By Mary Scott Nabers, CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc.
President Biden recently introduced a massive infrastructure bill designed to reshape the U.S. economy while addressing infrastructure reform. Biden’s stated goal is to achieve 100 percent carbon-free power by 2035.
The proposal also includes $100 billion in funding to upgrade and strengthen the country’s electric grid system, which has been weakened by worsening climate disasters. The proposed legislation would provide new tax credits to support the construction of high-voltage transmission lines, a major hurdle in the expansion of renewable energy. Additionally, it would include a 10-year extension of wind, solar, and battery tax credits, which are set to expire in several years.
To incentivize the build-out of a green grid, rebates would be given to utilities for expenditures incurred on adding solar, wind, and other carbon-free or energy-efficient resources. And, utilities that failed to meet benchmarks would be assessed fees.
About 40 percent of all power usage in the U.S. is tied to the generation of electricity. Power generation has become a critical component of each person’s environmental footprint. With population growth, more power is required, and some states have not waited for incentives. Instead, a few state governments have aggressively moved into leadership roles in the struggle for clean energy.
If the infrastructure bill passes, an abundance of funding will be available for projects designed to reduce pollution and harmful emissions.
Here are a few examples:
The University of Michigan (UM) has a goal of achieving a "net zero" carbon footprint status by 2050. That goal is accomplished by offsetting emissions of greenhouse gases with emission reductions elsewhere. UM’s final report includes 50 recommendations
to mitigate greenhouse gas emission. University officials have announced plans to invest $140 million in upcoming wind and solar projects to limit carbon emissions and to convert existing heating and cooling systems to cleaner hot water systems powered by carbon-free energy sources. Cost projections for the complete conversion are approximately $3.36 billion.
Looking ahead to anticipated demands on water supply in Texas for the coming years, the Draft 2022 State Water Plan contains $80 billion in proposed capital projects to help serve a projected 73 percent population increase over the next 50 years.
The Texas Water Development Board’s (TWDB) draft plan identifies approximately 5,800 strategies that communities can use to meet their water needs over the next 50 years.
Construction of new reservoirs is one of the plan’s strategies, including several new facilities in the North Texas area.
A $4.46 billion Marvin Nichols reservoir would go online in the 2050 decade and supply the North Texas Municipal, Tarrant Regional, and Upper Trinity Regional water districts.
Work would start in 2030 on $1.83 billion in Dallas Water Utilities infrastructure to go online in the 2040 decade, and an additional transmission pipeline at the Tarrant Regional Water District would be operational in the 2060 decade at an estimated cost of $1.77 billion.
More than $1.74 billion would be spent to expand the city of Houston’s Northeast Water Purification Plant to go online in the 2030s, and $1.7 billion would go toward improving treatment and treated water distribution at the North Texas Municipal Water District with work to begin in this decade.
Future reallocation of Wright Patman Lake water for more than $1.64 billion would involve converting flood storage to water supply or raising the pool level while protecting the city of Texarkana’s water rights.
Construction of a $1.31 billion transmission line would support the West Harris County Regional and North Fort Bend water authorities, and more than $4 billion would go toward construction of new major reservoirs and other improvements at the North Texas Municipal Water District.
Desalination infrastructure projects at the Port of Corpus Christi would receive $802.81 million, and a $442.87 million reservoir would be built at Lake Ringgold in Wichita Falls.
If the draft plan’s strategies are not implemented, Texas could face a 6.9-million-acre-foot water shortage and economic losses of approximately $153 billion in 2070 in the event of a drought of record.
The TWDB Board intends to adopt the 2022 State Water Plan later this summer after a public comment period closes.
Richard Spence is a sixth-generation Texan who grew up working with his family’s independent pharmacies in Houston. After earning an undergraduate degree, Rich served in several executive positions in Washington, D.C. where he spent his time working with Congress.
As a public employee, Rich was employed by the U.S. Small Business Administration and served in the Office for Legislative Affairs and the Domestic Policy Council where he later became deputy chief of staff and legislative director. He also served as a budget director and small business contracting liaison for the Economic Summit of Industrialized Nations (G7).
Returning home, Rich worked in the Texas Legislature and was appointed by the governor to manage the Texas Enterprise Fund and Emerging Technologies Fund. He also was a Senate chief of staff and a finance committee director, focusing on state budget, economic development, and higher education capital funding.
Rich gained experience in health care, higher education, and strategic planning at UT Health. His experience in federal contracting resulted from consulting work with a multinational professional services company and a Silicon Valley-based start-up that offered federal solutions.
Rich holds a bachelor’s degree from Washington and Lee University in Virginia, and a Master of Business Administration from Baylor University.
Voters in Liberty Hill ISD will decide a $491.7 million bond election on May 1 that, if successful, would allow the district to keep up with enrollment growth that exceeded 13.5 percent in one year.
Enrollment is projected to more than double in the next five years — increasing from the current 5,735 students to 14,082 students by 2026. In less than 10 years, the district is projected to exceed 22,000 students.
Split into four propositions, the bond package calls for funds to build new schools, expand and renovate campuses, purchase technology, improve the high school stadium, and build a new stadium.
Proposition A would authorize the district to spend $457.7 million to construct a second high school, the district’s sixth and seventh elementary schools, and a third middle school. It would fund the expansion and renovation of Liberty Hill and Louine Noble elementary schools, Liberty Hill and Santa Rita middle schools, and Liberty Hill High School.
Expansion of the district’s transportation facility, acquisition of land and design of new schools, and purchase of technology infrastructure and buses are included in Proposition A.
Proposition B seeks $8 million for technology devices for students and staff members to address enrollment growth and lifecycle replacements.
Improvements to Liberty Hill High School Stadium would be funded for $6 million by Proposition C. A 5,000-seat expansion and additional restrooms are among the enhancements.
Proposition D would provide $20 million for construction of a new stadium at the second high school. The venue would feature a competition field, seating capacity of 10,000, press box, locker rooms, concession stand and restrooms, and an eight-lane track.
Dr. Armando O'Caña
Mayor, City of Mission
Career highlights and education: I graduated in 1972 from Mission High School, graduated in 1976 from Pan Am University with a bachelor’s degree and in 1980 with a Master of Education. In 1992, I received my associate degree in applied science in fire protection and graduated in 1996 from the National Fire Academy. My highest achievement was in 1999 when I earned my doctorate in educational administration from Texas A&M University in College Station.
What I like best about my public service is: Being able to help my community, whether it is implementing new policies, launching initiatives to help our city (like our COVID-19 recovery programs), or bringing a smile to our citizens by something small like repairing a pothole, or working on an all-inclusive park. My approach is pro-active and I enjoy being involved.
The best advice I’ve received is: From my parents. They pushed me to obtain a degree and continued pushing for higher education. Never stop learning! Education provides us with the tools required to excel in life. Education unlocks vital skills like good decision making and interpersonal growth.
My favorite way to de-stress is: By self-reflecting and talking to God in a private, quiet setting. I also enjoy being with my family. I genuinely appreciate being with my wife, children and grandchildren. Whether we are at a backyard barbecue or enjoying an Aggie football game, there is nowhere else I would rather be.
People might be surprised to know that I: Am a master certified law enforcement officer, state-commissioned master firefighter, arson investigator, licensed professional counselor in Texas, and a grandfather!
One thing I wished more people knew about the city of Mission is: We are an All-America City! Proudly known as the birthplace of Super Bowl-winning coach Tom Landry, the city of Mission has a vibrant culture and traditions are a source of pride. We are known for having well-planned subdivisions, world-class recreation amenities, abundant shopping options and booming growth, all of which truly make Mission a great place to live, work, play, raise a family, and do business. My hope and my dream are to continue serving our great city as mayor.
Although Texas’ bridges rated highly in structural integrity among other states in recently released federal data, an estimated $6.25 billion is needed to repair its spans.
Proposed bridge work includes replacing 2,896 bridges for an estimated $1.3 billion, widening and rehabilitating 74 bridges for $31.76 million, rehabilitating or replacing 10 bridge decks for $1.2 million, and performing other work on 8,122 spans for $4.69 billion.
Texas’ bridge inventory holds up well structurally compared to other states based on Federal Highway Administration data from 2020.
Only 1.5 percent, or 818, of the 54,682 bridges in the Lone Star state were found to be structurally deficient to place Texas second-best behind Nevada, with 1.4 percent of its spans classified as deficient. A deficient bridge has at least one key element in poor or worse condition.
Although Texas’ bridges are in better condition than most across the country, the number of its deficient bridges rose from 653 bridges found to be structurally deficient in 2016.
Nine of the 10 most traveled structurally deficient bridges in Texas were built between the late 1950s and early 1970s. However, the SH 183 bridge over Loop 12 in Dallas County was constructed in 2018. The bridges and their number of daily crossings are:
- SH 183 westbound over Loop 12 in Dallas – 175,985.
- IH 610 over Houston Ship Channel – 171,423.
- IH 45 northbound over White Oak Bayou – 106,670.
- IH 610S eastbound over Holmes Road – 96,322.
- IH 10 westbound over McCarty Street/US 90A – 91,887.
- IH 35 northbound over Eisenhauer Road – 85,046.
- IH 30 westbound over IH 635 – 81,045.
- IH 635 eastbound over Tap Railroad – 76,110.
- IH 635 eastbound over SH 78 and railroad – 76,110.
(Data is from the Federal Highway Administration’s National Bridge Inventory. Specific conditions on bridges may have changed as a result of recent work or updated inspections. Several Irving Interchange bridges over Loop 12, SH 183, and Spur 482 are under construction.)
The city of Grand Prairie will ask for voter approval of a $75 million bond election on May 1 to fund economic development and revitalization of commercial, retail, residential, and mixed-use areas.
Possible uses of the funds include land purchases, mixed-use development, and infrastructure improvements in the city’s historic downtown.
If approved, bond funds would assist the city’s vision for targeted growth that could feature land or building purchases and construction of a conference hotel, restaurant lease space, and entertainment venues.
At city gateways, Grand Prairie would purchase land or develop entertainment facilities and infrastructure for hospitality, retail, mixed-use, and commercial activities.
In addition to potential bond funds, the city would explore financing projects with long-term revenue streams to the city and awarding grants or loans to development projects.
More than two years in the making, the draft master plan for San Marcos Regional Airport calls for an estimated $38 million in capital improvements in the next five to 10 years.
City councilmembers reviewed the draft plan at their April 6 work session where consultants presented key findings and recommendations to:
- Extend Runway 17/35 and improve instrument approaches.
- Rehabilitate existing infrastructure such as aprons and taxiways.
- Strengthen airfield pavements.
- Improve the taxiway system.
- Plan for ultimate closure of Runway 8/26.
- Establish future development areas.
Near- and mid-term priorities for the next 10 years are to reconstruct taxiways A and C, rehabilitate other taxiways and upgrade standards, reconstruct the airport’s apron, evaluate runway weight bearing capacity, and extend and decouple Runway 17.
According to the presentation, all near- and mid-term projects are eligible for grant funds of about $34.2 million under the Airport Improvement Program administered by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Adoption of the master plan is scheduled for the April 20 City Council meeting. If approved, the airport would start work on its internal capital programming plan and initiate capital improvement program planning with the FAA and the Texas Department of Transportation.
The city of Richardson will move its Office of Strategic Initiatives into the Richardson Innovation Quarter, also known as the Richardson IQ.
Joining the city in the innovation district facility will be The University of Texas at Dallas (UT Dallas).
The university plans to open five research centers in the Richardson IQ and an extension of its Venture Development Center. The five new research centers will fall under the umbrella of UT Dallas’ new Center for Emergent Novel Technology at the Innovation Quarter (CENT-IQ).
UT Dallas’ research centers in CENT-IQ will feature a series of co-working, research and lab spaces that represent a range of disciplines from multiple schools within UT Dallas. Each center will focus on solutions developed from its respective technology specialty, which include applied artificial intelligence, machine learning, imaging and surgical innovation, and smart mobility.
Construction work to reactivate and upgrade the multi-purpose facility will begin in summer 2021, with an opening slated for February 2022. UT Dallas will occupy approximately 10,000 square feet of the 27,500-square-foot facility, and 3,000 square feet will be dedicated for programs, networking, and event space that will attract entrepreneurial and startup activity.
The remainder will be occupied by the Office of Strategic Initiatives, which coordinates with partners to promote Richardson’s 1,200-acre innovation district. Approximately 7,000 square feet will be set aside for future expansion or flexible partnering opportunities.
The city of Bowie will receive $9.78 million in funding after the Texas Water Development Board on April 8 approved financial assistance from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to plan, design, and construct wastewater system improvements.
Due to the high rates of infiltration and inflow resulting from the collection system’s dilapidated condition, the city has exceeded daily peak flow limits set by its Texas Commission on Environmental Quality discharge permit on numerous occasions. The proposed improvements will help ensure the system stays within its permitted discharge limits and avoids violations.
Plans call for replacing about 10 miles of aged, high-maintenance sewer lines in the collection system with new, right-sized sewer lines, including approximately 2,900 linear feet of force main and an extension to the Rock Hill Lift Station.
In addition, the city will replace old brick manholes with new precast manholes, replace sewer cleanouts, and install service line transfers throughout the collection system. In addition, it will upgrade the Glen Hills Lift Station by replacing pumps and other components and construct an equalization pond at the wastewater treatment plant to help mitigate peak flows.
Completion of an engineering feasibility report is anticipated in September, and the design phase is scheduled to be done by July 2022. Construction is set for 2023 to 2026.
Copperas Cove councilmembers on April 6 discussed plans for an estimated $5 million animal shelter at one of three proposed sites near Fire Station No. 2, future Fire Station No. 4, or Ogletree Gap Park.
The proposed 14,000-square-foot facility would feature increased capacity for dogs and cats, additional quarantine areas, and new air conditioning system to circulate fresh air.
A 2017 needs assessment estimated the total project cost at $8.07 million if the project was bid in January 2020, but city staff spent the last few years reducing the cost by more than $3 million.
The city would select a construction manager at-risk (CMAR) for the project, advertise for bids for two months, and begin construction nine months from approval of the project.
Councilmembers authorized staff to prepare a certificate of obligation for possible City Council action by June.
Rollin Cook brings decades of experience and credibility related to law enforcement to the SPI Team. He is a genuine expert on myriad aspects of public safety, corrections, and criminal justice.
Rollin’s law enforcement expertise was gained through decades of government service. He spent 23 years in the Salt Lake County Corrections System working his way through the ranks before being appointed corrections chief deputy, a position he held for seven years. During his tenure, he led a transition team that opened a new state-of-the-art 2,000-bed correctional facility and also reopened a jail as a therapeutic-style facility.
In 2013, he was appointed as the executive director over the Utah Department of Corrections to lead day-to-day operations for 12 divisions, 2,200 employees, 7,000-plus incarcerated citizens, and 15,000-plus community supervised individuals. He managed a multi-million dollar budget and was responsible for oversight of construction and transition of new state correctional facilities.
In January 2019, Rollin was named commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Corrections. His responsibilities included a budget of $700 million, leading 7,000 employees, managing 12,000 incarcerated citizens, 5,000-plus paroled individuals, and 14 state correctional facilities.
Rollin has been a nationally recognized consultant, trainer, and adviser on corrections and public safety topics for more than two decades. He has led courses on corrections operations, jail administration, assessments, transition, organizational dynamics, and leadership.
Additionally, he has worked with local, national, and international law-enforcement communities through his participation associations such as the Correctional Leaders Association, International Association of Chiefs of Police, National Sheriff’s Association, American Jail Association, and American Correctional Association.
Rollin is a native Utahan, who earned a Master of Business Administration and bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.
Eddie Arnold joins the SPI Team with five decades of career success in both the public and private sectors.
After accruing 34 years of experience with a telecommunications company, Eddie was elected to serve as a county commissioner in Jefferson County where he was an elected official for 16 years.
While employed in the telecommunications industry, Eddie held several positions from non-management occupational roles to numerous managerial assignments. During the last 12 years, he served as regional manager of governmental affairs where his responsibilities included developing relationships with local, county, state, and federal officials and their staff. His role included responsibility for working on local economic development initiatives, educational events, and with chambers of commerce in efforts to help businesses thrive.
Eddie has a vast amount of experience and knowledge about public-private partnerships. He has represented both public owners and private-sector contractors in negotiating multi-million dollar expansions and new initiatives.
As a commissioner, Eddie played an integral part in balancing Jefferson County’s budget and providing support to a workforce of more than 1,100 employees. He was involved in the renovation of the historic Jefferson County Courthouse, oversaw the maintenance of county-owned offices totaling more than 500,000 square feet, and participated in the sale of millions of dollars of surplus county-owned property.
Eddie served as a board member and later as chairman of the Conference of Urban Counties, an association that represents 36-plus of the largest populated counties (basically about 85 percent of the entire population) in Texas. He is a past chairman of the SETX Regional Planning Commission in Southeast Texas and has served on numerous civic, social, and nonprofit boards and associations.
He graduated from the University of Upper Iowa and holds a bachelor’s degree in business management. He is a graduate of Leadership Southeast Texas and Leadership Beaumont. Eddie also holds a Texas real estate license and specializes in commercial and industrial real estate.
Eddie has a vast knowledge of public-private partnerships and has established relationships with hundreds of decision makers, influencers, and gatekeepers in the Southeast Texas area, including the petrochemical, construction, educational, medical, financial, and public sectors and is ready to leverage his experience and abilities for SPI clients.
Researchers with the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin, the Kinder Institute for Urban Research at Rice University, and the George W. Bush Institute-SMU Economic Growth Initiative in Dallas have issued the Texas Metropolitan Blueprint
, a statewide policy agenda for managing a growing, urban Texas.
With nine in 10 Texans living in urban areas, the new report calls for policies to address the most pressing economic development, housing, and infrastructure issues facing the state’s urban metro areas.
The blueprint outlines three principles to guide the state’s urban and metro policy:
- Invest in the state’s diverse human capital.
- Empower local innovation.
- Catalyze the use of public-private partnerships across the state.
In addition, the blueprint outlines 21 specific priorities for economic development, land use, housing, and transportation and infrastructure, including closing the digital divide in metro and rural areas and strengthening anchor institutions to catalyze community development.
The report recommends investing in border and international trade infrastructure, promoting the development of market-rate housing, and increasing state incentives and funding streams for housing as well as maintaining renter protection and expanding funding opportunities for infrastructure, maintenance, and expansion.
Four Texas airports will receive funding from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as part of $627.7 million in the latest round of Airport Improvement Program (AIP) grants.
The FAA selected 390 facilities across the country to receive AIP grants that will support projects promoting safety, efficiency, environmental stewardship, infrastructure, and security.
Dallas Love Field will receive a $12.78 million grant to build a taxiway, and San Antonio International Airport will get a $9.03 million grant to rehabilitate a taxiway.
Corpus Christi International Airport was awarded $4.73 million to rehabilitate a runway and taxiway, and Fort Hood/Killeen Robert Gray Army Airfield will get $225,000 to seal runway pavement surface and reconstruct perimeter fencing.
Historically, the AIP grant program receives approximately $3.2 billion in Congressional funding annually. The FAA will award more than 1,500 grants this year.
Gov. Greg Abbott announced these appointments and reappointments from March 19-April 8:
Family and Protective
Connie Almeida - Richmond
Omedi Cantu Arismendez - Alice
Greg Hamilton - Hutto
Brenda Dees - Beeville
Marcos Delgado - El Paso
Ronnie Hagerty - Houston (reappointed)
Charles Wright - Frisco
Michelle Brewer - Silsbee
on Fire Protection
Christopher Cantu - Round Rock
David Coatney - College Station
Michael Glynn - Roanoke
Clyde Loll - Huntsville
Tim Smith - Lubbock
J.P. Steelman - Longview
Texas School Safety Center Board
James Mosley - Borger
Robert Wilson - Silsbee
Edwin Flores - Dallas (reappointed)
Lizeth Olivarez - Laredo (reappointed)
Michael Slaughter - Wylie (reappointed)
Jill Tate - Colleyville (reappointed)
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 Comptroller of Public Accounts – Appropriation Control Officer
Texas Water Development Board – Groundwater Monitoring Specialist (Natural Resources Specialist II)
Texas Water Development Board – Groundwater Modeler (Geoscientist IV, Hydrologist IV, or Engineer III)
Texas Treasury Safekeeping Trust Company – Program Specialist
Texas Health and Human Services Commission – Nurse III
Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority – Program Manager, Communication and Public Information Officer