Volume 21, Issue 3 - January 20, 2023

Many new public sector campuses and complexes will launch in 2023
By Mary Scott Nabers, CEO of Strategic Partnerships Inc.

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) passed by Congress in 2022 allocated $1 billion for efficiency upgrades to state and local government buildings. The funding gave public officials new cause to examine the conditions of their public facilities, and many are aggressively capitalizing on the opportunity to use the funding to modernize their facilities. 

Support is available for maintenance and renovation projects and also for entirely new campuses and facilities. Most upcoming projects include components to deliver efficiency and sustainability including components such as co-location, adaptive reuse, historical preservation, equity and safety. 

The funding process includes other significant benefits such as federal, state, and local tax enrichments which make the projects more attractive to contractors, investors and potential private sector partners. Almost all current federal funding programs encourage matching funds from private sector partners.

A $498 million project in Minnesota, currently in the design phase, describes the planned construction of a new office building that will be located beside the state capitol. The St. Paul facility will receive much of the funding from state coffers.

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Public Utilities Commission approves PCM electric market redesign

The Public Utility Commission on Jan. 19 adopted the proposed Performance Credit Mechanism (PCM) electric market design option that had initially been proposed in November 2022. Following the adoption, the PUC deferred implementation of the PCM until Texas lawmakers had a chance to review and provide feedback during the current Legislative Session, which convened Jan. 10 and ends May 29. In addition to adoption of the PCM, the Commission directed the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) to develop bridging options to retain existing power plants and build new generation resources until the PCM can be fully implemented. ERCOT connects more than 46,500 miles of transmission lines and more than 650 power generation facilities, providing electricity to approximately 26 million customers. 

The PCM was developed after the Commission was tasked to find a plan to change the state’s deregulated power market by Texas lawmakers under Senate Bill 3 following Winter Storm Uri in 2021. After 18 months of meeting with stakeholders and reviewing designs, the PCM was proposed.  

The PCM allows energy companies the ability to produce and provide backup power when the supply runs low due to high demand and usage; if a power plant becomes disabled; or if energy provided by renewable energy sources are running low due to lack of sun and wind currents. The PCM model would require electricity retailers – energy companies, municipal utilities and co-ops that sale power to homes and businesses – to purchase credits from power generators that essentially guarantee both will have sufficient power to meet periods of high demand on the grid.  

Those who support the PCM plan say that the credits will give companies generating power through gas, coal, nuclear, batteries, hydrogen or any other energy source a reason to build new, needed power generation facilities to meet demand in a growing state. 

Broadband challenge deadline passes, states look to June for updated map

Jan. 13 was the deadline to challenge the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) national broadband map. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) clarified that the existing version of the broadband serviceable location database is the one that will be used for allocating funds from the federal Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) Act. The next update to the National Broadband Map will come out June 30. 

A full version of the map which included availability data was released in November 2022, kicking off the availability challenge process. States had the opportunity leading up to the January deadline to correct broadband location information or service availability.  

The challenges submitted by Jan. 13 are to be incorporated into the second full version of the map which will be used by the government to calculate state allocations from the $42.5 billion Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program. The FCC reported on Jan. 12 that more than a million challenges to provider reported availability were submitted by multiple states.  

Despite challenges sent to the FCC after Jan. 13 potentially not being included in the formula used by the NTIA to distribute federal funding, both agencies are encouraging continued feedback. Following the June 30 release of the second version of the broadband map by the NTIA, states must develop an initial proposal within 180 days. If NTIA deems their initial proposal complete, states can then draw down 20% of their implementation funding allocation. To receive the remaining 80% of implementation funds, states must then prepare a final proposal.  

DART allocates excess sales tax revenue to city of Dallas

Dallas Area Rapid Transit Board members on Jan. 17 provided a final list with descriptions of allocating funds to the city of Dallas. Funding totals $111.1 million and comes from the excess sales tax allocation to support DART’s public transportation system or complementary transport services. DART voted in October 2022 to give Dallas and the agency’s 12 additional member cities $234 million with a stipulation that the money fund public transportation-related projects. 

The money is largely made up of excess sales tax revenue collected from the cities between 2019 and 2021. Dallas city staff recommended the following uses of the $11.1 million in funds: 

  • $55 million for ADA ramp installation. Provide funding to completely address the $54 million backlog of missing ADA ramps across the city. 
  • $19.3 million to reconstruct 35 traffic signals on major DART bus route corridors. Improvements will include technology upgrades such as bus queue jumps and fiber installation. 
  • $15 million for a Sidewalk Master Plan. Finish the initial $30 million of priority projects identified in the plan.  
  • $10 million to fund North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) partnership. A revolver fund to leverage $15.4M in funding from the NCTCOG to fund the Five-Mile Creek Greenbelt Hike and Bike Trail Project. 
  • $6 million for the traffic markings program. Fully fund the traffic lane markings for the next three years for an annual program budget of $3.2 million.  
  • $2.9 million for a parking operations and parking lot usage study. Fund a collaborative parking study to evaluate usage of DART parking lots to recommend potential options for redevelopment and to provide recommendations for optimized city of Dallas parking operations, including strategic locations for and design of future parking garages. 
  • $2 million for bike lane upgrades. Pilot new bike lane safety materials and begin retrofitting existing bike lanes with piloted materials. Also explore options for additional bike lane cleaning and maintenance.  
  • $1 million for student/homeless transit programs. Support DART’s free transit services for youth to get to school and work if necessary; and support homeless transit services.
Saluting Texas Lone Stars

Edward Johnson

Chief Operating Officer

VIA Metropolitan Transit Authority

Public career highlights and education: I have more than 30 years of transit experience that includes working with a regional planning commission and the ninth-largest transit agency in the nation. My public-sector career spans the full spectrum of organizational experience, from administration to operations. I have worked on major investment projects, including rail and bus rapid transit (BRT) planning and implementation, and now Advanced Rapid Transit (ART). I hold a Master of Public Administration with a concentration in Political Science.

What I like best about my public service is: The fundamental purposes of public service are to make our community a better place than it was before we came along and to sustain it for generations to come. When we truly accept that charge, it becomes an awesome responsibility. What I like most about public service is knowing the work we do enriches the lives of those we serve by providing them access to opportunity Working from the heart and a place of love is the best gift that can be given to our community. Selflessness!

The best advice I’ve received is: A successful leader is not only the person who achieves the most, but also who is most impactful at helping others also become successful.

People might be interested to know that: It’s hard to say what people would be surprised to know about me – I’m such an open book. But, if there were one thing, I would say it’s my love for music. My repertoire of music spans from the downhome blues to country/western to gospel to operatic/symphonic to classic/hard rock to R&B/rap and everything in between. If it has a beat or tone, it wakes my spirit. 

One thing I wished more people knew about the VIA Metropolitan Transit Authority is: VIA has a greater impact on San Antonio’s quality of life than what easily comes to mind: Public transportation is a daily conduit to economic mobility. It’s access to critical services, such as health care, and goods. It’s a benefit to the environment. And it’s a portal to cultural events and overall quality of life.  

CPS Energy proposes P2 plan, phasing out coal

The CPS Energy Board of Trustees have shared with the San Antonio City Council how it plans to use renewable and non-renewable energy through 2030. The energy provider does not plan to continue the use of coal and wants to phase out this energy source by 2028.  

The proposal to phase out coal includes shutting down the coal-burning Spruce 1 plant by 2028, while Spruce 2 would operate through 2065 as a gas plant. Both are located along Calaveras Lake. These recommendations would require approval from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) before moving forward.  

To power the city through 2030, the utility’s rate advisory committee recommended its plan to combine natural gas, solar, wind and energy storage. The utility’s rate advisory committee recommended the Portfolio 2 (P2) plan which alternatively focuses on renewable energy and a hard transition from gas-generated power. One of the benefits of the P2 is that it is one of the lower-cost portfolios, especially in extreme weather. P2 also will require continuous evolution to meet the city of San Antonio’s 2040 Climate Action and Adaptation Plan target.  

The city of San Antonio has a plan to be carbon-neutral by 2050, and the utility states growth in the community would require an additional 115 megawatts per year of power. 

The CPS Energy Board of Trustees will discuss the rate advisory committee's recommendations at a special meeting on Jan. 23.  

Strategic Partnerships welcomes Barr and Gray to consulting team

Kenneth Barr is a governmental relations/public affairs consultant who works on projects primarily at the local and regional levels.

Kenneth was elected Mayor of Fort Worth four times, serving from 1996 until retiring in 2003. Before being elected Mayor he served three years as a council member.  

Currently, he is an elected member of the Board of Trustees of Tarrant County College (TCC), is Vice President of the board and represents TCC on the TCC Foundation board. TCC is a six-campus community college with almost 100,000 students enrolled annually.

From 2008 to 2019 he was a member and Chairman of the Board of the North Texas Tollway Authority (NTTA). NTTA operates more than 1,000 lane miles of toll roads, bridges and tunnels across the Dallas/Fort Worth region.

Currently, he is the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Medical City Fort Worth Hospital and the immediate past Chair of the Real Estate Council of Greater Fort Worth. 

Kenneth is a past chairman of the North Texas Commission and Fort Worth Sister Cities International. He is a former Chairman of the Texas Municipal League, president of the Exchange Club of Fort Worth and the Rotary Club of Fort Worth.

Kenneth will bring great capabilities to the SPI Team and his clients.

Charles Gray is a welcome addition to the Strategic Partnership consulting team. He brings over 40 years’ experience in technology, government collaboration, management of large technology organizations and innovation. Charles is well-versed in building and leading highly effective IT organizations, and his expertise covers every aspect of technology. 

He served for many years as Program Director for the TechShare organization, a part of the Texas Conference of Urban Counties. Under his leadership, he helped the organization design and build a technology collaboration program for local and state governments, implemented state-of-the-art software development methodologies and technologies, and generated funding streams and financial reserves. He also directed and operated technology and software initiatives for the Employee Retirement System and the Texas Department of Transportation. 

Charles holds a Bachelor of Science in Education/Mathematics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as well as various technology and management training programs and certifications. His expertise will be highly valued by the SPI Team and the clients the company serves.

Round Rock’s largest bond proposal in history to be reviewed

In February, Round Rock city officials are expected to consider $274 million in general obligation and certificate of obligation bonds, marking the largest bond proposal in city history. The goal is to meet a deadline for the May election. 

The exact wording and individual propositions for the bond have not been made official but the city has proposed around $230 million for quality-of-life improvements and $44 million for public safety items. If the bond is approved, funds would also allow for maintenance of existing city facilities and infrastructure. 

Proposed projects that fall under public safety include a new high-speed driving track for the Public Safety Training Center at a cost of $11 million. Also included is the relocation of the Central Fire Station and construction of two new fire stations at a cost of $33 million. 

Roughly $147 million could be included for additions and upgrades to Old Settlers Park. Some of the park projects include:

  • Recreation Center Phase 1 - $60 million.
  • Multipurpose complex expansion and tennis relocation - $60 million.
  • Lake Pavilion - $15 million. 
  • Rock'N River Phase 3 - $12 million. 

(Photo: Courtesy of the city of Round Rock.)

Key decisions remain for Forth Worth African American museum

Questions remain on where to break ground on a new African American museum in Fort Worth, making the timeline for the project uncertain. The Fort Worth African American Museum and Cultural Center has been in the planning stages since 2020, when a steering committee was created, and last month, Tarrant County committed $2 million towards construction. 

The steering committee was presented with six possible properties. Four were in the Historic Southside neighborhood and two were in the Cultural District. However, there is still a lot of debate among council members, residents and the community about which location would be best. 

Due to this, the City Council gave the steering committee $40,000 in research funding to evaluate potential sites. Feasibility studies will be done on three locations: the Community Arts Center, a site in Downtown Fort Worth across from City Hall and a site near the James E. Guinn School in the Historic Southside. 

Aside from the $40,000, the committee needs $300,000 to complete these studies. They have already received $40,000 from Fort Worth Housing Solutions and $30,000 from North Texas Community Foundation. The plan is to complete the studies by March. 

(Photo: Fort Worth Community Arts Center. Courtesy of Arts Fort Worth.)

Community Park finishing design phase

The Community Park Complex design phase is nearing completion. Located within the historic fairground of Fair Park in the city of Dallas, Community Park will be an 18-acre greenspace featuring walking trails, an outdoor market, and an all-ages, all-abilities children’s park.

The park will have WiFi access, water play features and native landscaping. A nonprofit organization overseeing the management of the park has raised $25 million for the Fair Park Master Plan.

The new park will be built on the current site of a parking lot between Lagow Street and Exposition Avenue. The location is accessible from multiple neighborhoods. Three acres surrounding Community Park will house stormwater management and public parking. The park is expected to open in 2025.

(Photo: Courtesy of Fair Park First.)

Coryell County to move forward with jail expansion/annex

Coryell County officials have agreed to expand its jail and the construction of the Leon Street Annex despite a failed $30.9 million bond election in May 2021 for these projects.

Coryell County Commissioners reviewed scenarios for funding these facilities. Option 1 included only the jail expansion at a cost of $4.9 million. Option 2 focused on construction of the annex at a cost of $8.7 million. Options 3 and 3b included a combination of the jail expansion plus annex construction, with a note of $13.6 million. Commissioners settled on the 3b option with the county contributing $7 million as a buy-down and a 2.9 cent increase to the tax rate over seven years. 

The Annex, previously referred to as the “justice center,” will be known as the Leon Street Annex. Commissioners voted to approve an architectural firm to submit jail expansion plans to both the Texas Jail Commission, as well as to the city of Gatesville for building permits. County leaders approved the tax note to fund both projects and agreed to add the jail and annex to the county’s capital improvement projects.

Rex promoted to city manager of Garland

The Garland City Council has promoted Assistant City Manager Judson Rex to city manager. Rex will take over when outgoing City Manager Emeritus Bryan Bradford retires on May 1. 

Rex has been with the city of Garland since 2021 and served as the assistant city manager for the city's planning and economic development. Before that, he was the city manager for Denison. 

Scott named Conroe city manager

Conroe City Council has appointed Gary Scott as its new city administrator. Scott has served as interim city administrator since August 2022 when he replaced Paul Virgadamo.  

He had served as Conroe's assistant city attorney since 2001 before being appointed as city attorney in April 2021. Scott started his municipal career working for the cities of Abilene and Dallas. 

Judge promoted to Dayton city manager

Kimberly Judge has been selected as the new city manager of Dayton. She replaces former City Manager Steve Floyd who stepped down a few months ago. 

She has previously held the positions of director of planning, assistant city manager and interim public works director. 

Judge brings 38 years of municipal government experience and has spent the last eight years serving Dayton. 

Ball selected as lone finalist for Southwest ISD

The Southwest Independent School District has selected former Judson ISD Superintendent Jeanette Ball as the lone finalist for their next superintendent.

Ball was Judson’s superintendent from 2018 until November 2022. She was a teacher and administrator at Southwest ISD prior to being hired as Uvalde Consolidated ISD’s superintendent from 2014 to 2017. 

There will be a mandatory 21-day waiting period before Ball is offered a contract and officially hired.

Arlington considers May bond election

The Arlington City Council is considering calling a bond election in May to fund a new police station in North Arlington as well as improvements to streets, parks and recreation amenities. An exact dollar amount has not been determined and the council has until February 7 to decide. The list of proposed projects being considered totals $278 million over five years. 

Voters approved a $189 million bond in 2018 for street and parking improvements. One of the projects included $6 million for a police storage facility in North Arlington. The project has not been completed and an additional $15 million is needed. 

In December, the Citizens Bond Committee presented a list of other proposed topics the City Council is considering. Those include over $7 million for a new aquatic facility, $14 million for a new fire station and over $9 million for a new public works building.  

McKinney National Airport bond considered

The McKinney City Council received recommendations on a proposed bond to expand McKinney National Airport for commercial services. The project, estimated to cost $300.7 million, includes a new terminal, taxiway and other infrastructure that would support commercial passenger service. The airport currently only operates general aviation services such as fuel sales, flight school lessons and hangar leases. 

After careful consideration, the bond committee decided to only pursue $200 million to be approved by McKinney voters. Other funding sources, such as Federal Aviation Administration grants, are being considered to make up the $100 million gap. The McKinney City Council is expected to act on the bond proposal at its February meeting. 

In addition to the bond, council members have also greenlit an agreement with a development firm to contribute to phase one of an expansion project on the west side of the airport. The $23 million project includes the addition of a new hangar and federal inspections station to house U.S. Customs staff. 

The first phase, including 80% of design services from the firm, is expected to be complete by July 2023. The remaining design and construction process will require city approval to proceed later this year. 

(Photo: Rendering of the McKinney airport expansion project. Courtesy of McKinney National Airport.)


Gov. Greg Abbott announced these appointments and reappointments from Jan. 13 through Jan. 19:

Nursing Facility Administrators Advisory Committee

Donald L. King - Fort Worth

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