Volume 20, Issue 31 - August 5, 2022
By Mary Scott Nabers, CEO of Strategic Partnerships Inc.
Libraries are critical public assets for communities and a recent study confirmed that most are funded locally. Currently there are hundreds of modernization, expansion, and technology upgrade projects occurring in libraries throughout the country. This is a very defined and strong trend.

In Deschutes County, Oregon, voter-approved bond funding will cover a new Central Library project. The facility is being scoped to include indoor and outdoor meeting space, expanded media collections, flexible working accommodations, youth programming, and public event space. It will be equipped with an Automated Material Handling (AMH) system to compensate for continued workforce shortages. The total cost of the Central Library project is estimated to fall within a range of $99 million to $113 million. Construction is slated to begin in 2023.

In Oregon’s most populous county of Multnomah, which encompasses the city of Portland, funding is allocated to deliver several library projects. Voters approved $387 million expressly for county libraries. Design work for projects involving the Albina and North Portland Libraries has been completed and renovations will launch so that both efforts are completed by the end of summer 2024. Other projects will follow.

A $1.2 billion bond could be placed on the ballot for Harris County voters in November of this year. County Commissioners recently voted in favor of the bond, but a special session will need to be held to place it on the ballot formally.

Two separate motions passed. The first motion allocates up to $100 million for public safety facilities, $900 million for roads, drainage and multi-modal transportation, and $200 million for parks.

The second motion addresses how much funding will be allocated to each precinct. Funding will be distributed using the “worst-first” approach, which directs funds to areas in the greatest need. Under these guidelines, each precinct would receive a minimum of $220 million. Regardless of location, $100 million will be reserved for public safety facilities, leaving $220 million for distribution based on need.

The commissioners will need to call a special session, between August 12-22, 2022, to vote to adopt the bond formally.
The Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) Board of Directors is weighing a deal that would disburse $270 million for transportation projects in North Texas. The money would be distributed to thirteen cities in the region on the condition they invest in transportation improvements. Dallas, which is included in the list of thirteen cities, could receive as much as $134 million of the $270 million total.

Officials with DART suggest those exact dollar amounts are still being worked out, but the board may approve a deal later this month.

Most of the $270 million figure comes from excess tax revenue that DART collected from 2019 to 2021 ($214 million). The remaining $55 million comes from DART’s funding for accessibility improvements. Tax surplus accumulated, while DART was receiving Federal COVID relief money.

If the board signs off on the disbursements, draft agreements with the thirteen cities could be reached before the end of the year. From there, the DART money could arrive by 2025.

However, officials in Dallas are already eyeing potential uses for the city’s share of funding. A memo recently circulated through the Dallas City Council with a list of several projects that could be funded with Dallas’ anticipated DART money. Proposals included workforce development, improved bus shelters, bike lane upgrades, and Americans with Disability Act (ADA) accessibility improvements.
The US CHIPS and Science Act that Congress passed last week is opening the door to $52.7 billion in support of domestic semiconductor chip production. Now experts say that investment will be especially beneficial for Texas, which already leads US states in domestic chip production.

Our most common technologies—from cars to phones to medical equipment—are powered by semiconductor chips. Funding from the CHIPS act will help tackle the costs of producing those chips in the US while still delivering many of the benefits.

According to economists, for every 100 jobs created in semiconductor production, another 192 indirectly related jobs are also created. Each chip manufacturing plant brings thousands of high paying tech jobs, tens of thousands of ancillary jobs in service industries, and exponentially greater investment in surrounding infrastructure.

This means the CHIPS Act could generate close to a $250 billion in semiconductor manufacturing activity for Texas, which is already accommodating more than $50 billion in investments linked to chip production. With over 2,000 new chip manufacturing jobs created in the state between 2021 and 2022, officials are eager to highlight Texas’ conduciveness to chip production.

In the near term, chip manufacturers that plan to capitalize on the federal support will need to build production plants. As Texas awaits long-term benefits from the CHIPS Act, it will likely experience significant near-term boosts to industries like construction, concrete, and steel, which will be involved in building Texas’ future chip manufacturing plants.
With school safety at the forefront of priorities this upcoming school year, Austin Independent School District (AISD) is considering two draft proposals that could provide up to $1.55 billion or $2.18 billion for security updates and other projects.

Both proposals focus on school safety measures like installing vestibules at schools' main entrances. This would require visitors to enter a holding space without students before getting approval to pass into the building. The proposals also include campus modernizations and technology improvements.

The larger of the two proposals, which would provide the district with the total $2.18 billion, includes everything found in the smaller proposal with additional projects. These additional projects include campus improvements, more technology and sports field upgrades, and funding to build teacher housing.

If brought before the voters, both options would be the largest bond proposal ever presented by AISD. The $1.55 billion bond will not require a tax increase. The second $2.18 billion bond would require a penny tax-rate increase. Once AISD decides how to move forward, voters will have a chance to approve the bond on the Nov. ballot.
Jeff Wagner
Mayor
City of Pasadena
Public career and education highlights: My entire professional career has been dedicated to public service. I began my career as a small-town police officer in Galena Park, Texas and then worked for 33 years with the Houston Police Department. During that time, I graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Organizational Leadership through evening and online classes. I truly believe my work experience was instrumental in my academic determination and success. During those years, I was honored by the American Police Hall of Fame for my investigative work and elected Officer of the Year twice. After serving on Pasadena City Council, I was elected mayor in 2017 and reelected in 2021 with 80% of the vote.

What I like best about my public service is: Making a difference. Pasadena has always been a wonderful city to live in and raise a family, but there is so much untapped potential for progress. During my term as Mayor, I’ve made partnerships a priority by building strong relationships with organizations that share my vision for Pasadena and our residents. As a result, I’ve been honored by the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, The National Latino Peace Officers Association, The American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars. Pasadena was also recently recognized by Waterway Cleanup Services for our commitment to infrastructure improvements. It has also been extremely satisfying to see the economic growth in Pasadena, with a $2.6 billion capital investment increase in our local economy.

The best advice I’ve received is: When I was very young, a wise mentor once told me, “Do what’s right, although it might not always be what’s popular.” Those words have been so instrumental in my decision-making as a mayor. There will invariably be times when certain groups criticize you, but once the big picture is realized, truth always wins.

My favorite way to de-stress is: Exercise and time with my grandchildren!

People might be surprised to know that I: Every year on my birthday, I run a 7:30 mile.

One thing I wished more people knew about the city of Pasadena is: Pasadena’s landscape is as diverse as its residents. We are the second largest city in Harris County and our footprint stretches from the Houston Ship Channel/Industrial District all the way down to Galveston Bay. We even have our own beach pocket park.
The Texas Broadband Development Office (BDO) has released a plan to ensure that all Texas communities can enjoy the benefits of reliable broadband internet.

The BDO plan, called the Texas Broadband Plan 2022, highlights a set of principles that will guide broadband deployment across the state.

The plan establishes a “foundation for future federal and state funding” for statewide broadband implementation. It is still unknown exactly how much federal and state funding will become available, so the plan identifies broad objectives to achieve once the exact sums of broadband funding are announced. According to the BDO, guiding objectives include:
  • Extending connectivity to underserved areas
  • Coordinating connectivity work among schools, libraries, hospitals, healthcare services, public safety entities, institutions of higher education, community support organizations, and local governments
  • Ensuring the state remains technology-agnostic
  • Reducing barriers to residential, commercial, and institutional broadband deployment as an infrastructure investment

These objectives will determine which projects warrant most immediate funding. However, broadband deployment is likely to be a staple of local project pipelines for the foreseeable future, as findings from the plan indicate that 2.8 million Texas households still lack broadband access and 3.6 million households face challenges in affording service.

Release of the broadband plan now allows BDO to carry out several upcoming action items. The agency plans to request US Department of Treasury approval for a $500.5 million broadband grant program later this summer. Over the course of 2023, the BDO also expects to publish a state broadband availability map and a state digital equity plan—both of which will help guide broadband deployment throughout Texas. According to the BDO’s Texas Broadband Plan 2022, extending broadband connectivity to underserved areas will ultimately increase sales for businesses in rural Texas by an annual $6.7 billion while also improving quality of life for millions of Texans.
A citizen’s advisory committee in Lubbock recommend a $200 million bond to fund road improvements across the city.

If passed, the $200 million would fund 17 street reconstruction and expansion projects to improve major arterial streets throughout the city. The recommendation also included two neighborhood projects, reconstructing several unspecified roads in the Dunbar-Manhattan Heights neighborhood and paving unpaved streets in city Council districts one and two.

The citizens advisory committee was appointed in June to investigate last year’s $175 million bond package that voters rejected. The committee was tasked with recommending a plan to move forward with much-needed street repairs to the Lubbock City Council. Committee members feel that the projects covered in their recommendation are the most essential. The committee reported that while there was agreement that Broadway in downtown Lubbock needs to be fixed, the project poses unique challenges that need to be studied further.

If the city council accepts the advisory committee’s recommendation, the plan will be sent for voter approval as a single proposition on the Nov. 2022 ballot.
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has proposed elevating portions of Interstate 10 prone to flooding in Harris County. The project would cost approximately $347 million.

This stretch of highway become impassable during Hurricane Harvey and Tropical Storm Imelda.

TxDOT recommends that the main and HOV lanes be elevated above the White Oak Bayou flood plains to prevent flooding during future extreme weather. TxDOT would also need to add 0.559 acres right of the road on the north side of Houston Avenue to put a column to raise the road.

If given the green light, the project would start in the Summer of 2024 and include federal funding.
In the most recent in a series of development plans, officials presented new designs for downtown Waco's proposed $35 million riverwalk that will transform parts of downtown into an entertainment district, as well as making the riverwalk less susceptible to flooding and addressing the deterioration of the oldest parts of the riverwalk.

The proposed project would connect the Riverfront development, a future basketball arena, and the Texas Ranger Museum. The main goals for the project include:
  • Raising the existing rock elevation above the flood plain
  • Creating a park area for pedestrians
  • Connecting to the future site of a pedestrian bridge on Mary Avenue

The project is split into three phases, with phase one estimated to cost $18.8 million. The first phase includes a pedestrian path with a view of the river, a shaded overlook area, and an inlet with a bridge connecting the two banks of the inlet. Two restaurants will also be built between the outlook and the inlet. The rest of phase one includes greenery and a lawn for events.

City officials have expressed interest in including a place for motorboats and jet skis to dock along the new riverwalk. They have also asked to include a water feature thematically connected to Waco's history of natural springs. Construction on phase one is slated to start in March 2024.
The Bee Cave City Council has authorized staff to request applications for architectural firms to design and construct a new police station.

The estimated cost of the new facility is between $12 and $13 million.

An additional motion allows the city to request applications for a Construction Manager at Risk (CMAR). The CMAR will provide the new station's pre-construction, demolition, relocation, and construction services. The city elected to bring the CMAR on at the same time as an architectural firm in hopes of building the facility as efficiently and effectively as possible.

The new facility will be 17,600 square feet, with two stories. The building will house administrative offices, evidence processing and storage, records retention, holding for short-term detention of arrested individuals, an investigations area, interview and interrogation rooms, and more.

Funding for the new police station will come from the city's general fund, which will be reimbursed with bond funds. Officials expect the design process to take a year. However, construction can start before these designs are complete. The new police station is slated to be open within two years.

The project was first laid out in the city's $103.5 million capital improvement plan, approved in October 2021. The plan sets a roadmap for the city to complete major infrastructure improvements over the next five years.
Pearland will receive a minimum of $14.8 million in Hurricane Harvey response grant funds. These funds are distributed by the Houston-Galveston Area Council (H-GAC). They are part of the Texas General Land Office’s regional distribution of the Community Development Block Grant Mitigation program.

Although no specific projects have been sited, officials say the funds will be used for future mitigation projects after Hurricane Harvey brought historic flooding to Pearland.

Officials have stated that the $14.8 million is the minimum amount of funding Pearland will receive. The city could receive more funding from the program. One source for further funding could come from Harris County because portions of Pearland are within the county limits.
The city manager of Corpus Christi has presented a record-setting $1.4 billion Fiscal Year 2023 (FY 2023) Proposed Annual Operating and Capital budget. The budget focuses on public safety, streets, parks, and water.

The FY 2023 Budget maintains the city’s strong financial reserves while addressing the needs and concerns of the citizens. Some highlights from the proposed budget include:
  • $136.4 million in street maintenance and reconstruction
  • $195 million to rehabilitate and upgrade the O.N. Stevens Water Treatment Plant over the next three years
  • $148 million to replace and repair water lines citywide over the next three years
  • $157 million to repair, rehabilitate, and upgrade six Wastewater Treatment Plants over the next three years

Many other projects concerning police, fire, parks and recreation, economic development, health, waste, libraries, and more are included in the budget. The city will hold community public meetings in each district to receive feedback before the budget is approved.
A lifelong public servant, Dinah Massie served in many governmental positions in Texas. She has a wealth of experience in both state and local government. Her skill sets include emergency management, internal and external communication, transportation management and the responsibility of dealing with legislative issues.

Through her guidance, the Department of Transportation’s TranStar website was developed and designed to provide a real-time flood warning system that is now being expanded throughout the State of Texas. For this innovation, the TranStar system received the 2019 Emergency Management Technology & Innovation Award from the Emergency Management Association of Texas and an Innovation Award from the state’s Intelligent Transportation Society. Dinah was also recognized by the Houston Chapter of Women in Transportation organization.

Before her 16 years with TranStar, Dinah’s career took led her to the Harris County Hospital District where she was responsible for government relations and special programs. She also worked as chief of staff for the Harris County Judge’s Office.

Dinah obtained both her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and her Master of Public Administration degree at Texas State University. She will be a welcome addition to the Strategic Partnerships Team.
The U.S. Economic Development Administration has granted Dallas College an $8.8 million grant. This grand will be used to lead a workforce development program to train underrepresented populations in the growing biotechnology field.
 
This will help North Texas compete with other biotech hubs like the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill triangle. Collin College, Tarrant County College, and the University of Texas at Arlington are all partners in the effort to train new biotech workers. They will offer an introductory boot camp to train 800 workers for enter-level biotech jobs.
 
Seven major health care employers have agreed to hire a total of 1,100 entry-level workers. The Dallas-Fort Worth Hospital Council, Bio North Texas, and the Dallas Regional Chamber are all partners with the “Grow the Biotech Workforce in North Texas to Meet Emerging Skill Needs via a Collaborative Partnership.” The initiative is working to find additional employment partners in both health care and IT.
Danica Porter has been appointed the new city manager of Atlanta, TX by the City Council. She replaces David Cockrell who is retiring after 13 years effective in September. She is both the town’s first woman and first Black city manager. Porter has been employed with the city for 11 years.

In her new position Porter’s focus will be economic growth through growing the downtown area as well as working with the Atlanta City Development, and the business park. Porter also wants Atlanta to grow in terms of housing development and entertainment.
The city of West University Place is taking steps toward issuing $61.12 million in bonds as part of the fiscal year 2022-23 budget. The city has approved the publication of a Notice of Intention to Issue Certificates of Obligation (COs), a required step in issuing the new bond.

Many projects will use the funds from this bond, inducing waterline, road, and construction projects. Some notable projects include:
  • $17.34 million for the constitution of an elevated administrative building and upgrades for the city's wastewater treatment plant
  • $15.77 million for drainage improvements and street reconstruction across the city's east side
  • $12.43 million for a new 21,000 square foot public works maintenance facility to house the city's facilities, vehicle and parks maintenance, public works operations, general services, water, sewer, and solid waste
  • $8.18 million for the construction of new infrastructure that is capable of reusing nondrinking water

No vote is required to issue COs. However, if 5% of eligible voters petition the COs, the bond will become subject to an election.
The design for the Forest Lake Pool in Fort Worth is almost complete. The $11 million project includes demolishing the original Olympic-size pool and infrastructure and constructing new pool facilities.

The design for the revamped pool, which will retain an Olympic-sized swimming area includes:
  • Eight 50-meter swim lanes
  • Active water play elements
  • Interactive play area with a tube slide
  • Changing rooms

Funding for this project comes from the city's $560 million bond package that voters approved in May 2022. This project was part of the $125 million park proposition and was one of 36 projects in the proposition.

The project's Design Development Phase was completed in July, and the final design will be completed in October 2022. Once the design is completed, construction is estimated to start between January and February 2023. The pool will then open in May 2024.
The Lufkin City Council unanimously approved Kevin Gee to serve as the city manager. Gee has been serving as interim manager since February 2022 and had previously been assistant city manager of public works.

Gee has more than 25 years of experience with state and local governments. He joined the city of Lufkin in 2018 and filled the role of city engineer before being promoted to assistant city manager. Before working with Lufkin, Gee worked with many cities and counties across East Texas as a consultant engineer.

The city of Lufkin operates under the Council-Manager form of government, with all administrative responsibilities going to the city manager and legislative representatives going to the City Council.
Between July 29-August 4 Gov. Greg Abbott announced these appointments and reappointments from:

OneStar National
Service Commission
Verlene Dickson - Amarillo
Ashleigh Feuerbacher - Stephenville

Student Regent for Stephen
F. Austin State University
Paige Vadnais - Forney
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