Collaboration Key to 2011 Successes

January 12, 2012   // 0 Comments

Reflecting on this past year, it is evident that collaboration was key to the successes of 2011. Whether between Travis County departments, state entities, local municipalities, emergency services districts (ESDs), water districts, local businesses, and constituents, my office made every effort to lead and to follow, to listen and be heard, and to push and to pull – all when appropriate and necessary. I’ve learned through my time here in public office, that each great success within Travis County relies upon collaboration, roll-up-your-sleeves team efforts, whether internally or externally. In every successful project of 2011, I can identify many of the above that contributed a significant role to the outcome.

First and foremost, we must recognize the efforts of our ESDs who collaborated with each other, Austin Fire Department, Travis County TNR and Emergency Management during and after the Oak Hill and Labor Day Fires. They worked with each other to contain and extinguish multiple wildfires, relay information to the media and constituents, and clear roads of debris caused by the fires. Ultimately, their collaborative efforts saved lives. Our neighborhoods continue to recover. Spicewood has created a Long Term Recovery Coalition, and has collaborated with the County to coordinate assistance with debris removal. The County also created an expedited permitting process for homeowners affected by the fires. As a result of these unprecedented emergencies within Travis County, we have formed the Wildland Taskforce. Members include: the ESDs, Austin Fire Department, Travis County Natural Resources, Emergency Management, other County staff and my office. We are working on streamlining communications, creating educational resources for you and opportunities for you to collaborate with your neighbors to create a community preparedness plan.  Some aspects are already being implemented.

Despite the recent rains, the availability of our water supply – for personal and commercial use – is still at risk. In 2011, Travis County, along with every city around Lake Travis, the City of Austin, multiple water districts, the Lake Travis Chamber of Commerce, the Lago Vista/Jonestown Chamber of Commerce, and Samsung, formed the Lake Travis Coalition. We pooled our resources to complete a highly desired economic impact study of Lake Travis to be used as a tool by water policy-makers.  Results reveal the lake generates around $207.2 million in local and state revenues, annually, and has an estimated $8.4 billion in surrounding property values. Through the collaborative effort of the Lake Travis Coalition, members were also able to communicate about and take action against the Floating Habitable Structures and White Stallion Energy, both of which posed a significant potential threat to our water resources.

Another major success of 2011 was the passing of the Travis County Bond Package, which was compiled by a volunteer group of citizens known as the Citizens Bond Advisory Council. These individuals, appointed by the Commissioners Court, worked closely with County staff to evaluate projects and coordinate public hearings to educate and receive input. Many residents contributed their thoughts and insights. Each one was recorded and considered.  Ultimately, county residents voted to pass the Bond Package. In Precinct 3, it will expand and rehabilitate Travis County Parks, improve Flint Rock and Bee Creek Roads, provide sidewalks in Granada Hills and Lost Creek, and connect Milton Reimers Ranch Park and Hamilton Pool Nature Preserve.

Perhaps of highest importance, Precinct Three constituents had my ear and help on multiple neighborhood issues ranging from the installation of a traffic light at Marly Way and Bee Caves Road, to finding funding for the Lakeway PSAP (part of the 911 system) which was impacted by State budget cuts, to participation in funding for the short-term fix at the Y in Oak Hill, and many more.

I strongly believe that providing a positive platform for residents along with County staff to present, consider and explore ideas creates the best environment for understanding, consensus and yielding positive outcomes. It takes time. It takes effort. But, overall, the results are what we need. This past year, this open dialogue has proven to be invaluable.

I’m looking forward to our 2012 collaborative efforts.  Always feel free to contact my office for anything – no matter how big or small.  You may also join me at my Coffee with the Commissioner events. Stay tuned… there’s much more to come this year!


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