|Volume 6, Issue 47||March 18, 2015|
Everyone has an opinion about drones
Mary Scott Nabers, President/CEO, Strategic Partnerships, Inc.
Who could have predicted a few years ago that something called a "drone" would have a projected economic impact of $10 billion? Most people had never heard of drones until they became so prevalent in recent years.
Drones are now a force to be reckoned with and they are controversial to say the least. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has unveiled regulatory rules for the use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) or drones. The new proposed regulations will definitely not be embraced by many interested parties.
The proposed rules, which are not yet law, require many things. Operators must pass an aeronautical knowledge test and be vetted by the FAA.
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|ARTBA floats latest proposal for Highway Trust Fund|
Increase in gas tax to be offset by tax rebate for lower, middle income Americans
ARTBA has proposed a long-term solution to funding the Highway Trust Fund.
Everybody has an opinion on what the U.S. Congress needs to do to fund the Highway Trust Fund. Lawmakers have until May 31 to pass a bill to extend its funding. In recent years, stop-gap, short-term measures have been approved by Congress at the last minute, much to the dismay of transportation contractors and the states. Without a long-term solution, state departments of transportation have been reluctant to begin new projects.
The fund has in the past been supported by gas taxes. But, with motor vehicles becoming more fuel efficient and Americans driving less, the gas tax receipts have not been sufficient to keep the fund fluid. And, these funds are used for major state and federal transportation projects.
While some states are increasing their own gas tax to help make up the difference in the decreased funding they are getting from the federal government, others are increasing fees to make up the difference, exploring public-private partnerships or taking on additional debt.
Suggestions on how to fund the trust fund are plentiful. One of the most recent is the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) proposal. ARTBA's "Getting Beyond Gridlock" plan proposes a 15-cent federal gas and diesel motor fuels tax with a 100 percent federal tax rebate for middle- and lower-income Americans for six years to offset the tax increase. ARTBA says this increase in the tax would fund a more than $400 billion highway and mass transit capital investment program for six years.
"We hope this is helpful to Congress and the Administration as they get serious about a real solution that doesn't just dig out of the huge hole that has been created, but also starts making the bold capital investments necessary to help U.S. businesses and show Americans real results," said ARTBA President and CEO Pete Ruane (pictured). "If there is a better plan out there that puts the surface transportation program back on solid ground over the next 10 years with a sustainable growth trajectory, then let's move on it now."
ARTBA suggests that the Surface Transportation Program would see growth of nearly 35 percent in the first year of the program, increasing from $50 billion to $67 billion. That would also give state transportation agencies more stable funding that would allow them to continue long-range planning. And, the association predicts that the tax increase would provide $27 billion per year to the Highway Trust Fund.
The ARTBA proposal has some merit in that it has addressed what has blossomed into a $15 billion per year shortage in the trust fund. The mention of user fees as a means of increasing the funding does not set well with politicians or their constituents. But, the ARTBA proposal of a gas tax rebate would conceivably offset the gas tax increase for 94 percent of the nation's tax filers.
|New Mexico House passes public-private partnership bill|
State could join 34 other states with P3/PPP legislation if bill also passes Senate
The New Mexico House has passed a public-private partnership bill that will allow private-sector firms to work with public entities to build schools, water projects, public and higher education facilities, hospitals, airports, railways, parking lots or garages, roads, public buildings, recreation facilities and more.
"It's a way to do projects we need that otherwise wouldn't be built," said HB299 sponsor Rep. Larry Larranaga (pictured). Larranaga said the bill will help both private-sector contractors and financial institutions. He pointed to the fact that 34 other states use public-private partnerships for public-sector projects. "It's time New Mexico does, too," he said.
Larranaga said the state's $1.2 billion in needed water projects are prime examples of projects that P3s/PPPs could help finance. Any fears that citizens might have about the possibility of P3s/PPPs leading to toll roads were quashed by Larranaga, who said toll roads are not likely in New Mexico because the population density for toll roads does not exist. He said a high volume of traffic is necessary for a toll road to be successful.
Larranaga said when a P3/PPP is in place, the private-sector partners can charge rent or user fees on the properties for 30 years. After that time, the property would revert back to the state or the public entity that is a partner in the project. The bill now goes to the Senate for debate.
|Upcoming contracting opportunities|
Capital projects in Michigan city could begin in FY 2015-2016
Capital improvement plan projects in Tecumseh, Michigan, may make their way to the top of a 2015-2016 fiscal year list that will go forward. Although budget projections are not finalized, City Manager Kevin Welch (pictured) said some of the projects could be completed. In addition to individual projects, the capital improvement plan for FY 2015-16 includes street improvement projects that will be prioritized for consideration. Among the individual projects that could begin in FY 2015-16 are an $80,000 lighting upgrades at the Tecumseh Center for the Arts and $500,000 for a new pumper and rescue wagon for the fire department. Other projects under consideration are a new police vehicle, upgrades to the city's wastewater treatment and water plants with a price tag of about $365,000 and purchase of a new dump truck.
Pennsylvania project to move I-70 interchange at New Stanton gains support
Advertisement for bids for a $50 million project to move the I-70 interchange at Stanton is expected in April. In addition to plans to move the interchange about a third of a mile west of the current exit, the project also includes adding a lane in each direction to the four-lane highway. Once bids are sought, officials expect to open them in June and award a contract by mid-July, according to a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation spokesperson. The project is one of four contracts that will be sought this year for the four-county district that includes Westmoreland, Washington, Fayette and Greene counties. The project will account for approximately a quarter of the $220 million in contracts the district will award this year. Scheduled to begin construction in late summer, the project will include six phases, with a completion date of 2018. The project's goal is to make I-70 at New Stanton safer, reduce motor vehicle accidents and bring the roadway up to standards. Numerous wrecks have occurred on the current roadway.
Kentucky city addressing water distribution, water treatment plant upgrades The current state of the city's water distribution system and water treatment plants in Murray, Kentucky, have Mayor Jack Rose (pictured) concerned about needed improvements that have been previously deferred. To address the needs, Rose recently offered a proposal that would cover four years for both the plant and the distribution system. Over that period, the city would spend $1.547 million on improvements to the water distribution system and $3.966 million on the water treatment plant. Rose took the opportunity before the City Council to add that these two infrastructure projects are only two of many that need to be addressed - from the sewer system to streets and drainage. "Our infrastructure in this city is not what I'd like to see it, and in my judgment, it's not what it should be. But we're going to be working on that," he said.
Hartsville moving forward with plans for community broadband plans
After recently attaining Connect South Carolina Certified Connected Community status, the city of Hartsville is now prepared to move forward with its long-term community Technology Action plan. Reaching the connected community rating is a result of an assessment of the city's broadband and technology, using criteria that leads to a community certification model. The program creates community planning teams that use those findings to improve the community's access, adoption and use of broadband technology. Hartsville's plan includes projects and necessary action that will lead to partnerships, connectivity and broadband training for the city. By assessing the city's current technology, officials can make plans that address needs and goals and increase in broadband access for both residents and businesses. Priority projects in the plan include developing and issuing a request for proposals from broadband providers and vendors who are interested in providing proposals for cost-effective community broadband networks and developing public-private partnerships to roll out broadband service.
Sioux City hoping for new hotel to be attached to convention center
A new, $20 million hotel is part of plans for a new development project in downtown Sioux City, Iowa. The hotel would be connected to the Sioux City Convention Center. The hotel is only part of the project being studied by the city. City officials are considering asking the state for funding to help defray the costs of the project. The planning is the first step, followed by refining the project and then putting out a request for proposals to seek a developer to build the new hotel. Another project under consideration is a $10 million to $12 million ag expo center on the site of a former meatpacking plant. But, Mayor Bob Scott (pictured) warns that there is a long process ahead. Another possible project is a $15 million redevelopment of some old warehouse buildings into office, lofts and apartments. The Iowa Economic Development Authority Board would first have to approve of the preliminary plans and then the city can look for a developer to create more specific plans for the hotel and entertainment zone. The mayor said it could take months before the state announces whether funding is available for the projects.
Mohave County seeking architect for new courthouse project in Arizona
In Arizona, Mohave County is seeking bids for an architect to build a new county courthouse. The new courthouse, approved in January by the Board of Supervisors, will be built next door to the current courthouse at a cost of between $18 million and $21.5 million. Approximately 7 percent of that cost would be spent on the architect. That fee likely could be paid from receipts from a quarter-cent sales tax and other funds. Plans are to add 61,300 square feet to the existing 35,600-square-foot courthouse. The new four-story courthouse would become part of the complex that includes the existing facility and the county's historic jail. The project would be built in two phases, with the first phase being building the new courthouse and include secured parking and entrances. The structure would feature three courtrooms on the second floor and four on the third floor. The other two floors would have staff office space. The new facility would also have a hallway to connect the two buildings. Phase two includes remodeling the current courthouse to include two justice of the peace courtrooms.
City in Iowa hoping for state funds to build new 7,000-seat arena, training center
Hoping to attract more sporting events and concerts - and thus new money - to Coralville, Iowa, the city is making plans for a new 7,000-seat arena with an athlete training center (as seen in accompanying photo). City officials will seek a state economic development grant for the $40 million project. In addition to hosting large concerts, this multi-use facility will also seek to attract amateur and club sports including basketball, volleyball and wrestling. The facility could also be converted into an ice arena for hockey. Mayor John Lundrell said the entire area, not just the metro or regional areas, will benefit from the project. The training center, to be called the Iowa Fitness and Sports Performance Institute, will be a private facility to work with athletes on such things as fitness and endurance. The two-story facility would include 35,000 square feet of training space for athletes on one floor and a like amount of square footage for courts on the lower level. The city council recently approved seeking up to $12 million toward the project from the Iowa Reinvestment District. It allows cities to keep 4 percent of sales tax and 5 percent of hotel/motel tax collected in the district. Those receipts can be collected for up to 20 years and used to pay back the amount of the state grant. The city hopes for state money to fund one-third of the project, another third of the funding coming from the private sports training company and the final third would be raised through a public fundraiser.
West Palm Beach's Southern Boulevard Bridge to be replaced by statePalm Beach County, Florida, is about to get a new drawbridge. The Florida Department of Transportation has announced plans for replacing the Southern Boulevard Bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway in West Palm Beach. That replacement bridge will join the Flagler Memorial Bridge, which is also being replaced. A temporary bridge will be built north of the current bridge so that traffic can continue to connect to the mainland and the island instead of building the replacement bridge next to the existing bridge like was done in the Flagler replacement. That resulted in the old bridge sinking, causing numerous closures. A process used in the past will be incorporated again, with the contractor building a temporary bridge, demolishing the old bridge and, building a new permanent bridge and then demolishing the temporary one. The timeline includes about a year to build the temporary bridge. The new Southern drawbridge will be larger than the old bridge. It will be a two-lane bridge with shoulders for pedestrians and bicyclists. It will have a span of 125 feet. Cost of the new Southern bridge is estimated at $78 million.
Santa Barbara considering bringing shuttered desal plant back online
A newly built desalination plant in Santa Barbara was expected to be the miracle answer to the statewide drought some two decades ago. And it was...until another miracle occurred - it began to rain. The rains fell steadily and because water from the sky is infinitely cheaper than making potable water with a desalination plant, the plant was shuttered. Now, more than 20 years later, the drought has returned and there is talk about taking the Charles E. Meyer Desalination Plant back online. Because water resources are once again drying up, the city plans to spend up to $40 million to renovate and upgrade the facility and get the plant up and running again. Because the rains came in the first drought before the Santa Barbara plant was finished, it was only used through a test phase before it was shuttered. All the while for 20 years, the maintenance schedule for the plant has been kept up, in anticipation that it might need to be fired up again in the future. Mayor Helene Schneider (pictured) said the desal plant coming out of the mothballs would be a last resort. "This is a last resort," she said. "We need to be ready and have desal online when we need it."
|Who's winning government contracts?|
Check out these recent awards:
- Gibbs Construction Company was awarded a $9.5 million contract from Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, to build a new 32,000-square-foot animal shelter in Marrero.
- Lehman Construction was awarded a $595,992 contract from the Missouri Department of Transportation to replace the deck on the Rocky Fork bridge on Route E, north of Columbia in Boone County.
- B&B Pole Building Company won a $206,166 contract from the Lower Allen Township (Pennsylvania) commissioners for construction of a public safety storage building on the site of a former restaurant on Carlisle Road.
- Crittenden Construction won a $9.7 million contract from the U.S. Geological Survey for the construction and renovation of the USGS Great Lakes Science Center Hammond Bay Biological Station near Millersburg, Michigan. The renovation is a joint effort between the USGS and the Great Lakes Fishery Commission.
- CD Builders won a $2.47 million contract from the city of Coppell, Texas, to do work on Edgewood Drive and Highland Meadow Circle. The work will include replacement of the water and sewer lines and services to each property, repair and enhancement of the existing storm drainage collection system, new paving and city sidewalks.
- Don Schneiders Excavating won a $952,020 contract by the Missouri Department of Transportation to replace the Route 00 bridge over Hinkson Creek of Hallsville in Boone County and the Route UU bridge over Sugar Branch Creek west of Columbia.
- Pride Enterprises was awarded a $219,029 contract from the Florida Department of Transportation for mailing services.
- DTC Computer Supplies won a $29,495 contract from the Florida Agency for State Technology for media storage devices.
- J.P. Mascaro & Sons won a five-year, $127 million contract from the New Jersey Utilities Authority to transfer, transport and dispose of approximately 380,000 tons of waste generated per year in Morris County, New Jersey.
- Qro Mex Construction Co. won a $1.24 million contract from the city of Smithville, Texas, for a wastewater improvement project that will lay pipeline for a wastewater line from a tie-in approximately 1,000 feet south of the Colorado River at Texas 71 to the west along the highway just past the intersection of American Legion Road.
|News about public-private partnerships (P3)|
Ohio State University interested in entering into P3 for energy project
The Ohio State University has issued a request for qualifications (RFQ) for qualified vendors interested in the university's proposal to find a manager for its energy systems. The university is seeking not only an innovative energy strategy, but also one that can provide new resources for its academic goals. The proposal includes a 50-year concession and lease that includes these four major components: operation and maintenance of the utility system; procurement of the energy supply for Ohio State's primary campus located in Columbus, Ohio; a proposal that will achieve energy savings goals for that campus including energy conservation measures; and development of an affinity relationship with OSU and its stakeholders. Operation of the utility system includes operation and maintenance of electric, steam, gas, heating, cooling and production and distribution assets serving the Columbus campus and making capital investments to the system to maintain and expand it as the university grows. The energy supply component would mean keeping energy sufficient to meet current and future requirements, operation and maintenance of the electricity and natural gas supply contracts associated with the system, including logistics of purchasing and delivering fuel and/or onsite generation. The vendor also would be required to achieve and maintain OSU energy-saving goals over the term of the concession. Regarding the affinity relationship, the proposal would need to include items such as research collaboration with faculty, scholarships and internships for students and integrated, co-branded energy marketing opportunities. The university also is seeking a "substantial" up-front payment. The concessionaire would receive a return on its investment through the rate setting mechanisms in place during the term of the agreement.
Rowan University plans P3 to build two new residence hall facilities
At Rowan University in Glassboro, New Jersey, folks are looking to the future. The New Jersey Economic Development Authority recently approved a $145 million bond project that would build new multi-story dormitories at Rowan University. And, they're not for current needs, but for future student population growth. The dorms will be built as part of a public-private partnership, with tax-exempt bonds to finance design and construction. The university Board of Trustees is expected to approve the project sometime next month. Before that can happen, the project will have to be approved by the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA). That approval is needed because the facilities will be private residence halls built on public property. That is to ensure that university interests are protected. The project calls for 1,400 dormitory rooms in two connected buildings of up to eight stories.
Kentucky city mayor's plans for fiber-optic seeking private-sector partner
With some of the slowest Internet speeds in the country, a fiber-optic network may be in the future for the city of Lexington, Kentucky. The city recently issued a request for information (RFI) to determine private-sector interest in constructing, operating and maintaining a fiber-optic network across the city. The goal is to substantially increase Internet speed both for residences and businesses. "Lexington must be connected to the rest of the world with Internet speeds that drive more business activity and economic development," said Lexington Mayor Jim Gray (pictured). He said increasing Internet speeds through a fiber-optic network will positively affect health, education, manufacturing, technology and research sectors in the city. The city is seeking an alternative funding source through a private-sector investment in a public-private partnership or a commercial-only solution. The project would include high-speed Internet access for homes and businesses through a reliable, available network, improved services and network performance, customer service excellence, competitive costs and flexible pricing and capability to extend the network.
P3 project on Virginia I-66 expected to issue RFQ after April
A project that will result in the development of 25 miles of highway via a managed lanes model in Virginia has been delayed. The procurement phase of the Transform 66 P3 project will include three lanes in each direction, with two express lanes in each direction and direct access between the express lanes and new or expanded commuter lots in the northern area of the state. Now, the project has apparently been delayed by several months. The current timeline includes the Commonwealth Transportation Board likely to advance the project to the procurement phase next month, which means a request for proposals could then be issued by the Department of Transportation. The project is expected to cost between $2 billion and $3 billion.
Massachusetts state senator urges increased use of P3s/PPPs for transportation
A member of the Massachusetts Senate is urging the state to increase its use of public-private partnerships (P3s/PPPs) for much-needed transportation infrastructure. Sen. Robert Hedlund (pictured) says that P3s/PPPs can help the state as a source of alternative funding while the state - like so many others across the country - is facing funding shortfalls. He said they are effective options for financing, building and managing transportation infrastructure projects. Hedlund said the state can do more to take advantage of all the benefits these partnerships bring to the table. Under the state's current Capital Investment Plan (a five-year plan that was begun in 2014), the state is likely to spend $12.4 billion on highway, bridge, rail, transit, aeronautics and pedestrian and bicycle projects. Hedlund said he feels P3s for many of those projects would be advantageous. In fact, the state currently is studying several projects that might lend themselves to public-private partnerships. This is not Hedlund's first support for P3s/PPPs. He has supported such projects as a member of the Massachusetts Joint Committee on Transportation.
|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 firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know about your previous job and where you are now. This week we feature Greg Russell.
Former Amazon Vice President Greg Russell (pictured) will serve as the new chief information officer for the Seattle Police Department. In his new charge, Russell will use data to track and predict crime while maintaining privacy of Seattle citizens. He brings a long history of information technology experience to his new job, which he started this week. From 1990 to 1994, Russell was chief architect for Benefit Systems Ltd. From 1995 to 2006, the IT veteran was CIO for Jabil and was vice president of global business systems for Flextronic from 2006 to 2007. From 2007 to 2011, Russell worked for Cisco as general manager of software supply chain. He was named by Amazon as its vice president for corporate applications and information technology, where he served for nearly three years, from March 2011 to January 2014. Russell earned a bachelor's degree in computer science from Bell College of Technology. At the Seattle Police Department, he will apply his experience overseeing corporate applications and enterprise data warehousing to the police technology world.
|Opportunity of the week...|
A county in South Carolina is in the process of building eight fire stations to ensure every house in the county is located within five miles of a station. The county's new main station will feature 17,000 square feet. Within a year and a half, officials expect to have seven other stations under construction. Many are in the bidding and pre-bidding phases. Want to know more? Contact our Sales Team at 512-531-3900 or email@example.com.
Saif Ishoof (top left), executive director of the Miami operations for national service and leadership program CityYear and former CEO of FCT Technologies Corp. and co-founder of TekFight entrepreneurial initiative, has been named vice president of engagement at Florida International University. The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB) has announced that Alexander Vo (top center), former UTMB executive director of the Center for Telehealth Research and Policy and associate professor of preventive medicine and community health, has returned from Colorado Access to serve in the new role of vice president for telemedicine and health services technology. The New Mexico Senate has confirmed Brent Earnest (top right), as the secretary of the New Mexico Human Services Department, chosen by Gov. Susana Martinez to replace Sidonie Squier, who resigned in November. Randy Rikel, a West Texas A&M University alumnus and former employee, is returning to campus from his previous job as associate vice president for budget and finance and controller at The University of Texas at Dallas, to replace WTAMU vice president of business and finance, Sherri Bays. The Virginia Information Technologies Agency (VITA) has announced the appointment of Executive Director Eric Link, who has worked at VITA for more than nine years and comes from a background of local and federal government service, as the agency's interim chief information officer. Denise Pontrelli, director of educational services for Spring Lake Park schools in Minnesota, has been picked as the new superintendent of the Stillwater, Minnesota, school district, where she will replace Corey Lunn, who left that post for a new job in Iowa. Dr. Suzanne Shipley (bottom right), president of Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, has been named lone finalist to become president of Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas, to succeed Dr. Jesse Rogers, who will retire at the end of August. Pennsylvania CIO Tony Encinias (bottom center) has resigned to pursue private-sector opportunities and the commonwealth has appointed Rosa Lara, former director for the Bureau of Application Development and former deputy CIO for Health and Human Service agencies, to be acting CIO. Phillip Washington (bottom left), who has led the Denver Regional Transportation District for the last six years as CEO and general manager, has been named the new chief executive officer of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority. General Services Administration Chief Information Officer Sonny Hashmi has announced he will leave his post to explore opportunities in the private sector, but has not announced yet where he will work. Superintendent Elizabeth Legault of the Whitehall (New York) School District will not be finishing out the school year with the district, but will start her new job as superintendent of the East Bridgewater, Massachusetts, schools in May, replacing Superintendent John Moretti. The city of Tucson has chosen Cochise County Administrator Mike Ortega as its new city manager, to replace interim city manager Martha Durkin, who was filling in for Richard Miranda, who retired in August.
|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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Calendar of events|
NASCIO 2015 Midyear Conference slated April 26-29The National Association of State Chief Information officers (NASCIO) has set its 2015 Midyear Conference for April 26-29 at the Hilton Alexandria Mark Center in Alexandria, Virginia. Visit the 2015 Midyear Conference webpage for up-to-date information on the conference agenda and speaker lineup. Registration is currently open. Register by March 13 for early bird registration rates. Corporate sponsorships are open now. "Are You Ready? Disruptive change is the new norm" is the focus of the conference.
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