Texas Municipal League Municipal Excellence Award Winners for 2003
(Under 25,000 population)
City Spirit – City of Big Lake
In an effort to improve the image of their city, citizens of Big Lake wanted to clean up neglected and abandoned properties in the city. After meeting with city officials and doing some research, a group of citizens and Keep Big Lake Beautiful took the issue into their own hands. They approached local construction and building companies for help. Letters were sent to property owners asking for permission to remove dilapidated structures and clean up their property at no cost. During the initial phases of the project, eleven property owners agreed to allow the demolition and clean-up crews access to their property. The clean-up of these properties generated 426 tons of debris. Eight local businesses participated with manpower and equipment, and nearly $8,000 worth of in-kind services and 200 hours of volunteer service hours were donated. This project cleaned lots, removed dilapidated buildings, and restored pride in this city of 2,800 residents.
Management Innovations – City of Midlothian
With its high growth-rate, the City of Midlothian found itself faced with financial challenges in its utility and general funds. Essential services were understaffed, and infrastructure limitations were forcing moratoriums on prime-growth corridors. The city council was faced with raising taxes, utility rates, and user fees within a short time frame. The city’s management team developed a 10-year financial forecast that integrated all capital and operating spending requirements. By working with each department individually, bottom-line findings clarified options, tied funding decisions to service outcomes, and put annual tax and fee decisions into a 10-year planning window. Town-hall meetings were held to present the financial analysis and plan to the citizens. The city successfully met revenue requirements by making adjustments to taxes and fees. So far, the project has helped make quality-of-life changes to zoning ordinances, helped pass a public improvement bond, helped to implement impact fees, and continues to influence the city council’s financial policy for the city.
Public Works – City of San Benito
The City of San Benito recognized the need to upgrade the city’s aging infrastructure. The city’s water and wastewater facilities were old and stretched beyond intended capacity. Unable to finance the improvements without grants and low interest loans, the city enlisted the support of a 14-member citizen committee to help involve citizens in the process and educate them on the need for the improvements. The committee met weekly to create a comprehensive plan design that helped the city obtain $18.4 million in grant money, and $17 million in low-interest loans. To ensure this outcome, the committee visited more than 25 civic, religious, and social organizations, held formal public meetings, and presented all the information to the citizenry. Because citizens learned about the project and became part of the decision-making process, the city is now able to provide a higher level of quality service and a healthier economic climate for the future.
Additional information on the TML Municipal Excellence Awards Program can be obtained by calling Karla Vining at the TML offices, (512) 231-7400.