Presenters: Tim Hogsett

Commission Agenda Item No. 6
Action
Local Park Grant Commission Policy Amendments
Urban Parks Account
January 28, 2010

I. Executive Summary: This item adopts administrative policies for the Large County and Municipal Recreation and Parks Account (Urban Parks Account). These changes are necessary to ensure program needs are responsive to grant customers.

II. Discussion: The 80th Texas Legislature, Regular Session, created the Large County and Municipal Recreation and Parks Account (Urban Parks Account) by amending Chapter 24 of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Code, adding sections 24.051 through 24.062. Large counties and municipalities are defined as city and county governments having populations of 500,000 or more as of the last federal census. Eligible participants include:

Section 24.055 (b) of the Parks and Wildlife Code states that "in establishing the program of grants under this section, the department shall adopt rules and regulations for grant assistance." Programs administered as part of the Urban Parks Account include:

Rules and Commission policies regarding the Urban Parks Account were adopted by the Commission in January of 2008. It has been two years since the Urban Park Directors met to establish rules and scoring criteria for the Urban Parks Account. With two years of experience of making grants available to the municipalities and counties in Texas with populations that exceed 500,000, it is an important time for representatives of the urban park systems to meet and review the progress of the Urban Parks Grant Program.

On November 19, 2009, an Urban Park Forum was held in Austin, with representatives of all 13 eligible Urban Park Program sponsors invited. Representatives from eight of the eligible systems attended including: cities of Austin, Dallas, Houston, El Paso, San Antonio; and Counties of Bexar, Harris and Travis. Topics of discussion at the meeting were program eligibility and administration, including grant eligibility and funding caps, timely use of approved grant funds, grant application deadlines and maximum grant award amounts. Also discussed were the current priority scoring systems used to evaluate Urban Park Account grants. The results of the meeting were summarized and sent out to all eligible Urban Park sponsors with comments requested.

The main issues in which the group expressed interest are the ceilings on unexpended grant funds, and the benchmark for reimbursement as related to the grant period. The current standards for these can be found in the Summary of Guidelines attached as Exhibit A. Staff is now proposing changes in those items as summarized in the attached draft Summary of Guidelines (Exhibit B). The initial changes we are proposing are an increase from the current amount of unexpended grant sponsor may carry for active projects and be eligible to apply for new grants from $2,000,000 to $4,000,000. This doubling, at minimum, is in order based on the fact that Urban Grant sponsors are eligible for twice the fund as are sponsors from the balance of the state. Staff also proposes a decrease in the amount of unreimbursed grant balance any urban grantee may carry at two years from grant approval from 50 percent to 25 percent.

We will propose changes in the Priority Scoring Systems at a future Commission meeting, as these changes will require formal rule adoption and posting in the Texas Register.

III. Recommendation: The staff recommends the Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following motion:

"The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopts changes to the Summary of Guidelines for Administration of Local Park Grant Program Projects (Urban Parks Account) as found in Exhibit B."

Attachments - 2

  1. Exhibit A - Summary of Guidelines for Administration of Local Park Grant Program Projects (Current Policy).
  2. Exhibit B - Summary of Guidelines for Administration of Local Park Grant Program Projects (Proposed Policy).

Commission Agenda Item No. 6
Exhibit A

SUMMARY OF GUIDELINES
FOR ADMINISTRATION OF LOCAL PARK GRANT PROGRAM PROJECTS
(Revised January 2008)

The Texas Parks & Wildlife Commission, by authority of Chapters 13 and 24 of the Parks & Wildlife Code, has adopted Guidelines for Administration of Grant Acquisition and Development Projects, to read as follows:

It is the Commission's policy that the Department shall administer local projects in accord with the following guidelines, with interpretation of intent to be made to provide the greatest number of public recreational opportunities for citizens of Texas.

Approved projects shall be pursued in a timely manner by the sponsor, unless delays result from extraordinary circumstances beyond the sponsor's control. Failure to meet the following time frames may be grounds for the Department to initiate cancellation of the affected project in order to recommend reallocation of available funds to other projects, or to deny requests for additional grant funds for new projects:

ACTIVITY TIME FRAME
Commission Approval Begin 3-year project period (4-year max)
Grant Agreement Execution (Department & Sponsor) As soon as possible after Commission approval
Pending Documentation such as:
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 404
  • TCEQ Permits
  • Environmental Resources Survey
  • THC Cultural Resources Survey and Clearance
  • TPWD Biological Consultations
  • ROW Abandonment
  • Lease/Joint-Use Agreement Execution, etc.
Within 6 months of grant agreement date
Quarterly Status Reports (beginning with Commission approval) On or before January 15th, April 15th, July 15th and October 15th
Appraisal Submission As soon as possible after grant agreement date
Appraisal Approval Within 6 months of appraisal submission
Land Acquisition As soon as possible after appraisal approval
Construction Plan Submission Within 6 months of land acquisition for projects involving acquisition, or Within 6 months of grant agreement date for development only projects.
Periodic Reimbursement Billings Every 90 days if possible (minimum $10,000 request)
Project Completion and Grant Close-Out Within 3 years after Commission approval (but in no case after the 4th fiscal year)

The following criteria will be used to determine sponsor eligibility for additional funding:

A grantee may also be considered to be “high risk” based on financial stability or non conforming management standards, requiring additional special conditions and restrictions as determined by grant management standards.

FAILURE TO MEET ANY ONE OF THE ABOVE CRITERIA MAY BE GROUNDS FOR DENYING NEW GRANT FUNDS. ASSESSMENT OF THE ABOVE CRITERIA IN CONJUNCTION WITH REQUESTS FOR NEW GRANTS WILL BE MADE PRIOR TO SUBMISSION OF FUNDING RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION.

* * * * * * * * *

I have read the “Summary of Guidelines for Administration of Local Park Grant Program Projects” and understand that the project sponsor, which I represent, will be responsible for compliance with the above conditions as a result of the receipt of grant assistance from the Local Park Grants Program. It is also understood that the “Summary of Guidelines for Administration of Local Park Grant Projects” is part of the grant Project Agreement.

_______________________________________ ____________

Signature of Official Authorized in Resolution Date

_______________________________________

Name and Title

_______________________________________

Project Name and Number


Commission Agenda Item No. 6
Exhibit B

SUMMARY OF GUIDELINES
FOR ADMINISTRATION OF LOCAL PARK GRANT PROGRAM PROJECTS
(Revised January 2008 2010)

The Texas Parks & Wildlife Commission, by authority of Chapters 13 and 24 of the Parks & Wildlife Code, has adopted Guidelines for Administration of Grant Acquisition and Development Projects, to read as follows:

It is the Commission's policy that the Department shall administer local projects in accord with the following guidelines, with interpretation of intent to be made to provide the greatest number of public recreational opportunities for citizens of Texas.

Approved projects shall be pursued in a timely manner by the sponsor, unless delays result from extraordinary circumstances beyond the sponsor's control. Failure to meet the following time frames may be grounds for the Department to initiate cancellation of the affected project in order to recommend reallocation of available funds to other projects, or to deny requests for additional grant funds for new projects:

ACTIVITY TIME FRAME
Commission Approval Begin 3-year project period (4-year max)
Grant Agreement Execution (Department & Sponsor) As soon as possible after Commission approval
Pending Documentation such as:
  • U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 404
  • TCEQ Permits
  • Environmental Resources Survey
  • THC Cultural Resources Survey and Clearance
  • TPWD Biological Consultations
  • ROW Abandonment
  • Lease/Joint-Use Agreement Execution, etc.
Within 6 months of grant agreement date Accomplished prior to first reimbursement
Quarterly Status Reports (beginning with Commission approval) On or before January 15th, April 15th, July 15th and October 15th
Appraisal Submission As soon as possible after grant agreement date
Appraisal Approval Within 6 months of appraisal submission
Land Acquisition As soon as possible after appraisal approval
Construction Plan Submission Within 6 months of land acquisition for projects involving acquisition, or

Within 6 months of grant agreement date for development only projects.

Accomplished prior to first reimbursement
Periodic Reimbursement Billings Every 90 days if possible (minimum $10,000 request)
Project Completion and Grant Close-Out Within 3 years after Commission approval (but in no case after the 4th fiscal year)

The following criteria will be used to determine sponsor eligibility for additional funding by the application deadline. Performance is based on all grant programs administered by the Recreation Grants Branch:

A grantee may also be considered to be “high risk” based on financial stability or non conforming management standards, requiring additional special conditions and restrictions as determined by grant management standards.

FAILURE TO MEET ANY ONE OF THE ABOVE CRITERIA MAY BE GROUNDS FOR DENYING NEW GRANT FUNDS. ASSESSMENT OF THE ABOVE CRITERIA IN CONJUNCTION WITH REQUESTS FOR NEW GRANTS WILL BE MADE PRIOR TO SUBMISSION OF FUNDING RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION.

* * * * * * * * *

I have read the “Summary of Guidelines for Administration of Local Park Grant Program Projects” and understand that the project sponsor, which I represent, will be responsible for compliance with the above conditions as a result of the receipt of grant assistance from the Local Park Grants Program. It is also understood that the “Summary of Guidelines for Administration of Local Park Grant Projects” is part of the grant Project Agreement.

_____________________________________ ____________

Signature of Official Authorized in Resolution Date

_____________________________________

Name and Title

_____________________________________

Project Name and Number


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