2003 Texas Municipal League Municipal Excellence Awards

(Over 25,000 population)

Public Safety – City of Sugar Land

The Sugar Land Community Garden fills a void in community service programs in the City of Sugar Land and Fort Bend County.Instead of paying municipal citations for Class C misdemeanor offenses, some juveniles are assigned to work in the garden located in the city’s public works complex. The garden makes it possible for juveniles who appear in court with misdemeanor offenses to personally bear responsibility for their actions. Over 550 youths have done community service at the garden, weeding, planting, watering, harvesting, and repairing fences. Local businesses have backed the garden as well, donating tools, seeds, plants, water sprinklers, and more. The garden has produced 2,047 pounds of produce, which is then donated to the Fort Bend Human Needs Ministry for distribution to needy families. The community garden is a win-win from all perspectives.

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Public Works – City of Plano

During the rapid growth and development of the 1980’s and 1990’s, the historic downtown business district was nearly forgotten. In 1997, an opportunity arose with the expansion of light-rail transit service into the suburbs.With the location of a station in downtown Plano, the city developed a plan to create a transit-oriented village within the downtown area. Construction began on the light-rail platform, redevelopment of two city blocks to become mixed-use buildings, refurbishment of the downtown park, and several other upgrades to make downtown Plano an exciting place. This renovation has led to people living in downtown and loving it, new businesses and restaurants starting up, and downtown becoming a destination. This project has been supported by business owners, homeowners, transportation planners, preservationists, developers, and the art community. The new transit village encourages the longevity and vitality of downtown Plano and reinforces community pride.

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City Spirit – City of Killeen

The winner in the city spirit category is the City of Killeen.“ Seniors Count” is a program to protect and enhance the social, economic, and physical well-being of the city’s older citizens. The program gives seniors a sense of self-worth, helps them retain their independence, and plays an important role in overall quality-of-life issues. Through a grant, the city was able to fund transportation for homebound seniors to do their shopping and keep appointments with their doctors. The program also helps pay utility bills some seniors are unable to pay. Water bill inserts were used to solicit donations from customers, and each month donations have exceeded the need. The city library staff has volunteered to read to Alzheimer patients regularly, and the library’s bookmobile travels to nursing homes to ensure that seniors have sufficient reading material. The city’s information technology staff conducts classes to teach seniors to use computers and how to use e-mail to keep in touch with family members. This program has brought community service to a new level in Killeen and has let seniors know they count.

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Communications – City of Arlington

In 2002, the city adopted the International Building Code and the state-mandated residential and energy conservation codes.In order to better enhance communication among the city’s building inspection department, homebuilders, and Arlington citizens, the city implemented the “Notice to Contractors” Program. City staff met with homebuilders and informed them of new Building Code amendments and new methods of information communication. Components of the program include regular e-mails notifying them of changes and updates to state and local law, posting of notices on the city’'s Web site, and the ability to download information on building code issues. The program has provided homebuilders and the public with all the information needed to comply with new codes. The open communication practices triggered by this program have been its most important benefit.

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Management Innovations – City of Plano and City of San Antonio

When the City of Plano discovered 46 percent of the current management team would be eligible for retirement within the next five years, the Management Preparation Program of Plano (MP3) was implemented. The program educates participants on the cognitive, affective, and social skills required of executive managers. Participants are provided with classroom instruction, face-to-face conversations with executive managers, and access to executive development. Participants are better prepared for next-level management responsibilities and their current skills are enhanced. A management preparation assessment team selects the participants, and provides program review and assistance. Because of its proactive preparation and planning, the Management  Preparation Program of Plano provides the city with highly trained candidates for tomorrow’s leadership, and a strategic plan for optimizing efficiency during times of transition.

The City of San Antonio’s Council Action Team (CAT) is designed to provide an effective and immediate response to concerns and issues raised by councilmembers and citizens. CAT communicates with various city departments and proactively resolves neighborhood concerns.The five individuals on the team address neighborhood issues such as malfunctioning traffic signals, code compliance violations, and illegal dumping sites.They continually monitor their assigned council areas to identify and report any problems. CAT has yielded benefits in the communication and collaboration between departments on several issues and has established a proactive approach to solving problems. Because each CAT member has a close working relationship with a councilmember and neighborhood association leaders, their work provides a high level of confidence in city service delivery.

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Additional Information

Additional information on the TML Municipal Excellence Awards Program can be obtained by calling Karla Vining at the TML offices, (512) 231-7400.

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