2004 Texas Municipal League Municipal Excellence Awards
(Over 25,000 population)
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Corpus Christi (Public Safety)
The winner in the public safety category is the City of Corpus Christi.Corpus Christi police officers, realizing they needed a new weapon in the fight against violence, drugs, and gangs, turned to a national pastime - baseball. Working with others in the community, they formed the Corpus Christi Police Athletic League. The League targets youth in two areas of the city with a free, fun way to get involved in hopes of helping the youth to avoid a life of crime. Recognizing that baseball programs in other parts of the city are cost prohibitive to these at-risk youth, teachers, business leaders, and volunteers created the League. In the inaugural season, 450 youth signed up for the free athletic program.That number grew to 650 in the second year. The volunteer coaches and other adult volunteers, known as the Outfield Angels have made a difference in the lives of these youngsters and shown them that there is more to life than selling drugs, joining gangs, and hanging out in crime ridden neighborhoods. video
Richardson (City Spirit)
The winner in the city spirit category is the City of Richardson. The Richardson Urban Naturalist Program represents a new direction for the City of Richardson and its approach to natural resource management in the citys parklands. The citys parks and recreation department crafted the program to progressively manage its natural resource areas for enhancement, resource enrichment, inventory and classification, and sustainable plant and wildlife communities.A shining example of this approach is Duck Creek Park. Located in a large, older residential area, the creek becomes a drainage conveyance during storm events.Large numbers of wild ducks frequented the park as residents near the park feed the ducks and provide shelter and nesting areas.As the duck population grew, these residents became less tolerant of the ducks. The Richardson Urban Naturalist Population began an effort to establish a duck habitat in the park by establishing a two-acre area for habitat development. This unique program intertwines a need for parks into a public education program with tremendous volunteer support. video
Midland (Management Innovations)
The winner in the management innovations category is the City of Midland.Faced with euthanizing over 4,800 animals per year, the City of Midland wanted to find a better way to reduce the citys unwanted pet population. City officials turned to the community for help and input on changing the citys approach from animal control to providing animal services.With limited finances, the city developed the Spay and Neuter Voucher Program as part of the citys animal ordinance. Pet owners can receive from the citys animal services department a no-cost voucher to use at any veterinary office in the city for spay and neuter services. Veterinarians then submit the voucher to the city for payment.Funds to pay for the voucher program come from an increase in impoundment fees and an increase in license fees. In the first six months of the program, 920 vouchers were issued. The overwhelming response to the program is evidence that quality animal services programs are an important part of making Midland a liveable city with fewer homeless animals. video
Plano (Public Works)
The winner in the public works category is the City of Plano. Ten years ago, as part of its integrated solid waste management plan to divert recyclable materials from the landfill, the city began operating a composting program. The program included a separate yard trimmings collection program, operation of the first municipal composting facility, and a backyard composting education program. The composting program offered residents free compost on a first-come, first-served basis.While the program was successful, there were abuses to the system and the costs for continuing the program was rising. After a study of the program and options for continuing to provide this service, the Plano Environmental Waste Service Division developed a business plan to market the compost with the product name of Plano Pure.The marketing plan offers bagged and bulk compost, top dressing, mulch, and other products. Pricing is competitive and the reputation for the quality of the product was established during the free program. The increased revenue from the program provides greater flexibility for the program and allows the city to offer more programs to residents. video
Round Rock (Communications)
The City of Round Rock has found video presentations to be a successful tool in marketing the city as a tourist destination and as a location for sporting events. One such effort that proved to be beneficial is to bid on the hosting amateur athletic events coordinated by the Texas Amateur Athletic Foundation, the sports organization involved in coordinating bids for amateur athletic competitions across the state.Used to entice the voting members of the TAAF, the video proved to be successful in demonstrating the ability of the city to host tournaments. The return on investment in producing high-quality video presentations is offset by the economic benefit to the city, estimated to be in the millions.As an added benefit, the video is used on the citys monthly cable access television show, Take Five, to inform and educate the residents on the upcoming events and the importance of these events to the city. Making the residents aware of the events has led to increased involvement by some residents in parks and recreation programs offered by the city making Round Rock the Sports Capital of Texas. video
Additional information on the TML Municipal Excellence Awards Program can be obtained by calling Karla Vining at the TML offices, (512) 231-7400.