|Volume 5, Issue 49||April 2, 2014|
Municipal bankruptcies - an alarming trend
The rise in municipal bankruptcies has been one of the most devastating trends of the decade. Most of the problem results from public officials having to balance short-term and long-term priorities at a time when governmental budgets are stretched to the breaking point.
Whatever the cause - municipal bankruptcies are detrimental to the entire country. Citizens, public employees, retirees, taxpayers and debt holders are all negatively impacted. The bankruptcies add millions more in debt and set ominous precedents.
More than a million private-sector firms file for bankruptcy each year, but financial meltdowns are rare in government. That doesn't mean it never happens though, and currently, municipal bankruptcy is at its highest level since the Great Depression. .
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Florida lawmakers trying to free up more funds for schools
House proposal would allocate $597 million for construction, maintenance
Aging facilities and growing student populations are common on most campuses in Florida. Hand-in-hand with that problem is the fact that the Public Education Capital Outlay (PECO) budget that funds construction and maintenance of educational facilities has been on the decline. In fact, prior to the Great Recession, PECO funds were more than $1 billion per year. Today, they have been slashed to about $300 million per year.
At the University of Florida alone, officials are seeking additional funding to refurbish a more than 70-year-old chemistry building and critical maintenance needs elsewhere on campus that total $60 million.
Lawmakers are constantly looking for ways to increase the PECO funding, and are currently studying a proposal to reduce the sales tax businesses pay on their electricity use and then upping the gross receipts tax by that same amount. That would help the state replenish the gross receipts tax on utilities and communications services, the main source of funding for PECO. By law, the state must pay off PECO bonds from previous years. That debt currently is more than $900 million per year.
House Appropriations Chairman Seth McKeel (pictured) said the goal is to figure out a way to fund both construction and maintenance needs on campuses.
The problem, according to Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, who first came up with the funding proposal, is that the current funding system is not sustainable. The House, counting on that additional funding, is trying to push through a $597 million PECO budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year. That figure includes more than $300 million for school maintenance and state colleges and universities. The figure also includes funding to continue some projects that have been put on hold and $27 million in additional funding for rural schools with limited tax bases and thus limited funding.
The proposal would also need the backing of the Senate, which initially offered a much lower proposed PECO budget of $321 million.
|Four teams chosen to submit proposals for bridge projects|
Pennsylvania's Rapid Bridge Replacement Project to start next summer
The stage is set for the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation's receipt of proposals for its Rapid Bridge Replacement Project. The project, a public-private partnership, will lead to a single contract that will replace at least 500 bridges throughout the state. The first step toward the project was the recent naming of the four teams that have been invited to submit proposals.
PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch (pictured) said that because the bridge replacements will be under one contract and similarly designed and constructed, there should be a cost savings. He also noted that because of the size of the project, it should open up multiple contracting opportunities for local companies to work for the team selected to manage the projects.
The four teams chosen to submit proposals include:
- Pennsylvania Crossings - including the team of Meridiam, Lane Construction, AECOM, Trumbull, Wagman Companies and Cofiroute;
- Plenary Walsh Keystone Partners - including the team of Plenary Group, The Walsh Group, Granite Construction Company, HDR Engineering, HNTB Corporation and Infrastructure Corporation of America;
- Keystone Bridge Partners - including the team of InfraRed Capital Partners, Kiewit, Parsons, The Allan A. Myers family of companies, DBi and American Infrastructure; and
- Commonwealth Bridge Partners - including the team of John Laing Investments, Fluor, American Bridge Company, Traylor Bros. Inc., Joseph B. Fay Co., STV Incorporated and Infrastructure and Industrial Constructors.
Among the criteria for selection were each team's ability financially to complete the project, their background and experience in managing comparable projects and their understanding of the project. The teams will be given further project details and requirements this summer and a preferred proposal chosen next fall. Construction is expected to begin next summer.
The team finally chosen will manage the design, construction and maintenance of the bridges for an undetermined number of years. The team will finance the project and PennDOT will make payments to the team of private firms based on performance to contract terms. The bridges will remain the property of the state and PennDOT will be responsible for routine maintenance.
|Kentucky Legislature OK's public-private partnership bill|
Legislation, headed to governor's desk, includes some oversight, regulations
The Kentucky Legislature recently approved a measure that would provide for public-private partnerships (P3s), but with oversight and regulation. The bill, HB 407, is headed to the governor's desk for his signature. It provides both state and local governments in the commonwealth to partner with private-sector firms for infrastructure, transportation and other projects. All proposed P3 projects must be approved by the Finance Cabinet, and be overseen by the Capitol Projects and Bond Oversight Committee.
|Upcoming education opportunities|
University of Toledo planning new 492-bed campus dormitory
Plans to develop a 492-bed dormitory on the University of Toledo main campus are moving forward. The bond financing for the new student housing was approved by the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority board of directors. The funding package, which totals about $45 million, includes tax-exempt and taxable revenue bonds. Those bonds will be used to finance a loan to CHF-Toledo, LLC, part of the Collegiate Housing Foundation, an Alabama-based nonprofit. Land on which the new dorm will be built will be leased from the university. Use of the bonds will be a pass-through transaction, according to port board officials, and thus will not cost the port authority anything. Plans were accepted, but a construction schedule was not discussed.
Texas ISD looking at 2015 bond election to build new schools
Citing the need to build a new high school, an elementary school and an intermediate school in the next five years, Superintendent Jim Cain (pictured) of the Klein (Texas) Independent School District recently urged the board of trustees to schedule a bond election in 2015. The bond proposal ranges from $224 million to $646 million to pay for new facilities and upgrades to infrastructure. A bond election in 2015 is critical because a high school would take at least two and one-half years to build, Cain said. To maintain quality education, the district also needs bond funding to pay for upgrades to technology, security and safety, buy new buses, repair and renovate campus facilities and possibly build a second childcare center, he added. While the district most likely will need three new elementary schools within five years, Cain included plans for only one new elementary school in this bond proposal. District officials this month began a series of meetings with community and business leaders along with stakeholders and plan two conferences to receive community feedback and educate voters about the needs of the district. Members of a bond steering committee will use the data collected during these meetings to prioritize projects to include in a bond proposal no later than November 2015, Cain said.
School project means abundance of subcontracting, vendor contracts
A $22.5 million high school renovation project in Pelham, New Hampshire, will result in about $17 million in projects that will go out for bids to subcontractors and vendors. The design, engineering and construction management firms have been secured. The project will include a two-story addition that will increase the total square footage of the high school from 88,000 square feet to 130,000 square feet. It will increase the number of classrooms, increase the size of existing classrooms, add a new performing arts space, provide upgrades to the cafeteria and gym and add parking. Several playing fields will be moved to allow for construction of the new facility. Officials are hoping for a summer 2016 completion date. The first phase will begin this spring and summer and include site and septic work.
University in California to add solar panels to buildings on, off campus
A company is expected to be chosen later this month to add solar panels to up to a dozen buildings on and off the campus of the University of California Merced. The photovoltaic systems are expected to be added to eight to 12 buildings, which could as much as double the university's energy output. "Eventually, we would like them to be all over campus," said Zuhair Mased (pictured), director of energy and sustainability for the university. Among the buildings under consideration on campus for the solar panels are student housing facilities, the Leo and Dottie Kolligian Library and office buildings and possibly the chancellor's residence that is located off campus. The current solar field at UC Merced produces one megawatt of power daily, which is enough to provide power for about 1,250 homes for a year. Adding these new solar panels could help the university generate approximately 30 percent of the electricity it uses in a year. The project is expected to get under way this month. The project will be a public-private partnership and will not cost the university anything. The company that wins the contract will enter into a power-purchasing agreement with the university. The private partner will absorb the costs of installing and maintaining the panels and the university will buy the power for a set number of years.
Carlsbad schools get state funding for variety of projects campus-wide
Schools in Carlsbad, New Mexico, were recently allocated more than $400,000 during the state's legislative session. The school district had requested $632,000. Among the expenditures from the funding will be $28,000 toward the Alta Vista Academy for building maintenance and repairs as the district prepares for sixth graders during the 2014-15 school year. Another $50,000 will be used for technology upgrades in the administration building. Other funds will be used for such items as upgrades to ceilings, installation of bleachers at Carlsbad High School and new lighting and other repairs at Monterrey Elementary.
Two new schools part of $67 million bond issue approved in North Carolina
A new elementary school and a new middle school are in the future for the Clover School District in North Carolina after a $67 million bond election was approved by district voters. That $67 million will offset some of the $99 million price tag for five construction projects that include the two new schools. Construction on the two new schools could get under way in May. Also likely to start soon are area field replacements at Clover High School and a new aquatic center. Those projects will be followed at a later date by the conversion of the current Clover Middle School into a ninth grade academy for the high school. That academy is expected to open in August 2017.
|Other upcoming contracting opportunities|
Funding announced for new wastewater treatment plant in New Mexico
A new wastewater treatment plant will be building in Chama, New Mexico, after $8 million in funding was announced by New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez. The project will promote ecologically sound land management and is being praised by environmentalists interested in preserving the health of the watershed. They note that the new wastewater treatment plant will not only provide clean water to the people and land of northern New Mexico, but also to downstream users of water in Santa Fe and Albuquerque. Others note that high-quality water is also a boon to fishing-related businesses from Chama to Albuquerque. "This is a very exciting accomplishment in the San Juan - Chama Watershed Partnership and shows the real value of what can happen when private landowners and communities work together," said Lesli Allison, executive director of the Western Landowners Alliance.
Louisiana parks, trails could see funding of $73 million over next decade
Community parks and trails in the Baton Rouge Parish in Louisiana will benefit from a 10-year, $73 million construction budget recently approved by BREC, a political subdivision of the state of Louisiana that operates public park and recreation facilities and programs throughout East Baton Rouge Parish. The construction funds will lead to constructing or enhancing large community parks and trails. The budget allocation is contingent on the renewal of a two mill property tax that has been renewed every decade since 1964. The issue will be on the April 5 ballot. The tax produces about $7.3 million per year for parks improvements. Almost a third of the proposed budget will go toward 12 large community parks that would receive $24.8 million in funding. Another $19.3 million is set aside for special use facilities such as the zoo and golf courses. Approximately $14.2 million will be spread across the system for a variety of needs. "The number one request we have heard at every community meeting, in every survey and from our online forum, MindMixer, has been for BREC to develop more trails across the Parish," BREC Superintendent Carolyn McKnight (pictured) said. The funding will also be used for other projects that include technology improvements, conservation projects and new community park development in the south part of the parish.
New Hampshire voters approve fire department construction, upgrades
The main Hopkinton Fire Department fire station in the village of Contoocook, New Hampshire, is about to undergo some major renovations and additions after voters in the city approved almost $3 million in funding for the project. The $2.995 million in funds will be used to add a second story to the building and add a new bay to the station as well. Constructed in 1974, the station has become overcrowded as new equipment is added. Although officials looked into building a new facility, it was determined that renovating and adding onto the existing station would be more cost-effective and continue to provide the fastest response time to fires in the area. City officials hope to have the second floor and the new bay finished before work begins on the existing structure. The city has taken out a 15-year loan to finance the project.
County in Virginia awarded grant funds for $4.74 million water project
To mitigate problems with the providing of public water to a community in Buchanan County, Virginia, caused by past coal mining practices, the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME) will administer a federal grant for a $4.75 million water project. The water project will be constructed under Virginia's Abandoned Mine Land FY 14 Grant, which will be released in April. Gov. Terry McAuliffe (pictured) said the grant will fund the fifth phase of the Hurley Regional Water Project and offered praise for the Buchanan County Board of Supervisors for submitting an application for the funds. The grant will allow the county to provide clean public water to more than 260 households. The project includes building a water storage tank and a pump station. Some water lines will be replaced and upgraded so that the extension of the public water supply can be facilitated and also lend itself for future extensions. Thanks to reclamation fess paid over the years by the coal industry, more than 8,500 domestic water supplies affected by mining have been replaced. The DMME water supply replacement projects are paid for by these reclamation fees.
Dredging along Oregon coastline, river reconstruction work planned
Reconstruction work along the Columbia River and dredging at ports along the Oregon coast will be funded by $19 million made available by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Smaller ports will share in $45 million of the funding for dredging projects at Bandon, Depoe Bay, Port Orford, Gold Beach, Garibaldi and Umpqua. The remaining $12.5 million will be used for reconstruction work on the river.
|Who's winning government contracts?|
Check out these recent awards:
- A.I. Solutions Lanham was awarded a contract worth up to $20 million from NASA for research and development.
- Texas Standard Construction won a $12 million contract from the city of Dallas for the first phase of a makeover of Riverfront Boulevard, including six lanes of vehicular traffic bracketed by two cycle tracks as well as new sidewalks in some areas and addition of new traffic signals, street and pedestrian lights and landscaping and improved wastewater lines.
- NGA.Net won a contract worth up to $4.5 million from the General Services Administration for general purpose information technology equipment.
- Edcon won a $17.7 million contract from the Lexington Richland District 5 in South Carolina for construction of a new middle school.
- Mar Range Services won a contract worth up to $3.6 million from the U.S. Navy for professional, administrative and management support services.
- Leidos was awarded a contract worth up to $9.8 million from the U.S. Army for information technology support services.
- Ames Construction won a $378 million contract from the Missouri River Energy Services for construction of a new Red Rock Hydroelectric plant at the site of the Red Rock Dam on the Des Moines River near Pella, Iowa.
- E-Volve Technology Systems won a contract worth up to $6.7 million from the U.S. Air Force for education and training services.
- Manson Construction Co. won a $5 million contract from the U.S. Corps of Engineers for dredging this spring and summer at the mouth of the Columbia River at Astoria, Oregon. The contract includes dredging a San Francisco and Humboldt, California.
- Emcor Government Services won a contract worth up to $18.4 million from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for operation of government-owned facilities.
|News about public-private partnerships (P3)|
Public-private partnership brings mixed-use development to Meriden
Thanks to a public-private partnership, the city of Meriden, Connecticut, is making plans for a new mixed-use development in the city. The four-story development will feature 11,000 square feet of commercial space and more than 63 units of mixed income housing. The partnership is between developer Westmount Development Group, the state Department of Transportation, Meriden Housing Authority and the city. The public partners assisted Westmount with acquiring funding for the project. This will be the first new, private development for the downtown area in four decades. City Manager Lawrence Kendzior (pictured) said all parties were pleased that the CHFA tax credit program approval to get the project under way. "This represents the first new private development project in the city center in nearly 40 years. It's a great start to what we believe will be significant private investment in the city center area in the next several years." The project will also include a 273-space parking garage for use by residents of the facility. A 14-acre park will be created nearby and traffic improvements in the area are also planned. The project is funded in part through the federal CHFA Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program that provides incentives for developers to acquire, rehab and/or build low- or mixed-income housing using federal tax credits that can be sold to private entities or investor groups to raise funding for a project.
Alamo Colleges issues RFP regarding administrative facility; seeks P3
Alamo Colleges is seeking proposals for construction of a new administrative headquarters just off the Broadway corridor in San Antonio. The facility, to be built on the old Playland Park amusement center site, will also be a mixed-use complex. Plans are to seek a public-private partnership for the project, which could also include either an exchange of property for an administration building or building on the new 12-acre site. That site, which the college district has owned since 2008, is currently being used for overflow parking for San Antonio College. Other pieces of the project include the administrative building with a chancellor's suite; mixed-use residential, commercial or retails spaces; green spaces, a plaza and walking trails; a parking garage with approximately 1,000 spaces and retail surface parking; a physical plant and sustainable design that includes energy, water and water conservation measures; and security measures. The deadline for submitting proposals is May 20.
P3s under consideration in Hawaii to deal with state corrections system facilities
The state of Hawaii is hoping the private sector can help either upgrade or replace its seven aging correctional facilities. And, to that end, State Sen. Will Espero (pictured) has filed a resolution that would allow public-private partnerships for jails, prisons and other correctional facilities. "The state wouldn't have to come up with the down payment or the money up front or float a bond. What we would do is, just like purchasing a home, we would pay back the company that built the facility over 20 or 30 years," said Espero, in explaining his legislation before a legislative committee. The Department of Public Safety supports the resolution as a way to ease overcrowding and cut agency costs. Espero's resolution would allow private-sector partners only in the planning, construction and financing of facilities. The state would still run the facilities. Officials called the current facilities old and poorly designed, which leads to more overtime costs for adequate numbers of personnel as well as having to turn away visitors due to short staffing.
Lewisville paves path for new Denton County government center
Lewisville (Texas) City Council members recently approved variances to allow Denton County officials to build the new Lee Walker Government Center in that city. Current plans are to complete the government center project in two phases, with the first phase calling for construction of a 40,700-square-foot building in the northwest corner of the intersection of Valley Parkway and Civic Circle. The second phase calls for building a 26,450-square-foot facility on the southwest corner of that intersection. The new government center is designed to house officials of Precinct 3 and offices of the county health department and the tax-assessor collector.
|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 Meria Joel Carstarphen.
Meria Joel Carstarphen (pictured) has been named the lone finalist for the superintendent job at the Atlanta (Georgia) Public Schools. Carstarphen will exit her role as superintendent of the Austin (Texas) Independent School District after a tenure of five years in that Central Texas school district. In Atlanta, Carstarphen will take over a district still suffering latent effects of the nation's largest test cheating scandal. A native of Alabama, Carstarphen began her public education career in that state as a classroom teacher after earning her bachelor's degree from Tulane University. She later earned master's degrees from Auburn University and Harvard University. The soon-to-be Atlanta superintendent earned her doctorate from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She is a former superintendent of the Saint Paul Public Schools in Minnesota and held executive-level positions in public school systems in the District of Columbia, Kingsport, Tennessee, and Columbus, Ohio.
|Opportunity of the week...|
After voters approved a plan for a new junior high school in November and for renovations and expansions at other schools, an Ohio school district is making plans for construction. The projects will include additions to a primary school, and addition and renovations at an elementary school, renovations to an intermediate school, construction of a new junior high and addition of several classrooms to the high school. Planning committees are forming to address design plans and a general contractor is expected to be chosen in April. Want to know more? Contact our Sales Team at 512-531-3900 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kent A. Kern (top left), interim leader of San Juan Unified schools in California and former assistant superintendent of operations and school support, was recently named superintendent, replacing Superintendent Glynn Thompson. who was placed on paid administrative leave. Karl R. Thompson (top center), a counselor to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, has been selected by the Obama administration as acting head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel. Greg Lucas (top right), a former political reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle and a senior editor for the Sacramento website Capitol Weekly, which covers California politics, has been appointed California State Librarian. Martell Menlove, superintendent of the Utah public schools since 2012, has announced he will retire as soon as the state board of education can find his replacement. Joe Lyons, who has served as interim fire chief in Westfield, Indiana, since January, was officially named chief recently after a career with the department he has been a part of since 1996. James Riker, who has served as city planning director for the city of Duluth, Minnesota, has been chosen to take over the position of city manager. Jonathan Fielding (bottom right), head of the Los Angeles County public health department and the agency's first head since 2006, has announced he is retiring after a career that began there in 1983. David Samson (bottom center), chair of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, has resigned his post following the scandal over lane closings at the George Washington Bridge that has been linked to the Chris Christie administration. Christie Holly (bottom right), former Tishomingo County Director of Curriculum and Testing, was recently elected new Superintendent of Education, replacing retiring Superintendent Ben McClung. Dave Panzer Jr., interim chief of the city of Pierre, South Dakota, Police Department and a 25-year veteran of the force, has been named police chief. Eric Knost, superintendent of the Mehlville School District, which he has served for 12 years, has been named superintendent of the district. Daniel Heimmermann, the provost and vice president of academic affairs at Mississippi University for Women, has been chosen provost and vice president of The University of Texas of the Permian Basin, replacing William Fannin, who served in that post since 1996.
|Let us help advertise your event on our calendar|
Does your organization or agency have an upcoming event that would be of interest to either vendors who do business with government or officials and workers in state and local government, higher education, public education or health care? Are you planning a webinar? A conference or seminar? The Government Contracting Pipeline invites government and nonprofits to send information regarding your events for consideration to be included in our FREE Calendar of Events section below. In addition to providing contact information, the day, date, time and a synopsis of the event, you may also include a link to additional information on your Web page and/or a link to online registration that we'll include. Please submit your event information to email@example.com.
|Calendar of events|
NASACT planning April Middle Management Conference
The National Association of State Auditors, Comptrollers and Treasurers will hold its 2014 Middle Management Conference April 8-10 at the Hilton Salt Lake City Center, 255 South West Temple, Salt Lake City 84101. Some of the topics for the general sessions include Current Trends in Fraud, Leading Through Change and Transition and Restoring the Honor of Public Service. Also planned is a Hot Topics/Best Practices Roundtable that will include such offerings as records management and storage, innovative technology/methods that are being used to streamline audit/business processes, implementing specific performance metrics in the workplace and what is on your wish list to help you do your job better? Registration is now open and the agenda is available for viewing.
Federal Business Council to host government procurement conference
The Federal Business Council will host the 24th Annual Government Procurement Conference
at the Washington D.C. Convention Center on Wednesday, April 16, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Annual Government Procurement Conference is a national conference fostering business partnerships between the federal government, its prime contractors and small, minority, service-disabled veteran-owned, veteran-owned, HUBZone and women-owned businesses. More than 3,000 government and private sector attendees participate, as well as hundreds of small business and government exhibitors. Among the topics for the conference are: Federal Contracting 101, Opportunity for Woman-Owned Small Businesses, Subcontracting with Prime Contractors, Strategic Sourcing and Understanding RFPs. A portion of this event is dedicated to MatchMaking appointments which offer small businesses the chance to sit down one-on-one with federal, state and local small business advocates and prime contractors to discuss what their business can do to support each agency's goals. Registration
is open and the agenda
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