Texas Municipal League Municipal Excellence Award Winners for 2009
(Under 25,000 population)
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South Padre Island (Communication Programs)
The town recently completed a comprehensive enhancement of its customer service programs to appeal to the media preferences of all constituents. There are five essential elements of this revitalized community relations program: video streaming of a wide variety of board and commission meetings, including the archiving of these videos to provide 24/7 access; a customer relations management system that enables citizens to make requests and ask questions online, thus providing direct contact and feedback as needed; a redesigned, highly intuitive Web site with a contemporary and interactive home page; the addition to city staff of a town planner, who also serves as the business development facilitator; and the traditional yet relevant Beachcomber newsletter, which is published bi-monthly and distributed to more than 5,000 citizens. video
Sachse (Public Safety)
When the city experienced an escalation of thefts from new home construction sites, the police department looked for solutions by hosting a meeting of local builders and the city’s building inspectors. As a result, the city first adjusted the timing of inspections, which meant that expensive items were not left uninstalled on sites for extended periods. Next, the police department developed the Sachse Texas Builder Permit Crime Prevention Packet, a free envelope of materials and information that is presented to purchasers of building permits. The packet includes such things as laminated warning signs in both English and Spanish; an offer to loan the builder a simulated security camera at no cost; and small, brightly colored warning stickers for air conditioning units. Since the first crime prevention packet was distributed, the city has seen a marked decrease in thefts at construction sites. video
Westlake (Management Innovations)
In order to bring local government closer to the entire community, the town’s leaders recently implemented a multi-faceted program titled Westlake Windows: Transparent Government in Focus (or TGIF). This initiative includes comprehensive citizen surveys; frequent citizen contact via e-mail blasts and “voice shots” from a phone bank; constant updates to the Westlake Web site; the publication of a quarterly newsletter; sponsorship of neighborhood meetings in residents’ homes; online availability of all council, commission, and board agendas and packets; and the introduction of “Westlake e-Tube,” which features Web-based videos on a variety of town-related topics. All these efforts combine to better engage citizens and create more dialogue with them. video
Spearman (City Spirit)
When a local elementary teacher and his students approached Spearman city staff about developing a skatepark, a real-life civics lesson began. The young people and their adult sponsor didn’t stop with their request for funding; instead, they helped raise funds for the project themselves through raffles, a door-to-door campaign, and the sale of custom-designed bricks. Soon, a 501(c)(3) was formed, donations from local businesses started pouring in, and grants were even awarded. At the same time, some citizens strongly opposed the skatepark. Through it all, the young people learned what it takes to start a project and see it through to the end. As a result, a once-idle piece of property next to city hall has been transformed into a state-of-the-art skating venue, giving Spearman youth a safe place to get together to enjoy a group sport. Furthermore, the city has noted a decrease in “nuisance” crimes committed by young people. video
Additional information on the TML Municipal Excellence Awards Program can be obtained by calling the TML offices at 512-231-7400.