Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission
Ad Hoc Infrastructure Committee

April 2 , 2003

Commission Hearing Room
Texas Parks & Wildlife Department Headquarters Complex
4200 Smith School Road
Austin, TX 78744

BE IT REMEMBERED, that heretofore on the 2nd day of April, under the regulatory authority of the Parks and Wildlife Commission of Texas, in the Commission Hearing Room of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Headquarters Complex, beginning at 3:00 p.m., to wit:

APPEARANCES:

THE TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION:

AD HOC INFRASTRUCTURE

Katharine Armstrong, Austin, Texas, Commission Chair

Joseph B.C. Fitzsimons, San Antonio, Texas

Ernest Angelo, Jr., Midland, Texas

John Avila, Jr., Fort Worth, Texas, Committee Chair

Alvin L. Henry, Houston, Texas

Philip Montgomery, Dallas, Texas

Donato D. Ramos, Laredo, Texas

Kelly W. Rising, M.D., Beaumont, Texas

Mark E. Watson, Jr., San Antonio, Texas

THE TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT:

Robert L. Cook, Executive Director, and other personnel of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

CHAIRMAN ARMSTRONG: Our next committee will be the Ad Hoc Infrastructure Committee.

Commissioner Avila?

COMMISSIONER AVILA: Okay. I call to order the committee meeting of the Ad Hoc Infrastructure Committee on April 2, 2003 at 3:05.

The first order of business is the approval of the Committee minutes from the previous meeting. Do I have a motion?

COMMISSIONER RISING: So moved.

COMMISSIONER RAMOS: Second.

COMMISSIONER AVILA: The motion has been seconded. All in favor say aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER AVILA: They are approved.

Bob, do you have any new Chairman's charges?

MR. COOK: No, sir.

COMMISSIONER AVILA: No?

MR. COOK: We're caught up, I believe.

COMMISSIONER AVILA: Okay.

Then we'll have Steve Whiston give us the capital program update.

MR. WHISTON: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Chairman Armstrong and Commissioners.

For the record, my name is Steve Whiston; I'm the Director of the Infrastructure Division. I'd like to brief you this afternoon on three elements of our capital program, the first being the status of our current bond issues, share some information about our minor repair program ‑‑ our ongoing minor repair program, as well as an update on our facilities management system.

If I may, I'm going to just briefly summarize some of the data in each of the pie charts regarding each of the individual issues of our revenue bond program. I have all the detail that you can probably stand. If you'd like that detail, I've got copies of this information which I'd be more than happy to provide for you.

As you probably recall, our first issue of bond ‑‑ revenue bonds was in 1998. I'm proud to report that this issue is substantially complete; only two projects right now remain in the final phase of design and construction, and those two projects are scheduled to be completed next month. And then we will happily and eagerly close out the FY '98 issue with the Texas Public Finance Authority.

Only one project, likewise, remains in the '99 issue. This project will be completed in the next 90 days, and, as well, this issue will be closed with TPFA.

The 2000 revenue bond issue, as you'll recall, was a $20-million issue made up of about 113 projects. We've completed now 92 of those projects and expended of that original 20 million 18.6 million. We expect or anticipate completing all of those projects, the remaining projects, in 2002 by the end of this calendar year, in December.

There is an accrued interest earnings and some project savings as a result of these 2000 revenue bond projects which we will be applying for, which will provide us additional revenue for more critical repairs out of this issue.

Our very last installment of revenue bonds was issued in January of 2001. Our ‑‑ all those projects are on schedule, moving steadily along, and we expect to be complete with that issue next summer, early summer, June/July, in 2004.

In summary, I'm really pleased to report that the combined revenue bond program that began in 1998 ‑‑ of that original $60 million, we've expended $56-1/2 million, or about 88 percent of the total funds or proceeds that were provided to us. We're moving steadily forward in wrapping up this program and expect to do so, as I said earlier, in the early summer of 2004, next summer.

In the last legislative session, as you know, Texas Parks and Wildlife was authorized $101-1/2 million for general obligation bonds to be issued over three biennia in our new Prop 8 bond program. This slide illustrates the original intent of the legislature to provide those funds over those three biennia. Our FY '03 bonds were issued. Already, we've got some seed money, some start-up money, for these for the first issue, in late October. And then the bulk of those funds were provided to us just this past January.

As Mr. Cook commented earlier, because it looks very much unlikely or more and more unlikely that the legislature is going to approve our next installment of GO bonds for '04 and '05, we are presently looking at strategies right now within our shop to address to see how we can use our available money to address all our critical needs so that we will be able to address some of those needs over these next two years.

Mr. Chairman, I'd like to comment regarding your question earlier. I feel like it's important that you are aware that within the last three days, the senate finance committee has directed the state auditor's office to re-evaluate our current or existing '03 bond appropriation authority so ‑‑ with the intent of looking at opportunities to redirect some of our existing authority toward either other agencies or other critical needs.

So that story's really not, you know, resolved yet. We are in the process of trying to respond to a pretty comprehensive report, where we're looking and trying to explain or defend, if you will, or justify project-by-project all of our existing '03 projects to be submitted to the state auditor's office. My staff refers to it as the Monster Reports. We are busy with that right now, and it'll be submitted to the state auditor for the purpose of this evaluation early next week.

COMMISSIONER AVILA: Steve, let me ask you this question. Where it says, "Park-specific funding," like San Jacinto, that's the redevelopment of the battle field?

MR. WHISTON: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER AVILA: Okay. And so ‑‑

MR. WHISTON: Yes.

COMMISSIONER AVILA: ‑‑ in a case like that, can they take that money?

MR. WHISTON: Certainly, they can, yes, sir. Yes, all is subject ‑‑ unless funds ‑‑ and to a certain degree, you know, there are funds that we have right now contractually obligated to projects. We certainly don't anticipate that they're going to, you know, consider taking those funds, but all unobligated or all unencumbered funds are subject to their scrutiny right now.

COMMISSIONER AVILA: And so for my next question, let's say it's ‑‑ there's three years' worth of development for San Jacinto that totals 12 million. If ‑‑ how much of that is for like master study, architecture or engineering ‑‑ any of that 2 million?

MR. WHISTON: About 75 percent of this first installment, or the 2 million, is directed toward planning and the master plan and developing the design and the planning element of that project. It's not until '04, '05 and then the subsequent issue for San Jacinto in '06 and '07 that monies were going to be made available for actual construction.

COMMISSIONER AVILA: I don't want to take up a lot of time here, but would the argument be, "Why start that if we're not going to be able to complete it ‑‑

MR. WHISTON: Certainly, it is, yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER AVILA: ‑‑ "and so let's redirect it somewhere in the Agency," and then they'll come back and say, "Well, that's not what it was intended for, so we're taking it instead"?

MR. WHISTON: Yes, sir. That's ‑‑ we're ‑‑ to be ahead of the curve, we are taking that strategy now, yes, sir, with each of those projects and trying to determine, What is a reasonable level of design or planning, if you will, that we feel is appropriate to accomplish with those funds, given the fact that money in '04 and '05 is not going to be available to us.

MR. COOK: Mr. Avila, we started ‑‑ we actually started that evaluation before we had this request from SAO for our own safety.

MR. WHISTON: Yes.

MR. COOK: In other words, there's no point in going and spending a million-and-a-half dollars in planning and design if there's ‑‑ if we're not realistically going to be able to see the use of that in the next several years. Which ‑‑ the one that comes to my mind that worries me really bad on that list is the Sheldon funding, that if, as a result of this recent request that we have, they basically say, "No, not going to go there," then there's the ‑‑ that entire project is at risk that ‑‑ we've really got some online things going on.

COMMISSIONER AVILA: Okay.

And my final question on that particular slide is: Can any of that proffered money be used for maintenance ‑‑

MR. WHISTON: Yes.

COMMISSIONER AVILA: ‑‑ within the Department?

MR. WHISTON: Yes, sir. These funds ‑‑ maintenance is an allowable use for those funds, yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER AVILA: Okay.

MR. WHISTON: So ‑‑ given that we are taking the extra effort in trying to re-evaluate these projects fairly so that we can provide some kind of an appropriate response to senate finance.

Regarding our existing funds for '03, assuming we will ‑‑ they will remain intact, we have set up already 98 projects for that $36.7 million. We've already ‑‑ I'm happy to report, spent or expended about $623,000 already, money out of the bank. We have encumbered or obligated under contract of that money that we got just in January over one-and-a-quarter-million dollars for that issue already.

So we're off to a great start. And at the pace we're at, we expect to fully expend that $36 million in the summer of 2005.

COMMISSIONER HENRY: Let me get back to ‑‑

MR. WHISTON: Sure.

COMMISSIONER HENRY: Do you know off hand how much of the Sheldon money has been obligated already?

MR. WHISTON: No, sir, not exactly. I'd be happy to ‑‑ off the top of my head, Commissioner, I don't. I'd be happy to provide that for you, though.

COMMISSIONER HENRY: Would you get that for us?

MR. WHISTON: Sure.

COMMISSIONER HENRY: Thank you.

MR. WHISTON: I guess, to move on, I'd like to take the next few minutes to brief you on our state parks minor repair program. This is a very, very important element of our capital program each year.

If you'll recall, the minor repair program was first established in 1998; its purpose was to provide funding at a regional or a park level for those parks to address small repair or maintenance needs in order to prevent those needs from becoming major repairs later. They are typically managed by field staff, this program ‑‑ in the field. This program is funded from $3 million of annual appropriation of general revenue.

This next chart or slide illustrates the components of the minor repair program. And if you will, I'd like to just really briefly describe each one of those starting at the bottom. The largest component of our minor repair program is small repairs. It's funded with a little over $2 million each year. Those ‑‑ it consists of projects that are typically under $25,000 that do not usually require any kind of engineering or architectural services.

Examples of those projects are like replacing a water heater or doing termite control treatments, small electrical repairs or minor roof repairs, something that the parks can manage themselves to address repair or maintenance needs. So far this year, state parks has completed 68 of 268 budgeted small repair projects.

The next component on the list kind of going clockwise is our trails program; it's funded at $25,000. It is actually state matching money, 80/20 matching money, for the Federal Trails Grant Program that allows states ‑‑ allows parks ‑‑ pardon me ‑‑ to make repairs to all their hiking trails and equestrian trails through this grant program.

Next there's $250,000 annually built into an emergency contingency for state parks. This is money for emergencies or major repair projects that are unanticipated, due to a natural disaster, to flooding, high wind or tornadoes or something that we had not planned for.

$50,000 is budgeted annually for the purchase or the acquisition of safety equipment and safety supplies and to fund studies or inspections or reports on hazardous materials that are uncovered ‑‑ and this happens more frequently than you can imagine ‑‑ at times in state parks.

A statewide fund of $142,000 is a part of this program and is designated for exhibit repairs for exhibits in waysides, to do repairs and to install new interpretive signage. The next component is $110,000, which is set up annually for swimming pool repairs; this is to offset the high cost in the parks for operating swimming pools. This helps them defer the cost of water, pool chemicals and supplies and to make minor repairs in their pumping systems or their tile and deck.

The minor repair program also funds the parks TDCJ program. As you know ‑‑ as you well know, the TDCJ program provides inmate labor to perform maintenance and repair projects statewide. Currently, we have TDCJ inmates working at 42 state parks this year, and so far, they have provided the state parks system with over 60,000 hours of donated labor, which equates to an earned value of about $310,000 of free labor ‑‑ of labor that has been provided through the TDCJ program for state parks repairs.

And finally and lastly is ‑‑ to complete the circle of the pie chart is a $160,000 fund for preventative maintenance. And these are projects that are more maintenance-related activities, like replacing window glass, repairing equipment, door knobs, paint, some small painting. That also is very important to the operation for state parks.

As I said before, this has been a very, very successful program. And, unfortunately, to follow along in our discussion earlier, given the current statewide budget shortfall, we are concerned that this program may be at risk.

The house appropriations committee version of our '04/'05 budget defers this program ‑‑ the cost of this program, about $6.5 million a year ‑‑ is recommending deferring the cost of that to our existing GO bond authority. So we would ‑‑ if that were to be enacted, you know, we would be required or asked to sacrifice part of our current bond authority for major repairs to fund or to continue our minor repair program.

Finally, to conclude my presentation, I'll spend just a minute to report the status of our facilities management system. I'm pleased to report that our system is now fully implemented. This has been about a four- or four-and-a-half-year-plus project in the making. It has recently or ‑‑ was recently identified in the state auditor's report for the Agency. And we have reported, and they have accepted the full completion of this management action.

FMS, as you'll recall, is an automated database system that we've now got in place in the Agency that helps us maintain information about the condition of all our facilities and all the components of our facilities statewide. And it allows us to project the life cycle replacement costs and repair costs of all those components in those facilities for every piece of equipment that we've got in a state park or a wildlife management area or a fisheries facility.

We've completed our statewide inventory. We've populated the database with all that data now, and all the software has been deployed to all our customer divisions, to all the parks, to all the WMAs and the fishery facilities that are currently online and using that system. But most importantly, we are now able to rely on FMS to identify our capital needs and all our priorities for this upcoming biennium and all our priority needs for the future. And so we're really pleased to have that, you know, working now and serving us and happy that it's complete.

And with that, I'll conclude and be happy to answer any questions you have.

COMMISSIONER AVILA: The only one I have is on the FMS system. Is that Carter Burgess that helped put that together?

MR. WHISTON: Yes, sir. It was originally under contract ‑‑ the one system that they helped us put in place ‑‑ along with Camp, Dresser and McKee [phonetic].

COMMISSIONER AVILA: Okay. And they're done?

MR. WHISTON: Yes, sir. They're ‑‑ it's over with, yes.

COMMISSIONER AVILA: Okay.

Any other questions?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER AVILA: There being none, any other business?

(No response.)

COMMISSIONER AVILA: I'll take a motion to end our committee meeting of the Ad Hoc Infrastructure Committee.

COMMISSIONER HENRY: So move.

COMMISSIONER RISING: Second.

COMMISSIONER AVILA: All in favor say aye.

(A chorus of ayes.)

COMMISSIONER AVILA: I pass the gavel.

(Whereupon, at 3:20 p.m., this meeting was concluded.)

C E R T I F I C A T E

MEETING OF: Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission

Ad Hoc Infrastructure Committee

LOCATION: Austin, Texas

DATE: April 2, 2003

I do hereby certify that the foregoing pages, numbers 1 through, inclusive, are the true, accurate, and complete transcript prepared from the verbal recording made by electronic recording by Penny Bynum before the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission.

4/25/03

(Transcriber) (Date)

On the Record Reporting, Inc.

3307 Northland, Suite 315

Austin, Texas 78731


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