The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Articles VI, VII, & VIII met on February 12, 2019 to hear invited testimony from the General Land Office, Railroad Commission, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Texas Animal Health Commission, Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board, Texas Low Level radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission, Texas Department of Agriculture and Texas Water Development Board. The Legislative Budget Board also presented budgetary info and recommendations for all agencies present.
This report is intended to give you an overview and highlight of the discussions on the various topics the committee took up. It is not a verbatim transcript of the hearing, but is based upon what was audible or understandable to the observer and the desire to get details out as quickly as possible with few errors or omissions.
General Land Office
Pamela Bolton, Legislative Budget Board
- $2.5 billion increase for disaster recover related to Harvey.
- GLO anticipates receiving $81.0 million from GOMESA for large-scale costal construction
- $15.9 million for the operation and maintenance of the Alamo.
- $4.6 million in all funds for ten capital budget projects.
- $37.8 million in PSF for the management of state PSF lands and mineral rights.
George P. Bush, General Land Office
- GLO is requesting new rider to move unexpended balances from FEMA program to the next biennium.
- GLO is asking for a new rider to allow agency to carry forward unexpended balances related to the Governor’s Disaster Grant and the GR transfer from the TDoCJ.
- Requesting $13 million in all funds for the implementation of CAPPS
- Requesting $4 million in community disaster recover FEMA contingency funds, exceptional item can be withdrawn if first rider is approved.
- Requesting $23 million in all funds for hurricane Harvey Texas costal program damages, exceptional item can be deleted if first rider is approved.
- Requesting $885 thousand to enhance the oil and gas royalty reporting system.
- Requesting $480 thousand to update archives and records database and digital file preservation.
- Muñoz – What do you expect to utilize GoMESA funds for?
- We do not have projected projects yet, but we are more than happy to work with the committee to target the spending. We can provide the committee with guidelines as to how the funds can be spend.
Thomas Brown, Legislative Budget Board
- Presented recommendations for the Railroad Commission. *Recommendations were not on the LBB website.
- Items include operational stability funding, GR-D 5155 funding, ESFs for oil and gas well plugging and remediation, vehicle replacement, software licenses and services funding, and EFFs.
Wei Wang, Railroad Commission
- LAR requests consists of three priorities:
- $9.8 million for the mainframe transformation/IT modernization project.
- 22 inspector FTEs.
- Funding for well plugging activities.
- Toth – Asked for a copy of the IT modernization plan.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
Thomas Brown, Legislative Budget Board
- $158.4 million from SGST transfers.
- Decrease in $65.5 million in all funds for deferred maintenance capital projects.
- $183.9 million, increase of $82. million, for state park operations, minor repairs, and support.
- Recommendations remove $74.7 million for the following: deferred maintenance; law enforcement vessel, CAPPS deployment; Center for Urban Ecology at Quinta Mazatlán.
- $41.5 million for method of finance swaps.
- $29 million for continued border security activities.
- $209.5 million for the GR-D Game, Fish, and Water Safety Account.
- $41.6 million for local park grants, and boating access and other grants.
- Recommendation by SAC to transfer eight historic sites from TPWD to THC.
Carter Smith, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
- Requesting $15 million to address various operational expenses at state parks related to visitation increases, emergency repairs, and aging facilities.
- Toth – Do you close parks, does that mean they have reached capacity?
- Correct, we cannot accommodate safely.
- Wilson – Can you expand on the enchanted rock issues?
- It is issues related to parking lot capacity, staff related issues, dealing with increases in visitors, entry issues, size of visitor’s centers, available campsites, water and wastewater systems.
- Requesting 52 FTEs to address operational issues.
- Wilson – Is there a high volume of cancelations for camping sites, because when I go, I do not see anyone there.
- It could be a factor.
- Wilson – We want to make sure that we do what we can to reduce last minute cancelations, that keep others from enjoying the park. What is the policy on cancelations?
- There is a penalty for cancelations.
- Wilson – What is the volume of cancelations?
- We can get you that information.
- Wilson – Believes that park funding has lacked in Texas and emphasized the importance of giving the agency what it needs to operate.
- Agency is requesting $12.5 million for the development of a new state park, e.g., Palo Pinto Mountains State Park.
- Requesting $95.6 million for differed maintenance, capital construction, and facility repairs.
- Requesting $20 million for law enforcement activities. (e.g., radios, trauma kits, training, two aircrafts, radios).
- Requesting $2 million for CAPPS implementation.
- Requesting $9 million to address Hurricane Harvey damages.
- Requesting $5 million for grants to local entities for parks and outdoor recreation.
- Requesting for $100 million to dry-berth the Battleship Texas.
- New rider to provide appropriation authority from GR-D no. 64 for payments to the SPBS vendor in the event costs exceed appropriated levels.
- New ride to move unexpended balances for concession revenue at state parks.
- Bell – Asked for information on the Game, Fish, and Water Safety Account.
- Bell – Asked for clarification on LBB recommendation
- Bell – What is your recommendation on the Battleship?
- Not sure TPWD is the best agency to handle the dry-berth or breaking apart and warehousing of the ship.
- Bell – The $100 million is to restore the battleship through the TWPD?
- The $100 million is a placeholder amount so that we can have a conversation with the legislature about what needs to be done.
- Wilson – How would the battleship and our taxpayers benefit if we move the ship to the historical commission.
- It was based as to where it would be best suited.
- Wilson – I am not sure there is enough information for the legislature to make a decision. What would it cost just to get a study in place for a plan for the battleship?
- Can provide written summaries and estimates of the cost to dry-berth, salvage, or scrap and display the battleship.
- Wilson – Have you looked at every possible solution for the ship?
- We have and can provide you with further information.
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
George Dzuik, Legislative Budget Board
- $96.6 million in GR-D funds for LIRAP.
- $6 million for funding to reduce ozone in areas not designated as nonattainment areas.
- $154.7 million in TERP Account funuding.
- $1.3 million for the processing of expedited air permit applications.
- Capital budget projects:
- $1.3 million for personal computer replacement.
- $1.1 million for technology operation and security infrastructure.
- $148 thousand for air modeling for state implementation plan.
- $121 thousand for printer replacement.
- $1.3 million for vehicle replacement.
- $25.6 million for data center services.
- $7.1 million to mitigate radioactive pollution.
- $3.1 million for litigation expenses for the Rio Grande Compact Commission.
Courtney Ambres-Wade, State Auditor’s Office
- Discussed results of TERP audit report.
Toby Baker, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality
- Requesting $2.1 million for the expedited process of air quality permit applications.
- Requesting $900 thousand to enhance municipal solid waste program investigations.
- Requesting $1 million to offset federal fund reductions of $1.5 million.
- Requesting $1.5 million to enhance and expand mobile monitoring for field investigators.
- Requesting $2.3 million for transportation items.
- Requesting $1.6 million for CAPPS implementation.
- Requesting $800 thousand to move the Corpus Christi Regional Office.
- Requesting $2.5 million in additional litigation funds for the Rio Grande Compact Commission.
- Wilson – Have ya’ll investigated the flooding in navigable waterways?
- We only get involved when the water is impacting critical infrastructure.
- Wilson – How would you define navigable streams?
- GLO determines whether streams are navigable. It is a low threshold.
- Wilson – Has the agency looked to position itself for disaster relief surveying.?
- We would be happy to help with survey work. When there is debris on land, we place waste management sites, and local entities collect the debris and take it to its final disposition.
- The issue with places like highland lakes is that while it is navigable, a river authority operates that lake.
- Also the question of what the GLO owns underneath the lakes. Have had multiple meeting with Rep. Murr on how it all fits together
- Another issue is that to get FEMA reimbursements, you have to do some sort of maintenance plan
- Wilson – When I look at the statute, it says if the Commission determines the obstruction is a hazard or having a negative effect, it says the Commission will remove the obstruction. Have you conducted a survey to date on the Colorado & Highland Lakes areas with significant infrastructure and all the debris that has filled in?
- No we have not
- Wilson – What would it take for the legislature to enable you to be proactive?
- What we really wait for is the County Commissioner, if they make the request then we go out and look at it
- Wilson – I appreciate that, but we have all seen the news and it speaks to the Commission working on its own initiative; blockages have issues on more than just recreation, e.g. power generation, etc. I think we have a responsibility to ensure we’re doing what we need to
- Wilson – Texas definitely needs a disaster relief focus & a process in place
- Wilson – Do you have the authority to remove wet debris?
- Wilson – Do you have the funding to do so?
- We do not have funding directly related to this authority
- Wilson – Could you handle or manage one-time funds to remove wet debris from disasters like Harvey or record-level flood events.
- We could, would need to look at what resources are needed up and down the river. We would like to work with counties to do so as they have the knowledge of where these resources are needed.
- Wilson – Are you aware of the number of mines put in place from 2008-18?
- I don’t know exact number, but it is a lot
- Wilson – Believes the number is above 1k, I know the Commission’s hands are full. How many public hearings have you had in the last 2 years?
- Can get the exact number to you
- Wilson – It is an awful lot, in terms of your budget, I think you need some help in terms of monitoring when you go from ~90 to ~1k operations in 10 years
- Wilson – You also have an air quality role in the mining operations, can you tell me what you do in terms of mining?
- Really done on the front-end permit associated with a facility, this is where limits are put into place
- For mining, this is particulate matter & combustion; this is only for the mine, a quarry itself without other facilities is not subject
- Wilson – On the rock crushing side, it really depends on the size of the rock crushing operation?
The Committee recessed to go to the House floor.
- Wilson- What is your roll in terms of air quality at mining sites. I am really looking towards the crushed stone aggregate and so forth. I am also mindful at the budget and when I look at the air monitoring side, I noted that we are looking at 6 million in that effort?
- It is related to the Burnet shale budget.
- Wilson- Asks after monitoring and what the focus is on these industries
- It is done on the front end and it’s risk-based.
- In Galveston and Houston, there are many monitors because of the industry in those parts.
- Wilson- Essentially, we have gone to standard permitting?
- We go by the permit by rule and major NSR.
- Wilson- Do you require monitoring of the pollution that is put in the air?
- That would be done in the permit, we would not have a monitor at the gates, would use technology to certify the numbers
- Wilson- Are there not monitors required at the facilities with rock crushing?
- If it is an APO facility, we would be visiting and giving a full compliance checkup.
- Wilson- When you initiate public hearings, do you hear a lot about pollution?
- Wilson- In order to address that, you basically inform our citizens that if it meets the formula it enables you to issue the rule permit. At the end of the day, we are asking the industries to self-monitor, correct?
- Wilson- Silicon acid is getting into the air correct?
- Correct, it can be harmful.
- Wilson- Since 2005, we have transitioned from a very regulated situation to a system that now allows permittee responsibilities. Do you have the staff capacity to look at the particles?
- The APO process has them on a 3-year compliance investigation.
- We have the ability to respond to nuisance dust by sending an investigator to the property and then determining if the facility has broken the notices.
- Wilson- What is your budget and how many FTEs do you have for investigators to do that?
- It is from the Clean Air Account, $9.6 million for monitoring, and 73 FTEs.
- Investigators we have now require 77 FTEs at $6 million a year.
- Wilson- Could you provide us a number of complaints that turned into an investigation?
- For APOs, There were 1,264 surveys in 2018 and 347 inspections as a result of compliance.
- There were 104 notices of violation that led to 11 notices of enforcement; $127,000 in fines.
- We have 51 complaint driven investigations.
- Wilson- Once you established there is an issue, do you require monitoring?
- No, but it would affect their compliance level (satisfactory, non-satisfactory).
- Their fines would be increased.
- Wilson- How much does monitoring cost?
- $56,000 to set up a monitoring station; we have to have access to electricity, have a trailer, etc.
- Wilson- On the permitting, how old is that science that we use to decide on the rule or notice?
- I don’t think I can answer that question.
- It is a federally delegated program and it is authorized under federal law.
- The standard permits expire periodically and need to be expanded periodically.
- Wilson- Considering we have transitioned from 90+ aggregate mines to now 1,000 plus, would it be worthwhile to support a study?
- We would be happy to undertake any sort of study that would be helpful to the public.
- Wilson- On the mining aspects & the debris situation post Harvey, Is there anything you have viewed that we need to look to ensure that does not happen in our rivers?
- All facilities must have a storm water plan in place, we are aware if it is violated.
- Wilson- Post Harvey did you see if anyone in the industry did not meet the requirements and that’s how the debris got in the rivers and lakes?
- Yes, we did multiple flyovers of San Jacinto river and found violations.
- Wilson- Do we not have the enforcement to go inspect on a routine basis?
- They are on a rolling 3-year schedule so investigators would have been on the facility soon.
- Harvey was an outlier, but I do not know if we would have found much difference.
Texas Animal Health Commission
Thomas Brown, Legislative Budget Board
- Recommends that their budget be set at $30.4 million for FY 2020-2021; which is a decrease of $2 million and by 6 percent.
- Goes through the packet given to the committee.
- Recommends $1 million be spent on software licenses which is not included in the budget.
- Increase the REFF from 200k to 300k; Need IT monitors and an increase inspector salaries.
Andy Schwartz and Coleman Locke, Texas Animal Health Commission
- Our budget for the year is $30.4 million which is a $1.2 million decrease and $3.3 million decrease in federal funds with a cap at 220 FTEs.
- The $1.2 million decrease in funds was used for 1-time expenditures and we are not asking for those funds be returned to the budget.
- Asking for $1.1 million for the biennium and not requesting additional FTEs.
- We need $400,000 to acquire an animal health web-based information system that will modernize the system.
- Request $748,800 to increase the salary for employees.
- Smith- The commission does not oversee white-tail herds in Texas?
- Correct, we are directly in control of exotic species in the state.
- The Texas Wildlife Association handles those species.
- Smith- We have a Chronic Wasting Disease among white-tail herds? Can you give the committee an idea about the extent of the issues?
- Mule deer and elk have also been diagnosed with the disease.
- In the past, Chronic Wasting Disease was found by the border of New Mexico and the northwestern Panhandle of Texas; so Trans-Pecos, Panhandle, and near Medina county; 165 animals have tested positive, mostly white-tailed deer in breeder populations.
- Smith- Do we have evidence of that getting out into the native population of white-tail?
- There were 3 cases in Medina County near the positive breeder facility.
- Certainly in the Trans-Pecos and Panhandle with free-ranging animal populations
- Smith- Would the Commission be involved in remedying that problem with the deer that are not captive?
- We are concerned from the aspect of exotic livestock; We have put containment zones with testing requirements in place to prevent man made movement or hunting movement
- Closely mirrors what Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has done, TPWD has put up check stations and collected samples; we help man the check stations and have covered the laboratory costs with the mule deer and elk.
- Smith – Are you satisfied that we are doing enough to protect those animals that are in your purview?
- I believe we are.
Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board
George Dzuik, Legislative Budget Board
- Requests $5 million in GR to enhance water availability and remove debris in water to allow more water to flow into the rivers, this amount was reduced by half in fiscal year 2019.
- $37.4 million to repair the earth and dams which is an increase by $5 million.
- Separate appropriations in 2 interdependent and dependent categories to enable the comptroller to see what is for repair; Moving funding to construction when projects are being planned.
Rex Isom, Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board
- $3 million request to address the ongoing back log for dam maintenance, repair, and rehabilitation.
- Request $790.6k to address backlog for water quality; Currently there is a backlog of 457.
- Smith- Regarding the Water Supply Enhancement Program, would that program be going on outside of Wichita falls Texas?
- Smith- I am aware of a program outside of Wichita Falls that is being done with a poison used to kill the mesquites. I hear there is a chemical being used in the water?
- There is a chemical and a mechanical component.
- Smith- I know there is a chemical being used to knock back the mesquites outside of Wichita falls. Can you give the committee a brief overview of the 2 mechanisms we are using?
- Cultural, mechanical, and chemical means are most prevalent.
- Mechanical is the most expensive and not that effective and requires maintenance.
- Cultural involves a combination of chemical and mechanical.
- Chemicals specifically used because they are cost effective; The chemical being used does less to the environment than mechanical.
- Smith- Can you expand on what kind of protection the consumers have. They have no idea that there is a chemical being used upstream.
- It may or may not be used upstream and appear in the water.
- The company has to be able to prove to the EPA that the chemical degrades in days or sometimes even hours.
- Herbicides are used to harm plants not animals; The systems within the plants do not even exist in animals.
- Smith- What you are telling me is that if it does end up in a water source, it could be hazardous
- Yes, but it is not likely.
- Smith- Can you tell me a timeframe that the substance has been approved or tested?
- The EPA tests products before introduction, and then go through reregistration every 15 years and examines new evidence.
- Smith- How much of your ask of the water enhancement program included the use of the herbicide?
- 10 percent.
- Smith- How many of these chemical applications do we have going on across the state?
- I only have a rough guess at this point in time since the funding has diminished as of last session.
- We are down to maybe zero.
Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission
George Dziuk, Legislative Budget Board
- Recommends provide $1.2 million for funding, increase of $266k.
- Provides overview of funding policy for the Commission, recent legislation lowered fees to encourage out-of-compact use of the site
- Oversight committee created & TCEQ to conduct study every 4 years on available volume and curie capacity.
- The Commission has submitted an exceptional item request for $300,000.
Leigh Ing and John Salzman, Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission
- Provides overview of Commission governance structure, most important function is to ensure adequate capacity for disposal of radioactive waste
- Commission also review entities outside of Texas and Vermont who want to use our site for radioactive removal.
- Site is very busy, took in 100k curies last year, in the first 4 months of this year site took in 110k curies, & anticipated that by end of FY it will receive 275k curies; 275k curies is the statutory limit
- Keeping up with operations takes more effort from the Commission and means increased fees for Texas, Andrews county, and more work for the Commission.
- We request an additional $150,000 per year of the biennium to continue the work we do in an efficient manner.
Texas Department of Agriculture
Pamela Bolton, Legislative Budget Board
- 2020-21 budget is $1.4 billion in all funds which includes $104.3 million in GR, GR reduction of 1.6m mostly from removal of one-time funding
- Provides overview of recommendations, including
- Streamlining of cost recovery
- Recommend $1.3 million be appropriated for weights, measures, and metrologies.
- Skimmer fraud unit @$2.6 million in cost recoveries and revenue.
Audrey O’Neill and Tessa Mlynar, State Auditor’s Office
- SAO review the cost rate recovery analysis that TDA uses to set fees, overall determined that TDA sets fees at levels that exceeded those needed to recover cost
- In FY17 revenue exceed cost by $6.5 million.
- The audit identified that while the department monitored revenue in order to complete quarterly revenue reports, but it did not have a formal process in place. Without regular monitoring, TDA cannot evaluate and update fee structure appropriately.
- The rate analysis was performed to estimate total costs and establish a new fee structure.
- Found that TDA consistently applied methodology for estimating direct labor costs
- Identified several issues with estimates
- $4.6 million contingency estimate was not based on actual expenditures or projected costs
- Error in TDA’s estimates, TDA did not have support for some estimates.
- TDA also did not maintain a cost recovery plan as required by Gov. Code.
- TDA does not clearly define fee setting method, fees increases were purported to be proportional, but showed wide variation.
Sid Miller, Texas Department of Agriculture
- We are a cost recovery agency and have privatized most of what we do.
- Roughly $.91 out of every dollar is federal, some of the remaining is GR, but the large portion is self-funded.
- Performance measures set for TDA have been met & exceeded, TDA has been reorganized and privatized many operations.
- Operation Maverick turned up over 7,000 devices that were unregistered, devices now in compliance.
- TDA eliminated 16 inspectors and reduced appropriations request accordingly.
- Began as the last agency using HUB contracts, now one of the top 3 agencies that issue HUB contracts. Similar for veterans.
- School nutrition is a large part of TDA operations, provides overview of Farm Fresh Initiative and others
- Operate the Office of Rural Health and have a small request to leverage federal funding.
- Pesticides audits are up over 300 percent in conjunction with push to prevent poisonings
- We provide bio security for the state and run the weights and measures divisions.
- Provides history of TDA’s funding history, funding structures have changed drastically, including lost UB authority, has caused TDA to set fees higher to offset loss of revenue
- TDA lost its ability to move money from strategy to strategy, lost ability to use fines and penalties to pay for legal staff. Detrimental to issue fines and penalties as cost outweighs the gain
- If TDA collects too much money in a strategy, it is swept & budget can’t be raised.
- Lack of tools has caused TDA to set fees in excess of what they should be to cover costs.
- SAO audit indicated that we did not maintain historical data, now have 3 ½ years of good date to base facts on. Have put corrective measures in place.
- TDA would like the budget tools it lost to be restored.
- The special Items Request:
- First and highest priority is $3 ½ million for urban and economic development to promote Texas products and support economically challenged communities
- Requesting $7.6 million for roadside inspection station expansion, current operations are limited and wanting to expand. Asking for construction funds now and will be asking for staffing funds next session.
- Facing issues with IT system, requesting funds for improvements, including CAPPS & organic farm self-certification.
- Federal funds for rural hospitals are available if matching funds are issued, asking for $540k over biennium to add $2 million in infrastructure for rural hospitals
- Muñoz – Highlights needs to address fees & comfortable with how TDA is handling. From us, UB authority would be very helpful?
- Asking for budget tools back, which will enable lowering fees across the board
- Muñoz – Wants to reauthorize the agriculture inspectors program, will work with TDA to ensure this happens
- Very important program
- Rose – Was going to ask you about the audit, but you have put corrective measures in place
- We have
Texas Water Development Board
Pamela Bolton, Legislative Budget Board
- The budget for the Texas Water Development board is $364.2 million in AF, including $128.7 million in GR.
- Funding for study of aquifers & brackish groundwater @$2m in GR, TWDB has completed studies of 4 out of 28 aquifers so far.
- EDAP and Water Infrastructure Fund @$195 million in AF for debt service, $65.9m in GR.
- Flood Plain Management Account 330, UB authority for funds from this account
- LIDAR mapping tech, @$500k from 330, continues funding requested and approved during interim for new capital project for LIDAR
- SWIFT and SWIRFT, $617m in bond sales to date, $8.2b committed to water projects
- In riders, @200k for new project to make changes in TWDB’s loan and grant database
Peter Lake, Jeff Walker, and Rebecca Trevino, Texas Water Development Board
- Provides overview of TWDB mission and operations, $2 billion in financial assistance to water projects over the last year, incl. $1.8b in SWIFT; have seen significant local savings and capacity increases
- Key focus of TWDB is flood mitigation, working on mapping, modeling, alerts, etc., some exceptional items touch on enhancing these items
Statewide Flood Assessment published in December
- 4 exceptional items projects that add up to $9 million:
- Flood technical package – $4.4 million and 10 FTEs to enhance mapping, modeling, and monitoring, incl. LIDAR.
- Ground water package –$1 million and 6 FTEs, for groundwater availability models
- Strategic mapping program – $3 million and 0 FTEs
- CAPPS – migrating legacy HR systems to CAPPS
- Asking for 2 rider revisions, 1) rename capital appropriation from LIDAR data to geographic data, 2) asking for increase of ag grant limitation from $600k/year to $1.2m/year
- Muñoz- I just wanted to clarify on the EDAP request, this is to pay current debt obligation?
- They are for existing EDAP bonds.
- Muñoz- Would there be a request to get any new bond authority or grants?
- In January we issued the last $53 million of authorized EDAP funding, any future action would require legislative action.
- Muñoz-That was this past January, so that would mean there is $53 million available for the next 2 years.
- Those funds are already being sent to applicants and communities around the state.
- Muñoz- For the next biennium there is no request for EDAP funding?
- We did not put it in our request and did not want to presume that we should be the ones re-administering the program.
- We did not make a legislative rec to authorize EDAP, many versions of EDAP under consideration & TWDB did not feel comfortable recommending which.
- We want the legislature to shape the program they wanted.
- Muñoz and Lake discuss the positive impact EDAP has had on communities in Texas
- Muñoz- I’m trying to understand the position of TWDB not wanting to see this program continue.
- Don’t want to say we don’t want it to continue, did not want to presume it was our role to ask for expansion of authority, always happy to continue these conversations.
- Muñoz- But we would need funds to be able to issue obligations
- Muñoz- Trying to understand the comment that it could take many shapes or forms, if there is legislative will to continue this program you would be open to it?
- Absolutely, potential for drainage projects to be added, potential for rural component, etc.
- These are big questions that are above my paygrade.
- Muñoz- Understands this from one perspective, but would expect active participation from the entity with oversight.
- Muñoz- Once the grants are awarded to communities, you continue to have oversight, correct?
- Yes, provide funds in escrow and communities are reimbursed once contracts are provided.
- We have oversight on the money side and the construction side, follow them through the construction and loan period for compliance.
- Muñoz- On the construction side, if a water district receives the grant & they issues RFPs, does this mean TWDB reviews this material?
- We do receive the RFPs, do not review because we are not parties to the contract, but we ensure they follow state law for the procurement
- Muñoz- If they do follow the requirements for procurement, but the difference in cost is very large, what happens then?
- TWDB does review the bids.
- Muñoz- Does TWDB then advise them on who to select?
- We do not advise, but we would investigate for justification for not picking the lowest bidder.
- Muñoz- If they don’t & TWDB determines the justification is not sufficient, then does TWDB advise them?
- Yes, TWDB does opine on best bid possible
- Muñoz- If there is a disparity on what that contractor bid and cost, etc. and TWDB advises, who would be responsible? The entity?
- The entity, contract is between entity and contractor.
- Muñoz- Even if the entity might be telling TWDB they wish to work with one contractor and TWDB is telling them to work with another?
- TWDB does not tell the entity who to contract with, we just ask for justification for not picking the lowest bidder
- Muñoz- You may not say which bidder to pick, but maybe your actions would lead them to believe this.
- Can’t answer that, but we ask for justification on why they don’t pick the lowest bidder, by law you are supposed to pick the lowest.
- Muñoz- There are always other aspects in play like experience, etc. Would like the history and rundown of the Agua SUD and the Palmview wastewater infrastructure project & the issue with the procurement and contractor issues
- Would be happy to.
Spotlight on Public Testimony
Cyrus Reid, Sierra Club
- We support more inspectors for the Railroad Commission of Texas.
- Asking to put more money into TERP; $150 million a year.
- Support more monitors.
Evalyn Morris, Sierra Club
- We request capital funding of $100 million for the development of unfunded state parks.
- There should be $1 ½ million added to the budget in order to add boundaries to state parks.
David Sinclair, Game Warden Peace Officers
- We are very happy about the budget and water safety component.
Kimberley Garrot, City of Garret Parks and Recreation Department
- Request that the local grant program be made whole.
John Shepherd, Texas Foundation for Conservation
- It is imperative to fully fund local parks to get ahead of the population growth.
Deborah King, Meals on Wheels
- Texans Feeding Texans grant program specifically home delivered meals.
Chris Klaus, Regional Transportation
- We support HB 1 at about 90 million for the biennium.
Stacey Suits, Travis County Constable Precinct 3
- Has an extensive partnership with TCEQ.
Celia Cole, Feeding Texas
- Request to increase the AG grant to 14.2 million.
Ken Kramer, Sierra Club
- Emphasizes that there are long time water issues, and flooding aspects.