Volume 17, Issue 27 - Friday, July 19, 2019 Optional Link
$600M in transportation projects slated for I-20 in Permian Basin
The Texas Transportation Commission (TTC) granted preliminary approval on July 15 to fund $600 million in transportation projects in the Permian Basin.

Of that amount, about $243 million will be directed to Interstate 20 from Odessa to Midland to reconstruct frontage roads, ramps, U-turns, and interchanges and convert frontage roads to one-way functions.

Additional I-20 improvements from the John Ben Sheppard interchange to West Loop 250, including a new interchange, will receive $104.9 million, and the Texas Department of Transportation Odessa District will collect TTC funds to complete a 31-mile section of I-20.

In May, the Permian Basin Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) Policy Board adopted a resolution to dedicate $25 million to I-20 upgrades, which the TTC will match at a $9.72 to $1 ratio.

Other area projects that will receive MPO funds are ramp reconfigurations at Loop 250 and SH 191 for $26.26 million and construction of new interchanges at County Road 1150-Elkins Road for $21.5 million, at CR 1140 at Loop 250 for $20.02 million, at CR 1250 for $19.84 million, at Loop 338 and Yukon Road for $19.2 million, and at U.S. 385 and N. Loop 338 in Odessa for $18.06 million.

MPO Executive Director Cameron Walker said he anticipates the TTC will approve the draft transportation project list for the entire state when it meets in August.
Denton committee mulls $210M bond
A citizens advisory committee is considering about $210 million in public safety and road projects for a potential city of Denton bond election.

Committee members have held several meetings this summer to review projects for two bond propositions to go before voters in November.
 
Approximately $70 million would fund street reconstruction, and the remainder of the bonds would pay for road expansions and public safety improvements.

The committee was set to meet July 18 to prepare its final project list recommendation to present to the City Council at its Aug. 1 meeting. Councilmembers have an August deadline to call the election for November.
Engineers put repair costs at $200M for Lake Dunlap dam, 5 others
Lake Dunlap dam
Residents along Lake Dunlap's shores are considering the formation of a new water district that would allow them to generate revenues to fund repairs to the lake's spillgate that failed in May.

The gate's failure caused the lake's water table to drop by 11,000 cubic feet per second to leave it drained in one day and many properties with muddy bottoms, unsupported docks, stranded boats, and exposed tree stumps. The 410-acre lake had a storage capacity of 5,900 acre feet.

Board members at the Guadalupe-Blanco River Authority (GBRA), which oversees Lake Dunlap, voted on July 17 to conduct additional engineering inspections at the lake to identify the cause and point of failure of the spillgate collapse and how to apply that information to gates at GBRA's other hydro dams at lakes McQueeney, Placid, Meadow, and Gonzales. GBRA also experienced a spillgate failure at Lake Wood in 2016. The six hydroelectric dams were built in the late 1920s and early 1930s, and are at the end of their useful life, according to a GBRA press release.

At a previous board meeting, GBRA General Manager Kevin Patteson informed the directors that the authority attempted to secure state and federal partners to contribute funds for system repairs, but no grants exist and GBRA does not have the budget to pay for the repairs or replacements that engineers estimated at $200 million total for all six dams.

Community leaders say that more than 100 property owners on Lake Dunlap back the creation of a water district that would levy taxes for 30 years based on feet of waterfront land owned, according to property assessments. Proposed rates would be $6 to $8 per foot.

The district's formation would require approval from the GBRA and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
Conroe reviews $108.5M budget for capital improvement projects
Oscar Johnson Jr. Community Center
City of Conroe councilmembers evaluated several proposed capital projects at a council budget retreat July 18 as part of the city's draft $218.8 million budget for fiscal year 2019-2020.

The draft budget includes $108.5 million for capital improvement projects.

Councilmembers discussed construction of a new Oscar Johnson Jr. Community Center before adding a $3.6 million budget item for engineering and design for the center. However, the city does not currently have the ability to fund construction of the estimated $50 million center.

They considered the possibility of a bond election for various capital improvement projects, including the community center and a proposed fire training facility, but decided to seek alternate funding sources.

The council is set to adopt the budget and property tax rate in August.
Travis County Commissioners Court
Travis County commissioners approved the county's first Transportation Blueprint on July 16 to map its transportation infrastructure projects through 2045.

Feedback gathered by the county's Department of Transportation and Natural Resources in a public survey revealed a desire for improved traffic management. Using the survey data, commissioners focused on projects that alleviate congestion and increase mobility.

Some projects include improving Interstate 35, constructing a proposed CapMetro commuter train line between downtown Austin and the city of Manor, and widening Quinlan Park Road in Steiner Ranch.

County officials are set to update the blueprint every five years, but amendments may be made as necessary.
Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars
Jennifer Jones, Executive Director, Texas Sunset Advisory Commission

Jennifer Jones
Career highlights and education: I was lucky enough to grow up in Austin and never had a reason to leave. I earned my bachelor's degree in English from The University of Texas at Austin and master of public administration (MPA) from Southwest Texas State University (now Texas State University).

Both of my parents were true public servants and instilled that spirit and work ethic in me as well.  I first started working for the Texas Legislature as a Senate Messenger in 1990 and fell in love with the institution. Next, I worked at the Texas Legislative Reference Library, expanding my knowledge about and experience with the Legislature. Then, in 1993, I began my career at the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission. I was first hired as part of the Sunset administrative team, answering phones at the front desk and working on special projects. When I received my MPA, I became a policy analyst and never looked back, working my way up to deputy director and being chosen as executive drector this May.
 
What I like best about my public service: Working for the Legislature is an honor and a privilege, but having the opportunity to make the lives of Texans better by improving the way our state government works is truly rewarding. Having one of your recommendations adopted by the Sunset Commission and the Legislature, and then seeing the positive impact it has once implemented is one of the best things about working at Sunset. 

The best advice I have received for my current job: Do your job, but don't be afraid to do it boldly.

Advice you would give a new hire in your office: Ask questions and take initiative. Also, be respectful and considerate to everyone, from the receptionist to the executive director, because you never know who might end up where - just look at me!
 
If I ever had the opportunity to leave work early, I could probably be found: Picnicking in the Brush Square park courtyard with my husband and our rescue terrier, Bailey, watching the hustle and bustle of downtown Austin go by. However, if it's a Friday, you would probably find us at the family lake house on Lake LBJ. 

People would be surprised to know that I: Will eventually be buried in a tomb in one of the most famous and most haunted cemeteries in the world, St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 in New Orleans.

One thing I wish more people knew about the Texas Sunset Advisory Commission: How smart, hard working and amazing our small, but mighty staff is! Every two years, our 27 incredible employees perform top-to-bottom management reviews of 20 to 30 state agencies - from the largest to the smallest - and make hundreds of recommendations that streamline and improve their operations while enhancing services to the citizens of Texas. Also, while most agencies are not excited about going through a Sunset review, it provides a unique opportunity and a powerful incentive for the Legislature, stakeholders, and the agencies themselves to make improvements to how the agency works. Many times we find the agency needs and wants these changes, but has not had the ability to prioritize them or get them implemented by the Legislature. Sunset provides this opportunity.
Hidalgo County commissioners fund flood projects with $82M bond sale  
Hidalgo County commissioners recently authorized the sale of $82 million in bonds for Hidalgo County Drainage District No. 1 as part of a $190 million bond voters approved last year for 38 drainage projects.

The county has been hit hard by flooding in 2018 and 2019. The projects will positively affect more than 69,000 structures in the county and help preserve $5.5 billion in property values.

Some of the various drain, channel, culvert, and detention projects from the 2018 bond package are:
  • Raymondsville Drain - $15 million;
  • Mile 11 N & FM 1015 - $14.72 million;
  • South Lateral Drain - $13.35 million;
  • Mission Lateral - $12.78 million;
  • Mile 9 N & FM 1015 - $10.65 million;
  • Mile 11 N & Texas Boulevard - $10.62 million;
  • Southwest Weslaco - $10.5 million; and,
  • Delta Regional Reservoir - $10 million.
County officials hope to have all projects under construction by the end of 2020.
Disaster declaration granted to trio of Rio Grande Valley counties
Gov. Greg Abbott announced on July 17 that a federal disaster declaration has been granted for Cameron, Hidalgo, and Willacy counties in the flood-stricken Rio Grande Valley.

The declaration allows for Individual Assistance (IA) up to $34,000 per household from the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) for damages sustained during severe weather in late June.

Abbott sent a letter to President Trump on July 10 requesting the declaration.
Pflugerville planning to relocate city hall to downtown location for $50M
Pflugerville City Hall
Pflugerville councilmembers recently adopted a resolution to relocate City Hall operations to the city's downtown. The current City Hall was built in 1991, but a needs assessment identified a 20,000-square-foot dearth of municipal space for city staff last year.

City staff will research specific locations and prepare land purchase recommendations, including possible bond funding and potential public-private partnership opportunities. In their resolution, councilmembers estimated the cost at $50 million.

A 2008 bond election included three proposed facilities - a library, city hall, and recreation facility - with only the library passing.
Denison ISD committee proposing $22M in school expansion projects
Denison ISD board members are set to decide at their July 30 meeting whether to move forward on calling a $20 million to $22 million bond referendum in November.

The potential bond monies would fund construction and renovations at Mayes Elementary School for $10.6 million and Hyde Park Elementary School for $10.25 million. The cafeterias at both schools would be enlarged, and Mayes' parking lot would be expanded. The proposed bond would fund 10 additional classrooms, extra space for a media center, and a parking renovation at the Hyde Park campus.

The district's superintendent said an advisory committee determined that expanding existing schools was preferred to purchasing land and hiring additional staff for a new campus.
Agriculture departments partner for UTSA's Texas Rural Challenge
Texas Rural Challenge signing
The Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development officials recently committed their agencies' support to The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) Texas Rural Challenge.

UTSA's Institute for Economic Development manages the program that strives to connect rural leaders with local, state, and federal resources to create opportunities for economic growth.

Sid Miller, TDA commissioner, and Edd Hargett, state director for USDA Rural Development, established the partnership that will foster innovation clusters and financing opportunities in rural areas.

The partners also will identify prospects to deliver programs and methods to increase tax cut benefits and provide tools to help rural small businesses export products around the world.

USDA Rural Development provided $45.5 million in grants to Texas last year.
West Lake Hills pushes bond election for municipal complex to May 2020
West Lake Hills councilmembers voted on July 10 to push a potential bond election for a new municipal complex, drainage improvements, and road construction to May 2020.

The City Council was considering a bond election for November 2019, but a prolonged facility needs assessment contributed to their decision to delay a bond referendum until next year.

Architects presented a concept of a new municipal complex to City Council at its July 10 meeting that proposed 18,110 square feet for new buildings including 10,768 square feet for city administration, 6,712 for police operations, and 630 square feet for support structures. Cost estimates for the new municipal complex are $10.78 million.

Drainage and road safety upgrades to Westlake and Terrace Mountain drives, Camp Craft and Laurel Valley roads, and Red Bud Trail are expected to cost $10.25 million.

City officials appointed a four-person citizen bond advisory committee in June, but that body has yet to make an official recommendation to City Council on proposed bond projects.
Brock ISD committee recommends $21M in school, technology upgrades
Brock High School
A Citizen's Advisory Committee at Brock ISD recommended $21.36 million in improvements to district facilities and services at a Board of Trustees meeting July 15.

Upgrades to Brock High School, Brock Junior High School, and a $1 million contingency were some of the committee's suggestions. Also included were security improvements at all campuses, purchase of five new school buses, and technology enhancements.

About $10.16 million would go toward the addition of classrooms at the high school, including space for career and technology programming, and construction of a new lab at the district's agricultural building for welding and fabrication classes. These projects would be targeted for completion by fall 2022.

The junior high school would get $9.5 million in improvements, including additional classrooms and a new gym. District officials anticipate these projects would be complete by fall 2021.

Trustees have until August to call a bond election in November.
Texas A&M forges transportation alliance with Greek universities
Officials at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) signed an agreement earlier this month with two Greek universities to jointly collaborate in advancing transportation research, technology transfer, and education to enhance mobility.

The Hellenic Institute of Transport (HIT) at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and the National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) welcomed a TTI delegation of Agency Director Greg Winfree, Senior Research Engineer and Mobility Division Head Bill Eisele, and TTI Mexico City Office Director and Research Scientist Juan Villa to sign the memoranda of understanding and participate in a summer school hosted by both universities.

The school was targeted to international postgraduate students, graduate students, and young researchers in Greece pursuing careers in digital supply chain management or who are showing interest in innovative research and trends in the supply chain and logistics fields.

In addition to supply chain and logistics research, the TTI and HIT partnership would allow for joint research into intelligent transportation systems, big data analytics, sustainable urban mobility, autonomous vehicle applications, and other topics.

NTUA and TTI's agreement focuses on collaboration in connected and automated mobility, ports, railways, safety, pavement engineering, and related transportation issues and opportunities.

The new relationships could lead to joint efforts on conference presentations and papers, academic and professional training programs, and faculty, researcher, and student exchanges.
EVENTS CALENDAR
P3 Airport Summit
July 22 & 23 / San Diego, California
The P3 Airport Summit returns July 22-23, 2019 in San Diego at the Manchester Grand Hyatt. With over 1,000 participating delegates, the Summit is attended by owners, operators, airlines, state and local infrastructure leaders, and public-private partnership (P3) experts.

This year's program explores many recent examples of P3 airport transactions in the United States, airport infrastructure issues faced nationwide, use of innovations in project delivery, procurement, life-cycle asset management, technology as solutions for pressing issues, and more.
 
The P3 Airport Summit is one of the largest gatherings of airport and industry development professionals in the country. With more than 125-plus speakers addressing the critical principles behind successful public-private partnerships, the program will serve as a guide to the current trends, challenges, and opportunities in the P3 aviation market.
 
Check out our social media links!





By Mary Scott Nabers, CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc.

City leaders throughout the U.S. have made commitments to renewable energy. Most have aggressive goals and plans to rely completely on renewable power sources by a specific year. Community leaders who are not pushing for clean energy sources are out of step with their counterparts. This is because municipal officials are among the strongest advocates for clean air and commitments toward sustainability.

The trend is more than robust - it is the future, and companies with services in this area are in high demand. All kinds of options may be considered, but companies prepared to deliver clean, renewable power as well as provide storage or transmission capabilities often offer the most attractive options.

The city of Keene in New Hampshire will be reaching out to private-sector partners interested in collaborating on renewable energy solutions. Councilmembers have approved the hiring of consulting services for assistance in drafting a plan to help the city achieve its goals. Once hired, the consulting group will assist in developing solicitation documents for an energy partner. There is no definite plan yet, but the hope is to find a private-sector partner capable of delivering a solar array or a power purchase agreement of some sort. City leaders say they are prepared for a multi-million dollar effort. A stated goal has the city relying completely on renewable sources for municipal and residential electricity by 2030.

The governor of Maine recently signed a new law that requires Maine Public Utilities (MPU) to solicit partners for pilot projects related to electrifying transportation in the state. Private-sector firms will be asked to collaborate with the utility. MPU officials hope to have a number of proposals in hand early in 2020.

Check out this article from our Pipeline newsletter!



San Antonio selects Bridger as assistant city manager
Colleen Bridger
Colleen Bridger was appointed as a permanent assistant city manager of the city of San Antonio on July 16.

The city's former director of the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District had been serving in an interim capacity for four months.

She will maintain oversight of the Metropolitan Health District, Office of Equity, Department of Human Services, and Parks and Recreation Department.

Prior to joining the city in 2017, Bridger was director of Orange County, Stokes County, and Gaston County, health departments in North Carolina and executive director for a school research and advocacy nonprofit in South Carolina.

Jennifer Herriott is serving as interim director of the health district while the city conducts a nationwide search for a full-time director.
Byerly named public works director at city of Carrollton
Jody Byerly
The city of Carrollton named Jody Byerly as its new director of public works. Byerly has been serving as interim public works director since March.

He has worked in multiple positions with the city since 1996, including as water quality production supervisor, maintenance supervisor, water utilities division manager, and public works manager.

Byerly is a graduate of the Carrollton Leadership Academy and Public Works Institute of Texas. He also serves on the city's Water Conservation Committee and Managed Competition Competitive Readiness Team.
DART taps Koloc as VP of internal audit
Chris Koloc
Chris Koloc has been chosen as Dallas Area Rapid Transit's (DART) new vice president of internal audit.

In his role, Koloc will manage and review all audit functions, including operational audits, IT outsourced audits, incurred cost audits of contractors and proactive work.

Koloc, a 30-year veteran of the banking, professional services and transportation industries, served most recently as the assistant vice president of internal audit at DART and oversaw complex performance and financial-related audits for the agency.

Prior to joining DART, he worked as a manager within a Dallas-based airline company's internal audit department and in various audit and finance positions in the private sector.

Koloc is a certified CPA and is affiliated with the American Institute of Public Accountants, as well as the Institute of Internal Auditors.
Adams set for move to Azle ISD finance
Matt Adams
Matt Adams, superintendent at Peaster ISD for 10 years, has accepted a position as finance director with Azle ISD.

Adams announced his resignation from Peaster on July 15.

Peaster officials said they are seeking an interim superintendent as the district's board of trustees begins its search for a permanent superintendent candidate. Adams said he will assist PISD during the transition.


Dallas mayor named vice chair for transit
Eric Johnson
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson was appointed vice chair for transit of the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) Transportation and Communications Standing Committee. The appointment was made by Conference President Bryan Barnett of Rochester Hills, Michigan.

USCM is the official non-partisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are 1,408 such cities in the country today. Each city is represented in the conference by its chief elected official, the mayor. Mayors collectively work through the conference's standing committees to adopt policy resolutions.

During each annual conference in June, standing committees recommend policy positions they believe should be adopted by the organization. The policy resolutions adopted by the conference represent the views of the nation's mayors and are distributed to the President of the United States and Congress. The USCM Transportation & Communications Standing Committee is chaired by Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere.
Nabers to speak at P3 Airport Summit

Mary Scott Nabers, president and CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc., will be a speaker at the P3 Airport Summit on July 22 and 23 in San Diego.

More than 1,000 owners, operators, airlines, state and local infrastructure leaders, and public-private partnership (P3) experts attend the annual conference.

Nabers will lead sessions on "Why Do an Airport P3?: Building the Business Case to Achieve Benefits for Airports" and "Picking the Right Advisors and Partners for your P3."
Brownsville joins new initiative to fuel space industry

A new initiative in Brownsville is planning to capitalize on the future of the commercial space industry in the city with the July 11 grand opening of nonprofit Expanding Frontiers at the Pan-American building at the Brownsville-South Padre Island International Airport.

The city of Brownsville is partnering with founder Dr. Fredrick Jenet, Brownsville ISD, and Brownsville Community Improvement Corporation to launch the nonprofit formed with the mission of creating entrepreneurs that service the space commercial industry and encouraging employment opportunities for the community, region, country, and U.S. space and technology sectors. A commercial space company's launch site is 23 miles from the city that has a rich aviation history.

Jenet is an astrophysicist, researcher, and associate professor at The University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley where he oversees STARGATE, a research center that develops new radio frequency-based (RF) technologies for academic and commercial applications. It includes a business incubator for electronics and RF technology companies.


RECENT REPORTS & DATA
Southeast Texas Economic Development Foundation - 2019 Economic Report

Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas - Eleventh District Beige Book

U.S. Government Accountability Office - Army Futures Command Should Take Steps to Improve Small Business Engagement for Research and Development

Congressional Budget Office - Monthly Budget Review - June 2019

U.S. Census Bureau - Business Formation Statistics 
JOB BOARD
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 Department of Information Resources - Systems Analyst V
  • Texas Real Estate Commission - Legal Assistant III - Standards & Enforcement Services (TREC)
  • Texas Real Estate Commission - Legal Assistant II - Standards & Enforcement Services (TALCB)
  • Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts - CPA - Research Analyst
  • Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts - CPA - Program Specialist II
  • Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts - CPA - Supervisor, Statewide Fiscal Cyber Security
  • Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts - CPA - Human Resources Staffing and Classification Specialist


View our Texas Government Insider and Government Contracting Pipeline newsletter archives

Texas Government Insider is a free weekly newsletter detailing important happenings throughout the state and summarizing current political issues relevant to individuals interested in government.   
Publisher: Mary Scott Nabers
Editor: Devin Monk 
TGI is published by Strategic Partnerships, Inc. (SPI), a research and consulting firm. Founded in Texas in 1995 by former government executives and public sector experts, SPI has developed a national reputation as the premier marketing partner dedicated to helping companies secure contracts in the $1.5 trillion state and local government marketplace.   
To learn more about SPI services, click here or contact our sales department at 512-531-3900. 
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