Volume 19, Issue 28 - Friday, July 9, 2021
By Mary Scott Nabers, CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc.
Industry leaders and public officials are gathering for a July 19-20 conference in California to work on ‘best practices’ related to infrastructure and collaborative initiatives. The objectives of the P3 Airport Summit will be to provide information, guidance, and networking opportunities to public owners and private sector contractors and investors.

The primary focus of this conference will be public airport projects and planning initiatives, but in the next few months there will be similar conferences for collaborative initiatives related to higher education and government at large. The upcoming conference will be held in San Diego with future conferences planned later in the year as well.

Although most citizens support the infrastructure bill that is pending in Congress, both industry leaders and government officials fear that realistically the bill cannot provide all the funding that will be required for the country’s most critical infrastructure needs.

Transportation funding to cover roads and bridges will likely be the largest allocation in whatever bill is passed, but the fear is that funding allocations for water, power, airports, broadband, technology modernization, public safety, ports, and infrastructure security may be inadequate. That will leave only two options for government leaders – either they will be forced to continue to ignore critical needs, or they will have to seek collaboration with private-sector funding sources.

Texas’ K-12 public schools are set to receive more than $4.14 billion from the latest round of American Rescue Plan (ARP) funding.

The U.S. Department of Education announced on July 7 that it will distribute a total of $6 billion to six states and the District of Columbia after approving their state plans. This follows the $12 billion in ARP funds distributed to these states in March. Texas’ spring allocation amounted to $8.28 billion.

Texas plans to use ARP funds to address the academic impact of lost instructional time for students and intends to offer high-dosage tutoring, high-quality instructional materials, and job-embedded professional learning to help address the academic impact of lost instructional time. Supporting students’ mental health needs was another top priority within Texas’ plan.

Texas’ Local Education Agencies (LEAs) will have until July 27 to submit their plans for how they will use the funds.
Texas lawmakers will have at least $7 billion more to spend during the special session that began July 7, according to Texas Comptroller Glen Hegar.

The Comptroller’s Office now projects 2022-23 revenue available for general-purpose spending to be $123.02 billion.

Hegar also forecasts a 2022-23 ending balance in general revenue funds of $7.85 billion.

He said the estimate is based on surging revenue collections, savings from state agency budget reductions during the recently ended regular session of the 87th Legislature, and incoming federal relief funds.

Hegar projects 2020-21 revenue available for general-purpose spending to be $116.13 billion and the fiscal 2021 ending balance in general revenue funds to be $5.01 billion.

The Comptroller’s Office is expected to transfer $1.4 billion each to the State Highway Fund and Economic Stabilization Fund in fiscal 2022 and another $1.88 billion each in fiscal 2023. After accounting for appropriations made from the Economic Stabilization Fund by the 87th Legislature, Hegar said he now expects its balance to be $12 billion at the end of the 2022-23 biennium.
The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) unanimously adopted the 2022 State Water Plan on July 7 that contains $80 billion in strategies to meet water demand over the next 50 years.

Regional water planning group members, agencies, and organizations helped develop the plan that projects a 73 percent population increase over the next 50 years, from 29.7 million in 2020 to 51.5 million in 2070.

Along with that growth comes a projected 9 percent increase in total water demand. Texas’ existing water supplies — those that can already be relied on during drought — are projected to decline 18 percent during this time.

To meet potential water shortages during a drought of record, the 2022 State Water Plan contains 5,800 strategies, such as conservation and reuse, which together make up nearly 50 percent of strategy volumes; aquifer storage and recovery; brackish groundwater and seawater desalination; and surface water strategies.

The estimated capital cost of implementing the 2022 plan is approximately $80 billion, and water providers anticipate needing $47 billion of that in state assistance.

TWDB leaders warned if Texas does not implement the water supply strategies and projects in the State Water Plan, a severe drought could cause $110 billion in economic damages in the immediate future, increasing to $153 billion per year by 2070.

The TWDB produces a new state water plan every five years based on 16 regional water plans developed by regional water planning groups. The 2022 State Water Plan will be submitted to the governor, lieutenant governor, and the Texas Legislature by January 2022.
Plans for a new state psychiatric hospital in the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) Metroplex received a boost with $44.7 million in state funding.

Appropriations will contribute to the planning, design, and purchase of land for a facility to serve the region.

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission and the University of Texas (UT) Southwestern Medical Center will unite the expertise of the two organizations, along with community stakeholders to create a state-of-the-art mental health system.

UT Southwestern’s president said the new facility would allow the organizations to increase the availability of mental health care, advance the research needed to develop the next generation of treatments, and expand the mental health workforce.

The new state hospital will address needs as outlined in a 2017 report and will add to the current 10-facility state hospital state network. The DFW hospital would primarily focus on care for adults and those involved with the justice system.

Since 2017, the Texas Legislature has appropriated more than $1 billion in funding for the replacement, renovation, or expansion of state hospitals throughout Texas. In 2021, these appropriations included more than $276 million to complete construction of renovated hospitals in Austin and San Antonio and more than $69 million to operationalize additional beds in Kerrville and Houston.
Bruce Archer
Mayor
City of Mesquite
Career highlights and education: I earned an associate degree from Eastfield College and a bachelor of science in ministry and leadership from Dallas Christian College.
  • 16 years as a restaurant general manager 
  • 6 years as a full-time minister 
  • 5 years real estate professional 

What I like best about my public service is: Giving people hope and encouragement and making sure they know that they matter as well as improving people’s lives long term.

The best advice I’ve received is: “Nothing is ever as worse as it seems.” Also, “You can hold your breath for 6 months if you have to.”

My favorite ways to de-stress are: Reading history or political biographies, watering my yard, and going on a date night with my wife.

People might be surprised to know that I: Enjoy both singing and dancing.

One thing I wish more people knew about the city of Mesquite is: Our rich local history of men and women who had a vision to build a community of faith, strong public education, wealth creation and economic opportunity and a high quality of life
Temple ISD is considering which capital projects it would include in a potential $165 million to $181 million bond election on November 2.

Since March, a Citizen Advisory Committee has been developing a list of capital projects to put before voters that will:

  • Build a new $38.2 million elementary school in the southeastern portion of the district. 
  • Add 14 classrooms across four campuses for $28.4 million. 
  • Refurbish a food service and maintenance facility for $15.2 million. 
  • Eliminate 20 portable classrooms and replace with permanent structures for $10.2 million. 
  • Upgrade Temple High School’s fine arts auditorium for $5.5 million, middle school competition fields for $10.5 million, and an agricultural barn for $900,000. 
  • Renovate Wildcat Stadium for $6.6 million. 
  • Complete security vestibule projects for $1.85 million. 

Other possible bond items include $42 million in campus infrastructure improvements to cafeterias, roofs, floors, windows, and exterior paint, $15.9 million for an athletic training complex, $2 million to complete fire suppression systems and alarm upgrades, $700,000 for a redundancy site for technology, and $560,000 for security camera upgrades.

On July 8, the committee hosted a community engagement meeting to gather input for prioritizing potential bond projects based on costs and identified needs. The bond referendum will likely be split into two propositions.

A third community engagement session is scheduled for August 4 to review potential bond packages that will be presented to the board of trustees. Several bond presentations would be given starting in September and leading up to the November election.
The Houston Airport System is set to start work in the coming months on several major improvement projects at the city’s various aviation facilities.

An estimated $203.68 million project to plan, design, and construct a new rental car service area at Houston Hobby Airport is set to begin in July. The airport will consolidate several individual services into a single site to serve long-term demand and mitigate traffic demand on curbs and roadways.

A $234 million seven-gate expansion of Houston Hobby Airport is anticipated to start in January 2022, and years of planning may come together in March 2022 when the design phase is scheduled for a project to replace or update the subway at George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) for about $33.57 million.

The airport system is aiming to rehabilitate and expand aircraft rescue firefighting stations at IAH for $12 million in January 2022 and at Hobby Airport for $11.88 million, starting in June 2022.
The Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority (CapMetro) will receive $2.88 million from a federal low-emission grant program to purchase electric buses.

To expand CapMetro’s growing fleet and advance its Project Connect transit program, the authority will acquire electric buses to replace diesel buses that have reached the end of their useful life.

In addition, the authority will use the funds to provide technical electrical systems training for transit workers.

The award was among $182 million in grants from the Federal Transit Administration’s Low- or No-Emission Grant program. A total of 49 projects in 46 states and territories will receive funding through the program.

These funds will support transit agencies in purchasing or leasing low- or no-emission buses and other transit vehicles that use technologies such as battery electric and fuel-cell power.
San Antonio Water Supply (SAWS) anticipates advertising for bids in the third quarter of 2021 for the $16.2 million Helotes Creek Gravity Main and Lift Station #246 Elimination project.

The project calls for the construction of about 14,300 linear feet of 15-inch gravity wastewater mains split into two segments that will allow the utility to eliminate a lift station that suffers from aging infrastructure and reduce capacity concerns at another.

Upper Segment work will involve construction in the West Basin from Lift Station #246 near Jericho Road, generally southward along State Highway 16 (Bandera Road), then along Old Bandera Road, finally ending before the North side of the Old Bandera Road Bridge.

The Lower Segment will be constructed generally southward along Riggs, then along FM 1560 to Bandera Road, then along Bandera Road to Leslie Road.

SAWS selected a design firm but has yet to determine a contractor for the project. Project construction is scheduled to begin in 2022 and has an estimated duration of 18 months.

The Upper Segment of the project will eliminate Lift Station #246, and the Lower Segment will allow wastewater flows to bypass Lift Station #233, alleviating capacity concerns there.
The city of Fort Worth’s Business Equity Division invites disadvantaged, minority, and women-owned business enterprises to learn about construction opportunities at Fort Worth Alliance Airport.

A virtual conference is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. July 13 to present details about $26 million in grants for construction projects at the airport. Preregistration is required.

Project work is expected to be in airfield electrical, erosion control, airfield paving, fencing, construction management, and landscaping. Other projects will focus on demolition, mobilization, design, pavement markings, drainage, perimeter road paving, earthwork, and traffic control.
Panola College is discussing a new technology building as a potential component of an update to the institution’s facilities master plan.

At a recent board of trustees meeting, board members authorized the college’s president to engage a firm for architectural services related to updating its facilities master plan which dates to 2018.

The board previously considered constructing a new technology building as it prepared the 2018 plan, but ultimately decided to wait on that project. President Greg Powell said the college would assess space and programming needs for a new technology building.
The city of Conroe is moving forward on its plans to convert a former YMCA building into a city recreation center.

In March, the city bought the 116-acre site for parks and recreational purposes.

City contractors are assessing the property and building at 10245 Owen Drive as the project progresses through due diligence for the facility envisioned to serve western Conroe.
The pandemic’s effect on telework, broadband access, and changes to work schedules and locations contributed to a flattening of congestion last year, according to the new 2021 Urban Mobility Report (UMR) by the Texas Transportation Institute.

Early last year, congestion levels dropped to numbers not experienced since the 1990s as daily commuter traffic dropped by almost half compared to 2019. Any traffic snarls that did exist were spread over more hours of the day, as rush-hour travelers took on roles as midday shoppers and child transporters. More of each week’s travel delay in 2020 shifted to the weekend, another result of reduced weekday rush-hour commuting.

In annual person-hours of delay per 2019 commuter, Houston rose from ninth to third-most congested metropolitan area in 2020, among cities with populations of more than 3 million.

Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW)-Arlington experienced the eighth-worst congestion in 2020.

In travel time index which is the ratio of travel time in the peak compared to the travel time at free-flow conditions, Houston jumped from 10th to fourth, and DFW-Arlington was 10th.

Among large urban areas with populations between 1 million and 3 million, Austin climbed from 12th to seventh in the nation annual person-hours of delay per 2019 commuter and sixth in travel time index. San Antonio was 21st and 10th.

For medium-sized cities of populations between 500,000 and 1 million, El Paso was 21st in annual person-hours of delay per 2019 commuter and sixth in travel time index.
The Employees Retirement System of Texas (ERS) selected David Veal as its next chief investment officer. He will succeed Tom Tull who will retire this summer.

Veal most recently served as chief investment officer for the city of Austin Employees Retirement System. Prior to that, he held leadership roles with the Teacher Retirement System of Texas, where he was the director of strategic partnerships and research, and ERS, where he was the global strategist and portfolio manager for emerging markets.
The Jacksonville City Council appointed James Hubbard as city manager, effective August 12. He will succeed Greg Smith who accepted a position as Denison’s city manager. 

Hubbard currently serves as president of the Jacksonville Economic Development Corporation. Before that, he was assistant to the city manager for the city of Colleyville. 
The Lake Dallas ISD board of trustees voted to name Dr. Mike Rockwood as the lone finalist for the district’s superintendent position. He will take over from Gayle Stinson who accepted a position as superintendent of Birdville ISD. 

Rockwood currently serves at Lamar Consolidated ISD (LCISD) as deputy superintendent of administrative services and leadership development. Before that, he was LCISD’s chief of staff and executive director of community relations. 
The city of Dickinson named Theo Melancon as its first city manager. He will take over from Interim City Manager Joe Dickson. 

Melancon is currently the city manager of Dayton, Texas. Prior to that, he was city manager of Gladewater, Texas, and city administrator of Eldorado, Texas. 
Houston Public Works selected Melissa Chesser as director of government relations. 

Chesser held various positions at the Pentagon’s National Geospatial Intelligence Agency for the Department of Defense, most recently as a branch chief. She has served for more than 16 years as a technical sergeant with the U.S. Air Force National Guard. 
The city of Austin launched the design phase for improvements to 24th Street, a critical arterial between Guadalupe Street and North Lamar Boulevard near The University of Texas at Austin campus. 

Design and construction of the improvements are funded in part by the 2016 Mobility Bond. The roadway currently includes two travel lanes in each direction, and significant traffic backups occur as a result of vehicles waiting to make left turns. 

Once complete, 24th Street will be transformed to include one travel lane in each direction, a new eastbound dedicated bicycle lane and a new continuous dedicated center turn lane. New shared-use paths, street lighting, and pavement rehabilitation will be part of the new design. 

Construction is estimated to begin in 2022. 
Gov. Greg Abbott announced these appointments and reappointments from July 2-8:

Texas School Safety Center Board 
Bill Avera - Jacksonville

Texas Violent Gang Task Force 
Susan Dorris - Amarillo
North Central Texas Council of Governments – Progress North Texas 2021

North Central Texas Council of Governments – 2021 Population Estimates (DFW Region) 
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 Health and Human Services Commission – Government Relations Specialist III

  • Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts – Pantex Program Specialist

  • Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts – Executive Assistant I – Los Angeles (Audit Division)

  • Texas Water Development Board – Manager of Flood Protection Planning Grants

  • Texas Water Development Board – Engineering Reviewer

  • Texas Department of State Health Services – Program Specialist V

  • Texas Department of Information Resources – Portfolio Project Manager I (Shared Technology Services Project Engineer)

  • Texas Department of Information Resources – Engineering Specialist III (Outside/Inside Plant Designer)

  • Texas Health and Human Services Commission – Financial Analyst IV

  • Texas Secretary of State – Systems Administrator V

  • City of Pflugerville – Deputy City Secretary
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