Texas Municipal League Municipal Excellence Awards for 2010
(Over 25,000 population)
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Brownsville (City Spirit)
The city’s Greener, Healthier Initiative provides a cleaner, healthier environment, along with educational and support programs to improve the health of both city employees and residents. Enhancements to the city’s environmental “footprint” included a local ordinance banning plastic bags used by local retailers, new LED traffic light systems, the replacement of municipal cooling and lighting systems, and the expansion of the local recycling center. The health of city staff was addressed by a new wellness program that included the development of employee-only sports leagues and an expanded Employee Assistance Program. Local residents were invited to join the Brownsville Biggest Loser campaign, a 15-week program that resulted in several hundred participants losing more than 1,000 pounds collectively. City parks and trails have undergone face lifts to make them more attractive for jogging and exercising. Overall, the Greener, Healthier Initiative has provided appealing public exercise and recreation opportunities and has made Brownsville a cleaner, “greener” city. video
Bryan (Communication Programs)
In order to educate citizens about several issues, the city created a series of 30-second public service announcements, or PSAs, to air on its cable access channel and local television stations. A clever and humorous approach was taken to help make the PSAs entertaining and memorable while keeping them informative. The five announcements reminded residents not to park cars on lawns, to dial 911 only in real emergencies, to keep music in their cars at a reasonable volume, and to call the public works hotline if they observed potholes or cracks in sidewalks. Before the PSAs aired, the city's public works hotline rarely received phone calls. Since the campaign began, however, the public works department has received more than 29,000 calls and more than 1,000 e-mails. These creative and clever commercials achieved the goal of educating the public, they were produced in-house at no cost to taxpayers, they can be used in a variety of media to reach a wide audience, and they can easily be replicated in other cities. video
Houston (Management Innovations)
With about 22,000 employees spread out over several hundred locations, Houston faces a challenge in communicating effectively with all of them. Therefore, the city's human resources department views its employee communications program as essential to help bring all the workers together, keep them well informed, and create a feeling of togetherness. The city's various employee publications—which must be kept interesting and entertaining to ensure they are read—include open-enrollment materials, recognition programs, and three quarterly newsletters. The open-enrollment materials are distributed to a total of 68,000 members of city health plans, City Savvy is the employee newsletter, Benefits Pulse provides benefit information, and Extra Milers recognizes personnel who have been praised by residents. All these publications inform and empower the city's most important assets—its employees—while fostering a family atmosphere and demonstrating that the city cares about its workforce. video
Hurst (Public Safety)
The city set a goal of improving the quality of life of citizens with mental illness or mental retardation who are in crisis, as well as their families and the city as a whole. To accomplish this, Hurst enhanced its Crisis Intervention Team and collaborated with people and entities impacted by mental health issues. In addition, several new strategies have been implemented—training and reporting efforts have increased to identify people with special needs, follow-up communications are conducted with the Tarrant County Office of Mental Health and Mental Retardation, case officers accompany police officers to field contacts with patients, and a number of assessment and diagnostic steps are taken by mental health professionals. As a result, instances requiring emergency detention of a citizen with a mental health issue decreased by 23 percent during a 15-month period, and voluntary assessments or detentions decreased by 35 percent. This successful model is now taught regionally to other police departments. video
Round Rock (Public Works)
In many cities, maintenance of the water system's valves is not performed regularly. However, the City of Round Rock recognized that the best time to locate, repair, or exercise a valve is not during an emergency. So the city developed a valve maintenance program to annually inspect and exercise the water system's valves and to create a data file with the repair records of each valve. The program features an online site that allows the city to manage maintenance progress, graph performance, highlight problem areas, and view valve and water line records before going into the field. Overall, the program saves the city time and money and improves services to customers by ensuring that valves are accessible in emergencies, increasing the life span of valves, providing detailed repair records, improving isolation in water systems, locating missing and closed valves, and ensuring that valves are in the correct position. video
Additional information on the TML Municipal Excellence Awards Program can be obtained by calling the TML offices at 512-231-7400.