|Volume 2, Issue 47||March 30, 2011|
Local government deficits mean dramatic changes
Government is changing radically and will most likely never be the same. The financial stress of the federal government and the states has filtered down to cities and as budget preparation begins for the next fiscal year, it is obvious that even more dramatic changes will occur.
According to projections by the National League of Cities (NLC), the combined budget shortfall for the 19,423 municipal governments in the United States could climb as high as $83 billion by 2012. A report from NLC, National Association of Counties and the U.S. Conference of Mayors indicates that by 2012, public sector job losses over a three-year period could be close to 500,000.
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|North Carolina dealing with shortfall by restructuring|
Perdue's proposal would fold 13 agencies into eight Cabinet-level offices
States throughout the country that are facing budget shortfalls are examining every conceivable way to try to fill those shortfalls. In North Carolina, Gov. Bev Perdue (pictured) has put forward a broad restructuring of her state's government that will merge a number of functions of one agency into another.
Perdue issued an executive order last week that offers a plan to the state's General Assembly to fold 13 agencies and departments into eight Cabinet-level offices. The goal is a leaner, more efficient state government - not to mention a projected $47 million in savings next year.
"I've told the legislative leadership I consider this phase one of a broader reorganization," said Perdue upon signing the executive order. She said the result will be a state government that is "leaner, more efficient and more able to withstand the trials of a global economic recession."
Under the proposal, the agencies responsible for public safety - Juvenile Justice, Correction and Crime Control and Public Safety - will be combined into a new Department of Public Safety. The Employment Security Commission would be moved into the Department of Commerce. The Office of State Personnel and Information Technology Services would be brought into the Department of Management and Administration.
Likening state government to a family or a business that is cutting costs and reducing their needs, state government "must do the same." The reorganization, which Perdue indicates is only one phase of her proposal, comes as the state faces an estimated $2.4 billion budget hole for the fiscal year that starts July 1.
|Florida governor wants board to study private hospitals|
Questions if money better spent on all hospitals covering uninsured
Florida Gov. Rick Scott (pictured) has appointed a commission to study whether the state should continue to fund government hospitals. He also asked the study to include the best methods for converting government hospitals to private ownership. Scott said the goal of the commission is to ensure "a more rational approach to compensating hospitals with a higher degree of predictability and fairness, and which does not incentivize inefficiency, higher cost or irrational business practices."
Scott wants the commission to determine if costs are higher at public hospitals than they are at for-profit hospitals and also wants to know which has the best quality of medical care. He also is interested in knowing if the private sector has come up with ways to care for low-income patients without the use of public hospital and if public hospitals overpay doctors to lure them away from the private sector. He also wants the commission to determine if the public hospital boards provide adequate oversight.
As the former head of the largest for-profit hospital system in the country, Scott knows hospitals. And he said public hospitals sometimes complete against for-profits and have an advantage that is unfair because they receive tax funding and enhanced Medicaid payments.
Scott also said he would certainly entertain the idea of selling the Jackson Hospital System facilities if "it would drive the cost of health care down." Jackson lost $244 million in FY 2009 and $100 million in FY 2010.
|Florida university projects on old pending matching grants|
State money needed by those who depend on state for part of funding
Two Florida state programs provide matching state dollars for private donations for construction projects and major gifts. The construction program will match dollar-for-dollar and depending on the size of the gift, the major gifts program will match up to 100 percent.
But right now, they're not matching a penny. Several universities in the state are anxiously awaiting state money promised to them that has not yet arrived. Without funding since 2008, universities promised these funds have nearly $300 million in state matches on their books. And, as the state grapples with a budget deficit, neither the House nor Senate versions of a spending bill include match money. Nor is match funding high on the priority list for many members of the legislature.
However, there are some supporters for releasing match funds. Ava Parker (pictured), chair of the Board of Governors of the State University System, said getting some of the construction project going will help pump up the economy. "We are one of the economic engines ... and I think that engine is being slowed down because we're not investing the matching dollars," said Parker.
|New Jersey transportation plan unveiled by state officials|
$3.5 billion set aside for road, bridge, mass transit projects, equipment
State transportation officials in New Jersey have unveiled an FY 2012 transportation capital plan that sets aside $3.5 billion for major road, bridge and mass transit projects as well as equipment purchases. Helping to finance the plan is Turnpike Authority and Port Authority funds that had been designated for the Hudson River tunnel projected, which has been canceled.
The plan allocated $2.3 billion for the state Department of Transportation and nearly $1.2 billion for the New Jersey Transit, to be used for major projects, purchase of equipment and maintenance. "This capital program balances the reality of limited resources with the twin imperatives of promoting public safety and maintaining our assets in a state of good repair," said Transportation Commissioner James Simpson (pictured).
Port Authority rail tunnel funds to the tune of $343 million would finance major work on two bridges that carry traffic to and from the Holland Tunnel. That plan has not been endorsed yet. DOT would take $1.166 billion of the $1.663 billion anticipated from the federal government. NJ Transit would take $497 million.
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|Upcoming education opportunities|
Utah school district studying $210 million bond vote for next year
The Alpine School District (Utah) is studying putting a $210 million bond vote before voters next year. If passed, the bond proceeds would build five new elementary schools, reconstruct three high schools, three junior highs and six elementary schools. It would also provide earthquake improvements at more than a dozen schools and provide funding for purchase of future school sites. Superintendent Vernon Henshaw (pictured) noted that the list of how the money will be spent is a "draft" and will not be finalized until after public hearings are held. The proposed new middle school will include 180,000 square feet and the four elementary schools will each be 78,000 square feet. Among the upgrades to other schools are projects that involve classrooms, entries, parking, tennis courts, seismic upgrades, gym and athletic facilities, roofing and numerous reconstruction projects.
Maryland community college planning $22 million renovation of library
The Truxal Library on the campus of the Anne Arundel Community College in Maryland is about to get a $22 million facelift. The three-story, 43,750-square-foot building will get a 31,300-square-foot addition that will house more than 160 new computer stations, 15 new group study rooms and two teaching labs. The library will reopen in August of next year, with a 16-month completion schedule. One of the new teaching labs will seat 40 students, making it one of the largest classrooms on campus. The existing campus was built in 1967 and was partially renovated in 1985.
California school district postpones plans for $500 million bond vote
Citing the fact that funding for basic services is still up in the air, the San Jose (California) Unified School District is postponing its plans to put a $500 million bond vote before voters. Superintendent Vincent Matthews (pictured) had planned to take the issue to voters in June so that district facilities could undergo renovations, technology could be upgraded and general fund money could be freed up for operations expenses. The last facilities upgrade was paid for through a loan rather than bonds. If those loans can be repaid with bond proceeds, Matthews said it would free up $3 million annually for operating funds. Although the bond issue has been shelved for the time being, each school in the district has been asked to submit a list of projects it would like to see addressed.
Montana school district passes bond issue and two funding measures
Voters in the Belgrade (Montana) School District recently passed not only a $12.4 million bond issue, but also two funding measures that will ensure funds for repairs and maintenance. The bond issue will allow for the construction of a new elementary school. A building reserve issue for the elementary district also passed, which will allow the school district to maintain a $350,000 per year fund for 10 years to repair and maintain elementary schools. A similar high school building reserve also passed, which will raise $150,000 per year for 10 years for repairs and maintenance for the high school. Those two funds will allow for repairs at six buildings. The planned new elementary school is expected to open for the 2012-13 school year.
University of Wisconsin-Platteville planning to build residence hall
An increasing enrollment has led the University of Wisconsin-Platteville to begin planning construction of a new residence hall. Chancellor Dennis Shields (pictured) said the struggling economy forced the university to pay for the building through a real estate foundation it set up and with private funding. The facility will house between 400 and 600 beds. Officials expect to break ground in June, with a completion date set for late July 2012 to be able to serve students during the fall semester. Construction of the proposed six-story building cannot begin until it garners approval from the UW Board of Regents and the State Building Commission. Another dorm - Porter Hall - is scheduled to undergo renovations this summer.
Capital improvements totaling $21 million approved for New York schools
A recent public vote approved $21 million in capital improvements for the Naples Central School District in Rochester, N.Y. A similar proposal was defeated last December, so officials pared back the cost of the project by $815,000 and will use $600,000 in reserves to keep from having to borrow so much. The project includes making some schools Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant, adding to the junior-senior high school, adding technology updates, making the main entrance more secure and renovating the gym.
Alaska campus planning to build new career, technical education center
A $14.5 million career and technical education center is being planned for the University of Alaska's Kenai River College. The 15,000-square-foot building will be on the eastern side of the college and will include three large workshops outfitted with necessary equipment. Allen Houtz (pictured), professor at the college, said some of the equipment is "nearing the end" of its usefulness. It is certainly not "cutting edge," said Houtz. The facility will also feature digital whiteboards, offices, student commons and a computer lab. The building is funded by a $397.2 million education bond package. The design is expected to be approved by the Board of Regents in September. That would have the project going out for bids in March of next year, with a contract awarded the following April. Construction is expected to begin in May of next year, with a completion date in August.
Alabama school district to use bonds to build new high school
The Montgomery County (Alabama) Board of Education will accept $15.6 million in Qualified School Construction Bonds - low interest loans that can only be used for capital expenditures - to put toward construction of a new high school in east Montgomery. The County Board of Education will take out a $15.6 million loan after the Montgomery County Commission voted to pay $440,000 per year toward the debt service for three years. The county's stipulation was that the city must pay the other 60 percent of the debt service and representatives of the city and county must be approved for the school board's building and land acquisition committee.
New York community college planning construction of new campus building
Officials of the Erie Community College in New York have approved construction of a 100,000-square-foot Center for Excellence on the North Campus in Amherst. It will be the first new facility on the campus since it was built 50 years ago, except for a child care center. Erie President Jack Quinn (pictured) hinted to media about an expansion of the campus during a recent breakfast. New York State is contributing 50 percent of the project cost, which is anticipated will be approximately $30 million. Erie County will throw in $7.5 million in capital funds for the building.
University of Wisconsin to benefit from capital budget approval
Wisconsin's capital budget recommendations approved recently by the State Building Commission will provide needed funding for projects at the University of Wisconsin. The budget includes $67 million for the University of Wisconsin Institute for Medical Research, $50 million for the UW-Milwaukee and $27.4 million to improve the existing Department of Hearings and Appeals and Department of Corrections. Specifically, the funding includes nearly $80 million to renovate nine residence halls and three dining halls across the System campuses, $77 million for the new Badger Performance Center on the Madison campus to house athletic training and practice facilities for the hockey and swim teams and $50 million for repairs to aging facilities and to UT-Stout, UW-Oshkosh, UW-Platteville and UW-Superior. The funding also will include $52 million for the UW-Madison School of Nursing.
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Florida Senate language would allow privatization of prisons
The Florida Senate included language in its new budget proposal this week that would give private businesses the opportunity to run correctional facilities and probation services in 18 Florida counties. Sen. Mike Fasano (pictured) was not happy, saying that when his Criminal Justice Appropriations Committee heard about the idea, "We made it clear that we weren't interested." The language would allow the shift of nearly $600 million to private firms. Senate Budget guru J.D. Alexander said the proposal was aimed at "doing more with less" and reducing the size of government. He said privatizing these services could save 7 percent. The budget that came out of the House called for privatization of prisons and probation services in only two counties - Miami-Dade and Broward. Those two are also part of the 18 listed in the Senate version.
Renovations approved for University of South Florida's Sun Dome
The Florida Board of Governors has approved the University of South Florida Financing Corporation's borrowing up to $26.5 million to make necessary renovations at the Sun Dome. However, the USF Foundation and the USF Board of Trustees must approve a set-aside of $20 million to guarantee the interest and principal on the debt. The Sun Dome was constructed in 1980 and needs an overhaul of its mechanical systems. Additionally, a bank loan would pay for new arena seating, heating and cooling and electrical systems, restrooms, locker areas, offices and retrofitting for energy efficiency. The interior would also be redesigned to meet new building code requirements.
City of Joplin to receive state loan of $26 million wastewater project
The City of Joplin, Missouri, will receive a $26 million state loan to finance wastewater treatment projects. The loan will help fund upgrades at the city's Turkey Creek and Shoal Creek treatment plants that are under construction and expected to be completed by 2012. Funding for the projects comes from the state's Clean Water State Revolving Fund. With an interest rate of 1.7 percent, taxpayers will see an estimated $12.6 million in interest savings. Joplin Mayor Mike Woolston (pictured) said the project was "essential" and that the loan will be paid back with revenues from wastewater bonds approved in a public referendum in August 2009.
Dam repair funds will help pay for upgrades at Connecticut facility
Part of $1.47 million in state funding set aside for dam repairs will be allocated to the Bashan Lake Dam project in Hartford, Connecticut. An additional $900,000 in federal funds will also help pay for repairs at that dam and others across the state. Officials said the end result of the upgrades will be the ongoing availability of recreational areas around the lake and protection for homes and property of lakefront property owners.
Numerous contracting opportunities open up in El Paso area
A variety of contracting opportunities are opening up in the El Paso, Texas, area. They include:
- The City of El Paso is seeking bids for Southside Park improvements;
- The city of El Paso is seeking bids on wheelchair accessible ADA transportation services;
- El Paso Water Utilities is seeking bids for East Side service area 24-inch waterline in various locations;
- The Education Service Center-Region 19 is seeking bids for automotive and bus parts, supplies and lubricants;
- The Education Service Center-Region 19 is seeking bids for electrical supplies;
- University Medical Center is seeking bids for architectural services for the West Texas Regional Poison Center expansion and renovation;
- The El Paso Independent School District is seeking bids for annual food products;
- The Texas Department of Transportation is seeking bids for bridge repairs in El Paso County;
- The Texas Department of Transportation is seeking bids to add two inside travel lanes in El Paso County; and
- The University of Texas at El Paso is seeking bids for special events management services.
Sheriff's center among long list of redevelopment projects approved
Officials in Santa Cruz County (Colorado) have approved $75 million in redevelopment projects, including $44 million for a new Mid-County Sheriff's Center. Santa Cruz County Sheriff Phil Wowak (pictured) is hopeful to be able to move his department out of the government building near downtown Santa Cruz. Other money approved is for a new Twin Lakes beachfront and county mental health facility, seed money for a Live Oak youth center, money to complete a bike trail through Arana Gulch and funs for parkway improvements for East Cliff bluff. Originally estimated to cost $60 million, the sheriff's center will likely include an emergency operations center, a new county morgue, a 10,000-square-foot crime lab and more. Another $5 million was approved to go toward a new youth center estimated to cost as much as $13 million.
Florida looking to bus advertising as new source of much-needed revenue
A bill has been filed in the Florida Legislature that would allow advertising on school buses. Based on the experience of other states, a school district that has 200 buses could possibly earn $250,000 annually from the ads. The legislation calls for half of the funds generated from the ads to offset transportation costs in the district, with 40 percent for discretionary spending in the district and 10 percent for driver's education programs.
California city to seek design for new civic center; OK apartments loan
The Elk Grove, California, City Commission this week is discussing the design for the construction of its new Elk Grove Civic Center. The site will include some 20 acres for the center and more than 50 acres for a park. Buildings to be built on that site include a library, children's discover center, community center, performance center, hotel, conference center, destination restaurant, pizza parlor, integrated retail, veterans' hall, governmental facilities, sports fields, aquatic center and indoor gym. Additionally, the council will consider approving a loan commitment of $9.7 million for an apartment project near the civic center. Elk Grove City Manager Laura Gill (pictured) said the issue must be decided this week since the applicant's other funding is to be in place by the end of this month. The project will include 18 residential buildings and a community center clubhouse.
Feasibility study will address community renewable energy program
The Sonoma County (California) Board of Supervisors has approved funds to pay for a feasibility study to develop a local community choice aggregation (CCA). Up to $150,000 has been set aside for the feasibility study. The program would allow for investment of energy revenues locally while creating local jobs. Once a CCA is formed, residents can either opt out of the CCA and continue to get their power needs from a local utility or have their power supplied by the CCA entity. The utility would continue to provide and bill CCA customers for transmission costs, meter reading, billing, etc., while the CCA would only provide the electricity generation part of the electricity service.
|Where are they now?|
Are you a government official who has moved into a new position or to a new agency? Did you recently retire? Were you recently named to an executive-level position at a state-supported college, university or community college? Have you secured a new job as superintendent of a public school? If so, we'd like to hear from you - and so would your friends and colleagues - for our "Where Are They Now" column. Just drop us a line at email@example.com and let us know about your previous job and where you are now. This week we feature Dr. Frank Farmer.
Dr. Frank Farmer (pictured) earned his undergraduate degree from Stetson University, his master's and Ph.D. from the University of Georgia and his medical degree from the Medical College of Georgia. Prior to medical school, Farmer was a captain in the U.S. Army serving in Vietnam, where he earned the Bronze Star and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry. He is experienced in special operations and the medical corps of the U.S. Army, Air Force and Florida National Guard. He is a former battalion surgeon in the Florida National Guard, a flight surgeon and bioterrorism consultant to the Air Force and Commander of the 919 Special Operations Medical Group. He retired from the Air Force in 2004 with the rank of Colonel. Outside the military, Farmer served as president of the Florida Medical Association from 2001-2002 and was on the Board of Governors for the Florida Chapter of the American College of Physicians. From 2006-2007, Farmer served as chair of the Florida Board of Medicine and remains today as a board member. Currently a family practice doctor, Farmer was recently named by Florida Gov. Rick Scott to serve as the state's new surgeon general and secretary of the Florida Department of Health.
|Opportunity of the week...|
A Florida city has authorized issuance of more than $4.9 million in water and sewer revenue bonds to pay for building a new wastewater treatment plant and to extend sewers to some residences. Want to know more? Contact Reagan Weil at 512-531-3900 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Karen Kennard (top left), who has served as acting city attorney for the city of Austin, Texas, since May of last year, was recently named by City Manager Marc Ott as Austin's new city attorney, bringing two decades of municipal law experience to the post. Hunter R. Rawlings, III (top center), former president of Cornell University and the University of Iowa, has been chosen as president of the Association of American Universities, replacing Robert M. Berdahl, who is retiring. T. Willard Fair (top right), chairman of the Florida Board of Education, has resigned, criticizing Gov. Rick Scott's resignation of Education Commissioner Eric Smith. Ruidosa Planning and Zoning Commission Chair Beth Hood, appointed in April 2007 and having served as chair since last year, announced recently that she would not seek reappointment to the volunteer position now that her tenure has expired. Harley G. Lappin, director of federal prisons who began his career with the U.S. Bureau of Prisons 25 years ago, has announced he is retiring after eight years as director, effective May 7. John Chakwin, head of investigations for U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement in North Texas since January 2006 and a former police detective from Virginia, is retiring April 1. Douglas Wilson (middle right), former deputy inspector general of operations for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission and former deputy director of the Texas Office of the Attorney General Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, has been named HHSC inspector general. Sacramento Interim City Manager Gus Vina (middle center) has resigned after 12 years and although he does not have another job lined up, is in the final round of interviews for two other city manager posts. Florida State Rep. Esteban Bovo (middle left) has resigned from the House of Representatives to run for the Miami-Dade County Commission, hoping to replace former Commissioner Natacha Seijas, who was removed from office by a recall election. Susan Nicholson has been selected the new school superintendent for Waltham (Massachusetts), winning out over two other finalists and replacing Peter Azar, who resigned. After a 25-year career with the Bay St. Louis (Mississippi) Fire Department, the last nine as assistant chief, Pam San Fillippo has been named fire chief, one of only 25 female fire chiefs in the nation. Craig Artist, superintendent of the West Branch School District in Iowa, has announced he will resign at the end of the current school year to take over the superintendent's job in the Quincy (Michigan) school district. Poonam Alaigh (bottom left), New Jersey's health and senior services commissioner, has announced she will step down April 1 because of a family member's illness, and Deputy Commissioner Mary O'Dowd will be nominated by Gov. Chris Christie to replace Alaigh. James McCroskey (bottom center) will leave his post as assistant city manager in Daytona Beach Shores to become the new city manager for Holly Hill. Wisconsin native Milton Thompson (bottom right), superintendent of the School District of Beloit, will become the new superintendent of the North Chicago schools, effective May 2. Mike Matthes of Des Moines has been chosen to serve as the next city manager for the city of Columbia, Missouri, topping three other candidates. Former West Virginia Gov. Gaston Caperton has announced he will retire next year from his post as president of the College Board, the organization in New York that administers the SAT exam and Advanced Placement courses and exams. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has named new staff, including Hiram Grau as director of the state police, Joe Costigan as director of the Department of Labor, Larry Matkaitis reappointed as state fire marshall and John Schomberg as the governor's general counsel. Melodie Mayberry-Stewart, New York State's first African-American female to become CIO of the state, has resigned to return to the private sector after having served in her position since 2007.
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|Calendar of events|
NAESP gearing up for annual convention, expo in Tampa in April
The National Association of Elementary School Principals will host its 2011 Annual Convention and Exposition on April 7-10 in Tampa, Fla., at the Tampa Convention Center. General session speakers will include Sir Ken Robinson, who will address "Out of Our Minds: Learning to Be Creative" and Vernice Armour will address "The Three Ps of Success: Passion, Purpose and Positive Steps." There will be a number of extended learning sessions, while renowned experts in school leadership will set the stage for breakout sessions and concurrent sessions in five focus areas. Exhibit space is available. For more information and registration form, click here.
NASCIO planning 2011 Midyear Conference in D.C. in May
The National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) will hold its 2011 Midyear Conference May 3-6 at the Capital Hilton in Washington, D.C. Among the topics will be the evolving role of the state CIO and IT's impact in state government transformation. The annual conference provides an opportunity for state government and corporate members to discuss issues facing the IT field in both the public and private sectors. For more information and to register, click here.
TxDOT Fort Worth Small Business Briefing conference
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) Business Outreach and Program (BOP) Services reaches across Texas to provide small and minority-owned business communities an opportunity to learn more about contracting opportunities with state entities. The Fort Worth Small Business Briefing conference is set for April 20. Information will be available to help small business owners better understand how to do business with the agency and the State of Texas. The sessions not only allow small businesses to be introduced to TxDOT and other state agencies, but also allow them to learn more about the economic development opportunities in their regions. It also gives agencies a chance to show the myriad of prospects available for small and minority businesses in the state. The final conference is planned for San Antonio on July 20, 2011. For more information and to register, click here or call 1.866.480.2519, Option 2.
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