Volume 17, Issue 46 - Friday, December 6, 2019
HUD awards $212M in disaster recovery grants to Texas for 2018, 2019 storms
Tropical Storm Imelda flooding
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) awarded the state of Texas more than $212 million in grants on December 3 to assist with long-term disaster recovery efforts stemming from Tropical Storm Imelda and other severe storms and flooding in 2019.

HUD also allocated $26.51 to Texas for recovery efforts in Cameron, Hidalgo, and Jim Wells counties that suffered damages during summer 2018 flooding.

Funding will come from HUD's Community Development Block Grant - Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) Program that will direct $2.3 billion to 15 states and several United States territories recovering from damages to housing, business, and infrastructure projects since 2017.

HUD officials said they will issue administrative guidelines shortly for use of the funds to address grantees' long-term recovery needs, especially in the area of housing recovery.
GAO map of nonfederal Superfund sites
A new report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that 60 percent of the nation's Superfund sites - and 67 percent in Texas - are in areas vulnerable to damage caused by natural hazards that may be exacerbated by climate change.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is charged with overseeing the Superfund federal program that addresses nonfederal National Priorities List (NPL) sites containing hazardous substances.

Climate change may make some natural disasters more frequent or more intense, which may damage NPL sites and potentially release contaminants, according to the U.S. Global Change Research Program's Fourth National Climate Assessment.

Twenty-four sites with hazardous substances are in the Houston area, according to GAO data. Fourteen of these would be endangered by a Category 4 or 5 hurricane, 13 by floods, seven by rising sea levels, and one by wildfires.

GAO officials reported the EPA has acted to manage risks at these sites, but they recommended that the agency provide direction on integrating climate information into site-level decision making "to ensure long-term protection of human health and the environment."
Bryan ISD weighs $175M bond election
A bond steering committee recommended a $175 million bond package to Bryan ISD school board members for a May 2020 election at a December 2 board workshop.

Committee members divided their recommendations into categories for safety and security, construction, life-cycle deficiencies and facility improvements, district fine arts, and land acquisitions.

Construction would constitute the bulk of the bond package at $98.4 million to build a new intermediate school to alleviate overcrowding at the district's two intermediate schools, upgrade the SFA Middle School annex, and add classrooms at Rudder High School.

Other construction projects would rebuild transportation and maintenance auxiliary facilities, expand parking lots, and install a shade structure over the Bryan High School courtyard.

The recommendation also addresses districtwide facility needs such as roof replacements and upgrades to heating and air conditioning, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems, accessibility improvements, and sidewalk and parking lot upgrades.

More than $8.5 million in safety and security improvements includes installing Merrill Green Stadium fencing, replacing buses, upgrading public address and fire alarm systems, building playground shade structures, and installing lighting features.

If approved by the board, the bond also would include $2.45 million for fine arts to improve and repair facilities, upgrade sound equipment, and purchase new instruments.

The bond would be the second part of a two-part "2 bonds, 1 vision" campaign that began with a successful $12 million bond in May 2019.
The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts recently transferred $3.3 billion into The State Highway Fund and the Economic Stabilization Fund (ESF), also known as the "Rainy Day Fund."

Comptroller Glenn Hegar said each fund received a $1.66 billion transfer amount, based on crude oil and natural gas production tax revenues.

The new ESF balance will be about $11.45 billion, not accounting for currently outstanding spending authority of approximately $3.74 billion. The balance in the ESF will change as agencies spend this remaining appropriation authority and investment earnings are collected.

The Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 69 that allows the comptroller's office to grow the ESF by moving up to 75 percent of the Rainy Day Fund into higher-yield investments.
Texarkana plans I-30, airport expansions
Interstate 30 in Texarkana
Highway projects in Texas have been abundant over the past several years as population in Texas steadily grows. In Texarkana, population increased 9.3 percent over the last nine years. 

Expansion plans are in the works to turn portions of Interstate 30 in the area into six lanes. 
 
The roads in the area are reaching their 60-year lifespan, so the expansion will ideally tackle two issues at once: relieving anticipated traffic congestion and improving road conditions as periodically required.

With the city's growth in mind, change is also coming to Texarkana Regional Airport over the next several years, with the addition of a new terminal and a flight training school. The new terminal will be located next to the Airport Rescue and Firefighting station, and will also require a new taxiway, which will be built in two sections. Construction on the south side began this year, while the shorter taxiway on the north side will be built at a later time.

The majority of the funding will come from the federal level, and a process to secure additional funding has been initiated.
Strategic Partnerships salutes Texas' Lone Stars
Mark Israelson, City Manager, City of Plano

Mark Israelson
Career Highlights and Education: I have a bachelor's degree and a Master of Public Administration from the University of North Texas. I joined the City of Plano in 1999 as a Budget Analyst and have held positions as assistant to the city manager, director of customer and utility services, director of policy and government relations, and assistant city manager. A unique assignment came in the spring of 2015 when the city of Plano loaned me to the city of Kilgore to serve as interim city manager. In 2016, I was appointed Plano's deputy city manager and senior deputy city manager in 2018. My most recent highlight was being appointed as city manager for the city of Plano on May 1.

What I like best about my public service is: Each day has new opportunities for our organization to thrive and do something great for our community. It's a great honor to carry on Plano's legacy of excellence that I inherited from the great leaders who made Plano what it is today.

The best advice I've received for my current job is: Take time to listen and always be respectful. Trust your team. Conduct yourself with professionalism and ethics. And don't forget to have fun.

Advice you would give a new hire in your office: Listen, learn, and show initiative. We are a team and each member brings unique talents that make the team stronger.

If I had the opportunity to leave work early, I could probably be found: Working out, running, or going to see a movie with my wife. Regular exercise helps me to destress and stay physically and mentally sharp.

People would be surprised to know that IAm a big fan of the Marvel Comic movies that have been released over the past 10 years.

One thing I wish more people knew about the City of Plano is: The reason Plano is known as a world class City is because of our employees. Our team is committed to SERVE (Stewardship, Engagement, Respect, Visionary, and Excellence) our community. Each employee embodies our values which results in Plano being an incredible place to live and work.
Allen OKs study for recreation center
Rendering of proposed Allen recreation center
The city of Allen approved a feasibility study for an estimated $54 million 149,000-square-foot recreation center to open in spring 2023 on Exchange Parkway.

Based on public feedback, the City Council is prioritizing features for the center that include two gymnasiums, indoor play spaces, indoor walking and jogging track, and group fitness areas.

City leaders also would like the facility to have additional classrooms and party rooms, children's watch area, a catering kitchen, cafe, and outdoor fitness deck. Additional amenities could include a trail system connecting to neighborhoods and existing city trails. 

Allen councilmembers are planning to hire architects and engineers to design the new center with an initial phase and site concept plan that allow for future expansions.
Robinson creates TIRZ to lure business
Robinson TIRZ boundaries
Robinson councilmembers created a new Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone (TIRZ) on December 4 to spur development in the city.

Leaders are projecting the TIRZ could generate up to $80 million in public improvements within 35 years. The city developed the zone, which contains sections of Interstate 35, Loop 340, and Highway 77, to compete with cities such as Waco that has had a TIRZ since 1982.

Robinson's zone will collect 75 percent of city tax revenue generated from new development for a fund that pays for public improvements within its boundaries.

The TIRZ also will enable the city to award grants to reimburse developers for building public infrastructure such as roads and utility lines to support their projects.
Humble ISD designing flood gate system to protect Kingwood HS from disasters
Photo illustration of flood gates
Humble ISD (HISD) is moving forward on plans to build a $28 million flood gate system to protect Kingwood High School after receiving a $25 million grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Kingwood High School suffered $63 million in damages from Hurricane Harvey. During the restoration, students and staff shared a campus with another high school in the district for most of the 2017-2018 school year.

District leaders have been working with FEMA to develop a flood protection plan for the campus. Architects presented a concept to HISD school board members last month that features installing flood gates, which float up without electricity, at school entrances, waterproofing exterior walls, and adding new backflow preventers.

HISD plans to select a general contractor and engineer for the project in the spring semester to refine the mitigation plan over six to eight months. Construction is scheduled to begin in winter 2020 with completion targeted for 2022.
FTA awards $20M for bus improvements
The Federal Transit Authority (FTA) will award more than $20 million in grants to Texas transit authorities as part of $423 million in grants funding to improve mobility for transit riders and enhance safety and reliability of bus systems in the country.

The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and the Corpus Christi Regional Transportation Authority (CCRTA) will receive $13.81 million and $7.23 million, respectively.
 
TxDOT will receive funding on behalf of rural transit providers throughout the state to replace transit vehicles that have exceeded their useful life. The grant also will fund new and rehabilitated maintenance and other facilities, enabling the rural transit providers to improve safety and efficiency and meet growing demand for service.

CCRTA will use the funds to rehabilitate and build bus transfer stations and reconstruct a bus maintenance facility parking lot. The project will allow the transportation authority to improve safety for passengers and employees, comply with Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, and serve a growing population.
Lee College Board of Regents
Lee College Board of Regents laid the groundwork for a new campus in southern Liberty County with the annexation of 36 acres in Mont Belvieu on November 21.

A private landowner petitioned the college to annex the property near FM 565 Road into the Lee College Taxing District.

College leaders pointed to proposed housing developments in the area as the catalyst for the college's plans to expand with a possible bond referendum on the horizon.
Denton County Courthouse Square
Texas boasts seven of the top 20 cities on a new list of boomtowns in the United States released December 3.

Three cities - Denton, New Braunfels, and Round Rock - made the top 10 of the list which a private company developed by analyzing 500 cities across the country over a five-year period.

The rankings are based on population change, unemployment rate, change in unemployment rate, GDP growth rate, business growth, housing growth, and change in household income.

An 8 percent population surge from 2014 to 2018 earned Denton second place behind Longmont, Colorado. The North Texas city's five-year business and housing growth also contributed to its status.

New Braunfels' 30 percent population increase and 41 percent rise in housing units from 2014 to 2018 earned it a sixth-place ranking, and Round Rock claimed 10th place with a 14.52 percent rise in population and average yearly GDP growth of 5 percent from 2013 to 2017.

Austin, Frisco, and McKinney claimed 12th, 13th, and 14th place, respectively, with College Station coming in at 16th.
Illustration of proposed direct connectors
Fort Bend County Commissioners unanimously approved a joint agreement on November 26 to build direct connector roadways from Westpark Tollway to Grand Parkway.

The county will partner with the Fort Bend County Toll Road Authority, Fort Bend Grand Parkway Toll Road Authority, and two county assistance districts on the $46.5 million project.

More than $10 million in sales tax revenue will come from the county assistance districts and Fort Bend County Emergency Services District No. 100.

The toll road authorities will fund the remainder of the project and direct the design and construction which will include building one lane with shoulders. Construction is scheduled to start in 2020 with a 30-month timeline.
Groves EDC funds design for fire station
Groves Fire Department
The city of Groves Economic Development Corporation (EDC) approved the use of EDC funds for the preliminary design of a new city fire station.

Groves' current fire station was built in 1955 and is too small for the fire department's operational needs. Maintenance costs also are a concern.

Plans for the new station call for bay space to house up to eight vehicles, larger doors, upgraded technology, and office and living space.
 
The city plans to build the new station on land it purchased five years ago. The design phase is expected to be less than 12 months and construction start is scheduled within the next 18 to 24 months.
Harlingen developing 'super park'
Lon C. Hill Park
The city of Harlingen is starting work on a five-phase "super park" that will ultimately feature game courts, an amphitheater, and a sports field.

More than $2.5 million in funding by the Harlingen Community Improvement Board served as the catalyst to transform the 73-acre Lon C. Hill Park into a destination park. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department also awarded the city a $1 million grant for the project.

City commissioners recently broke ground on the $3.3 million first phase as Harlingen develops what will be an estimated $8.5 million project.

Additional phases, which will be bid in the future, also include proposed amenities such as an adaptive field for special needs children, a children's discovery center, and a dog park. A $1.2 million retractable roof for Harlingen Field is part of the city's plans for the fifth phase.
Aledo council approves feasibility study for wastewater treatment plant project
Aledo wastewater treatment plant
Aledo councilmembers unanimously approved a feasibility study to begin a wastewater treatment plant expansion process.

According to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, once a plant reaches 90 percent capacity, construction for an expansion is mandatory. The plant is quickly approaching 75 percent of its 0.6 million gallon per day capacity. It has exceeded that percentage multiple times in two years.

The study will focus on design, determine cost, identify opportunities for funding, and develop a schedule for the project so the construction date will be met before the 90 percent capacity has been reached.
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Calendar of Events
Public-Private Partnership Conference & Expo early registration closing soon
March 2-4, 2020 / Dallas, Texas
The Public-Private Partnership (P3) Conference & Expo unites leaders from states and localities, higher education institutions, and public agencies, with industry to discuss infrastructure challenges faced nationwide; and how innovations in project delivery, procurement, life cycle asset management, and technology can help solve critical issues.

Join us at the Sheraton Dallas Hotel, 400 N. Olive St., for the year's biggest P3 event as we explore the future of public infrastructure and advancements in the P3 model. Over 150 presenters will discuss active and upcoming projects, sharing key insights for leveraging private sector resources for public infrastructure.

Our 2020 program will present a series of keynotes, case studies, panels, workshops, and diverse networking opportunities designed for attendees to deepen their understanding on the value proposition of P3s, and the role they can play in the delivery of essential public infrastructure.

Connect with over 1,350 participating delegates from around the world for in-depth learning, business development, and networking opportunities with an elite mix of owners, developers, contractors, and service providers engaged in public-private partnerships.

The P3 Conference is designed for all levels in the market including those beginning to explore P3s and seeking to better understand where alternative and accelerated project delivery methods can be applicable.

Early registration ends December 13, so sign up today to save $300!

Most citizens appreciate parks, and many are regular visitors. However, the public at large rarely contemplates the economic impact of parks. And, too many companies overlook hundreds of contracting opportunities associated with parks.

Parks are responsible for billions in annual economic activity. In 2018, community volunteers contributed 15.9 million hours improving local parks. Government agencies spent $7.1 billion on parks and other recreational spaces.

So ... contractors do not overlook parks in 2020. Cities throughout the country will be redeveloping existing parks and building hundreds of new ones. Here are just a few examples of what to expect in the coming year.

Texas
The city of Mansfield Parks and Recreation Department's 10-year master plan includes 138 acres of land for a new park. City leaders purchased the property for $4.3 million and have great expectations for the site. It will be larger than any others in the area. An advisory committee is scheduled to present research, data, and recommendations that resulted from community meetings to city officials early in 2020. Companies interested in potentially developing the new park should be talking to public officials now.



Moore joins SPI consulting team
Joe Moore
Strategic Partnerships Inc. (SPI) is pleased to announce the addition of Joe Moore as an external consultant.

Moore possesses more than 40 years of municipal experience, including 28 years as a Chicago City Council alderman. He also will lend his political, legal, and procurement experience to the SPI team. Before joining the City Council, he served seven years as an attorney in the city.

In addition to the unique insights into government he gleaned from his longtime service with the National League of Cities, Moore also excels in developing strategies, building coalitions, and presenting to government officials.
Trump taps Marbut as homelessness council director
Robert Marbut Jr.
President Trump named Robert Marbut Jr., the former president of a San Antonio homeless shelter, to lead the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.

Marbut also served as a campaign manager and chief of staff for San Antonio Mayor Henry Cisneros, a two-term councilmember, and government professor at Northwest Vista College. He also has taught at Texas State University and The University of Texas at San Antonio.

He served on the OneStar National Service Commission Board and founded the San Antonio Sports Foundation.

In 2006, Marbut was named founding president of Haven for Hope of Bexar County. Since then, he has consulted with several cities on homelessness.
 

Haltom City selects Phelps as manager
Rex Phelps
Haltom City Deputy City Manager Rex Phelps will take the reins from retiring City Manager Keith Lane next year.

Lane, who joined Haltom City in 2009 as its police chief, will retire January 31, 2020, and Phelps will take over as city manager on February 1.

Phelps previously served as police chief and assistant city manager for the city of Brenham.
Gov. taps Campbell, Torn for higher ed board positions
Gov. Greg Abbott appointed Cody Campbell of Fort Worth and Sam Torn of Houston to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board on November 25.

Cody Campbell
Campbell, whose term will expire August 31, 2023, is co-founder and co-chief executive officer of a private energy and development firm. He also played offensive guard for the Indianapolis Colts.

Sam Torn
Torn, whose term will expire August 31, 2025, is the developer, owner, and operator of a youth camp and executive director of another youth camp.


Joshua appoints new city secretary
Alice Holloway
Joshua City Council recently named Alice Holloway as city secretary during a special called meeting in November. She takes over for Lisa Cabrera.

Holloway has served in municipal government for 29 years, including 10 years with Dallas County and eight years as the city secretary of Pilot Point.

She is a registered Texas Municipal Clerk and holds certifications with the International Municipal Clerks Association.
Brownfield names Davis city manager
Jeff Davis
The Brownfield City Council appointed Jeff Davis as city manager on December 5. 
Davis has been serving as interim city manager since early November. He succeeds Eldon Jobe.

Previously, Davis served as Brownfield's assistant city manager and superintendent of its electric department.

Councilmembers also named Kelly Burris as assistant city manager. Burris previously served as city secretary.


Grandjean named superintendent finalist in Devine
Todd Grandjean
The Devine ISD board of trustees appointed Dr. Todd Grandjean as the lone finalist for superintendent at the special called meeting December 3.

Grandjean has served as superintendent of Moulton ISD for the last five years.

After a mandatory 21-day waiting period, he will succeed Scott Sostarich who announced his retirement effective the end of January 2020.
Fort Worth names Kraus police chief
Ed Kraus
Fort Worth City Manager David Cooke announced Ed Kraus as the city's permanent police chief on December 5. Kraus had been serving in an interim capacity since May.

He has served in executive roles as deputy chief over the Investigative and Support Command, assistant chief over the Support Bureau, and executive assistant chief over the Patrol Bureau.


GOVERNOR'S APPOINTMENTS
Gov. Greg Abbott has announced these appointments/reappointments from November 29-December 5:

Janis Holt - Silsbee, State Commission on Judicial Conduct 

James Bradbury - Austin, Texas Farm and Ranch Lands Conservation Council (reappointed)

Abby Frank - Brenham, Texas Farm and Ranch Lands Conservation Council (reappointed)

Christopher Zook - Houston, State Pension Review Board

Christy McClendon - Lubbock, Governor's University Research Initiative Advisory Board

Daniel Feehan - Fort Worth, University of North Texas (UNT) System Board of Regents

John Scott Jr. - Keller, UNT System Board of Regents

Linda Kinney - Comfort, Judicial Compensation Commission

Jody Goehring - Austin, Product Development and Small Business Incubator (PDSBI) Board (reappointed)

David Margrave - San Antonio, PDSBI Board (reappointed)

Hayden Padgett - Plano, PDSBI

Kimberly Gramm - Lubbock, PDSBI

Matthew Ferrara - Austin, Texas Crime Victims' Institute Advisory Council

Jan Langbein - Dallas, Texas Crime Victims' Institute Advisory Council

Lynn Gravley - Gunter, North Texas Tollway Authority Board of Directors (reappointed) 
RECENT REPORTS and DATA
Texas Department of Transportation - 2019 Texas Rail Plan (Draft)

Texas Legislative Budget Board - Spending Limit

Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board - State of Texas Higher Education Address

Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas - Texas Employment Forecast

Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas - Texas Economic Indicators
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:
  • Office of the Texas Governor - Senior Accounts Payable Accountant (Accountant VII)
  • Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts - CPA - Senior Counsel (Attorney IV-V)
  • Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs - Multifamily Policy Research Specialist
  • Texas Real Estate Commission - General Counsel
  • Texas Department of Information Resources - Budget Analyst IV
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, the SPI Team has developed a national reputation for partnering public and private sector entities.   
To learn more about SPI services, click here or contact our sales department at 512-531-3900. 
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