Volume 20, Issue 39 - September 30, 2022

Innovative use of an old funding program new delivers new benefits for public projects
By Mary Scott Nabers, CEO of Strategic Partnerships Inc.

Public officials and contractors know about redevelopment districts, special tax benefits and alternative funding available through the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) program. But the program has morphed somewhat, and the coveted funding and tax benefits are even more attractive now. That’s because of the innovative ways that some states are using the program.  

 

The TIF program, which is available for projects in redevelopment districts, has been historically reserved for underserved neighborhoods that developers and private investors might otherwise overlook. But newly designated TIF districts in many states are being used now to boost economic vitality that enhances much larger areas of a community as well. A number of states, including Kentucky and New Jersey, are combining the benefits of TIF district projects with other programs that offer additional funding support for community initiatives. 


The states of Texas, Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Illinois all have more than 1,000 TIF districts which indicates high use of the program. Another six states have between 450 and 1,000 TIF districts. Although variability is based on specific state laws, some states allow TIF districts to be created through a local community development authority (CDA) which then allows additional financing and repayment options. It is interesting to note that by leveraging this type of alternative funding, all types of new projects are being launched.


The city of Richmond established a CDA and plans to use the TIF program to deliver a multi-billion-dollar development which will include a new minor league baseball stadium. The city created a CDA so it would be possible to finance parts of the project with development tax revenues when the stadium is completed. Richmond officials will also be able to pay down some of the cost with tax revenues from stadium admissions, business licensing fees, and other assets designated in the CDA. Once the construction is completed, the stadium will be leased to the Flying Squirrels minor league baseball team and the sports division of Virginia Commonwealth University. It is expected to generate $156 million in general fund revenue over the next 30 years for the city.


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Texas receives approval for Texas Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Plan   

Texas can move forward with a plan to build a network of hundreds of electric vehicle charging locations across the state after the Federal Highway Administration approved the state’s plan on September 27. 


Texas will use up to $408 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law signed into law last year to install fast-charging electric vehicle charging locations across the state. In the first year, Texas plans to build more than 50 new locations along major interstates between El Paso, San Antonio, Austin, Dallas, and Houston. A handful of stations are proposed in the Panhandle and the Rio Grande Valley. 


In the next two to five years, the Texas Department of Transportation’s (TxDOT) plan proposes expanding the stations into rural areas and building at least one electric vehicle charger in every one of the state’s 254 counties. 


TxDOT’s plan aims to build 55 new charging locations during the first year. Private companies have already installed 27 charging locations along the targeted highways, and 26 more will be funded by a national Volkswagen emissions cheating lawsuit settlement. The federal government has made it a requirement to have charging stations every 50-70 miles along what are called alternative fuel corridors. 


TxDOT plans to award contracts to build the stations in the spring. 


More than 150,000 electric vehicles are registered in Texas, according to Texas Department of Motor Vehicles data compiled by the North Central Texas Council of Governments. 

Kinder Foundation invests $100M in Buffalo Bayou Park  

An investment of $100 million from the Kinder Foundation is contributing to the 10-year plan to expand and revitalize Buffalo Bayou Park to Houston’s East End. The mayor of Houston has said that more than $310 million will be invested in Buffalo Bayou within the next 10 years. The remaining $210 million will come from the city of Houston, Harris County, the federal government, private investors, and possibly the state of Texas. 


This visionary plan integrates new bayou parks, trails, housing, cultural destinations, and infrastructure improvements into the Greater East End and Fifth Ward neighborhoods. The Buffalo Bayou East Master Plan envisions parks and destinations that reflect the cultural and industrial legacies of Buffalo Bayou East for a four-mile stretch of the bayou from U.S. 59 to the Port of Houston Turning Basin. 


The project will include the East River development, a multi-family development, two pedestrian bridges – the Gregg Street and Japhet Creek Bridge - that will connect the greater East End and Fifth Ward extending the hike and bike trail along Buffalo Bayou, the expansion of Tony Marron Park, new parks and trails, and a new Central Maintenance Facility. 


The project will be overseen by the Buffalo Bayou Partnership.    

Saluting Texas' Lone Stars

Michael Frosch

Purchasing Director

Dallas County

Public career and education highlights: It has been my pleasure to serve Dallas County residents for over 33 years with the last three years as the Purchasing Director for Dallas County. The public procurement profession provides a real opportunity to provide impact to the local communities we serve. I had the pleasure of implementing an online procurement platform my first year with Dallas County which provided awareness, education, increased competition, and transparency in the goods and services being procured by the County. The new level of transparency created opportunities for small and emerging businesses to participate and grow capacity, and allows businesses to submit electronic responses to the County. I have a bachelor’s in business administration from the University of Phoenix. 


What I like best about my public service is: You get to meet amazing people! Additionally, no two days are ever the same, which keeps you engaged and on mission.


The best advice I’ve received is: When you start your career, don’t worry about the title of your position or the amount of money you are being paid. Become a resource for your organization, work hard and the title and money will follow. 


My favorite way to de-stress is: Going to the beach, or anything where you can get away from the day-to-day activities. 


People might be surprised to know that I: I like to ride my Harley when I have some free time!


One thing I wished more people knew about Dallas County is: Dallas County is the second largest county in Texas, and the ninth largest in the United States. We have 5 national sports franchises, amazing theatres and concert halls, fabulous local restaurants and endless night life, over 200+miles of urban trails, and one of the largest bus and light rail networks in the country with over 700 square miles of service area. You can literally do it all in our amazing county.

Central Texas looks to Safe Streets and Roads program for grants

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on September 19 released its early estimates of traffic fatalities for the first half of 2022. An estimated 20,175 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes, an increase of about 0.5 percent as compared to 20,070 fatalities NHTSA projected for the first half of 2021. However, NHTSA projects that the second quarter of 2022, from April to June, had the first decline in fatalities after seven consecutive quarters of year-to-year increases in fatalities that began in the third quarter of 2020.


The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law places a strong emphasis on improving safety and includes the new Safe Streets and Roads for All program. The city of Austin plans to take advantage of this funding to help keep its roads safe.  


The city of Austin Transportation Department (ATD) submitted its application by the September 15 deadline requesting $22.9 million in funding for projects including signalizing intersections with a history of frequent or severe crashes, pedestrian hybrid beacons, a citywide street lighting study, video analytics for crash analysis and project evaluation, and education efforts focused on roundabouts. 


Travis County wants to develop an actionable plan to reduce and prevent roadway fatalities and serious injuries for all users and estimates that will cost $420,000, of which $350,000 could come from the federal grant. 


The Capital Area Metro­politan Planning Organization also submitted an application for a $2.9 million regional safety action plan and sent letters supporting the Travis County and ATD applications. The U.S. Department of Transportation plans to announce grant winners in January and send funds within 12 months. 

CPS Energy and SAWS discuss backup generators to keep power on 

The San Antonio Water System (SAWS) is teaming up with CPS Energy to provide backup assistance in the event of another major power outage such as one that occurred during the February 2021 freeze. Following the harsh conditions of Winter Storm Uri, utilities, including SAWS and CPS Energy, were tasked with making their facilities more resilient against natural disasters. 


With the intention of meeting new state requirements, CPS Energy will be partnering with SAWS to connect the utility’s most critical pump stations to backup generators. This would ensure SAWS has enough power to keep water running during a major power outage. 


SAWS will be responsible for procuring and installing the generators, which will cost an estimated $97 million. CPS Energy will be responsible for operating and maintaining the generators. 


Connecting these facilities to backup generators will also allow CPS Energy to run them during peak energy demand periods without pulling from the grid. CPS Energy will sell the energy generated back to the grid to help SAWS pay for the generators.  


Within its own Emergency Power Plan, SAWS identified that it needs to run 36 of its 80 pump stations to meet the new 24-hour power outage requirement across the city of San Antonio. 


SAWS’ plan identified roughly $202 million in projects that would shore it up against a major event. 


The first project will connect 15 of SAWS’ 36 critical pump stations to natural gas backup generators. The other 21 will later be connected to diesel-run backup generators.  

City of Mckinney forms bond committee for airports

McKinney City Council has appointed committee members to consider a May 2023 bond election. The proposed single-issue bond will focus on improvements and projects at McKinney National Airport. Projects that may be included in the bond are additional development and infrastructure on the east side of the airport, a parallel taxiway on the east side of an existing runway, and the realignment of a taxi lane, according to a presentation at a September 20 City Council meeting. These proposed improvements are in line with the airport’s 2016 master plan and the city’s 2018 comprehensive plan. 


After evaluating the airport’s needs, the committee will make a recommendation to the council in early 2023. Then the council will decide whether to accept that recommendation and call a bond. The deadline to call a bond is March 7, 2023, to appear on the May ballot. 

 

At McKinney’s last bond election in May 2019, voters approved a $350 million general bond to fund the new McKinney City Hall, street improvements, and facilities for public safety, public works, and parks and recreation. 

North Texas Commission hosts Third Annual North Texas Legislative Summit

The North Texas Commission in partnership with the Texas Association of Manufacturers will host the North Texas Legislative Summit to prepare the region for the 88th Legislative Session on October 4, 2022, from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.


The summit will feature a variety of panel discussions covering topics that include Health and Well-Being, Enhancing the Workforce Pipeline, and Economic Development: Jobs for Texas.


Panelists will include Senator Drew Springer; the Hon. Dennis Bonnen; Tony Bennett, president and CEO of Texas Association of Manufacturers; Dr. Daniel K. Podolsky, UT Southwestern Medical Center; Winjie Tang Miao, Texas Health Resources, SEVP and chief operating officer; Texas Sen. Nathan M. Johnson, Texas Rep. Julie Johnson, Texas Rep. Carl O. Sherman Sr.; Texas Rep. Lynn Stucky; Texas Sen. Royce West, Texas Rep. Terry Meza; Dr. Jamie Wilson, Denton ISD; and more. 


Register here.

Canutillo ISD soliciting for assistance with $264M bond

Canutillo ISD (CISD) recently completed a facilities condition assessment and a facilities master plan. The district has made a recommendation to the Board of Trustees to call for a bond election, for capital improvements. The date of the bond election is November 8, 2022. 


The $264.1 million bond proposal will include additional campus security upgrades, a $62 million reconstruction of Canutillo Middle School, and moving Jose J. Alderete Middle School from its current location to a new zip code to address student growth. That is estimated to cost $67 million.  


The ballot will contain the following: 


  • Proposition A includes $255.7 million for school construction and renovation, land purchase for the new Alderete Middle School campus, and security upgrades, including putting secure vestibules at every campus entrance, campus security cameras, and classroom door locking technology. 


  • Proposition B includes $8.4 million to refinance maintenance tax notes (non-voter approved debt) that the district issued in 2020 to pay for district-wide WiFi, student laptops and LED lighting. 


The district has issued a solicitation to obtain professional services that will ensure that the CISD Bond Construction Program 2022 gets executed on time, within budget, in complete transparency to the constituency, and with a spirit of collaboration with all stakeholders. The successful respondent must have a demonstrated ability to perform bond construction programs for other Texas ISDs of similar size. 


Responses to the solicitation for bond management services are due by October 27, 2022, at 2 p.m., CDT.

Donna-Rio International bridge adding northbound lanes

The Donna City Council has approved $84 million in new debt to finance the continued commercial expansion of the Donna-Rio Bravo International Bridge. The Donna City Council and the boards of the Donna Economic Development Corporation and Development Corporation have agreed to issue the new debt which will go toward funding the construction of two northbound lanes for commercial truck traffic. The two boards have agreed to back $10 million each of that debt load. 


In addition to the debt, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has agreed to contribute $11.9 million in funding for “nonintrusive inspection technology” that will be installed at the bridge.  


Donna has already constructed two southbound lanes for so-called “empties” — trucks that have already delivered their cargo to the U.S. and are heading back into Mexico. That phase of the project broke ground in the fall of 2019 and was paid for, in part, by $25 million in state and federal grants. 


The Donna–Río Bravo International Bridge, also known as the Alliance International Bridge, is a bridge that spans the Rio Grande, providing a crossing of the Mexico–United States border between Donna, Texas, and Río Bravo, Tamaulipas. The bridge was opened to traffic on December 14, 2010. 

City of Decatur to construct new police building

The city of Decatur would like to build a new police building at a cost of $14 million. The facility would be approximately 31,400 square feet and contain administration, dispatch, records, CID, patrol division and associated support services. The police building is proposed to be located on a 7.8-acre site bound by East Charles Street, Hatcher Street, and Thompson Street in Decatur. 


The city has issued a request for qualifications for a construction manager at risk, the first step of a two-step process. This First Step involves submittal of qualification-based material, and the second step will involve interviews of shortlisted firms only along with fee information provided by each respondent. 


The selected CMAR will be required to perform the basic construction management services for the project and will be used, in conjunction with the design team, as the cost estimator and project scheduler. The CMAR will coordinate and cooperate with the owner and architect.  


The floor plan and site plan have not been developed at this time. Bidding for the project is expected to start in fall of 2023. Construction is projected to begin within 60 days of an accepted guaranteed maximum price with an anticipated substantial completion in 14 months. 


Sealed submissions are due by October 31, 2022, by 2 p.m. CDT.  

H-GAC approves distribution of $488M for storm resiliency

The Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC) approved its final method of distribution during an August 16 board of directors meeting for $488 million in federal funding for storm resiliency improvement projects across the 13 counties it serves. H-GAC also approved a plan that sends over $10.7 million in reallocated funds to the city of Houston. 


The funding comes from Community Development Block Grant mitigation funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. With the approval, the H-GAC will provide $56.03 million to Fort Bend County, $8.7 million to Waller County, and $1.13 million to the city of Katy. 


The chosen cities and counties were determined based on the following factors: Households impacted by historic disasters between 2015-19, real and personal property damage in the same time frame, low- to moderate-income populations in the area, and the percentage of the area’s population in the flood plain. 


The city of Katy city will use its funds to further mitigation efforts, such as collecting water at the city’s detention pond at Pitts and Morton roads, increasing drainage flow, ditch regrading, and culvert replacement. 

University consolidates Health Professions Education

The Texas State University System plans to add Esperanza Hall to its campus in Round Rock at a cost of $38 million. The planning, design, and construction of Esperanza Hall is the next step toward the university’s vision of consolidating Health Professions Education into one campus.  


The facility will have Distance Learning Platform classrooms of varying sizes that are college controlled and available to all health professions programs. Space will be provided for four health professions departments, including Clinical Laboratory Science, Radiation Therapy, Health Administration, and Health Information Management.  


The facility will also have laboratory spaces for the users, spaces for students to study and collaborate, and a loading area that is shielded from public view and connects to a service drive from campus vehicular circulation.  


A non-mandatory pre-submittal conference is scheduled for October 4, 2022, at 2 p.m. CDT at the LBJ Student Center & Visitors Center.  


The request for qualifications solicitation for architect/engineer professional services is due by October 21, 2022, at p.m. CDT. 

TPWD to select new executive director in October

On October 5, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) plans to hold a Special Commission Meeting in executive session and discuss the retirement of Executive Director Carter Smith and the selection of a new executive director, which will be announced by the Chair of the TPWD Arch “Beaver” Aplin III.  


Aplin is the founder of a large chain of convenience stores. In June 2021, Gov. Greg Abbott appointed Aplin as chair of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, the body tasked with conserving the state’s vital natural resources and regulating the activities that depend on them. Aplin has been a commission member since November 2018 and was named vice chairman in August 2019. He took over leadership of the commission after the term conclusion of S. Reed Morian, who served on the commission since being appointed by Gov. Rick Perry in 2009. 

Smith announced in June that he plans to retire effective January 2023, ending a nearly 15-year tenure. Smith, who began his professional career in 1992 as a TPWD management intern in the Wildlife Division, has served as executive director since January 2008, overseeing policy, personnel, funding, and strategy for an agency of more than 3,300 professionals in 13 divisions. Prior to his naming as executive director, Smith was state director of The Nature Conservancy of Texas, which he first joined in 1998.

Amarillo names new director of utilities

The Amarillo City Council has selected John Collins as the new director of utilities. Collins is responsible for water production and distribution, wastewater collection, water reclamation, and the environmental laboratory. 


Collins has experience working in a variety of positions, such as overseeing roads, drainage, traffic, railroads, fleet, telecommunications, buildings, and emergency services. 


Collins previously served with Louisiana Facility Planning and Control, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, and was the city engineer/public works director for the city of Grand Island, Nebraska.  

Port of Houston to transition site to container yard terminal

The Port of Houston Authority is seeking a registered professional engineering firm to provide design services for one or more container yards across approximately 125 acres of property at the east end of Port Houston’s Bayport Container Terminal. 


Portions of the project site were formerly used as a cruise terminal and later converted to an automotive terminal in or about 2017. Port Houston is in the process of updating its Master Plan for the Bayport Terminal. The Master Plan contemplates the use of the site as a container yard terminal. Phase One will involve the design of approximately 50 acres in connection with a grant funded container yard construction project. Later phases will include the design of one or more additional container yards and may include the design of additional Terminal gates, reefer storage, and/or pad sites to be later used for a maintenance building. 


A pre-proposal meeting to review the project scope and discuss the Port Authority’s expectations will be conducted online on October 4, 2022, at 11 a.m. CDT.  


The selected team shall have expertise in the planning and design of container terminals including, but not limited to, grading and drainage, pavement, electrical and telecommunications needs, site lighting, security systems, and operational requirements. 


The request for qualifications solicitation for the design of the Bayport Container Terminal East End is due by October 26, 2022, at 11 a.m. CDT.

Midland considers hotel development at airport

The city of Midland voted this week on plans to seek development proposals from parties interested in developing city-owned property for a hotel at Midland International Air & Space Port. The property is described as an approximate 3.99-acre tract consisting of Lots 3A, 4A, and 5A (Block 3). The three lots are specifically located southeast of the intersection of Windecker Street and Sloan Field Boulevard. The city will consider selling the property to a proposer with a minimum bid of not less than $1 million. 


Construction of a proposed development project must begin within 18 months of the date of closing of the purchase of the property. Construction of the proposed development project must be completed within 30 months of the date of closing.  


Proposals must include the construction of a 3-star or higher hotel facility with a restaurant and coffee shop on site. Parking for occupancy of the of the hotel and related facilities must be on-site. 


Proposals must be received in the Purchasing Office no later than December 1, 2022, at 2 p.m. CDT. 

Port achieves Cyberstar Certification  

The Port of Corpus Christi has become the first port in the state to obtain the Texas Cyberstar Certification, issued by the Texas Department of Information Resources (DIR). The Cyberstar Certificate Program was launched in May by the Texas DIR to recognize public and private organizations in the state that voluntarily meet specific criteria for cybersecurity best practices. 


An organization must meet several criteria to obtain a Texas Cyberstar Certificate, including: adopt a cybersecurity risk management program, provide appropriate training and information for employees, maintain consistency with National Institute of Standards and Technology standards for cybersecurity, incorporate public service announcements to encourage cybersecurity awareness, and coordinate with local and state governmental entities.  

GOVERNOR'S APPOINTMENTS

Gov. Greg Abbott announced these appointments and reappointments from September 23-September 29:


Private Sector Advisory Council

Terrance "Terry" Hlavinka - East Bernard

Emily Kidd, M.D. - New Braunfels

Al Philippus - San Antonio

Jonathan Raecek - Plano

Dean Teffer, Ph.D. - Austin

Chloe Wilson - Sabinal

An Yu - Houston

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