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TPW Commission

Work Session, August 20, 2014

Transcript

TPW Commission Meetings

TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION

August 20, 2014

Houston Museum of Natural Science
W.T. and Louise J. Moran Lecture Hall
5555 Hermann Park Drive
Houston, TX 77030-1799

WORK SESSION

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Good morning, everybody. This meeting is called to order August 20th, 2014, at 9:05 a.m. Before proceeding with any business, I believe Mr. Smith has a statement to make.

MR. SMITH: I do, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners, thank you. Public notice of this meeting containing all items on the proposed agenda has been filed in the Office of the Secretary of State as required by Chapter 551 Government Code referred to as the Open Meetings Act and I would like for this fact to be noted in the official meeting for the record. So thank you, Mr. Chairman.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Thank you, Carter.

First order of business, approval of the minutes from the previous Work Session held May 21st, 2014, which have been distributed.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: I'll move.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Morian.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Second.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Jones second. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Opposed? Hearing none, motion carries.

All right. Work Session Item No. 1, Update on Texas Parks and Wildlife Progress in Implementing the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Land and Water Resource Conservation and Recreation Plan, Mr. Smith.

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name is Carter Smith. Good morning. Awfully nice to be in Houston. Just on behalf of all the staff, I want to thank our friends here at the museum that are hosting us today. They've just absolutely rolled out the red carpet and obviously made a great facility available to us. Obviously this is just one of those extraordinary places for learning and discovery and also very much in alignment with the mission of the Department and so we really appreciate Joel and his team here and all they've done to help make us feel welcome. So a special thanks to them.

Mr. Chairman, just as is customary, I want to give kind of a quick report on items germane to the Land and Water Plan. As we wrap up the end of the fiscal year, one of the things that I've talked to Major Carter about is we'll provide a year-end summary of all the Internal Affairs related activities for the year, the various cases, investigations, the dispensation of all of those and so we'll plan on having that to you in September sometime and so just make sure that you see a full summary on that.

Just a couple of professional development things I want to comment on as we're always trying to grow our colleagues and certainly Internal Affairs is no exception. Jonathan Gray, you know, our Assistant Commander for Internal Affairs, was accepted into the Governor's Executive Development Program and so he is going through that and so look forward to Jonathan coming out of that even more polished than he already is, so stay tuned on that. A great opportunity for him.

We've got Captain Longoria right now that is attending an Ethics Train the Trainer Course at the Center for American and International Law up in Plano and that's pretty standard fair. Johnny will come back and help disseminate that information to all the Divisions throughout the Agency. So, again, Johnny and John are doing a great job and Joe is giving them plenty support in that regard.

Yesterday, Ross had a pretty extensive conversation on the Dashboard and so I'm really not going to labor any here. The last update that we provided y'all was at the end of the May and I provided kind of a written summary of where I thought we stood for the year. Again, as we wrap up the fiscal year, we'll have an annual summary for you on where we stand with respect to all of those measures. Appreciated the discussion and feedback yesterday as we contemplate new measures for the Dashboard and key things that we want to track as we go forward with implementing those four overarching goals for the plan.

So, Chairman, as soon as you make that ultimate decision in September, you know, we'll disseminate that. In the interim again, I'll just ask all the Commissioners for feedback on those items that Ross had shared yesterday and let us know which ones we would like to look at going forward. So good discussion on that yesterday, thank you.

We're in Houston and obviously close to San Jacinto and the Battleship Texas. You know, we celebrated the Centennial of this fine ship, the namesake of our great state. It's also nice because right now the museum has an exhibit on the Battleship that will be up until the 16th of November and so while you're here, I'll encourage you to take a look at that. Our colleagues that are stewarding that are doing a wonderful job. As you know, we're investing heavily as a state in critical repairs for the ship, largely down in the hull. We found an outstanding contractor in Taylor Marine who's really doing the Lord's work right now on the ship in some very, very difficult working conditions. But I want to let you know we've got a lot of confidence in them. All of the funds that were allocated for that project have been incumbered. That project will wrap up in May of 2015; but as we know, really there are more repairs to come and so we talked about that yesterday with respect to the proposed Legislative Appropriations Request and that there really are some other critical repairs that we need to invest in to be able to preserve our options with the ship and make sure that that hull is fully protected as well as the integrity of it as a whole.

This is a big milestone for us when it comes to our Law Enforcement related activities. The 59th Academy, this will be the seminal Academy in which Park Peace Officers and Game Warden Cadets will be training together and so they're going to go through that Academy in its entirety together, all seven months. You know, we want all of our Officers inside the Agency to have the absolute best training possible for -- you know, history, we've been having a separate Academy for our Park Peace Officers and one for our Game Warden Cadets.

With the leadership really of Craig and Brent and their teams, they're bringing that together. We're launching that in January. All of our Officers are commissioned and authorized to enforce all of the laws in the state of Texas and making sure they have the very best training imaginable at what all of you know is really the world's finest conservation Law Enforcement Academy is a great step forward. So great milestone and look forward to that class starting in January. I've had a chance to run into a few of the cadets, perspective cadets, on the Game Warden and Park Peace Officer side and let me tell you, they're excited about that. And our Park Peace Officers and Game Wardens work hand in hand around the state and so this is only going to be able to solidify that relationship. So we're excited about that development and that business efficiency as well.

Josh sent y'all an e-mail about the launch of the Outdoor Annual Mobile App. I mean this is a great, great tool for hunters and anglers. It makes things so accessible. You know, obviously we'll still have the hard copy that you can carry around with you out in the field and spill coffee all over it; but having this loaded up on your iPhone or your Android will give you great information on where to hunt, where to fish. There's a direct link to Operation Game Thief if you happen to witness, you know, some kind of hunting or fishing violation or environmental crime out in the field, you can call that directly. Really neat feature that takes your GPS coordinates and, you know, you just click on a button on where to hunt and where to fish and it gives you places, you know, within a very close radius to where you are. You can search by county. You can search by species. It's is a great, great search tool. It's free. This is the official Outdoor Annual App. We've had a few out there on the internet that have been floating around out there unauthorized and unsanctioned, but this is the real deal. So proud of the Communications team and Texas Monthly that worked on this. It's -- yep.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: I was flying over yesterday morning with some of my staff and I had given them each one of the cards the day before, the little wallet cards, and one of my engineers said, "We need an app to Parks and Wildlife that says we have that."

I sent it to him. He said, "Is there any way we can put our hunting license on there so that we don't have to carry a license in the field?"

I said I don't know.

MR. SMITH: Yeah, not yet. But something -- Josh, what do you think? Next week can we get that done? Yes, sir. Okay.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Just something to think about. It's just something to think about. They asked me that question and I said I don't know the answer, but I will ask it and since you brought it up today, I'm asking.

MR. SMITH: Yeah.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: You might look at that.

MR. SMITH: Yeah, absolutely. And in all seriousness, Chairman, the more that we can go digital, the more we can go electronic, the more we can reduce the paper copies the better. It's going to be more efficient for our hunters and anglers. Also for our Law Enforcement personnel in the field that are checking licenses.

And, you know, I think that to be fair, Chairman, as we look ahead and we think about what we want our license system to look like and how can we provide the maximum convenience to our sportsmen around the state, we've got to be looking at those kind of options. You're absolutely right. But I think it's probably going to be time in a year for really the Commission to take a look at all of our licenses as a whole and how we deploy them and which ones that we're selling, etcetera. It's time for a look. So good feedback on that.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Thank you.

MR. SMITH: I think we had mentioned that we had rolled out a new license plate for State Parks and this is the fifth specialty license plate on sale that helps raise funds for dedicated programs inside the Agency. You know, this is just the quintessential Texas state park camping scene with a fireplace and a moonlit and starlit night and a tent and undoubtedly a family of Texans around it enjoying the great outdoors.

I bring it up because this is now available. We continue to sell the bluebonnet plate, which was the historic one for state parks. But interestingly in the first month or so, this plate broke all records in terms of being the fastest selling one across the entire state. So not just the ones that we offer, but all of the vanity plates that are out there through DMV and My Plates and so obviously just a strong manifestation of support for your state parks and want to encourage folks to purchase these license plates whether you want to support our Inland Fisheries Program, our Big Game Program, or our State Parks or Wildlife Diversity Program, these are great ways to invest in that. So encourage everybody to do that and excited about this rollout.

Yesterday at the retreat, Brent touched on the Outdoor Family and some of the progress that we've made in Houston. You know, I think there's a couple of take-homes for this. This program is working. It's doing an extraordinary job. Everything that really the Commission asked our State Parks team to do to be able get families in the out of doors, break down barriers, teach the parents and the families as a whole skills about how to camp, how to fish, how to kayak, how to enjoy the great outdoors. We get extraordinary feedback on this.

But the reality is, you know, our capacity or bandwidth to handle too many families is, you know, we're reaching that threshold and so we're now looking at what are those other options that we can really scale this up. And so State Parks through a grant contracted out with the Student Conservation Association and others and really taught them that program and worked with them to get their own trailer of equipment so then they could start implementing that and weren't having to rely entirely on staff. They've also been working closely with some of the local parks departments across the state. Again, thinking about how do we take this to scale.

Houston has been our primary market for experimenting with this and a strong demand in that regard. The other thing that they've added is, you know, for those families that have some discomfiture with overnight camping, maybe helping to ease them into it with a day camp and so that's been a way to folks -- to get folks into the out of doors and hopefully we'll make campers and forever outdoor enthusiasts on them. But State Parks has just done a great, great job of, again, helping to build the next generation of outdoors enthusiasts through this program.

Mr. Chairman and Commission, really that's it. Just a short presentation and just a quick snapshot of things. So appreciate the chance to share that with you this morning.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any questions, comments for Carter? Thank you, Carter.

MR. SMITH: Yeah. Thank you, Chairman.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: All right. Work Session Item No. 2, Financial Overview, Legislative Appropriation Request, FY 2015 Operating and Capital Budget Approval and Budget and Investment Policy Resolutions, Mike Jensen. Good morning, Mike.

MR. JENSEN: Good morning, Commissioners. That was a mouthful. I hope to have a brief presentation for you this morning. We really have two items. It's more of a briefing item today. Give you a high level overview of where we are with the Legislative Appropriations Request. We call that the LAR. And then tomorrow we're going to have an Action Item for your consideration, the approval of the operating and capital budget for Fiscal Year 2015, which starts on September 1st.

First, we'll start with the LAR. The high level background, I think many of you have seen this before. We have a baseline request that has some rules to it. We can't exceed the prior base request, the current request; and anything that we want above our base, we have to request as exceptional items. I think you were briefed yesterday high level on what the exceptional items were, but I'll summarize that for you this afternoon -- this morning as well. And our submission, we also have an instruction to include a 10 percent reduction option schedule for GR/GRD funds and I have a slide that will address that.

The initial published date, our submission date was supposed to be August 18th; but we didn't get our base reconciliation from the Legislative Budget Board until last Tuesday. Typically, it takes three to four weeks to prepare the data and to submit that in their automated budgeting system called ABEST. We have an exemplary staff. Lance Goodrum is here as the Budget Director. So we were -- we've been in communications with our LBB contacts. We have a new LBB manager, Mark Wiles and a brand new analyst, his name is Michael Wales. Michael had an orientation meeting with us probably about a month ago and at that meeting we expressed concerns we didn't have our base reconciliation yet and they let us know that we could submit late after this date because it's not realistic for us to submit on the 18th.

And we were not singled out. There were a number of agencies who didn't get their base reconciliations until last Tuesday as well. As evident by their online system, it was pretty much bogged down with a bunch of agencies hitting it all at once trying to enter the data. It's a pretty extensive exhaustive data entry process. Most of our data has been entered. Right now we're going through a review process. When Executive Management returns, we'll show them where we were recommending some tweaks, some adjustments, and then we'll make some final adjustments. We'll probably get this thing submitted the first week of September, if not sooner. And that's just the nature of having time to actually enter in the data, including the information technology detail which is pretty laborious for Capital projects.

One other note that I wanted to mention is we have a lot of change in members in the House and Senate side, so we're expecting a very conservative budget. Some agencies were singled out and were asked to prepare a zero based budget. We are not part of that group fortunately because that requires a whole lot of work. So we're -- if we have to do that, we're prepared. We have great staff. We'll be able to do that, and work in concert with Executive Management and the Commission.

Our baseline request is $179.37 million of general revenue, 296.4 million of general revenue dedicated. Approximately 73.87 million in federal funds and 25.37 million in other funds. That totals to 575.01 million. Just to give you a historical reference, the LAR for the 14-15 period, that base request was 507.17 million. The LAR base request for '12 and '13 was 649.45. That's a much larger number; but if you'll recall, we had significant budget reductions during that session. And back in fiscal year 2009 for the '10 and '11 LAR, our base was 643.86.

If you add in the exceptional items with our LAR for 16-17, currently it's approximately 202.6 million. So our total request in our LAR is 777.62 million. If you want to compare that to prior LARs, our exceptional item request for '14 and '15 was approximately 103 million. For '12 and '13 our request was 64.2 million. If you recall, we were prepared for the reduction; so we only asked for what was severely needed. And in '10 and '11, the exceptional item request was 131.9 million and that kind of gives you a comparison.

From a percentage perspective, our total request of 777 million is approximately 24 percent base and 26 percent exceptional items. Historically, it's been closer to a base of about 83 percent, exceptional items of about 17 percent. This next slide summarizes the exceptional items. This is not in any order of priority. Frankly, the first four items on here would probably be like a number one, if we could do a one, A, B, C, and D. We're not allowed to enter it into ABEST that way.

At some point in this week, we're going to have to lock down on an order because the ABEST assigns a number as you enter it in in terms of priority and that's the instruction that we have and all agencies have is to put these in ascending order of priority. For right now you can see that the State Parks Operations Development, that's requesting 25.3 million, 39 FTEs. I'm going to walk you quickly through this slide. Then I'll give you the subgroupings underneath each of these categories.

Fish and Wildlife Initiatives has 9 FTEs, 18.9 million. Law Enforcement is not asking for FTEs. It's asking for 17.4 million. Agency Modernization is predominantly capital needs, 18 FTEs, 82.4 million. Then we have a Local Park Grants Program, 14.1 million; Battleship Texas, 25 million; Tourism Recreation is about 19.5 million. Going back to the first item under State Parks, there are about seven subgroups that comprise this amount and those FTEs.

I'll walk you through that. State Park Operations is asking for 8.3 million and about 12 FTEs to service new facilities, manage sites, and for operating and regular cyclical maintenance. Second category is State Parks Law Enforcement Enhancement Additional Staff. It's about 5.3 million and 27 FTEs for new State Park Law Enforcement positions, operating costs, IT capital, and related transportation costs. The third subgrouping is State Park Law Enforcement Salary Enhancements, to have equity and parity among that peer group. We have State Park Minor Repairs of about 2.46 million. We have State Park Vehicle Replacements of 2 million and we have State Park TxParks. That's the online application that our public can go to to reserve a spot and to conduct business with us. We're expecting to go to a new vendor at some time in the future through a Request For Offer process. Our anticipation and expectation is that the cost of that service is going to increase, so we're trying to account for the cost in this exceptional item.

The Fish and Wildlife Initiative, the 18.9 million that's up there, the second line, that has three subgroupings. The first one is Aquatic Invasive Species. This has been a significant issue for the Commission over the last decade really and it's been spotlighted or highlighted over the past six years. We're asking for 18 million in general revenue, Fund 1, and five FTEs for management, control, outreach education, and related capital.

The second subgrouping under Fish and Wildlife Initiative is Coastwide Habitat Monitoring Program. We're asking for about 600,000 and four FTEs to monitor habitats, flora, fauna, water quality, water quantity, and impact of manmade changes to those environments. And the third item is Oyster Shell Recovery, about 325,000 for ongoing reef habitat restoration projects and efforts.

The Law Enforcement line has three subcomponents to it. One component relates to the Operators and Chauffeurs shortfall in Account 99. We expected to have approximately 825,000 per year in our budget to service a full force multiplier along the border. Unfortunately, the cash behind those accounts, it's a DPS account, did not have cash last year. Does not have cash this year. The LBB and the Legislature encouraged us to bring this forward and to get this item made whole and that's why it's in here as part of this exceptional item.

We also have another 3.7 million for Homeland Security and Border Initiatives. And the third item there is for Game Warden Operations and Equipment of 12.03 million. The fourth line, Agency Modernization has four subgroupings to it. Most of it really is Capital Construction Projects and Modernization, it's 76.5 million and five FTEs. So that's 75 million for statewide capital construction and repair. That would be for Fund 64 state park type repairs, as well as for Fund 9 repairs of hatcheries and administrative buildings as well across the state. We're seeking 820,000 and five FTEs for our Infrastructure and Division for Planning, Design Engineers, and for Operating Costs and $750,000 for software to help the Department better manage its Capital Construction projects.

The second subgrouping under Agency Modernization is Information Technology Infrastructure and the other subgroupings, the IT Business Initiatives and there are some Communications. The Infrastructure, we're seeking 3.3 million and about six FTEs to improve communications and to improve security, operating costs, and this is response to a Governor's audit that was done for all State agency IT component so that we can put in place the recommendations that were made in that audit.

We have business initiatives that relate to data cost, continuity, and software license maintenance. We're asking for approximately one and a half million there and we're seeking approximately 500,000 for additional application development, staff, resources, and four FTEs. And on the Communications side, we're seeking one FTE for mobile application development, about 320,000. We're seeking two FTEs for web development, approximately 200,000. And Local Parks Grant Program, that amount there 14.1 would restore this program to approximately Fiscal Year 2008-2009 levels of $31 million per year and that's the competitive grant process that y'all are familiar with.

The Battleship Texas, this amount is really needed to just maintain and to do critical repairs on the Battleship as things happen. This is not a sufficient amount to dry berth. This is mainly just to keep it in a current state and fix things as we have exigent circumstances, where water starts coming in through a crease and has to the sealed.

The final item on here, Tourism Recreation has three subgroups. One is dealing with the Texas State Aquarium at Corpus Christi, one is the visitor center at Franklin Mountains State Park, and another one would be a pass-through grant for Boys and Girls Club Program. As I mentioned before, we will have to work with you and Executive Management to figure out what the prioritization will be when we input this in ABEST probably by Friday or Monday of next week.

Our LAR process also gives us an opportunity to adjust performance measures, as well as make Rider revisions. You can see from this slide that we have currently in our bill pattern 42 Riders. We're seeking deletion of approximately ten of those. Some of those are informational, some of those were things that we've already accomplished, and some of those are things that we really don't think the Agency needs to be in the middle of. For example, the State Railroad reporting requirements. That's not something that the Department is responsible for, that transfer. We have a Rider currently that puts us in the middle of the reporting requirements, so we're seeking deletion of that one.

Some of the key Riders that we have are Rider 12. We're going to try to modify that one to give us greater flexibility. Our license application is transaction driven. So in a year when we have spectacular sales, right now our capital authority is locked at approximately $3.1 million to pay the vendor; but if we had a great year and we have a pretty good year right now. We're about two and a half percent above what we were last year and the payment to the vendor exceeds $3.1 million, we would have to take that out of the Fund 9 Divisions to pay the incremental increase. So what we're doing with this Rider is to seek appropriation authority during a good year to exceed that 3.1 up to the amount to pay the vendor the transaction cost, that incremental increase for the increase in sales.

And the last bullet on there, New Rider, we're going to seek a Rider that does something similar for the TxParks System. We believe that when we get responses from our vendor community, many of them will respond with transaction driven type models and we expect the cost of that application is going to go up. We have in mind what we think is a targeted appropriation level; but we want to have some flexibility so that if we have a fantastic summer with visitation and revenues that exceeds the appropriated amount, that we can get additional appropriation authority for the incremental increase to pay those vendors for their third-party contracts supporting our application.

Rider 13, going back to the second bullet, Capital Budget Expenditures and Federal Other Sources. This is an important Rider to the Department because it allows us to grow our Capital budget. It's not subject to the cap that's in Rider 2. We do this quite extensively with our Federal funds and with donations. What we're seeking to add to that Rider is mitigation and damages and so that if we receive damages in -- due to some sort of activity on an asset that's owned by the Department, that we can grow our Capital budget if there's a need for that area without that Capital acquisition counting against our Rider 2 Capital authority.

Rider 27, we're going to try to do what we tried to do last time, have cleaner language and so that this is a system where if we exceed -- for example, if we exceed the biannual revenue estimate for this fiscal year, that the incremental increase automatically comes to the Department in the following fiscal year and hopefully we'll get it right the way we want it this time. Last time it was adjusted quite a bit, and it was capped. So we're seeking to have an automatic appropriation increase in the following year without caps.

As mentioned on the lead-in slide, we do have a schedule that we have to prepare. This allows the LBB and the Legislature to compare all agencies the same. We're -- this is still a work in progress. Our target for a 10 percent reduction schedule in GR and GR dedicated is 45.2 million. Two years ago our target was 36.85 million. And just to give you an idea of what the things we looked at last time, we looked at the coastal erosion interagency contract pass-through and the impacts to that contract with GLO. We looked at the impact to Inland Fisheries hatcheries. We looked at the impact to Coastal Fisheries hatcheries, to public hunting leases, to wildlife research grants. We looked at the impact to Law Enforcement and the impact on an Academy class and vacancies and we looked at the very serious impacts on state parks.

Right now that's a work in progress. We're working with Executive Management right now. As we have more information, we'll share that with you. We'll certainly share it before we hit the submit button on the LAR so that you're aware of what that is. Before I move on to the Fiscal Year 2015 Operating Capital Budget Overview, are there any questions about the LAR that I can try and help? Okay, great.

COMMISSIONER JONES: What's the proposal of how we prioritize those exceptional items by Friday?

MR. JENSEN: I'll defer to Carter.

MR. SMITH: Yeah, Commissioner, we haven't formalized that and so certainly would welcome some more conversation with you on that front. Really as the list was presented today, it looks pretty good and so I think Mike covered that. You know, that would, you know, probably capture that list in priority order right now; but would welcome any more feedback from the Commission on that front. So happy to talk to all of you and really probably not going to have a chance to get that done probably till Monday, Mike; so we'd have this week to get more input on it.

COMMISSIONER JONES: One of the -- one of the -- and this is not really so much in terms of listing it in priority. But is the category of Modernization, Agency Modernization, is that a stipulated characterization or is that a name that we came up with?

MR. JENSEN: They're all names that we came up with and this is -- this is a way for the Agency to present in talking points that the public and the Legislature can grab ahold of. Agency --

COMMISSIONER JONES: No, I'm --

MR. JENSEN: Agency Modernization is other agencies would probably say capital. They would -- they would have capital, then they would have transportation, equipment, and construction underneath that. And Agency Modernization encompasses those things predominantly, but it has some other things related to IT as well.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Right. I mean I heard your listing of your subparts under that, but I'm not -- as a Legislator, if I'm looking at that list and I'm thinking modernization, I understand you might explain all the little subparts; they don't ever get to that sometimes. We might just come up with another name for Agency Modernization because it sounds like you want to put in funky lights instead of standard lights. I don't know. Do you know what I'm saying?

I would like to come up with some other terminology for that big umbrella and I don't know, something that sounds more needy. Do you understand what I'm getting at?

MR. JENSEN: We'll certainly explore that.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Yeah.

MR. SMITH: I mean our intent is on the Maslow's hierarchy, we're at basic needs on those construction needs, repair, rehabilitation of buildings all across the state, keeping up the CCC structures --

COMMISSIONER JONES: Yeah, rehabilitation sounds good. Something that illustrates need. Modernization doesn't pop out in my head as need.

MR. SMITH: Commissioner, I appreciate that feedback and absolutely we need to hear that from you and that impression on that category. One of the things we struggled with the last couple of sessions in discussions about the capital needs across the Agency is there got to be confusion among Legislatures and Legislative staff about what fell into that category of capital. So equipment, transportation, minor repairs, major repairs.

And so, you know, we felt like we needed a different rubric for that that really captured the fact that we've got antiquated infrastructure. It's old. It's aged. It's antiquated. It has to be modernized. And so we're talking about all of that legacy infrastructure and that's not only buildings, but it's also the IT related equipment and then also communications. So that was really the genesis for the term. It certainly wasn't intended to imply anything funky. Just -- but it's helpful to hear your impression on it and so let us think more about that term and if you've got any more suggestions for us, let's consider it because we want it to be clear and we want it to compelling. That's the most important thing.

MR. JENSEN: And granted, we just received our base reconciliation last Tuesday; so we got it in. We've been making recommendations to senior management, to Carter and the Executive Office team. It's still a work in progress. We understand. That's why I said the first four are almost like all number ones and so strategically we're going to have to figure out which number one needs to show up first and so that we can anticipate the types of questions we'll get -- that we'll receive from House members and Senate members and House Appropriation Senate Finance.

MR. SMITH: I think the other part of that, Commissioner, you know, irrespective of what we call Category 4 on the Modernization, we thought, okay, what are those kind of core programmatic areas for the Department. Well, it's State Parks, it's Fish and Wildlife, and Law Enforcement. I mean that is what we do as an Agency, those three things, and I think it encapsulates it very well. And then that fourth category when it comes to, again, whatever we call that, helps to support those core programs. And so, again, how we deal with all of that aged infrastructure was the thought process there. So just a little more background on that.

COMMISSIONER JONES: One more thing. Is there any way to -- I know we discussed here recently the issue of the Battleship Texas sort of being removed from some of the other issues that we have to face as an Agency. Is there any way to -- is there another category to move Battleship Texas into so that it doesn't fall even under exceptional items, or is that it? Is that our only option?

MR. JENSEN: That's it. That's the only option. It's currently not in the base, and the only way to get something above your base is to make it an exceptional item.

COMMISSIONER JONES: Okay.

MR. JENSEN: Okay, we'll move on to the Operating budget and this will be the Action Item for the Commission tomorrow. Essentially what we do and we've done this for you in the past is we crosswalk the Operating budget with the Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2015. We'll have some slides on the Operating budget summaries that will include FTEs, full-time equivalent employees. Then we'll have a couple slides on the Capital budget, and then we'll ask you to consider the Budget Investment policies. I'll let you know up front we haven't changed them, so we should be able to go through those fairly quickly.

Okay, here you can see on the General Appropriations Act, we had a different number for conference; but they made adjustments in the fiscal size up, so I'll just present to you what's in the fiscal size up. General Appropriation Act has 265.09 million for '15. We do have employee salary increases that are slated for September 1st for all Schedules A, B, and C, and that totals to 10 million. We do have some supplemental and adjustments that are related to Article 9 adjustments and some Rider adjustments in UB of 52.14 million in construction. Most of that is construction. And we do have some operating UB that's embedded with that, but it's a small amount.

We have appropriated receipts in Interagency Contracts of 678,000; about 680,000. And then we also budget in here fringe benefits and benefits replacement pay because that is an actual cost that we incur. The Appropriations bill, as I've mentioned before, does not put fringe in there. But we put it in our Operating budget because that's an impact to our cash, so we have to manage our cash balances and so we put that in our budget and each month that is a line item in your monthly financial report that we send to you. So the grand total for the '15 Operating budget is 371.35 million.

Last year that amount was 379.89 million. It's roughly the same. If you go back to 2013, it was 357.53 million. The total budget summarized by method of finance, you have General Obligation bonds, 37.85 million. It's about 10.2 percent of the budget. Other GR dedicated of 1.58 million is four-tenths of a percent and those are small amounts that are related to the Operators and Chauffeurs accounts and there was some endangered species money, it's a small amount, and some amount from the Lifetime License Endowment that we use in the Wildlife Division.

General revenue of 104.8 million, about 28 percent. We have other funds of 7.54 million at 2 percent. Federal funds of 48.49 million, about 13 percent. Account 9 which is Game, Fish, and Water Safety that funds all divisions with the exception of the State Park Division is 130 million. Account 64, the State Parks account, that's 41.5 million. That's about 11 percent.

This slide here, it summarizes at a high level Exhibit B. I think if you'll look at your Exhibit B, Exhibit B gives you more detail because Exhibit B is going to break this object of expense down by division so you can crosswalk it. In the columns across, you can see what the salaries and others are, operating grants, capital, debt service and benefits. You also have a column for FTEs. So the next few slides are going to give you a summary on what's on Exhibit B. So salaries and other personnel cost are 157.8 million of 42 and a half percent. Operating is 66.38 million, 17.9 percent. Grants is 29.22 million, 7.9 percent. The Capital budget is 71.01 million, 19.1 percent. Debt service is 3.39 million, nine-tenths of a percent. And benefits are 43.5 million, 11.7 percent, for a total budget of 371.35 percent.

This next slide is kind of busy, but it's -- I've add for this year, you can see the FTEs and FTE percentages right along with the budget. But again, I think your Exhibit B is going to crosswalk this beautifully for you. Administrative Resources Division has a budget of 8.59 million, 118 FTEs; Coastal Fisheries, 17.6 million, 203.5 FTEs; Communications, 8.6 million, 77.5 FTEs; Departmentwide, I have a slide later that will explain that one, it's 15 million, no FTEs; Executive Administration, 3.77 million, 34 FTEs; Human Resources, 2 million, 25 FTEs; Information Technology, 7.7 million, 88 FTEs; Infrastructure, 6.64 million, 115 FTEs; Inland Fisheries, 21 million, 213.3 FTEs; Law Enforcement has 68.57 million, 658 FTEs; Legal Services, our Legal Department has 10 FTEs a budget of 1.09 million; Local Parks has 14.4 million, 17.8 FTEs; State Parks has 92 million, 1,322.2 FTEs; Wildlife has 32.2 million and 302 FTEs; Capital Construction is roughly 55.54 million; Capital Information Technology is 5.17 million; and the General Land Office Transfer, the interagency coastal nourishment, 11.23 million.

As you can see on the bottom line there, we have a total of 3,184.3 FTEs and this slide gives you a recap of that. Basically due to attrition, we generally budget higher than what our FTE cap is because we know that roughly 6 to 12 percent of your staff are going to leave, either retire, take another job. And in our case unfortunately, sometimes due to sickness and death. So we've over-budgeted in 14 FTEs, 49.6 in this current budget that we're asking for approval, 75.1. We do have discretion to exceed the cap by approximately 50 FTEs. We're managing that well now. It's difficult because our big peak period for state parks is in the summer, so there's usually generally a huge spike in our FTE fill rate in the months of May through August.

I mentioned the Departmentwide budget. We put funds in this budget section category that supports the whole Department or they're major, major projects that are not exclusive to one division. You can see the first line is payments to license agents. That's 3.66 million. License agents are the Wal-Marts, Academy's, Mom-and-Pop shops that are selling hunting and fishing licenses across the state. Debt service on the bonds for State Parks, 3.39 million. The license system, this is what we pay the third-party contractor Gordon-Darby, 3.12 million and I would like to note that's pretty much what this has been for almost 12 years now; so we have a pretty good deal with Gordon-Darby, but we are seeking to adjust that Rider in the event we have a spectacular license sales year.

The UB Authority for Rider 22, that's the DMV. When you register your vehicle, you have an opportunity to donate for State Parks. We -- our projection is roughly about 92,000 may or may not be realized, so we placed that authority as a placeholder in this DYed budget group. Rider 27 until it's been certified, this is where we hold the authority for the 1.8 million in State Parks and 200,000 of Fund 9. The uncertified amount is 2.15 million. Our storm payment is about 800,000. Our strategic reserve is about 740,000. Our Airport Commerce Facility in Austin, the rent and the operating costs there are about 680,000. Headquarter's utilities, approximately 330,000. The pass-through plates are about 102,000. The master lease payments, we had some window tint that was put on headquarter's building years and years ago, it's roughly about $70,000. So our DYed budget is 15.04 million.

Moving on to the Capital budget. Again, this is summarized very well in Exhibit B. Construction/Major Repairs, most of that UB is related to construction. We have a 45.2 million UB just pure construction. We also have some components related to the supplemental bill. House Bill 1025, we have 3.79 million that was related to certain repairs on parks and we have 1.62 million for Bastrop recovery/repairs. And the reason I mention those, we do have time constraints on spending that money or in having that money encumbered. That money was good for two years. It's good through about mid June of 2015.

We also have 4.9 million in Rider 13 that's included in this 51.54 million amount. So we have in our base 4 million plus the UB, we have 55.54 million in Construction/Major Repairs. Parks minor repairs in our base is 3.02 million. Information Technology Data Center is 5.17 million. Just to give you a breakdown, just the IT component itself is about 920,000. The Data Center cost contributes 4.25 million of that amount. Transportation items in our base, 5.47 million. Capital equipment, 1.74 million. So the percentage breakdown is roughly 78.2 percent for construction, 4.3 percent for minor repairs for parks, 7.3 percent for IT related, 7.7 percent transportation, 2.5 percent for Capital equipment, and a tenth of a percent for the master lease amount. So our total Capital budget is 71.01 million.

Our Budget policy, there have been no changes to this policy since approximately 2012. Essentially, we have a policy that requires an annual approval and then adoption by the Commission. The Commission authorizes the Executive Director to execute the Department's budget. Any adjustments greater than 250,000 that are not Federal funds or bonds, do require prior approval of the Chair, Vice-Chair, or a Commission/Commissioner designee. I think many of you -- all of you are aware of the donation list. This is part of the policy. Any donation or gift exceeding $500 must be accepted by the Chair or Vice-Chair or Commissioner and we acknowledge and recognize those donations at the Commission meetings.

As far as Commission fund dedication, we're very liberal and broad. Funds are authorized for any use permitted by statute or rule, and this is a summary of the policy. There are no changes. This is your Exhibit C. Similarly, we have an Investment policy that requires an annual adoption review. This policy is not changing. We made some adjustments around two thousand probably eleven on that one. We do have a Public Funds Investment Act, which in the Governor's Code requires an Investment policy and an annual review by a governing body of a State agency depositing, investing funds outside the Treasury.

All of our funds are on deposit with the Treasury, so the Public Funds Investment Act does not really apply to our budget as it sits right now. In the event that any funds are ever pulled out of the Treasury, we're directed to do so by the Legislature or the Commission, the Executive Director will identify someone to serve as the Investment Officer and to comply with Public Funds Investment Act.

Those are all the slides I have for you for the Operating budget for 2015 and the two policies. If there are any questions, I'd be happy to try and answer them. If not, tomorrow we'll ask for this motion to be considered.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any questions for Mike? Thank you, Mike.

MR. JENSEN: Thanks.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Work Session Item No. 3, Threatened and Endangered Species Rule Amendment, Request Permission to Publish Proposed Changes in the Texas Registry, Michael Warriner.

MR. WARRINER: Good morning, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. My name is Michael Warriner, and I'm the Nongame and Rare Species Program Lead in the Wildlife Division. I'm here today to request your permission to publish proposed amendments to the Department's list of state threatened and endangered nongame wildlife and endangered, threatened, and protected plants.

This slide is an overview of the proposed amendments I'm going to be discussing, and I'm going to go into each one in more detail in my presentation. For the statewide -- I'm sorry. For the state threatened nongame list, we're proposing taxonomic clarifications for several species. From time to time, the scientific community reclassifies species based on new information. Changes in taxonomy do not affect the status of a species, but the Department believes that the common and scientific names of listed species should reflect current scientific consensus. So we're proposing name changes for several species. The changes are underlined.

We're proposing taxonomic clarifications for the Indigo snake, the Gray hawk, the Sooty Tern, the Bachman sparrow, Arizona Botteri's sparrow, Texas Botteri's sparrow, and Tropical Parula. Also for the state threatened nongame list, we're proposing to remove a state threatened species and that's the Margay. This is a small, partially arboreal feline that's similar to the Ocelot. The species has been extirpated from Texas, no long occurs in the state. The last known documented occurrence in Texas was in the mid 1850s from a specimen taken in Maverick County. Otherwise, the species is only known from Texas from fossilized remains. Currently, it ranges from Southern Mexico down into Brazil.

For the nongame endangered list, we're proposing a taxonomic clarification for the Interior Least Tern, a change in the genius underlined. For -- also for the endangered nongame list, we're proposing additions to the state endangered list. There are several species that have been Federally listed endangered, including the Austin Blind salamander on September 19th, 2013, and six aquatic invertebrates that were all Federally listed in July, on July 9th, 2013. Under Chapter 68 the Department is not required to list Federally endangered species by rule; however, whenever the Federal government modifies the list of endangered species, the Executive Director is required to file an order with the Secretary of State accepting the modification.

Of course, the Austin Blind salamander occurs in Travis County. The six aquatic invertebrates are all known from three counties in West Texas -- Jeff Davis, Reeves, and Pecos. They're highly restricted to freshwater springs, desert freshwater spring systems. For the protected plant list, we're proposing a few taxonomic clarifications for three plant species and those changes are underlined on the slide. For Davis it's Green Pitaya, White Bladderpod, and Zapata Bladderpod.

We're proposing a removal from the protected plant list. This is the Pima pineapple cactus. This is a small cactus species. It was once thought to occur in Texas. However, over the past few years there's been work that reveals it does not occur in the state. Currently, U.S. Fish and Wildlife only recognizes this species as occurring in Southern Arizona and Northern Sonora, Mexico.

We're proposing one addition to the state endangered plant list and that's the Texas Golden Gladecress. This species was Federally listed endangered October 11th, 2013. This is a small, herbaceous annual that's limited to two East Texas counties, San Augustine and Sabine. I believe that concludes my presentation. If there are any questions, I'll be happy to answer those.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any questions? Thank you.

MR. WARRINER: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Work Session Item No. 4, Conveyance of Pipeline Easement, Brazoria County, 9 acres at Justin Hurst Wildlife Management Area, Ted Hollingsworth. Good morning.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Chairman, Commissioners, good morning. Contrary to anything you may have heard yesterday, I am Ted Hollingsworth and I'm with the Land Conservation Program.

This first item is an Action Item. It pertains to a request from Air Liquide for an easement across the Justin Hurst Wildlife Management Area. This easement would run east to west across the north end of the Wildlife Management Area. The Wildlife Management Area is in Brazoria County, just off in intercoastal waterway there. Located, oh, about 60 miles south of downtown Houston, where we are today. The Justin Hurst is about 15,000 acres. It's largely coastal prairies and marshes with some stands of coastal hardwoods. You can see in this map the proposed route across the northern part of the Wildlife Management Area.

You were briefed on this request previously and in response to your comments, we've been working with Air Liquide to identify for them the documentation that we require to establish that they would be in compliance or that the request is in compliance with Chapter 26 of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Code establishing that there is no reasonable and prudent alternative to crossing the Wildlife Management Area and that all measures have been taken to address fish and wildlife or to minimize impacts to fish and wildlife resources.

The route that this has been narrowed down to is adjacent to existing pipeline right-of-ways across the Wildlife Management Area. The 10-inch pipeline they're proposing to install would carry Syngas, which is a mixture of carbon monoxide and hydrogen. And the route across the WMA, which is part of the reason that we've spent as much time making sure that we're minimizing these impacts, is four and a half miles. It's a fairly long right-of-way across the Wildlife Management Areas. Several alternative routes were investigated. Landowners were contacted, other assessments were made of those routes, and I think staff is prepared to recommend to you that Air Liquide has demonstrated that there's not a reasonable alternative route to going around the Wildlife Management Area.

We are wrapping up our assessment of that route. We're still working closely with Air Liquide. Again, the route and the methodologies that we settle upon are going to be those that minimize impacts to hydrology, soils, vegetation, operations. Right now we're looking at scheduling to minimize or eliminating the impacts on the hunting schedule coming up and so we're very close to having a work plan that we're all in agreement complies with Chapter 26.

I think most or all of that route will end up being directionally drilled. We're still -- in fact, Monday the soil morphologists will be on the ground to take soil bores and determine if adjustments need to be made to be proposed methodology. We're talking to Air Liquide about mitigating those impacts on the Wildlife Management Area and the resolution that you have would authorize Carter Smith to enter into that easement once we're completed with those evaluations and once we have a work plan that we're confident will minimize all those impacts to fish and wildlife resources.

We have received no comment in regard to this proposed Action Item and the staff does recommend that the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission adopt the following motion: The Commission adopts the resolution attached as Exhibit A.

And I'll be happy to answer any questions you have. Jed Franzen, the landman for Air Liquide and some of their staff are here today just in case you have any specific questions.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any questions? I will say we want to thank the Air Liquide staff for working with our staff. I know it started off a little bumpy apparently, but I guess everything has been worked out and we're glad you're here today.

If no further discussion, I'll place this item on Thursday's Commission meeting agenda for public comment and action. Thank you, Ted. Don't go anywhere.

Acceptance of 10,635-Acre Land Donation and Creation of 14,037-Acre Yoakum Dunes Wildlife Management Area, Cochran, Terry, and Yoakum Counties, Request Permission to Begin Public Notice and Input Process.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Chairman, Commissioners, good morning. My name is Ted Hollingsworth. I'm with the Land Conservation Program. We're pretty excited about this item. It's not very often that we add Wildlife Management Areas to the system. We've been working very closely. This is in the Southern Panhandle and it's an area that we've been working on conserving and worked closely with the Nature Conservancy primarily to protect habitat for the Lesser Prairie chicken.

It's in the core of the southern most focal areas for that bird. But at the same time, it also preserves habitat for Mule deer, a variety of reptiles that are pretty unique to that habitat, and a number of birds that are in decline. So we're very excited about this area. About 40 miles southwest of Lubbock. Not really close to any other Wildlife Management Areas or state parks that we have at this time. Y.

You can see the area here. A lot of oil and gas activity to the north of that area. A lot of oil and gas activity to the southeast of that area. But because of the vagaries of the geology out there, no oil and gas activity to speak of on this area. One of the reasons I believe it's still a good Shinnery oak habitat for the bird and the birds are fairly abundant across this 14,000 acres.

Nature Conservancy acquired the first 6,000 acres of this are in 2007 with a Pittman-Robertson Grant that passed through this Agency, with the intent that we were going to work closely together to amass as much contiguous habitat for the bird as possible. We've reached that point where we feel like it's time to turn that over to management of the Department and we already have one biologist on the ground managing that area, working closely with Nature Conservancy.

TNC has made several other acquisitions since then. We've made two of our own to add to that area. As you can see from this picture, it is, in fact, in that -- in the core of that southern most focal area for the bird. You can see also see why the bird is struggling. Very, very little of its habitat remains. Very little of its range is still occupied by the bird. And again, the status is that we have a biologist on the ground. We have a number of birds on site, it continues to be a strong area for the bird, and what we would like to do today is propose that you grant permission to being the public notice and input process and we would likely come back to you in November with a request for action on that. I'd be happy to answer any questions that you have.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any questions for Ted? If there's no further discussion, I'll authorize staff to begin public notice and input process.

Action -- Work Session Item No. 6, Acceptance of Land Donation, Nueces County, Approximately 780 Acres added to Mustang Island State Park, Ted Hollingsworth.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Chairman, Commissioners, good morning. My name is Ted Hollingsworth. I'm with the Land Conservation Program. Staff is very excited about this item as well. This is an Action Item. There is a tract of land, 680 acres, adjacent to Mustang Island State Park right across the bay from Corpus Christi, from the city of Corpus Christi.

It is by far the largest remaining vacant tract of land adjacent to the park. The last opportunity we're ever going to have to really significantly enlarge the park. We have been actively trying to identify the resources to acquire this tract for 15 years that I've been involved with and because of the settlement of a pollution case elsewhere on Corpus Christi Bay, through the NRDA process and trustees, we now have access to the resources to acquire this 680-acre tract.

The tract does extend to the Gulf of Mexico. As you can well imagine, the property between the highway and the Gulf of Mexico is just priced really out of the range for conservation acquisition; but the rest of that 680-acre tract, we've negotiated an option again with TNC as a partner and an intermediary for us to make that acquisition. Just a tremendous, tremendous patch of native prairie. Probably more Aplomado falcons on that tract than anywhere else on the lower and central Texas coast.

Wonderful wetlands. Wonderful prairies. Wonderful piece of habitat. Would expand our opportunities obviously to make a park, park areas available to the public for recreation. Very high quality habitat. Good access. Just an exciting tract of land and, again, one we've been trying to acquire for 15 years now. The property is under option. The option will expire in October. We're working closely with the NRDA trustees to affect that closing prior to that expiration of that. We're on schedule to do that.

We have received five comments from the public, all in favor of this acquisition. And we are very, very excited to make the recommendation that the staff adopt -- I'm sorry. That the Commission adopt the following motion: The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorizes the Executive Director to take all necessary steps to accept the donation of approximately 680 acres in Nueces County for addition to Mustang Island State Park.

I'd be very happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Yes.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: I've just got one. Your map shows the Facey tract as being 698 acres; is that --

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Yes, sir. Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: So we're going -- they're -- we're going -- we're going to get 680 of the 698?

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: No, sir. Since that -- since that original map was made, we've had a survey, a coastal survey done and there's a cove. There's a small bay shown in that -- you can see it in the aerial photographs -- adjacent to Corpus Christi Bay that was in the deed description, but which the GLO has ruled is submerged lands and the GLO has required that those be deleted from what is considered private property for sale to the Department.

COMMISSIONER MORIAN: Okay, thanks.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any more questions? I will say that I toured this property about a month ago. I think it's a great addition to the state park. I can report the bathrooms at the state barks were adequate. So anyways, it's a great addition. And if no further discussion, we'll place this item on Thursday's Commission agenda for public comment and action. Thank you, Ted.

Action -- Work Session Item No. 8 has been withdrawn.

Work Session Item No. 9, Briefing on Survey of Employee Engagement, Kent White.

MR. SMITH: Actually, Chairman, do you want to do No. 7 on --

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Oh, did I miss one?

MR. SMITH: Yeah, we missed -- we missed seven on Calhoun County. I'd hate for Ted to sit down, he's on such a roll here.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: I'm sorry. Okay, Ted, we've got one more to do here. So, I'm sorry. No. 7 --

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: I'm flexible.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: -- Acceptance of Land Donation, Calhoun County, Approximately 17,351 Acres, Mr. Ted Hollingsworth, make your presentation.

MR. HOLLINGSWORTH: Chairman, Commissioners, good morning. My name is Ted Hollingsworth. I'm with the Land Conversation Program and another item that we're really, really excited to bring to you. You'll see the Action Item tomorrow, but just want to sort of load that one today.

As you know, we've been for sometime have really taken -- been taking a close look at the central coast, coastal region of Texas for a couple of reasons. One of which is there's still a lot of opportunities there to achieve some really meaningful, long-term conservation of resources. We've had a lot of focus and expended a lot of resources on the upper coast around the Galveston Bay System and with good reason. Those are very threatened resources and have been in decline for some years.

But we don't want to miss the opportunity to conserve more of the mid coast while we have that opportunity. The -- quite frankly, the BP oil spill in 2010 got all the conservation partners thinking about what it is we're going to wish we'd done 15, 20, 50 years from now. And what we have is the opportunity to get a lot more acreage and some really rare, some really unique landscape scale, habitats, and ecosystems into conservation for current and future generations.

And there is a tract. There's a 17,000-acre tract that the conservation community has had its eyes on for at least 25 years and the conservation community, quite frankly, has made several runs at the property over the years and finally because of a pretty unique partnership with the Nature Conservancy and the Conservation Fund, Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Knobloch Foundation and others, we have crafted a way to acquire this 17,000-acre tract. It's been a long time coming. Been a pretty complicated transaction; but I'm happy to report that last Friday, Friday before last, that that acquisition was consummated. The property is now owned by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation and Nature Conservancy and the Conservation Fund and tomorrow we're going to go into a great deal more detail about just what a significant tract of land this is.

We have received five comments from the public, all in favor of this acquisition. And the Action Item you'll see tomorrow is a recommendation that you adopt the following motion: The Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission authorizes the Executive Director to take all necessary steps to accept the donation of approximately 17,351 acres in Calhoun County for establishment of a new conservation and recreation facility.

With that, I'll be happy to answer any questions.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any questions for Ted? I'll say that, Ted, I also toured this property earlier in the summer with Commissioner Jones and it's an outstanding addition to our state Texas Parks and Wildlife holdings. It's going to be a very significant tract for our State system. If there's no more questions, I'll place this item on Thursday's Commission agenda meeting for public comment and action.

Okay, now can we go to No. 9?

MR. SMITH: Go to No. 9.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Briefing on Survey of Employee Engagement, Kent White, make your presentation.

MR. WHITE: Chairman, Commissioners, for the record, I am not Ted Hollingsworth; but rather Kent White and I am the HR Director of Parks and Wildlife. Today I'm going to give you a brief overview of the results of the survey of employee engagement.

This morning with me is Jennifer Micallef, who did most of the heavy lifting for this and the tough questions can certainly go to her. This morning I'm going to cover the background, spend a good deal of time on the analysis of the survey, and then talk about where we go from here. Administered biannually by the UT School of Social Work, the survey is -- seeks to learn more about how State employees view the working environment.

The survey assists organizational leadership by providing data about workforce issues that impact the quality of service ultimately delivered to our customers. The survey provides a vehicle to initiate dialogue with employees about their perception and recommended improvement ideas. The survey has no answers. It simply asks the right questions. It's up to us to explore them with the employees to arrive at recommended improvements. It's truly an empowerment and accountability tool.

The survey is administered, as I said, biannually to 250,000 employees over the 70 State agencies. We get many types of reports we'll discuss here in a minute, but most importantly is the fact that the data we get is used to engage employees to show a commitment to improving the organization. If we don't address the issues, then the -- with the employees, then the exercise is really ineffective.

The survey is a framework which at the highest level consists of five workplace dimensions which are across the top which capture the total work environment. Underneath these five dimensions are 14 construct scores which are developed from the 71 primary questions that are asked to all State employees. The climate analysis score is also developed from the 71 primary questions, but they're reported in the climate section below.

In addition to the 71 standard questions each State employee receives, there are 20 additional questions that each Agency gets to ask that where unique to that Agency. Now, this year we continued the questions that we have in the past on safety, as well as this time we had seven questions on diversity that we will discuss in a few slides. The results of the survey were very positive and the arrows represent the FY '14 results as compared to the FY '12 results. The only area where there was a slight downturn was in survey response rate, which was 82 percent in FY '14 compared to 90 percent in FY '12. However, this was still an outstanding response rate because anything above 50 percent is considered very, very good.

The overall score which is an average of the construct of all 71 questions was 377, which was five points better than the last administration. The areas of strength which are strategic orientation, employee development, and supervision, were all rated above 400, which was also better than the last administration. Now, we do have a couple of areas of concern. The first is pay, and the second is internal communications. While they scored higher this time, they are still areas that have been a systemic challenge for us.

Now, unfortunately because Health and Human Services completed their surveys much later than the rest of the State agencies, we just received the comparison results over the weekend. So while I do have some of those, I didn't get to do as much analysis as I wanted to. But overall, the Agency scored 14 points higher in aggregate when compared to other State natural resource agencies. Now, this slide shows a comparison of the 14 different constructs over the last three administrations of the survey. Now, as you can see as an Agency, overall our scores in FY '14 were holding steady or actually slightly better.

To explain the slide a little bit, the red line, the blue line is what we would consider the sweet spot, where you want to be. That is from 300 and -- a score of 325 to 375. Now anything below 325 is an area of concern and anything above 375 would be an area of strength. So as you take a look at this slide, the only area that really sticks out which is pay, which is 100 points less than in the next lowest scoring one. When you take a look at all the other areas, however, above the blue line, we had several areas that were considered very good.

Now, when you take a look at this, this is an overall aggregate score for the Agency. So there are some divisions that are below average, as the next slide will show you. And even though overall the Agency did well, that doesn't mean we're done. Just the opposite. We need to address those areas by division where employees identified improvement areas. Now, there were two -- there were only two areas where we scored lower than the State agency average and that was in pay and benefits as well and we'll take a look at the scores that we got.

This slide here, the average would be in the middle and the slide depicts the range of scores from the lowest scoring division to the highest scoring division on each construct. The left and right limits, if you will. Now, the red bar shows the lowest division score in the construct and the blue bar shows the highest. So, for example, on the top for supervision, there was a range of scores of 55 points from minus 29 below the average to a plus 26 above the average. So that just kind of shows you where the left and right limits are. Now, these benchmarks are good because they give a division a point of internal comparison and prove useful to us as we analyze individual division scores. They helped us focus on areas of improvement by division. So even though overall the aggregate score may have been good for the Agency, there may have been a division that scored lower and it's something for them to look at.

For areas like strategic where the Agency and divisions both scored high, divisions may elect to make no changes. However, on the other hand, on a chronically low scoring constructs like internal communications, high scoring divisions may want to share those successes with the lower scoring divisions as a benchmark and those with lower scores may want to explore issues and actions through employee focus groups.

When we talk about our areas of strength, the three that popped up as the highest scoring were first is strategic, which has been a long-standing Parks and Wildlife strength and consistently scores high. Supervision is an interesting construct in that it was a chronically low score in 2008; but as a result of several of these surveys, there was concentration on that and it's been increasingly better and now it is one of our strength areas. Employee development is also an area that was focused on from previous low scoring areas and is now a strength.

One of our focus areas we had last administration as well as this administration was safety and since we stress a culture of safety, we have added additional questions of those 20 and when we take a look at that as compared to the last survey, these questions scored about three to eight points higher, which is good. However, this doesn't mean that we're done with safety. Just the contrary. It needs to be a continued priority and remain at the forefront of everything we do. The good news about the scores is it indicates that folks feel empowered to report unsafe acts, which is a good first step when you take a look at safety.

Areas of -- two areas of concern, pay is a constantly low scoring item for us and internal communications is as well. But to put it into context, internal communications with a score of 356 was a full 100 points higher than pay and that is not in itself a bad score. When we break pay a little further, this chart here shows about the last 12 surveys where we were as far as the progression. When we take a look at the high in 1998 of 314, that was still not a good score and it has dropped and stayed low for several years. Remember that sweet spot of 325 is kind of where you want to be at the low. To put it in more perspective, it was the lowest scoring of all the 19 constructs and these were the questions that were asked about pay, which have consistently -- these questions have consistently been used to measure the construct and they were the three lowest scoring of all the 71 on the survey, so it is definitely an area that needs to be addressed.

Again, while this construct was the second lowest scoring, it was a full 100 points higher and 256 is a good score. However, internal communications with an Agency with such a diverse mission set is a critical issue. So concentrating on improving it is a good thing and many divisions have started a focus group to take a look at improvement areas and HR is no exception to that.

When we take a look at the special interest item for diversity, as I mentioned previously, we had 20 questions that we could ask that were unique to our Agency. We took seven of those questions to ask about diversity, and this is our baseline year; so the next administration will have another year's worth of data to take a look at to see if we've made any progress. Now, when you look at aggregate, those are very good scores except for the promotion practices. However, when you break it out by race, it tells a slightly different story and this slide -- and I apologize for the eye chart. Overall, as I said, they were great scores. But when you break it down by race, it shows a different picture and that African-Americans scored much different than Hispanic and white employees when you take a look at that. There was 52 African-American respondents and over 21 respondents -- 2100 white and Hispanic respondents.

But when you take a look at the red areas, those were the lowest per question and as you can see, African-Americans did not feel as good about the Agency's efforts at achieving cultural diversity. However, Hispanics felt the strongest that the Agency's efforts were effective and that would be in the green. As this is a baseline year, we will continue to ask these questions in the future to see how our efforts at achieving diversity among the customers and workforce is perceived by our employees and I'll give you a second to take a look at the scores.

The last year I will highlight is Agency's climate, which is compared over the last three administrations surveyed and you'll see that we've increased slightly in every area and overall the climate is considered good. As with earlier T -- as earlier construct slide, using 375 as a significant, atmosphere and ethics not surprisingly are strengths and varied little in their scores. High atmosphere score denotes a workplace free of harassment and characterized by a feeling of community and a high ethics score reflects a workplace characterized by ethical behavior and confidence that ethical violations will be addressed. So overall very good scores on the climate and holding steady.

Now, the last slide here shows what we have done to date and those things that we still have left to do. As I state earlier, we met with each division director and in some case the entire division leadership team, to present them their results and talk about what areas they should concentrate on as they address things with their employees. Now, each division has areas they will focus on, with many creating focus groups to address the areas that employees identified as areas to improve. Now, this is the most important step in the process because not addressing the employee's concern will cause employee to feel their voice was not heard and their concerns not valid.

The division directors will brief the Executive Director in the November timeframe on action plans to address those areas of concerns and the implementation of those plans. Now, the true test of this will be in the next administration of the survey employee engagement, which will be in February of 2016. That concludes my brief. I'll be happy to address any questions.

COMMISSIONER DE HOYOS: I have a question, and I'm not sure you're the right person to ask it. But do we have any data comparing salaries/compensation with other State agencies and/or similar agencies in other states?

MR. WHITE: Yes, sir. I've just recently done a comprehensive survey that I've given to the Executive Director and we're -- we have not briefed the division directors yet, but we're going to be doing so in the next month or so. Yes, sir, I have.

COMMISSIONER DE HOYOS: Yeah, I would like to see that.

MR. WHITE: Yes, sir, we can make that available.

MR. SMITH: We'll share that with the Commission. Good question, yep.

MR. WHITE: Yes, sir.

COMMISSIONER DE HOYOS: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Any other question for Kent? Thank you, Kent. That's very interesting and it's -- overall, it looks fairly positive.

MR. WHITE: Yes, sir.

MR. SMITH: For the Commission, I just want to tell you how seriously we take this. This is our best tool for getting a comprehensive assessment across the Agency of how our colleagues are feeling. Do they feel valued? Do they feel empowered? Do they feel a part of this Agency?

You know, the fact that we have such a high participation rate I think is very telling in terms of hopefully recognizing we take this feedback very, very seriously. I think Kent did a great job of enumerating a couple of the areas where we have struggled over time. Compensation being way, way, way at the top of the list. That's not a secret unfortunately. People come to this Agency, they love this mission; but we have not been able to keep up with the cost of living and that's been a huge issue for us. It's also been a struggle for us as we've lost colleagues who simply are just getting paid at much higher levels at other comparable State agencies, certainly in the private sector and also by the Federal resource agencies, which are big competitors for these jobs.

But the division directors are working on their individual results. Will have back their plans to us in November on how we plan to actualize these results and take forward recommendations on how to improve things. So look forward to continuing to work with the Commission on these issues that -- and the opportunities for improvement that were highlighted today. So, thank you.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Thank you, Carter.

Work Session Item No. 10, Texas-Mexico Border Security and Deployment of Department Personnel will be held in Executive Session.

And just to kind of let everybody know, I think what our plan is we're going to go to Executive Session, have this discussion, and we'll come back and close this regular meeting prior to lunch. Is that the way -- we did a very good job of getting through this agenda this morning. It may be a record.

MR. SMITH: We'll come to Houston more often, Mr. Chairman, so.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: Well, I think I want to get through. I'm going to go look at this museum while we're here.

MR. SMITH: Absolutely.

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: So let's take advantage of this great facility and the hospitality that we're being presented. So, okay, at this time, I would like to announce that pursuant to the requirement of Chapter 551 Government Code referred to as the Open Meetings Act, an Executive Session will be held at this time for the purpose of seeking legal advice under Section 551.071 of the Open Meetings Act and deliberating regarding the duties and reassignment of public employees under Section 551.074 of the Texas Open Meetings Act and deliberating the deployment and specific occasions for implementation of security personnel or devices under Section 551.076 of the Texas Open Meetings Act. We will now recess for Executive Session. Thank you.

(Recess taken for Executive Session)

COMMISSIONER HUGHES: All right. With regards to the Work Session Item No. 10, Texas-Mexico Border Security and Deployment of Department Personnel, no further action or discussion is required on this item.

Mr. Smith, this Commission has completed its Work Session business and I declare us adjourned.

(Work Session concludes)

C E R T I F I C A T E

STATE OF TEXAS )
COUNTY OF TRAVIS )

I, Paige S. Watts, Certified Shorthand Reporter in and for the State of Texas, do hereby certify that the above-mentioned matter occurred as hereinbefore set out.

I FURTHER CERTIFY THAT the proceedings of such were reported by me or under my supervision, later reduced to typewritten form under my supervision and control and that the foregoing pages are a full, true, and correct transcription of the original notes.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and seal this Turn in date _____ day of ________________, 2014.

___________________________________
Paige S. Watts, CSR, RPR
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