2006 Texas Municipal League Municipal Excellence Awards
(Over 25,000 population)
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La Porte (Public Works)
In order to aggressively market and resell tax foreclosure properties, thecity created a new program that quickly moves properties seized for non-paymentof taxes. This program has been the catalyst for unprecedented and unforeseenredevelopment in portions of the city. Homebuilders and developers have snappedup both residential and commercial in-fill properties that are offered to thepublic in a bidding process. In 2005, redevelopment and in-fill resulted ina total of 93 new homes and 17 new businesses. Tax roles have increased bynearly 14 million dollars, with very little increase in costs incurred by thecity. The program has been such a success that La Porte now has a waiting listof people who want to be contacted when properties become available, so theycan place bids.video
Round Rock (Communications)
Unlike many employee orientations, Round Rock’s New Employee Orientation Program is educational, fun, and a celebration of new faces in the organization. Orientation is divided into three separate days of activities, including an explanation of the city’s benefit package, a discussion of Round Rock’s philosophies and objectives, and a city tour. Two additional features are the New Employee Buddy Program, in which a current employee is paired with a new one to serve as a mentor and a friendly face, and the Orientation Graduation to honor employees who have successfully completed their six-month probationary period. New employees quickly feel like they are an important part of the city organization, and current employees are eager to becomeinvolved as buddies.video
Odessa (Management Innovations)
The Family Health Project, a novel system that assembles all the piecesof the health care puzzle, has resulted in millions of dollars in savingsfor the city and employees, a high participation rate, and increasedemployee satisfaction. There are numerous components of the project—anonsite family health clinic offering free health care; a self-administeredbenefit claims processing operation; a network of direct contractswith local health care providers; a fitness center; a Family Healthand Wellness Center; and the employee health plan document, a constantlychanging record that includes all of the city’s philosophy concerningemployee health. Odessa is on track to realize more than $2 millionin savings since this highly successful project began two years ago.video
Killeen (Public Safety)
The Killeen Fire Department collaborated with the Killeen Independent SchoolDistrict to offer a new career opportunity to high school students, and fillvacant firefighter positions. The Killeen Fire Department High School Academyoffers a two-year program—the first year is primarily spent in the classroom,while the second year finds students receiving more hands-on training in firefightingtechniques. Upon completion of the program, students are well prepared to takethe firefighting and EMT written exams to become certified in Texas. Ninetypercent of the graduates pass both exams on the first try. Fourteen cadetshave now graduated from the academy, and the Killeen Fire Department hiredits first two graduates this year. The academy was the first program of itskind in Texas and has served as a model for similar programs around the state.video
Plano (City Spirit)
The Plano Multicultural Outreach Roundtable (MCOR) is made up of diversevolunteer citizens serving as government liaisons to the various ethnicand cultural groups within the city. The group meets monthly to exploremethods of encouraging communication between the city council and multiculturalcitizens and to help diverse residents better understand and beginparticipating in the government process. The city staffs the roundtablewith a city council liaison, a city staff liaison, and an administrativeassistant. The city also created a Multicultural E-listserv to notifyinterested parties of meetings and events. Since the inception of MCOR,172 citizens have attended one or more of the group’s meetings,with a core group of 20-25 attending on a regular basis.video
Additional information on the TML Municipal Excellence Awards Program can be obtained by callingthe TML offices at 512-231-7400.