2013 Texas Municipal Excellence Award Winners
(over 25,000 population categories)
San Angelo (City Spirit)
The city’s neighborhood paint and clean-up blitz began with a simple challenge: to paint as many houses and pick up as much trash as it could in one day. The impact of that challenge has resulted in the complete transformation of neighborhoods from blight and stagnancy to progress and vibrancy. The two-day annual neighborhood blitz brings together city staff and volunteers from Angelo State University, Goodfellow Air Force Base, nonprofit agencies, and the West Texas Organizing Strategy organization, a local citizens advocacy group. Recent projects have not only included cleaning up residential neighborhoods but also the renovation of little league fields, improvements to historic Fort Concho, the repainting of two recreation centers, and the freshening of a riverside walk and run trail. The annual clean-up has eliminated potential code violations, which has saved an estimated $75,000 in staff time, but has also rekindled neighborhood pride and spirit among residents.
Grand Prairie (Communication Programs)
The city developed a creative and successful animal shelter promotion campaign to increase the pet adoption rate. With no additional budget to address the low adoption rate, employees got creative. The result is a multi-media promotion plan that uses clever themes, eye-catching art, and special promotions to place needy dogs and cats in loving homes. City staff generated all ideas internally and used television, radio, Facebook, the city website, the monthly water bill newsletter, and the city quarterly magazine to spread the word about themed adoption events and promotions. The campaign has been a big success. In just two years, pet adoption rates have increased more than six percent and continue to trend upwards. In addition, donations to the shelter have increase 235 percent in the same time period. The increased funding has allowed the shelter to pay for special-needs animals, heartworm testing, and the expansion of the exercise yard.
Tyler (Management Innovations)
City University is a comprehensive employee training program that was created to develop a well-trained and highly-skilled workforce. City leaders knew that it was not enough to simply offer classes. It needed to be a robust, branded, and well-marketed program that would excite employees, prepare them to better serve Tyler citizens, and enhance employee engagement. City University offers five tracks: leadership, professional development, innovation, core competency, and life management. Additional programing includes a leadership academy, Lean Six Sigma training, customer service training, and a city employee Toastmaster club. After just four years of existence, the city’s onsite training program has saved the city over $540,000 in training expenses, has helped grow and support highly qualified employees, and has improved communication between city departments.
Galveston (Public Safety)
The city police department works to meet the expectations and needs of an increasingly diverse community through the Protect with Respect initiative. The goals of the program are to foster relationships between law enforcement, communities, and businesses; improve officer interpersonal communication skills and diversity awareness; increase the visibility of officers in the neighborhoods they patrol; and provide informal opportunities for citizens and police to get to know one another. To achieve these goals, officers receive regular training and the department has implemented several community outreach efforts that include recording short officer video profiles in English and Spanish that have appeared on community television and the Internet, sponsoring community events called “Meet and Greet the Beat,” and expanding the existing citizen’s police academy. The multi-faceted approach has proved extremely successful—citizen complaints have decreased by more than half since the program started and crime has decreased significantly.
San Angelo (Public Works)
The city, with the support of community partners, developed an innovative storm water education campaign to address the deterioration of the water quality in its rivers and lakes. In addition to the standard initiatives of logo development, billboards, brochures, water bill inserts, and participating in public events, the education campaign also includes an active school program. Youth initiatives include an in-class watershed education program for all seventh-grade students, as well as a student ambassador program for middle school students named the Aqua Squad. Members of the Aqua Squad are selected from a large pool of applicants. Each summer, the group receives extensive training and travels to a unique site to learn about water issues in other areas of the country. These youth initiatives have been instrumental in raising awareness and effecting change in the quality of the city’s water bodies as well as fostering a sense of pride for the local environment.