Volume 19, Issue 8 - February 19, 2021
By Mary Scott Nabers, CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc.
The Texas SPI Team has struggled valiantly this week just as others throughout the state did. Because of the wicked winter storm that hit Texas over the weekend, most of us have been - and many still are - functioning without power and water and limited to no access to the Internet.

In spite of very cold houses, there has been no way to move to a place with power because roads have been iced over all week. One almost, but not quite, humorous note I received said “Do everything possible to avoid a fire because all the fire hydrants are frozen solid.”

Texas is not equipped for this kind of weather event, and it hit the state hard. The suffering continues, but weather experts say there will be a break by the weekend. Let’s hope they are right.

One of the largest capital projects in the history of the city of San Antonio is in the talking stage as officials of the San Antonio International Airport are discussing a possible $2 billion airport redevelopment plan. Included in the early talks are replacement of Terminal A and building a third terminal.

Those projects would be followed by the renovation of Terminal B within the next 20 years.

The $2 billion cost for Terminals A and B would likely be split evenly - $1 billion for each. Although the plans are still being crafted, officials are considering all ways to help pay for the endeavor. Some possible sources of financing are bond issues, passenger fees, federal grants, and airline contributions.

The proposal is expected to go before the City Council for discussion on March 3. Some community meetings have already been held to discuss the proposal.

A consultant for the project called Terminal A “functionally obsolete” with issues such as narrow corridors, an aging electric system and insufficient baggage claim areas and restrooms. Corridors are 71 feet wide, short of the 100 feet usually incorporated into today’s domestic gates and 140 feet for international gates. Lessons learned from the COVID pandemic will lead to innovations to provide more open space and addition of dining facilities between gates.

Terminal A currently has 16 gates, and Terminal B has eight. Consultants say Terminal B will need renovations during the next 20 years. An additional 12-15 gates would be available if Terminal C is added.
Much-needed capital improvement projects in the city of El Paso will be funded through the likelihood of issuance of certificates of obligation totaling $93 million.

The non-voter-approved bond market funding mechanism will result in projects that include street, bridge and sidewalk improvements; museum and cultural center projects; technological installations; accessibility; site demolition; traffic signals and lighting; and more.

Local governments often use certificates of obligation to fund projects without having to call a bond election for voter approval. City officials say they are confident that the city’s financial outlook for the future limits the risk in taking on more debt through using certificates of obligation.

The spending will address nine bond and capital improvement plans created to improve city services and maintain current structures.
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) issued a request for information (RFI) for input from vendors on implementing an airport data system solution.

TxDOT’s Aviation Division is operating its business process leveraging disparate technology tools. The majority of these tools have not been purpose built and are significantly outdated. The efficiency of the department rests mainly on their team member’s experience, training, and internal knowledge.

The RFI seeks to understand:
  • Solutions available for an airport data system. 
  • Services provided by vendors offering the solution. 
  • High-level costs associated for implementation and support of an airport data system. 

Management and stakeholders must be able to access a summary of project status, preferably through a visual dashboard graphic interface. All data, records, and documents input into the platform must remain accessible to users, based on their role, for historic reference, reuse for future projects, and compliance.

The Aviation Division requires a business system platform to enable its business process in support of delivering program management as a service. The division needs a centralized platform to collaborate, participate in shared workflows, track program status, manage program budget, and ensure compliance with funders and regulations. Due to the complexities of the state and federal systems, the platform will need to orchestrate with other data sources and systems without the ability to replace or usurp them.

Information gathered from the RFI may be used to assist TxDOT with the preparation of a request for offers.

RFI submissions are due by 3 p.m. February 22.
Bobby Wilkinson, Executive Director
Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs
Career highlights and education: As executive director of the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA), I have served as an adviser to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on housing policy since 2015 after serving in the Perry administration. I also filled various other roles in the Abbott administration’s Budget and Policy division, most recently as deputy budget director. I have a bachelor of arts from The University of Texas at Austin.

What I like best about public service is: Its seriousness. Being a careful steward of taxpayer resources and a fair and just arbiter is essential to maintaining the public trust.

The best advice I’ve received is: Trust in God but lock your car.

My favorite way to destress is: Jiu Jitsu. Nothing quite clears the mind like defending yourself from chokes and joint locks.

People might be surprised to know that I: Have five sons.

One thing I wish more people knew about TDHCA is: In 2020, TDHCA administered nearly $3 billion in federal and state funding to assist Texans. For an agency with just around 300 employees, we provide much needed relief for those struggling with rent and utility costs, help low-income families finance their first home, and assist the elderly and persons with disabilities who need their home modified in order to increase accessibility and eliminate hazardous conditions.
As student population growth expands in the Royse City ISD and is expected to continue that growth for years into the future, the Royse City School Board is seeking passage of a $230 million school bond issue on May 1.

The district’s growth will allow bond projects that are approved to be funded through property value growth with no increase in the property tax.

The bond program will include two propositions.

Included in Proposition A are projects that will replace Cherry Elementary; provide renovations for the Early Childhood Center; create two elementary campuses; expand two existing elementary and one middle school; provide for security, technology and infrastructure upgrades; and add bus parking and more.

Proposition B would expand the district’s stadium and parking and its baseball and softball stadium and entrance.

The district’s growth over the last three years made Royse City ISD the 49th-fastest growing school district among the 1,200 districts in the state. The district expects a growth rate of 6 percent or more over the next decade.
The city of Dallas issued a request for information (RFI) to establish a public-private partnership (P3) for the redevelopment of a mixed-use project that includes a new or rebuilt North Oak Cliff Branch Library.

Located in the North Oak Cliff neighborhood with an approximate total footprint size of 66,250 square feet (1.52 acres), the redevelopment will include an open hard and soft scape park-like environment, and new branch or renovated library-anchored property of at least 18,000 square feet.

The property will leverage existing city assets to bring enhanced livability and vibrancy to the neighborhood.

RFI submissions are due by 2 p.m. CST on March 4.
Notice of intent for the proposed sale of $46 million in certificates of obligation in early April has been approved by the Paris City Council toward a more than $60 million renovation of the city’s wastewater treatment plant.

As a result of filing a notice of intent, city officials will begin run-up activities toward the possible bond sale, including securing a bond rating, seeking purchasers, and beginning to compile offering documents that include interest rate and annual bond payment. The City Council will meet on April 12 to approve the project and issue bonds.

The certificates of obligation will be coupled with a semi-annual sewer rate increase for city water customers to help fund the project.
Eight city street improvement projects totaling $231 million make up more than 60 percent of a proposed $364 million bond election set May 1 by the city of Plano.

Voters will be asked to respond to six propositions on the ballot.

Proposition A is the street improvement proposal that includes a $100 million street reconstruction and overlay, alley reconstruction, intersection improvements, and street and screening wall reconstruction.

Proposition B includes $81.9 million for 14 parks and recreation facilities such as improvements to trail and parks renovations.

Proposition C calls for $15.9 million in improvements to the Tom Muehlenbeck Recreation Center. Some of the proposals include roof replacement; updates to the fire, sound, lighting, and irrigation systems; light replacements for the parking lot; interior paint and flooring; shade structure replacement; and water feature updates.

Proposition D totals $27.1 million for public safety facility improvement projects, including $12 million for remodeling Fire Station No. 8., police training academy renovations and purchase of two fueling stations for public safety vehicles with a $4 million price tag.

Current municipal facility improvements totaling $5.5 million are addressed in Proposition E. The proposal includes replacement of audio and visual equipment and improved lighting, acoustics, mobility, and accessibility.

Seven library facility projects are addressed in Proposition F. The $2.5 million in projects include window, roof, and lighting improvements that would be undertaken at three city libraries.
A $74 million expansion of the John Hargrove Wastewater Plant in Pearland that will increase its treatment capacity by 50 percent is slated for the spring.

The expansion will increase the per-day treatment capacity from 4 million gallons to 6 million. Officials are hoping for a construction start in April and a completion date in October 2023.

When flows at the plant began averaging 75 percent of the plant capacity, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality ordered the expansion.

The city recently faced the need for an amended design contract, which was significantly higher than the 2017 cost estimates. Some $5.3 million in cost-saving modifications resulted in the changes to the facility’s site plan, building structures, and piping plans.

With some concerns that changes to the scope of the project had resulted in increased cost, City Manager Clay Pearson said the scope had not changed, only the cost estimate.
Work on more than 50 voter-approved 2017 city of Murphy improvement projects that are part of a $21.65 million capital bonds program is continuing into 2021.

The 50-plus projects were rolled into 21 numbered projects. Last year, 10 of the projects were begun, and all but one is expected to be completed in 2021.

The overall bond program includes projects for street improvements, public safety building improvements, and parks and recreation projects. Among this year’s plans for improvements are the North Maxwell road replacement and drainage project, renovations and improvements to the Municipal Complex, and award of the Timbers project construction contract that is expected to be completed in 2022.

Thirty street improvement projects, 12 improvements to public safety buildings, and 10 parks and recreation projects were approved by passage of the capital bonds program.
Texas is set once again to receive another round of federal funding from the $54.3 billion allocated for K-12 education from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA). Texas’ share of the funding in this allocation is $5.5 billion.

Although the amount each Texas school district will receive from the funding and how it will be spent is still unknown, local school districts are already poring over possible projects the money might fund at their schools.

Texas was awarded $1.3 billion during the first round of CRRSAA funding. The federal monies are intended to provide principals and other school leaders with resources to address the needs of their own schools and help students recover from the COVID pandemic. A formula is used to determine how and to whom the funds will be allocated.

Because that formula has yet to be put in place, school officials have plenty of time to plan projects that meet the qualifications of the program. Although that formula is based on the same model for distribution of Title 1 funds, school officials are not bound to having to use the money for Title 1 programs. Thus, their allocation could possibly include anything from educational technology needs such as hardware, software, and connectivity, to improving school facilities to support student health needs, and improve air quality.

One far-reaching provision of the program is that the funding is designed to provide principals and other school leaders with the resources necessary to address the needs of their individual schools. That could conceivably include projects for infrastructure, educational programs, transportation needs and more.

However, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) and Education Commissioner Mike Morath will have the final say on distribution of the federal dollars and how they can be spent.
The city of Austin Convention Center Department (ACCD) released a request for information (RFI) for a 3-D Interactive Mapping System and Virtual Tour Solution. It is seeking a web-based interactive mapping system to be fully integrated with the department’s websites.

The 3-D interactive maps will display the floor plans of the Austin Convention Center and Palmer Events Center. The proposed solution will be utilized by ACCD clients, attendees, and event planners as a tool to plan and navigate the facilities.

Additionally, the department seeks information regarding a new, web-based virtual tour of the two centers to be fully integrated with its websites.

The new virtual tours will display 360° by 720° pan images of designated spaces and features of both the Austin Convention Center and Palmer Events Center, respectively, including still photography, and a control dashboard, which must work seamlessly with the 3-D interactive mapping system.

RFI responses are due by 2 p.m. CST on March 12.
The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) of Texas recently named two new hires. Attorney General Ken Paxton announced that Brent Dupre will serve as director of law enforcement for the agency. Additionally, Murtaza Sutarwalla was hired as deputy attorney general for legal counsel.
Before accepting his position at the OAG office, Dupre had a 23-year career with the Austin Police Department, retiring as an assistant chief.
Sutarwalla spent 14 years in the private sector before joining the OAG. He has practiced law in Austin, Houston, Washington, D.C., and in the Middle East.
The city of Brownwood appointed Melanie Larose as its new finance director. She took over for former Finance Director Walter Middleton who retired in January.

Larose most recently served as the city’s assistant director of finance. Prior to that, she was chief accountant for Brownwood and an accountant with private accounting firms.
The city of Amarillo named Donny Hooper as its new director of public works. He succeeded Raymond Lee who resigned.

Hooper most recently served as the city’s assistant director of public works. Before that, he was director of public works for the city of Pampa.
The Rockwall City Council named Mary Smith as interim city manager. She took over for former City Manager Rick Crowley who retired.

Smith has served as assistant city manager and director of finance for the city since 2012. Prior to joining Rockwall, she served with the town of Balch Springs.
The Corpus Christi City Council approved the appointment of Rajan Ahuja to the Port of Corpus Christi Authority of Nueces County. He will serve a three-year term through December 31, 2023.

Ahuja is the chief executive officer of an oil and gas company and chief operating officer of an energy firm.
The Waco City Council approved the appointment of Dr. Sheryl Victorian as the city’s police chief, effective March 15. She succeeds Interim Police Chief Frank Gentsch who filled the position after former Chief Ryan Holt was promoted to assistant city manager.

Victorian most recently served as an assistant police chief at the Houston Police Department.
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 Department of Transportation – Executive Director

  • Texas Department of Transportation – Assistant Area Engineer I

  • Texas Department of Transportation – Transportation Engineer II or III

  • Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts – Fiscal Management Staff Services Officer
Connect with Us

Check out our social media links!
View our Texas Government Insider and Government Contracting Pipeline newsletter archives
Help us share this message.
To ensure delivery and proper formatting of the newsletter, be sure to add editor@spartnerships.com to your safe senders list. Otherwise, the newsletter may be flagged as spam and automatically routed to your junk e-mail folder.
 For news or calendar items: editor@spartnerships.com 
For information about SPI's products and services: sales@spartnerships.com
© 2021 Strategic Partnerships, Inc. All rights reserved.