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In the News

“Capture Your Commute” for a chance at $50 Amazon gift card

Friday, September 13, 2013

From biking and vanpooling to taking transit or walking, your alternative commute could score a prize with Commute Solutions' Sept. 16-30, 2013, contest.

The Capture Your Commute Contest, hosted in partnership with the City of Austin Air Quality Program for commuters living or working in Bastrop, Burnet, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties, encourages the use of pollution-reducing alternative transportation options.

Once the contest starts, simply submit a photo of your commute to info@commutesolutions.com.

With a $50 Amazon gift card as the prize, Commute Solutions will announce the first winner on Sept. 23, 2013, and the second victor on Sept. 30.  

> Get more contest details at Commute Solutions' website
> Explore the City of Austin's Air Quality Program
> Discover CAPCOG's Air Quality Program

CAPCOG nabs second national award for innovation

Thursday, September 12, 2013

For the second consecutive year, the Capital Area Council of Governments has won an Innovation Award from the National Association of Development Organizations.

CAPCOG’s GeoMap, a cost-sharing initiative to produce and maintain current geospatial base map data for local jurisdictions, developers, consultants and other interested parties, earned a coveted spot among NADO’s 2013 slate of honorees that included more than 90 projects from 25 states.

The Innovation Award recognizes regional development organizations and partnering organizations nationwide for improving local and regional economic and community competitiveness. Honors were announced at NADO's recent annual training conference in San Francisco. Last year, CAPCOG also won NADO innovation honors for its role in Pecan Street Inc., an Austin-area economic development project centered on clean energy.

> Get the full list of NADO 2013 Innovation Award winners

Launched in 2002  to maximize taxpayer dollars and help minimize data-development duplication, GeoMap offers cost advantages including an economy of scale. CAPCOG, as project coordinator, secured vendor rates that decrease as product volume increases. Coordinating and pooling the region’s resources increases the total volume of an order, securing lower prices per entity than if single participants separately purchased selected products.

­­­Further discounts are realized when multiple participants share the same area of interest and therefore share the cost. Also, a regional discount is often spread across the project when large organizations – CAPCOG or the Texas Department of Transportation, for example – participate, reducing costs for all.

> Discover CAPCOG's GeoMap

GeoMap's products include aerial photography, Lidar imagery, underwater depth depictions, elevation data, structures, road centerlines, pavement, vegetation and land cover. The program also produces critical data for use in disaster preparedness, 9-1-1 operations, regional planning and infrastructure management.

By securing competitive pricing for services and coordinating area cost-sharing, CAPCOG’s GeoMap has saved the region an estimated $8.6 million since 2002.

TARC seeks leadership award honorees

Monday, September 09, 2013

The Texas Association of Regional Councils is accepting nominations for its annual Jack Colley Citizen Corps Leadership Award.

The award, named for the Texas Division of Emergency Management chief who served from 1998 to 2010, recognizes a Citizen Corps volunteer or group for exemplary leadership and service locally, regionally, statewide or nationally.

Nominations are due to tarc@txregionalcouncil.org by 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 4, 2013.

> Get the award nomination form
> Learn more about TARC

CAPCOG adds ozone monitor in SW Austin

Monday, September 09, 2013

The Capital Area Council of Governments is establishing a new ozone air monitoring station in southwest Austin at Gorzycki Middle School.

The temporary monitor will help provide a more complete and accurate picture of peak ozone levels in the region, especially when winds come out of the northeast.

This winter, CAPCOG’s Air Quality Program will review data collected in September and October to determine whether to continue collecting data at the new location during next year’s ozone season.

> Learn more about air quality monitoring

Task force report looks at growing senior population

Friday, September 06, 2013

From healthy living and affordable housing to greater integration in civic life, a City of Austin task force has released a set of goals and strategies to enhance the lives of older adults while maximizing available resources.

The Mayor’s Task Force on Aging, which included participation from local leaders such as CAPCOG Area Agency on Aging Director Jennifer Scott, produced the recommendations with assistance from various partners including the University of Texas Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, Seton Foundations, St. David’s Foundation and an advisory council.

Key categories in the report include Health, Housing and Basic Needs, Transportation and Community Infrastructure, Societal Participation and Inclusion, and Caregivers and Long-Term Supports.

Download the summary of recommendations and strategies or the full 95-page report at the city's website. > Go

CAMPO sets public meetings for 2040 Transportation Plan input

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Fresh on the heels of its recent community survey, the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization - a CAPCOG partner - will hold a series of meetings for additional public input on the next regional transportation plan in Central Texas. The eventual 2040 Regional Transportation Plan will replace the current 2035 version.

CAMPO, which serves Bastrop, Burnet, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties, must produce a 25-year regional transportation plan every five years. The agency works with stakeholders including cities, counties, regional and state transportation agencies and the public to plan for the area's current and long-term needs.

In addition to CAMPO's recent survey on transportation priorities and challenges, opportunities to weigh in include the following public meetings, each from 5:30 to 7 p.m.:

  • Tuesday, Sept. 10, Kyle City Hall, 100 W. Center Street, Cedar Park, TX 78613
  • Wednesday, Sept. 11, Cedar Park Recreation Center, 1435 Main Street, Cedar Park, TX 78613
  • Thursday, Sept. 12, Taylor City Hall Auditorium, 400 Porter Street, Taylor, TX 76574
  • Tuesday, Sept. 17, One Texas Center, 505 Barton Springs Road, Room 325, Austin, TX 78704
  • Wednesday, Sept. 18, Marble Falls Public Library, 101 Main Street, Marble Falls, TX 78654
  • Thursday, Sept. 19, Bastrop City Hall, 1311 Chestnut Street, Bastrop, TX 78602
  • Monday, Sept. 23rd, Lockhart City Hall, 308 W. San Antonio Street, Lockhart, TX 78644

Input opportunities also will include a public hearing during CAMPO's Transportation Policy Board meeting, 6 p.m. Monday, Sept. 9, Joe C. Thompson Center, 2405 E. Campus Drive, Austin, TX 78705. 

> Read the current 2035 Regional Transportation Plan
> Learn more about CAMPO

State grant targets prostitution prevention

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Criminal Justice Division of the Governor's Office will award grants from $10,000 to $75,000 for eligible prostitution-prevention projects that begin on or after Sept. 1, 2013, and conclude by Aug. 31, 2014.

Potential grantees - Texas counties, cities and judicial districts - can get the application kit online starting Sept. 1 and must submit a completed version to CJD's eGrants website by Oct. 31, 2013.

The Prostitution Prevention Program does not require matching funds but applicants must meet certain other conditions to eligibility.

> Learn more and apply at the CJD site starting Sept. 1

Got thoughts on transportation? Weigh in with CAMPO survey

Friday, August 23, 2013

Just another week left to take the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization's kickoff survey for the next regional transportation plan. The online survey, part of an outreach effort that also will include public meetings and a website for information and comments, closes Aug. 31, 2013.

CAMPO, which serves Bastrop, Burnet, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties, must produce a 25-year regional transportation plan every five years. The agency works with stakeholders including cities, counties, regional and state transportation agencies and the public to plan for the area's current and long-term needs.

Residents, commuters, business owners and others are invited to take the survey, available in English and Spanish. The eventual 2040 Regional Transportation Plan will replace the current 2035 version. 

> Take the survey on transportation priorities and challenges today
> Read the current 2035 Regional Transportation Plan
> Learn more about CAMPO

TCEQ: Nominations for 2014 Texas Environmental Excellence Awards open ‘til Oct. 4

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Know an individual, a community, a business or an agency committed to stewardship of Texas' natural resources? Tell the world! The public is invited to submit nominations for the 2014 Texas Environmental Excellence Awards by Oct. 4, 2013.

The Office of the Governor and the Texas State Commission on Environmental Quality, honoring contributions to waste reduction, conservation and pollution prevention, will present awards in nine categories: Agriculture, Civic/Community, Education, Individual, Innovative Operations/Management, Pollution Prevention, Technical/Technology, Water Conservation and Youth.

> Nominate your pick today at TCEQ's website
> Explore CAPCOG's Sustainable Places Project

CAMPO and City of Austin launch Aug. 19-30 back-to-school commute contest

Friday, August 16, 2013

Bike, walk or carpool to work? Always wanted to give vanpooling or transit a try? Join the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization Commute Solutions' Back-to-School Challenge for a chance at one of five $50 Alamo Drafthouse gift cards. 

The Aug. 19-30, 2013, contest, hosted in partnership with the City of Austin Air Quality Program for commuters living or working in Bastrop, Burnet, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties, encourages the use of pollution-reducing alternative transportation options.

Simply sign up for the challenge, and log your biking, walking, vanpooling or carpooling trips for the chance to win a prize. When logging trips, participants also can track cost savings, fuel saved, calories burned and pollution reduced. 

> Learn more at CAMPO's Commute Solutions website
> Discover the region's Ozone Advance initiative
> Explore CAMPO, a CAPCOG partner
> Share the contest poster

Regional forum highlights growth, rail and bang for the buck

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Eventbrite - Sustainable Places Project Regional Forum | Growth. Transit. ROI.

Reserve your spot by Aug. 26 to explore robust scenarios of Austin's new development potential — including the $1.2 billion urban rail transit system — with opportunities for increased tax revenue, job creation, expanded affordable housing options, watershed protection, savings by residents who bike or walk to work, local reinvestment of those savings, and efficiencies gained by businesses whose employees’ vehicle expenses decrease. 

The event, CAPCOG’s sixth in a series of regional forums launched last year, will feature local experts in economic development, planning and computer modeling to demonstrate today’s tools to help communities make the most of their resources.

> Learn more, and RSVP today

CAPCOG can help: Tax increment finance districts

Thursday, August 08, 2013

When understood and properly used, tax increment finance districts - also known as "tax increment reinvestment zones” - can be a valuable tool for community and economic development.

TIFs work by having one or more taxing jurisdictions — a city, county or hospital district, for example — collectively commit to setting aside property taxes generated within a selected area or district in excess of the amount currently received. Instead of going to the general fund, this extra revenue — the “increment” — is set aside for direct reinvestment into the TIF district in the form of public infrastructure improvements.

Despite common misconception, a TIF doesn’t involve a tax increase. The tax rate remains the same, but any additional tax revenue produced by an increase in property values within the district helps fund infrastructure improvements and other public investments.

> Explore CAPCOG's Economic Development Program

TIFs serve to fund public improvements in areas otherwise unable to support new development without the improvements. In this way, TIFs are often used to revitalize blighted areas, but they have a fairly wide range of potential applications. Using the added or — through the use of bonds — future tax revenue produced by new development within the district, TIFs can pay for water and sewer lines, pedestrian amenities, parking garages, infrastructure for transit-oriented development and much more. TIFs have even been used to lease parking for free public use on nights and weekends.

A simple pay-as-you-go TIF could involve waiting for enough development along a particular road to then apply the added property tax value generated to improvements along that road, ultimately attracting additional development, and so on. Sometimes TIFs are used to support the issuance of bonds that can fund upfront the infrastructure needed to support a specific development project.

> Learn more about TIFs with CAPCOG's Michael Hennig

At the end of the life of a TIF, the district is formally dissolved and all taxes over and above the original base value of the district are once again given to each respective taxing jurisdiction. When successful, this leads to a larger tax base for these jurisdictions. In addition to the larger tax base, the retired TIF district is now equipped with new infrastructure and development that can serve as assets for future community and economic development.

Tax increment finance districts are versatile, so it’s important to develop a plan for incorporating a given TIF within the target area’s broader strategy. A good place to start? Collaborating with the Capital Area Council of Governments. In addition to its team of professionals who can help create a TIF, CAPCOG offers sophisticated planning tools that can help identify an area’s development potential.

> Discover economic trends with CAPCOG's Data Points blog

State grant for cleaner-running fleets closes Aug. 31

Friday, August 02, 2013

Reminder: Don't miss the Aug. 31, 2013, deadline for a pollution-curbing state grant to replace older forklifts and medium- or heavy-duty diesel vehicles with low-emission fleets. Public, private and nonprofit fleets in selected areas are potentially eligible.

The $6 million Railroad Commission Alternative Fuels Equipment Initiative, funded through the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality's Texas Emissions Reduction Plan, averages $9,500 per award and covers eligible new equipment that meets current emissions standards and will be operated in one of more than three dozen eligible Texas counties.

Replacement vehicles and equipment fueled by natural gas and propane are expected to help grant program participants cut fuel costs and reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by more than 600 tons, according to an earlier Railroad Commission (RRC) of Texas news release.

Potential applicants are encouraged to contact the RRC's Pat Wilson at 512-475-2911 or patrick.wilson@rrc.state.tx.us soon.

> Download the grant's frequently asked questions flier
> Read the RRC's spring 2013 news release on the grant  
> Learn more about rebates and incentives at the RRC website

Medicare moves closer to Big 5-0; local benefits counseling on tap

Monday, July 29, 2013

As Medicare marks its 48th anniversary July 30, 2013, CAPCOG Area Agency on Aging's Benefits Counseling Program stands ready to help older adults and other eligible consumers navigate Medicare issues such as health care coverage, plan enrollment, fraud prevention and more.

Medicare, a federal program signed into law along with Medicaid nearly five decades ago, provides health insurance to seniors 65 and older, to younger participants with certain disabilities and to people of any age with end-stage renal disease. The program has helped millions of beneficiaries since its 1965 launch.  

CAPCOG Area Agency on Aging's certified staff and volunteers assist eligible consumers on Medicare issues ranging from open enrollment, prescription drug plans and preventive health to supplemental insurance, savings programs and fraud prevention.

Free, confidential counseling for older adults and other eligible Medicare beneficiaries starts with a call to CAPCOG at 512-916-6062 or toll free 888-622-9111, ext. 6062, for one-on-one help. Call today.

> See the U.S. Health & Human Services news release on Medicare's milestone
> Discover CAPCOG Area Agency on Aging's Benefits Counseling Program
> Get trained as a benefits counseling volunteer 

Current federal ozone standards stay – for now

Friday, July 26, 2013

With a federal appeals court upholding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2008 health-based air pollution standard, the Austin-Round Rock metropolitan statistical area remains in compliance with ozone requirements.

Several government, industry and environmental parties petitioned the court to set aside the EPA standard as, respectively, either too stringent or not strong enough to comply with clean air law. The court let stand the ozone standard for protecting public health, but ordered EPA to further review its secondary rule related to environmental protection.

Recent air quality modeling indicates that the region comprising Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties may be able to comply with stricter federal ozone standards expected in 2014 if the area can continue reducing its emissions.

> Read the federal appellate opinion
> Discover CAPCOG's Air Quality Program
> Explore local participation in EPA's Ozone Advance program, and take the survey

CAPCOG Area Agency on Aging: Seniors, watch for fraud calls

Monday, July 22, 2013

With Medicare and Social Security scammers often enlisting the phone for their criminal deeds, CAPCOG’s Area Agency on Aging wants seniors to help protect themselves with some simple steps.

The phone is a convenient tool for fraudsters wanting to steal Medicare dollars, wrote Better Business Bureau Education Foundation Program Director Barbara Parrott McGinity in a recent Houston Chronicle special section column. Seniors can be defrauded without even leaving home.

Screening calls with an answering machine, requiring charity solicitors to submit their requests in writing and hanging up when hearing certain tell-tale signs such as an unsolicited request for credit card information are among the ways to fight back, according to the column. Consumers can find even more tips in the full column and get McGinity’s phone number for questions. 

> Read McGinity's column for steps against fraud
> Discover the Agency on Aging's free services

Air quality modeling shows need for continued emissions reductions

Friday, July 19, 2013

Recent modeling indicates that the region comprising Bastrop, Caldwell, Hays, Travis and Williamson counties may be able to comply with stricter federal ozone standards expected in 2014 if the area can continue reducing its emissions. To make that happen, it’s all hands on deck for residents, business and government.

> Explore CAPCOG's Air Quality Program

Being out of compliance with new ozone standards would have serious consequences for the region, including loss of local control over air quality planning, strict limits on industrial growth, new constraints on transportation planning and costly pollution regulations.

In 2004 and again in 2012, the region barely avoided a formal designation of being a “nonattainment” area for ozone after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued stricter standards. By pursuing voluntary emission reduction strategies, the region could avoid this designation. 

> Learn about ozone pollution and nonattainment at EPA's website

Air quality modeling performed by both the Alamo Area Council of Governments (AACOG) and the EPA indicate that by 2015, ozone levels in the region may fall to the upper range of the federal agency’s expected new standards. The 2015 ozone levels likely will be used by EPA to formally designate areas as complying with or running afoul of the new standards.

Local modeling results show that the Austin area’s ozone levels should decline from 74 parts per billion in 2012 to about 70.0 to 70.9 parts per billion by 2015, right at the edge of the 60 to 70 parts per billion EPA will likely propose. These modeling results, however, do not account for some recent emissions research conducted by CAPCOG and AACOG, who will collaborate this year to further refine the estimates.

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Did you know?
  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s current ozone standard is 75 parts per billion (ppb), averaged over eight hours.
  • EPA determines an area’s emissions compliance by calculating the three-year average of the fourthhighest daily eight-hour ozone average at each monitoring station, a statistic known as the area’s design value. If the design value exceeds the standard, the area is considered in violation.
  • In 2012, the Austin area’s ozone design value was 74 ppb.

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Still, the projections demonstrate an ongoing urgent need for businesses, governments and residents to reduce emissions for continued compliance with federal ozone standards. As part of that effort, CAPCOG is leading a regional initiative to develop and implement reduction measures through EPA’s Ozone Advance Program.

> Take the Ozone Advance survey

Emission reduction strategies can include procurement policies, fleet management practices, local air quality ordinances, transportation emissions reduction measures, promotion of development and growth measures that reflect efficient and sustainable energy use and transportation solutions, public outreach and awareness campaigns and installation of pollution-control devices.

Funding is periodically available for implementing some of these emission reduction strategies through the Texas Railroad Commission’s Alternative Fuels Grant, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s Texas Emissions Reduction Plan and the EPA’s National Clean Diesel Campaign.

> Discover the Central Texas Clean Air Coalition

9-1-1 updates reach new milestone

Monday, July 15, 2013

CAPCOG’s Emergency Communications Division has cleared another round in the quest to further modernize the region’s 9-1-1 infrastructure.

The recent installation of new equipment in 20 area public safety answering points or emergency communication centers ends the first phase of key updates to expand 9-1-1 capabilities.

In addition, the PSAPs now have newer mapping software to better assist 9-1-1 call takers in pinpointing caller locations. Call takers translate the mapping data into location information for police, medical and fire personnel responding to emergencies.

As previously reported, ongoing digital updates will help the PSAPs eventually accept calls from text, video images and other sources beyond the traditional voice-only calls.

> Discover CAPCOG's emergency Communications Division

July 12 marks deadline for interest in statewide solid waste advisory group

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

With applications from interested parties due by July 12, 2013, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is still seeking stakeholders to serve on its Municipal Solid Waste Management and Resource Recovery Advisory Council.

The council, whose charge to help further the efficient and effective management of solid waste includes evaluating state policy impacts and recommending applicable legislation, projects, special studies and funding-related policies, meets four times a year. 

Members serve six-year staggered terms and represent interests such as public agencies, commercial landfill operators, composting and recycling companies, financial advisors, the general public and others.

TCEQ is accepting membership applications in the following eight categories:

  • A representative from a solid waste management organization comprised primarily of commercial operators.
  • A person experienced in the management and operation of a composting or recycling facility or an educator with knowledge of the design and management of solid waste facilities.
  • An elected official from a municipality with a population between 100,000 and 750,00.
  • An elected official from a municipality with a population between 25,000 and 100,000.
  • A representative of the financial community.
  • An elected official from a county with a population less than 150,000.
  • An elected official from a municipality with a population less than 25,000.
  • A representative of the general public. 

For more information or to apply, visit TCEQ's website. > Go

Cadets’ achievement caps record year for Regional Law Enforcement Academy

Monday, July 08, 2013


Cadets from CAPCOG Regional Law Enforcement Academy’s Basic Peace Officer Class No. 67.

With its most recent round of cadets having passed the state exam for new peace officers on the first try, CAPCOG’s Regional Law Enforcement Academy closes its 2012 series on a perfect record.

The success marks yet another notch in the academy's pass-rate record, with all but two of the agency’s more than 20 cadet classes in the last five years having scored this feat.

Class 67, which started CAPCOG's Basic Peace Officer Course last November and graduated in early June 2013, comprised 24 students representing the Texas State University Police, Round Rock Fire Department, Elgin Police and Fire departments and Georgetown Police Department.

Cadets must pass the state exam administered by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education to become licensed peace officers.

> Discover the Regional Law Enforcement Academy
> Sign up for the next Basic Peace Officer Course

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