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, the city created a new program that quickly moves properties seized for non-payment of taxes. This program has been the catalyst for unprecedented and unforeseen redevelopment in portions of the city. Homebuilders and developers have snapped up both residential and commercial in-fill properties that are offered to the public in a bidding process. In 2005, redevelopment and in-fill resulted in a total of 93 new homes and 17 new businesses. Tax roles have increased by nearly 14 million dollars, with very little increase in costs incurred by the city. The program has been such a success that La Porte now has a waiting list of people who want to be contacted when properties become available, so they can 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 become involved as buddies. video
Odessa (Management Innovations)
The Family Health Project, a novel system that assembles all the pieces of the health care puzzle, has resulted in millions of dollars in savings for the city and employees, a high participation rate, and increased employee satisfaction. There are numerous components of the project—an onsite family health clinic offering free health care; a self-administered benefit claims processing operation; a network of direct contracts with local health care providers; a fitness center; a Family Health and Wellness Center; and the employee health plan document, a constantly changing record that includes all of the city’s philosophy concerning employee health. Odessa is on track to realize more than $2 million in savings since this highly successful project began two years ago. video
Killeen (Public Safety)
The Killeen Fire Department collaborated with the Killeen Independent School District to offer a new career opportunity to high school students, and fill vacant firefighter positions. The Killeen Fire Department High School Academy offers 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 firefighting techniques. Upon completion of the program, students are well prepared to take the firefighting and EMT written exams to become certified in Texas. Ninety percent of the graduates pass both exams on the first try. Fourteen cadets have now graduated from the academy, and the Killeen Fire Department hired its first two graduates this year. The academy was the first program of its kind 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 diverse volunteer citizens serving as government liaisons to the various ethnic and cultural groups within the city. The group meets monthly to explore methods of encouraging communication between the city council and multicultural citizens and to help diverse residents better understand and begin participating in the government process. The city staffs the roundtable with a city council liaison, a city staff liaison, and an administrative assistant. The city also created a Multicultural E-listserv to notify interested 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 calling the TML offices at 512-231-7400.