By Mary Scott Nabers, CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc.
Taxpayers, citizens, and industry leaders may not be totally familiar with Public Facility Corporations (PFCs), but that should change, especially now since public funding for critical projects is at an all-time low. PFCs are becoming somewhat common in many regions of the country.
If the legal entity (PFC) is not familiar, here’s a bit of background. A PFC is a nonprofit corporation created by a sponsoring governmental entity — a city, county, school district, housing authority, or special district. PFCs have broad powers over public facilities, including financing, acquisition, construction, rehabilitation, renovation, and repair. A PFC, once created, has the authority to issue bonds on behalf of its sponsoring public entity and once the bonds are funded, the money can be used in numerous ways. This type of legal entity has gained attention because public officials with critical projects are being forced to seek alternative funding sources.
In Texas, public facility corporations are allowed the broadest possible powers to finance or provide for the acquisition, construction and rehabilitation of public facilities at the lowest possible borrowing cost. A sponsor — such as a municipality, county, school district or housing authority — may create one or more of nonprofit public facility corporations. Then, the PFC can issue bonds for the construction of public facilities or finance public facilities or even loan the proceeds of the revenue to other entities for specific purposes.
Transportation leaders from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and 87 other organizations recently co-signed a letter urging Congress to extend current surface transportation funding for one more year.
The one-year “turn-key” suggestion comes as the September 30 expiration date approaches to renew federal funding for the country’s surface transportation and its infrastructure.
AASHTO’s executive director said an extension of the Fixing Surface Transportation (FAST) Act is essential for giving the states’ departments of transportation (DOTs) a lifeline through the 2021 construction season for planning, letting, and building projects.
In addition, the letter’s authors also sought $37 billion in emergency federal funding for the DOTs and $32 billion for public transit agencies that are slowly recovering from a drastic drop in revenues due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Friendswood ISD (FISD) called a $128.26 million bond election for November 3. The bond will appear on the ballot as Proposition A for $127.27 million in school construction projects and Proposition B for $1 million in technology projects.
If approved by voters, the 2020 bond would provide funds for a new $44.6 million 900-student campus to replace Cline Elementary School.
Other bond items include classroom additions at Westwood Elementary School for $3 million, at Windsong Intermediate School for $4.55 million, and at Bales Intermediate School for $2.37 million.
Extensive additions and renovations to Friendswood High School would receive $53.37 million in bond funding to primarily address career and technical education, fine arts, and athletics needs.
FISD also would allocate more than $16.45 million in bond funding to district-wide priority maintenance projects, $1 million to safety and security upgrades, $1 million to technology improvements, and $1.9 million for land purchases to accommodate the additions at Friendswood High School.
The city of Denton is seeking to upgrade its scale house software to accommodate the growth of its Solid Waste Department operations and achieve a greater degree of security and reconciliation with the city’s billing and financial systems.
Department officials wish to acquire a comprehensive, user-friendly, secure and sustainable scale house management software system that provides as much functionality as possible without extensive customization.
The new scale house management software system will be Windows operating system compatible (either cloud-based or locally-hosted, at the option of the respondent). The envisioned system should not require users to interact with multiple screens or commands to complete common tasks and users with minimal computer skills should be capable of using, and eventually mastering, the system.
Responses to the city’s request for proposals (RFP) are due by 11 a.m. on October 12.
Denton also issued a RFP for a citywide 311 system that will provide and implement a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and one-stop request management system for the city.
The CRM system will handle the intake, routing, and tracking of operational tasks across the city. The main goal of the system is to improve communication across departments and with residents and businesses. The system will integrate to the greatest extent possible with existing work order systems and the city’s GIS system.
Responses to the 311 system procurement are due by 11 a.m. on November 18. Two non-mandatory virtual pre-bid conferences are scheduled for 3 p.m. September 30 and 1 p.m. October 16.
The city of Bedford is considering the creation of a Tax Increment Financing Zone (TIF) this year to fund land improvements for a possible Bedford Commons mixed-use development on city property.
City consultants started developing a concept plan this summer for the 36-acre tract that could include townhomes, restaurants and food trucks, a splash pad and amphitheater, and indoor and outdoor multi-use venues.
Bedford’s mayor and City Council adopted the Central Bedford Development Zone Vision in June 2013. The document outlines City Council’s vision for the development of the Bedford Commons footprint.
The document also identifies the Central Bedford Urban Center, which consists of a large portion of the remaining developable land that lies in the center of the Bedford Commons area.
In 2019, City Council purchased 8 acres within the Bedford Commons and the Central Bedford Urban Center from a developer. The property is generally bounded by Bedford Road, Parkwood Drive, E.M. Bilger Jr. Boulevard, and the northern boundary of the city-owned Blues & BBQ Festival property.
The city of League City is issuing several procurements this fall for Bay Ridge flood reduction projects that were approved by voters in 2019.
Bay Ridge Flood Reduction Phase 1 levee improvements will upgrade the existing levee around the perimeter of the Bay Ridge subdivision. The design will include an evaluation of the levee to determine the height, width, and slope stability to meet federal certification requirements and design recommendations for the levee improvements. Thirty percent earthen work designs and construction costs were submitted to the city last week for review.
Phase 2 improvements for the Bay Ridge project involve engineering services for a 42,000 gallon-per-minute stormwater pump station that will be added to the existing detention pond within the Bay Ridge subdivision. Designs were completed last week, and the advertisement for construction bids was set for late September or early October.
The scope of Phase 3 of the Bay Ridge project includes design and construction of extreme overflow swales at Seacrest Boulevard, Anchor Way, Windward, and Baycrest Drive to allow for the free outfall into the detention pond. Ninety percent of the designs were resubmitted to the city for review on September 1. League City advertised the construction bid for this project on September 8, and the procurement will close on September 23.
Proposed culverts at Columbia Memorial Parkway and League City Parkway will be analyzed in Phase 4 to determine the appropriate size in an effort to reduce ponding and potential overflow. Hydrology and hydraulics studies of Gum Bayou from League City Parkway (SH 96) to Dickinson Bayou will be conducted in an effort to provide improvements to allow Bay Ridge’s detention pond to drain. Existing Gum Bayou bridges will also be a part of the hydraulic analysis.
The study will help evaluate the flow of water heading towards Dickinson Bayou and provide options for drainage improvements for the Gum Bayou Watershed. The preliminary report was submitted to the city last week for review.
Hays County commissioners called a $75 million parks and open space bond election for November 3 based on recommendations from a citizen advisory committee that were presented at a recent commissioners meeting.
The committee prioritized its recommendations into three categories with Tier 1 projects highly recommended for funding, Tier 2 projects garnering strong recommendations for funding, and Tier 3 projects recommended for consideration at a later date.
Commissioners approved all Tier 1 and Tier 2 projects for inclusion in the bond referendum, but they removed Tier 3 projects from the bond package.
Tier 1 projects that made the final list were:
- Coleman’s Canyon Preserve land acquisition for conservation;
- Sentinel Peak Park & Preserve for Golden-cheeked Warbler habitats;
- San Marcos River Recharge Lands for greenspace;
- Purgatory Creek conservation easement acquisition;
- Rathgeber Natural Resource Park in Dripping Springs;
- Violet Crown Trail design and construction for 14 miles of trail; and,
- Cape’s Fishing Pond trail improvements.
Tier 2 projects that were included were:
- Kyle Fajita Fields sports complex;
- Dripping Springs Regional Skate Park design and/or construction;
- Dripping Springs Town Center greenspace acquisition and project design;
- Patriot’s Hall, near Dripping Springs;
- Nature Center at Blue Hole Park;
- John Knox Ranch Preserve;
- Presa Grande, Sink Creek Watershed (Great Springs Project); and,
- Old Fitzhugh Road Trail.
The eliminated Tier 3 projects were a Regional Conservation Fund for a Jacob’s Well Groundwater Management Zone and a Wimberley Dog and Skate Park.
The city of Plano Department of Engineering is seeking proposals for a construction project management system for use by several city departments, including Department of Engineering’s Community Investment Program (CIP), Department of Public Works, Department of Parks and Recreation’s CIP, and Facilities Engineering.
City officials anticipate having about 75 internal users and 400 external users.
Proposed solutions may be contractor-hosted and contractor-managed or on-premises. The city would prefer a contractor-hosted and contractor-managed system.
The construction management system will be used to manage all facets of Plano’s CIP projects, to include project planning, execution, controlling, and closing. The solution will serve as a single source of project information and documentation for city staff, contractors for the city, and internal and external stakeholders.
Plano’s objectives for the system are that it manages schedule tracking, cost planning and tracking, project and portfolio status reporting, document repository and collaboration, and workflows. The system also must manage accounting, design, construction, consultant coordination, and materials testing.
Other requirements are that it maintain a single source of project information and documentation, stop duplicative entry of data in different fields, and collaborate with city and contractor representatives on specific projects.
The system also would need to limit manual processes and paper documentation, while capturing and storing all pertinent information, and ensure city staff has immediate access to data to efficiently manage projects. It must enhance reporting capabilities, accuracy, and accessibility by utilizing dashboards and reporting functionality to monitor and report project and program status for various audiences.
Capturing historical cost and pricing data that can be leveraged for future project cost and price estimation also is desired. It also must ensure all the city’s historical data is migrated from the legacy system(s) into the vendor’s application software.
Plano’s request for proposals is scheduled to close at 1 p.m. September 30. City officials said they moved up the deadline to better meet the needs of the city while still reflecting their typical solicitation timeline for technology-based software solutions.
The project timeline will be in accordance with the vendor’s project schedule, which will be incorporated into the contract with the city.
The city of Fort Worth and Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) are seeking public input on the Mary’s Creek Water Reclamation Facility, that is 20 years in the making.
TCEQ will host an online public meeting at 7 p.m. October 5 regarding the proposed permit for the facility that will clean the wastewater coming from homes and businesses in the rapidly developing areas of west Fort Worth.
If the commission issues the final permit, the city plans to seek proposals for detailed design of the planned facility on Chapin Road. The wastewater treatment facility will be a membrane bioreactor plant using an activated sludge process operated in the extended aeration mode, according to the TCEQ permit.
The permit application has an initial phase of 10 million gallons per day (MGD) with expansion up to 15 MGD. Future expansions, which would be timed dependent on growth, could increase the average day capacity up to 25 MGD.
City officials said it will take another four to five years to complete the design engineering, bidding, and construction. The water utility projects the new treatment facility needs to be operational by 2026.
The city has several options to finance the construction of the plant. The various options are being investigated, and a decision will be made upon state approval.
The University of Houston (UH) System board of regents recently approved proceeding with a request for qualifications (RFQ) for the design of a new health and wellness center at UH’s Victoria campus.
Amenities for the center at the intersection of North Ben Wilson Street and East Red River Road will feature a variety of amenities including a cardio area, weights area, indoor track, basketball court that can be modified for other sports such as volleyball or badminton, two multi-purpose rooms for fitness classes or activities such as cycling or yoga, and locker rooms.
In addition to fitness amenities, the university plans to offer health services for students in the building, and the center also will have classrooms for students in health-related majors to take courses. The project will be phased and could include shell space.
Total project cost is estimated at $22.83 million with $20 million in construction costs and $2 million in architectural and engineering fees.
The university hopes to have an architect chosen by this spring, with plans to start construction by August 2022 and open the center by fall 2023.
Texas, California, and Washington led the way in state spending on public school building construction, according to “Revenues and Expenditures for Public Elementary and Secondary Education: FY18,” a new report by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).
The report analyzed data from the National Public Education Financial Survey, a component of the Common Core of Data (CCD).
The CCD is the primary NCES database on public elementary and secondary education in the United States.
According to the NCES, all 50 states combined spent almost $51.3 billion on school construction in FY 2018.
Texas topped the list with $8.71 billion spent on public school building projects, and California came in second with $8.04 billion. The gap between second and third places was more than $6 billion with Washington spending $2.58 billion.
Rounding out the top 10 were:
- New York - $2.23 billion;
- Minnesota - $1.74 billion;
- Georgia - $1.63 billion;
- Florida - $1.61 billion;
- Illinois - $1.53 billion;
- Maryland - $1.45 billion; and,
- Ohio - $1.41 billion.
State education agencies (SEAs) in each of the 50 states report these data annually to NCES.
In its FY21 Procurement Plan for the first quarter of the fiscal year, the city of Houston Information Technology Services (HITS) indicates a need for telecommunication connectivity services for all wired lines, telecommunications, and data circuits.
The city’s anticipated spend is $64 million with the requirement that 24 percent of the selected vendors are minority or women-owned business enterprises.
October 1 is the date by when the contracts would be needed, according to the city’s plan.
The Army Futures Command (AFC) has partnered with Austin Community College (ACC) to establish a Software Factory for soldiers and ACC students.
ACC will be home to the factory that is designed to help students rapidly scope and solve real-life problems through advanced software development processes.
It is the first soldier-led software factory for the Army. The vision is to develop a pathway to two- and four- year degrees and connect soldiers and students with industry partners. ACC was selected to fill the educational need after a nationwide search.
The Software Factory at ACC will build on the college’s computer science/information technology programs and will offer specialized training for new technologies such as data science and artificial intelligence. The curriculum will be developed in partnership between Austin Community College District and Futures Command leadership, with support from invited global software development companies.
Located at ACC’s Rio Grande Campus in downtown Austin, the factory will occupy portions of the second and third floors of the main building totaling approximately 26,500 square feet, with shared spaces for AFC and ACC students to interact.
AFC Majors Vito Errico and Jason Zuniga will serve as co-directors of the Software Factory, which is expected to open in January 2021 with its first cohort of 30 soldiers and civilians. A second cohort is expected to begin in summer 2021. More than 15,000 service members expressed interest in the first week this initiative was announced.
Corpus Christi’s mayor and City Council approved $78.02 million in street maintenance, arterial and collector road reconstruction, and residential street reconstruction as part of the city’s $1 billion fiscal year 2021 operating and capital budget.
More than 14 miles of Ocean Drive and Shoreline Boulevard will receive a complete mill and overlay from Interstate 37 to Ennis Joslin Road for $14.5 million, and $1 million will go toward maintenance for concrete streets.
In November 2018, residents approved a nearly $11 million bond project to continue rebuilding residential streets. The city’s Public Works Department received approval from City Council in June to move forward with construction on 34 streets as part of the Residential Street Rebuild Project. Construction is expected to continue through 2021.
As the city works on its remaining 2018 bond street projects, voters will have the opportunity to vote on an additional $61 million in street improvements in November with Bond 2020.
Gov. Greg Abbott appointed Eddy Betancourt to the Texas Facilities Commission on September 14.
Betancourt is president of a construction company and National Tire and Wheel. He also is a general retail partner for an investment firm and a member of the McAllen Board of Realtors and the National Association of Realtors. He also serves on the Hidalgo County Appraisal District board of directors.
The North East Texas Regional Mobility Authority (NET RMA) selected Glenn Green as the organization’s new executive director on September 15. He will take over for Interim Director Everett Owen.
Green previously served as a district engineer for the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) in Atlanta and Tyler, director of administration in Tyler, and assistant area engineer in Mineola.
The Madisonville City Council appointed Arturo “Art” Rodriguez as the city attorney on September 14. He succeeds John Bankhead who retired earlier this year.
Rodriguez is a partner at a Georgetown law firm and works primarily in municipal, environmental, solid waste, water quality, water districts, oil and gas, administrative, and utility law. He previously served as assistant city attorney for San Antonio and Georgetown.
The Big Spring City Council selected Shane Bowles as interim city manager on September 12. He succeeded former City Manager Todd Darden who was recently terminated.
Bowles currently serves as Big Spring’s public works director. Prior to joining the city, he was a utilities engineer with the city of Odessa.
The Tuloso-Midway ISD board of trustees named Dr. Rick Fernandez as the lone finalist for superintendent of schools. He will take over for Interim Superintendent Melodie McClarren who filled in after Rodney Sumner resigned in June.
Fernandez most recently served as assistant superintendent of secondary schools at Tomball ISD. Prior to that, he was the principal of North Forest High School in Houston ISD.
The Weatherford City Council authorized Mayor Paul Paschall to designate Police Chief Lance Arnold as the city’s emergency management director/coordinator on September 8.
Before joining Weatherford, Arnold served with the Norman Police Department in Oklahoma in a variety of roles in patrol, traffic, recruiting, personnel, training, and special weapons and tactics.
Firefighter Michael Baldwin will serve as the Weatherford’s assistant emergency management coordinator.
In the September 11, 2020 edition of Texas Government Insider, an outdated procurement timeline appeared in an article about an anticipated request for offers by the Texas Department of Information Resources. The correct anticipated date for the communication technology procurement is May 2021.
Strategic Partnerships, Inc. apologizes for any inconvenience.
Gov. Greg Abbott announced these appointments and reappointments from September 11-17:
181st Judicial District Court judge
Titiana Frausto – Amarillo
140th Judicial District Court judge
Douglas Freitag – Shallowater
Brazoria County Criminal
Tom Selleck – Angleton
Cynthia Conroy – El Paso
Sasha Crane – McAllen
Ashlee Kleinert – Dallas
Task Force on Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response
Ogechika Alozie – El Paso
Sheila Haley – Lantana
Ruth Hughs – Austin
Harrison Keller – Austin
Major General Tracy Norris
Patrick O’Daniel – Austin
Daniel Owens – Bryan
Nancy Tanner – Amarillo
Surendra Varma – Lubbock
Bobby Wilkinson – Dripping Springs
Cecile Young - Austin
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 – Governor’s Advisor - Article IV/V (Governor’s Advisor III)
Office of the Texas Governor – Grant Manager (Grant Coordinator)
Texas Department of Transportation – Deputy Director Maintenance Division
Texas Department of Transportation – Employee Diversity and Inclusion Program Specialist
Texas Department of Transportation – Bridge Construction and Maintenance Engineer
Texas Department of Transportation – Transportation Engineer Supervisor II or III
Texas Legislative Council – Writing Specialist I
Texas Health and Human Services Commission – Senior Forecaster (Actuary II)
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts – IT Scrum Master
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts – Oracle Database Administrator
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts – Salesforce Developer
City of Austin – Procurement Specialist IV (Capital Contracting Office)