Volume 19, Issue 18 - April 30, 2021
By Mary Scott Nabers, CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc.
Public officials at the state and local jurisdictions of government have overcome the first quarter of 2021, but with so many looming problems and issues, most are struggling to establish their highest priorities.

Which problem needs the most immediate attention? Is it homelessness at the city level, funding shortages at school districts, broadband issues statewide, or policing reform? Or, do they focus on the critical issues of deferred maintenance, outdated technology, traffic congestion, or water resources?

Triage is a word most commonly associated with the sorting of medical priorities after a disaster of some sort. However, another definition of triage is “the assigning of priority order to projects on the basis of where funds and other resources can be best used, are most needed, or are most likely to achieve success.” That seems to best describe the situation too many public officials find themselves in today – they must triage.

The state of Texas released $11.2 billion in new federal funds to help public schools recover from pandemic-related learning loss and costs.

Effective April 28, districts and open-enrollment charter schools (school systems) in Texas were eligible to receive their allocation of the one-time federal funds.

The funds were appropriated to the state of Texas for public education purposes under the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief III (ESSER III) Fund.

These funds are intended to support a comprehensive learning recovery effort in Texas over the next three years. Due to federal requirements, two-thirds of the funds are available immediately under grants administered by the Texas Education Agency (TEA).

The remaining one-third of ESSER III funds will be released to schools, contingent upon the U.S. Department of Education approving the state plan. According to the TEA, the state plan will be developed in consultation with educators and other stakeholders around the state, as required by federal law.

As the TEA is working through these issues with the Department of Education, the state will continue to hold districts harmless for decreases in enrollment, fund learning devices through Operation Connectivity, and reimburse school districts for their COVID-19 related costs during the spring 2020 semester.
Texans across the state will be heading to the polls on Saturday to vote on local initiatives. Included among them are bond propositions valued at more than $8.7 billion.

The propositions that pass will create contracting opportunities for companies providing construction-related services, technology solutions, security equipment, educational equipment, and much more.  

A total of 78 entities ̶ including 17 cities, two community college districts, two counties, one road district, and 56 independent school districts ̶ have one or more bond propositions on the ballot. Many of the largest bond initiatives are seen at cities and school districts within the growing suburban and exurban areas of the state, including: 
  • The City of Irving, which has $533.2 million on the ballot spread across 17 propositions. The largest project is a new $152.7 million joint police and fire public safety campus. 
  • Van Alstyne ISD, which is holding a $325 million bond proposition for a new high school, two elementary schools, and various other projects. 
  • Katy ISD, which hopes to address its growing population with $676 million for new campuses, technology, security, a natatorium, and athletic facility upgrades.

Details on all of bond propositions on the May 1 ballot are available in the Texas Bond Report from Strategic Partnerships, Inc. (SPI).
Texas’ population outpaced all other states in the last decade with nearly 4 million new residents since the 2010 Census, according to apportionment data released April 26. That surge took it to a population of 29,145,505.

The U.S. Census Bureau presented the data from the 2020 Census that reported the nation’s total population at 331,449,281. The resident population increased by 22,703,743, or 7.4 percent, from 308,745,538 in 2010.

According to the data, California is the most populous state with 39,538,223 residents, and Wyoming is the least populous with 576,851. Utah is the fastest-growing state since the 2010 Census, up 18.4 percent to 3,271,616.

In addition to these newly released statistics, today U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo delivered to President Biden the population counts to be used for apportioning the seats in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Texas will gain two seats in the House, five states will gain one seat each (Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina, and Oregon), seven states will lose one seat each (California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia), and the remaining states’ number of seats will not change based on the 2020 Census.

Upon receipt of the apportionment counts, the president will transmit them to the 117th Congress. The reapportioned Congress will be the 118th, which convenes in January 2023.

The apportionment population consists of the resident population of the 50 states, plus the overseas military and federal civilian employees and their dependents living with them overseas who could be allocated to a home state.
Jeff Williams, Mayor
City of Arlington
Career highlights and education: I am president of a civil engineering firm whose portfolio includes some of the city’s landmarks: AT&T Stadium, Globe Life Park, River Legacy Living Science Center, and the Interstate 30 Three Bridges Project. Highlights from my career in civil engineering and public service include receiving the 2009 Texas Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Award from the American Society of Civil Engineers for AT&T Stadium, the 2011 Project of the Year Award from the Texas Public Works Association for the I-30 Three Bridges Project, and the Vandergriff Community Leadership Award. I earned a civil engineering degree from Texas Tech University.

What I like best about my public service is: That I get to help people every day. I love the opportunity knowing we really can make a difference in people’s lives, whether it’s connecting people to get the help they need, continuing to work on the services offered here in our great community, creating jobs, or promoting kindness and unity.

The best advice I’ve received is: To keep your eyes on the goals you want to achieve. In a city there are so many demands on your time. It’s so important you stay focused on achieving goals or you will never get there because there are so many distractions.

My favorite way to de-stress is: Before I was mayor, it was playing softball and golf. I don’t have that time now to do that, so the best way to de-stress is spending time with my family and friends.

People might be surprised to know that I: Act and dance - those are two things I love to do that I did in high school and college. They’ve had me at several events and in videos where I had to dance. That may be surprising to some.

One thing I wished more people knew about the city of Arlington is: Around the country, cities realize the rising stature of Arlington. We are known as a Can Do City. But, the challenges created by the coronavirus pandemic have distracted attention from some of the great things that have been happening in our city. There have been a lot of great stories about accomplishments that have taken place both before and during the pandemic that need to be told.
Capital Metro (CapMetro) recently released preliminary station locations and routes for light rail lines included in the Project Connect transit system plan.

The proposed Orange Line would be a north-south light rail transit line, providing high-capacity service along the existing MetroRapid 801 route on Lamar Boulevard, Guadalupe Street, and South Congress Avenue. Up to 21 stations are planned along the route. Service would be every 10 to 15 minutes.

Funding approved by Austin voters would provide the local match to build an initial investment in the Orange Line from Stassney Lane to North Lamar Transit Center. However, the CapMetro project team is clearing the entire corridor from Slaughter Lane to Tech Ridge Park and Ride through an environmental process in the event additional funding becomes available from other sources to expedite construction of the full corridor.

The proposed Blue Line light trail transit would connect Republic Square in downtown Austin at the northern end of the route to the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport on the southern end. The light rail line would provide high-capacity service within dedicated transitways along portions of the existing MetroBus Route 20. Up to 11 stations are planned along the route with service every 10 to 15 minutes.

A new MetroRail Green Line is planned as well as improvements planned for the existing Red Line. The Green Line will run east to Colony Park, connecting locations in east Austin to downtown. Plans for the Red Line include the addition of two new stations at McKalla and Broadmoor, with McKalla the designated station for the new Austin FC soccer stadium. The project includes double-tracking, or building a second additional line of track, from the Leander to Lakeline stations.

Construction contracts are anticipated to be available in late 2021. All lines will connect to additional transit service such as neighborhood circulators, MetroBike, and MetroAccess services.
Texas is expected to add record utility-scale solar capacity in the next two years to become the nation’s leader and displace California from its top spot.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), predicts Texas will add 10 gigawatts (GW) of utility-scale solar capacity by the end of 2022.

That increase compares with 3.2 GW in California. One-third of the utility-scale solar capacity planned to come online in the United States in the next two years (30 GW) will be in Texas.

More than 4.6 GW of solar capacity is projected to come online in 2021, and another 5.4 GW is likely to start generating power in 2022 to increase Texas’ total installed solar capacity to 14.9 GW.

The EIA noted one driver of the solar boom is the federal solar Investment Tax Credit, which protects developers. Utility-scale solar projects that start construction in 2021 or 2022 are eligible for a 26 percent tax credit. That incentive drops to 22 percent for projects that begin in 2023 and falls to 10 percent for projects that start in 2024 or later.

Although wind capacity in Texas has grown rapidly in recent years, solar is expected to make up the largest share of the state’s capacity additions between 2020 and 2022. Almost half of the additions during this time period will be solar, surpassing wind (35 percent) and natural gas (13 percent) additions.
The city of Conroe and the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) are partnering on a $120 million project to widen and extend 5.7 miles of Old Conroe Road from Loop 336 to FM 1488.

Proposed improvements include widening the existing Sgt. Ed Holcombe Boulevard South between Loop 336 and the West Fork San Jacinto River and Old Conroe Road between the West Fork San Jacinto River and FM 1488, as well as constructing a new four-lane bridge over the West Fork San Jacinto River to connect the two roadways in Montgomery County.

City leaders saw the need to re-establish the bridge connection for area connectivity and sought an alternative route to relieve congestion on Interstate 45.

Additional improvements are:
  • Adding a variable-width median. 
  • Building a 10-foot-wide shared use path on the east side of Old Conroe Road. 
  • Constructing six detention ponds and curb-and-gutter drainage. 

Planners anticipate that construction will begin in 2024 and take 30 months to complete.
Despite the massive failure of its electric grid, Texas retained its title as the best state for business in 2021 as ranked by chief executives.

For the 17th year in a row, Texas claimed the No. 1 place in Chief Executive Magazine’s Best and Worst States for Business list.

The magazine surveyed 383 chief executive officers who valued these criteria most in site selection: tax policy (37 percent ranked it 1st); regulatory climate (35 percent); and talent availability (25 percent).

Chief executives noted Texas’ skilled workforce, high quality of life in urban areas, and a relatively low cost of living. The trend of technology and manufacturing companies relocating to Texas continued amid the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 1,500 foreign-owned companies conduct business in the state.

Incentives such as the Texas Enterprise Fund, Skills Development Fund, and the Texas Enterprise Zone, as well as the more than 50 Fortune 500 companies headquartered in Texas, boosted the Lone Star State’s status.
The city of Midland is seeking federal approval to relocate the Midland Executive Airport to the east side of the Midland International Air & Space Port.

On March 1, the city wrote to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requesting guidance on relocating the airport and building new facilities that may include hangars and additional amenities.

As it awaits a response, the city commissioned a feasibility study to review FAA policies and procedures, develop cost estimates, and prepare concept layouts for taxiways, aprons, and hangar facilities.

Consolidating the city’s aviation facilities would allow Midland to direct funds toward maintaining and improving its primary airport. By relocating the airport, air traffic would gain access to an on-site air traffic control tower, longer runways, and improved security.
The city of Rosenberg issued a request for information (RFI) to gather input on wayside horns from interested parties. Wayside horns are stationary horns installed at railroad crossings that warn motorists of oncoming trains.

Vendors must show clear and compelling evidence of competitive equivalency in order for alternative goods or services to be considered. The city of Rosenberg will review any information collected through this RFI to determine if offers of any equivalent goods or services meet the needs of the city.

If it is concluded that additional suppliers of equivalent goods or services do exist, then a formal solicitation may follow.

If no affirmative responses are received by 2 p.m. May 12 showing clear and compelling evidence of competitive equivalency to the wayside horns, an award of a sole-source contract will be made without further notice.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) announced on April 28 that an additional $79 million is being made available as part of the RESTORE Act, the law created to respond to the 2010 Deepwater Horizon blowout and oil spill.

Accounting for 26 percent of the $302 million in grant funds approved this week by the RESTORE Council, the $79 million tranche is one of five “buckets” of funds allocated under the Act.

Previously, $88 million was made available to Texas under Bucket 1, to fund 15 projects directly affecting its coastal counties. Projects funded under Bucket 2 implement the RESTORE Council’s Comprehensive Plan. These funds can be used for ecosystem restoration and protection in the Gulf Coast region.

TCEQ is expected to use the grant funds to finance projects within four approved Texas programs:
  • The Texas Land Acquisition Program for Coastal Conservation will use $24.3 million to secure high-quality coastal zone properties in Texas such as urban green corridors, properties near rivers, as well as prairie and wooded wetlands.
  • The Shoreline Protection Through Living Shorelines Program will use $12.25 million to support the construction of large-scale living shorelines that will enhance the resiliency of coastal Texas through stabilization. This includes the creation of habitats for fish and oysters, removal of excess nutrients and sediments, protection of seagrass, and water quality improvements.
  • The Texas Coastal Water Quality Program is allocated $22.5 million to restore water quality and freshwater inflows on the Texas coast by the implementation of best management practices, repair and enhancement of drainage channels and outfalls, and construction of living shoreline features to reduce erosion.
  • The Chenier Plain Ecosystem Restoration Program at $20 million intends to restore and conserve high-quality coastal habitats within the Chenier Plain complex of Texas through a beneficial use of dredge material, the construction of breakwaters to protect shoreline, and the restoration of hydrology and wetlands.

Specific projects receiving grant funds will be selected later.
Design work will begin immediately on renovations to transform the city of College Station’s former police station and firehouse into office and event space for the city’s new tourism division.

Renovations are scheduled to start in spring 2022 on the 16,000-square-foot facility next to the future City Hall. The city envisions a campus-like setting once the buildings are complete and staff moves into their offices.

The former police station at 1207 Texas Avenue currently houses the city’s human resources department and facilities maintenance division. Human resources will soon relocate into the new City Hall, while facilities maintenance will move into the Public Works Operations Center next spring.
The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) board of directors selected Brad Jones to serve as interim president and chief executive officer (CEO) for the Texas grid operator, effective May 4. 

Jones has more than 30 years of industry experience, including serving as ERCOT vice president of commercial operations, senior vice president, and chief operating officer. He was president and CEO of the New York Independent System Operator, chairman of the Edison Electric Institute’s executive advisory committee, and a board member for the Gulf Coast Power Association. 

On March 15, ERCOT issued a request for proposal to identify and contract with a qualified executive search firm to assist the board with identifying, investigating, qualifying, and presenting a pool of qualified candidates for ERCOT’s president and CEO position. Confidential proposals were due April 9, and ERCOT received eight proposals that it is evaluating for board consideration.
Gov. Greg Abbott reappointed Brian Bailey to the Texas Facilities Commission on April 28. Bailey currently serves as vice chairman of the commission.

Bailey of Austin is president of a homebuilding company. He is a member of the Austin Crime Commission and The University of Texas Chancellor’s Council Executive Committee.
The Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) board of directors appointed Nadine Lee as the authority’s new president and chief executive officer, effective July 12.

Lee most recently served as the chief of staff of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro). Previously, she was the deputy chief innovation officer in Metro’s Office of Extraordinary Innovation and led the development and implementation of the Flatiron Flyer Bus Rapid Transit for Denver’s Regional Transportation District (RTD).
The city of Austin selected Stephanie Hayden-Howard as the assistant city manager for health and environment and culture and lifelong learning, effective May 10.

In this role, Hayden-Howard will oversee the city’s Parks and Recreation, Resource Recovery, public libraries, health, and animal services.

Most recently, she served as director of Austin Public Health. Prior to working for the city, she was the director of clinical services at the Alternative Learning Center with Austin ISD and assistant director at the Williamson County Mental Health Center.
Gov. Greg Abbott announced these appointments and reappointments from April 9-29:

San Jacinto River Authority
Board of Directors 
Stacey Buick - Montgomery 

Texas State Board of
Social Worker Examiners 
Katie Andrade - Mt. Pleasant 

Texas Board of
Chiropractic Examiners 
Sarah Abraham - Sugar Land 
Nicholas Baucum - Corpus Christi 
Mark Bronson - Fort Worth

Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts – Public Transit in Texas

U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics – National Transportation Atlas Database Spring 2021 Update
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 Medical Board – Clinical Coordinator

  • Texas Water Development Board – Hydrologic Survey Analyst

  • Texas Water Development Board – Project Manager I-II

  • Texas Water Development Board – Systems Analyst IV

  • Texas State Securities Board – Systems Support Specialist IV

  • Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts – Support Services Facilities Support Technician

  • Texas Department of Transportation – Construction Recordkeeper III (El Paso)

  • Texas Department of Transportation – General Transportation Tech I (Dell City)
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.