plan, could begin as early as 2022 with completion wrapping up after 2027 should funding be secured.

CAMPO board members also earmarked $75 million for access roads on U.S. 183-A from RM 1431 to Avery Ranch Boulevard and $25 million in upgrades to the RM 620-Anderson Mill Road intersection.
El Paso courts P3 partner for arena 
Model of downtown arena
The City of El Paso issued a request for proposals (RFP) for a consulting service that would help attract a potential partner to design, build and operate a downtown multipurpose performing arts and entertainment center (MPC) while also pitching in to finance the project.

According to the RFP, the city is seeking proposals from firms that can provide financial analysis and business advisory services related to the development of city capital projects including the initial project identified as the MPC.

RFP documents detail the city's vision for a mid-size arena that would feature a seating capacity of up to 15,000 to anchor a recreation and entertainment epicenter in the downtown area. Center uses could include concerts and programs, community events, sporting events at professional, semi-professional and amateur levels, family entertainment, tournaments and other events.

Under the terms of the RFP, the consulting firm would be required to submit a business case before issuing requests for expressions of interest, qualifications and proposals from potential P3 partners based on project advancement leading up to selecting a winning P3 partner in coordination with the city. Public hearings, financial due diligence, risk assessment and feasibility evaluation would follow before establishment of a final agreement and closing. The firm also would coordinate with the city in commencement of the arena's design and construction.

The facility is among three projects in El Paso's 2012 Quality of Life Bond Initiative that allocated $180 million for the center; however, city officials anticipate it could cost $250 million to build.

May 29 is the deadline for the consulting RFPs with evaluations scheduled for June and a contract award date set for August. The contract term would be for three years with a two-year option at the city manager's discretion.
Voters back bonds in May 4 elections
Texas voters approved more than $9 billion in bond propositions across the state May 4 out of 70 percent of a possible $11.4 billion in proposed measures.

Overall, 66 of the 82 propositions (80 percent) passed not including another 19 special districts (water supply, utility, levee improvement and water control and improvement) that had another $1.4 billion in bond propositions on the May 4 ballots. The majority of these measures passed with $1.16 billion approved.

School districts put forward 16 of the top 20 bond packages in terms of dollars with Cy-Fair ISD's $1.7 billion bond package, Prosper ISD's $1.34 billion bond initiative and Dallas County Community College District's $1.1 billion measure leading the way. Cy-Fair ISD's proposition includes funding for a new northwest transportation center, performing arts center, instructional support center, safety projects and instructional technology.

The cities of Garland, McKinney and Frisco broke into the top 20 with bond elections of $423.7 million, $350 million and $345 million, respectively.

For detailed results, see SPI's Texas Bond Election Report for May 2019.
Bill could expand plastics recycling  
Texas legislators passed a bill May 6 aimed at increasing advanced plastics recycling and recovery technologies.

The bill (HB 1953) that the Legislature sent to Gov. Greg Abbott would direct the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to categorize postconsumer polymers or recyclable, recoverable feedstocks as valuable products "if they were converted using pyrolysis or gasification."

Abbott's signature would make Texas, which is the largest manufacturing state in the U.S., the third state this year to pass such legislation. Florida, Wisconsin, Georgia, Iowa and Tennessee also have similar legislation.

Reports show the potential economic impact of increased plastics recycling and recovering technologies in the United States to be almost $10 billion. Converting these plastics into transportation fuel in Texas could power more than 800,000 cars annually, and recycling at least 25 percent of them could produce $501 million in yearly economic impact.
Travis County commissioners book initial funding for women's jail 
Addressing outdated women's detention facilities in Del Valle, Travis County commissioners recently approved the issuance of a bond package to fund a new 350-bed jail for women, which would be a 15 percent increase from the current inmate population. The court budgeted $80 million for the jail with $6.6. million approved in initial funds for design and pre-construction.

Bond certificates of obligation (COs) are set to be issued in early June. Voters usually do not approve this type of debt, but 5 percent of a county's population may petition for an election on projects funded by a CO.
Post-Harvey flooding concerns linger in Friendswood; council mulls bond  
A Friendswood drainage committee request spurred City Council to adopt a resolution May 6 acknowledging that the Clear Creek area is primarily responsible for the city's flooding during Hurricane Harvey.

Council members also approved rules requiring more detention and mitigation in new developments and voted to hire a city drainage coordinator. Drainage committee members are seeking a $32 million bond proposition this November for drainage projects. City officials estimate total projects costs at $175 million for Clear Creek, but they are exploring partnership possibilities with the city contributing the $32 million.

In April, committee members recommended de-snagging, creating a terrace and raising the FM 2351 bridge to build a 200-foot terrace on both sides of the creek.
Clear Creek divides Friendswood where Northern Galveston and southern Harris County meet and offers water access to the Gulf of Mexico through Clear Lake and Galveston Bay. More than 50 inches of rain fell in the area during Hurricane Harvey in August 2017.
Austin council helping to relocate Dougherty Arts Center to new site   
The Dougherty Arts Center is heading for a new home after Austin City Council voted, 8-2, on May 9 to approve its relocation to Butler Shores Park on Lady Bird Lake.

Bonds were approved in November 2018 and in 2012 to redevelop the center for $28.5 million, but the Austin Parks and Recreation Department assessment in 2010 deemed the building beyond repair. The 41-year-old center is housed in a 72-year-old former Naval Reserve facility on Barton Springs Road where it lies in a 25-year flood plain, which prohibits a new building being constructed there.

Department officials needed council to sign off on the move in order to call for bids for design and construction of a new facility after three city advisory commissions recommended action. City leaders envision the new location, which is near the Zach Theatre and arts center, could inspire a new arts district.
City of Huntsville lines up proposals for $24M in public safety buildings
The City of Huntsville is ready to issue the call for proposals on both a police station and fire station June 2 with an eye toward construction starting this fall.

Police station construction on FM 2821 is budgeted for $16 million while the future fire station on Sam Houston Avenue is slated for $8 million. Firefighters will vacate their station by mid-July with units assigned to other stations until the new facility is ready.

Kevin Lunsford, Huntsville police chief, told council members that he plans to begin soliciting proposals June 2 with a due date of July 9. Should the council waive a second reading of the construction ordinance, Lunsford said November 2020 is a realistic target for completion.
University of Houston-Victoria, city to add safety features to Ben Wilson
Since 2015, plans have been in place to update Ben Wilson Street along the University of Houston-Victoria campus.

The much-anticipated construction project could see some movement with Victoria City Council members set to receive a timeline and consider approval at their May 21 meeting.

University and city representatives confirmed the two parties have reached an agreement on contract terms on the project that will add safety improvements such as a slower speed limit, reduction of five lanes to three, 8-foot sidewalks on each side of the street and a corridor with 20-foot medians traversing the campus. Other features will include a clock tower and trees. Construction is set to begin later this summer with completion in about 18 months.
Rural areas to get bulk of water, wastewater infrastructure funds
The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) approved more than $33 million in financial assistance for water and wastewater system projects May 9. Rural projects will account for $26.69 million.

Wastewater system improvements in the City of Brady will receive $14.68 million, and Harris County Municipal Utility District No. 148 is scheduled get $4.06 million for wastewater system improvements as well.

The TWDB designated $9.68 million to Wolfe City's water and wastewater system improvements, $2.30 million to the City of Roscoe for improvement to its water system and $1.52 million to the Fort Griffin Special Utility District for a water supply project.

Jefferson County Water Control and Improvement District No. 10 will collect $500,000 for its Hurricane Harvey disaster recovery project while the Ira Water Supply Corp. will receive $300,000 go toward water system improvements.
Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars 
John Baumgartner
John Baumgartner, City Manager, 
City of League City

Career highlights and education:  I have the best job in the world as City Manager of League City.  I have worked for League City for seven years, the last  two as City Manager.  I have a bachelor's degree in civil engineering from the University of Idaho, and I am a Texas professional engineer.   

What I like best about my public service: Having the opportunity to make a positive impact on my city, making it better for our current and future residents.   

The best advice I have received for my current job: City management is a long game. While individual short term successes are important, you need to stay focused day in and day out on creating a thriving sustainable community.   

Advice you would give a new hire in your office: Be patient, be positive and most importantly to not be afraid of the toughest assignments. Attitude is everything ... great attitude great outcomes!

If I ever had the opportunity to leave work early, I could probably be found: Running or at the gym.  

People would be surprised to know that: That a grew up in Juneau, Alaska running with the bears and swimming with the killer whales...I came south to get warm.   

One thing I wish more people knew about the City of League City: League City the center of the universe ... conveniently located halfway between Houston and Galveston ... the best place to live, work and play.
Council of Governments to review DFW-area transportation programs  
Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge
The North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) will have a public meeting May 13 at its Arlington office to update the public on several transportation planning initiatives.
NCTCOG will present draft recommendations for the FY 2020 and FY 2021 Unified Planning Work Programs (UPWPs) that summarize the council's transportation and air quality programs. Staff members also will discuss the recommended summary of projects set to receive funding under the 2019 Transportation Alternatives Set-Aside Program Call for Projects.
In addition, they will go over draft recommendations for the Dallas-Fort Worth area from the Federal Highway Administrations review of the National Highway System conducted in 2018. The system is a network of nationally significant roadways that support the movement of people and goods between populations centers, international border crossings, major military installations and intermodal facilities, according to NCTCOG.

Proposed changes to the FY2018 and FY 2019 UPWP will be available online for review and comment.
The House passed a final reading of Senate Bill 1938 on Tuesday and yesterday it went to the Office of the Texas Governor where it awaits his signature. The legislation would require that non-incumbent energy companies obtain permission from the state before they could offer electricity to Texans.

It also would give incumbent utilities the right of first refusal (ROFR) to build transmission projects in the state. The ROFR is a contractual right, but not obligation, to enter into a business transaction with a person or company before anyone else can. If the entity with the right of first refusal declines to enter into a transaction, the owner of the asset who offered the right is free to open the bidding up to other interested parties.

If the bill is signed, it would grant certificates of convenience and necessity (CCNs) to build, own or operate new transmission facilities that interconnect with existing facilities "only to the owner of that existing facility." A CCN is issued by the Public Utility Commission of Texas, and authorizes a utility to provide water and/or sewer service to a specific area. The proposed change stems from a federal mandate known as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Order 1000, which reformed the FERC's electric transmission planning and cost allocation requirements for public utility transmission providers.

May 27 will be the last day of the regular session. June 16 is the deadline for Gov. Greg Abbott to sign or veto bills, and on Aug. 26 all signed bills - except those that are effective immediately or specify a different effective date - become law.
Brownsville plans to join county for flooding study, contribute $87K
Brownsville city commissioners have approved to be included in a county-wide flood protection study.  The study, to be conducted through Cameron County, will address drainage at a regional level instead of the city level.
A target date for the completion of the study is unknown, but the outcome of the study will help address capital drainage improvement projects. Cameron County has flooding issues due to watersheds that cross the county. Nearly $1 million was provided to Cameron County by the Texas Water Development Board for the study. Brownsville plans to match the state grants with nearly $87,000 from its general fund. 
Texas agency encourages everyone to don pink May 14 for women's health
National Women's Health Week (NWHW) is May 12-18. In celebration of this recognition, Texas leaders are encouraging everyone in the state to wear pink on May 14.
Texas Health and Human Services is launching a week of activities in support of Women's Health Week and is encouraging the use of the #ISupportTexasWomen hashtag to highlight local efforts along with #NWHW national hashtag. Some of the programs HHS provides for women include Texas WIC, Healthy Texas Women, Family Planning Program, Breast and Cervical Cancer Services, Medicaid for Pregnant Women and Substance Use Disorder Services. More information is available at hhs.texas.gov.
National Women's Health Week starts on Mother's Day every year-and focuses on reminding women to carve out the time needed to eat healthy, practice self-care and make yearly doctor's appointments. 
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Calendar of Events

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.
Counties are critical to successful economic development efforts. That's because counties maintain 46 percent of the country's public road miles and build and maintain more than 38 percent of bridges throughout America, according to National Association of Counties data. They also support more than 900 hospitals nationwide and are involved in the operation of more than 34 percent of public airports. Counties support 78 percent of all public transit agencies and invest about $21.6 billion in sewage and waste management to keep community water supplies safe and provide citizen services of all types.

However, in spite of all the good they do, counties are limited when it comes to raising additional revenue. They never have enough and are often forced to leverage the funding they receive through innovation, collaboration and partnerships with private-sector partners. But, counties are not a jurisdiction to be overlooked ... there are thousands of upcoming contracting opportunities of all types for 2019.

Victoria County in Texas was recently awarded a $1.1 million state grant from the Rebuild Texas Fund and officials will use the funding to rebuild that region. The funds will help purchase and convert a newspaper office building into a disaster recovery and response center. Space not used by the center may be used for new county offices or it could be leased out by the county. Whatever decisions are made, there will be contracting opportunities for private-sector firms. 

Check out this article from our Pipeline newsletter!

Coats new interim
CEO for VisitDallas  

Sam Coats
Sam Coats is only staying for a little while in his new role as interim CEO of VisitDallas.

Coats was announced as the new chief May 9. He is taking over for Phillip Jones who is stepping down after 15 years with VisitDallas.

As a former board chairman of VisitDallas when it was previously the Dallas Convention and Visitor's Bureau, Coats has experience with the organization.

Coats leaves his chairman's position on the board of directors at the Dallas Fort Worth International Airport where he has served since 2016. Prior to that tenure, he was an executive with several airlines including Compass, Southwest, Braniff and Continental. His leadership experience is not limited to airlines; Coats worked as the CEO at a national sandwich company, served as a state representative from 1971 to 1973 and ran for Dallas mayor in 2007.

His contract with VisitDallas is through September 2020.
Austin taps Yaft as ABIA's new leader  
Jacqueline Yaft
Austin Bergstrom International Airport's (ABIA) new executive director, Jacqueline Yaft, will assume the role effective June 10.

Yaft has garnered more than 20 years of experience at some of the country's largest hub airports such as Los Angeles World Airports, Denver International Airport and JFK International Airport within operations management, airport safety and security compliance and master plan implementation.

In Los Angeles, she served as the deputy executive director of operations and emergency management. Most recently, Yaft was a principal with aviation consulting firms.

She succeeds retiring Aviation Executive Director Jim Smith who served Austin for 35 years. 

Jackson named new La Marque leader  
Charles Jackson
The City of La Marque selected Charles "Tink" Jackson from a field of 12 applicants as its new city manager.

Jackson replaces Charlene Warren who was serving as interim city manager after Carol Buttler called an end to her 10 years of service in the role when she retired in August.

He previously held positions as city manager of Pearsall, Texas, from 2016 to 2019 and as district supervisor for the New Mexico State Engineers Office. He also worked as a manager in the private sector and as a high school educator.

Jackson currently is on the Texas City Managers Association Ethics Committee.
State adds Russell, Hartgraves to TREC
Barbara Russell
The Texas Real Estate Commission confirmed broker member Barbara Russell and public member Jason Hartgraves as new commissioners to terms expiring Jan. 31, 2025.

Jason Hartgraves
State senators confirmed the duo to their positions by a May 1 vote. Broker member Scott Kesner also was confirmed and appointed as commission chair.

Russell of Denton is broker and owner of a realtor brokerage firm and is an active member of the Texas Association of Realtors and Greater Denton/Wise County Association of Realtors.

Hartgraves of Frisco is chief deputy for the Dallas County Sheriff's Department. He also is a member of the FBI National Academy Associates and the Dallas County Sheriff's Association.
Richardson resigns from DeSoto post  
Tarron Richardson
DeSoto City Manager Tarron J. Richardson, is moving to Charlottesville, Va., to be the next city manager.

Richardson was promoted from the position of DeSoto assistant city manager to city manager in 2011.

DeSoto Parks and Recreation Managing Director M. Renee Johnson has been chosen to serve as the city's interim city manager. Johnson, who came to DeSoto in 2007, has spent nearly three decades leading parks and recreational operations in four different cities including Dallas.
Gov. Greg Abbott has announced the following appointments/reappointments from May 3 - May 9:

Nora Castaneda - Harlingen, Texas Commmission of Licensing and Regulation
Mark Franz - Austin, Texas Lottery Commission

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 Public Utility Commission- Economist
  • Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts- Expenditure Assistance Program Specialist
  • Office of the Texas Governor- Director of of Scheduling and Advance/Director II
  • Texas Department of Motor Vehicles- Project Manager III 
  • Texas Education Agency- Director of Strategy and Operations/Director III
  • Texas Department of Public Safety- Communications Electronics Technician III
  • Texas Department of Insurance- Administrative Assistant III
  • Texas Department of Information Resources- Systems Analyst VI Engineering
  • Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board- Software QA Specialist
  • Texas Commission on Environmental Quality- Business Analyst III
  • Treasury Safekeeping Trust Company- Accounting V
  • Teacher Retirement System of Texas- DevOps System Administrator
  • Alamo Area Council of Governments- AAA Caregiver Services Coordinator
  • City of Austin- Human Resources Advisor
  • Ector County- Coliseum Maintenance Tech I
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: Devin Monk 
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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