February 9, 2024, Number 5



Download the full .pdf version here: TML Legislative Update Number 5

TWDB Seeking Input on Texas Water Fund

The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) is seeking input from stakeholders to assist the implementation of the Texas Water Fund on informing funding priorities and the administration of the programs. Senate Bill 28 and Senate Joint Resolution 75 created the Texas Water Fund, a special fund for water infrastructure and water supply projects. In addition, Texans approved Proposition 6 in November 2023 which authorizes $1 billion in funding for water projects. 

TWDB is asking interested stakeholders to complete the following surveys by April 30:

Written feedback may be submitted to TexasWaterFund@twd.texas.gov.

Additionally, TWDB will allow for input at the following opportunities:

  • TWDB board meetings: TWDB will allow public comment in meetings through March;
  • Texas Water Fund Stakeholder Meetings: The first meeting will be held on March 20 in Austin. Another stakeholder meeting is planned for April in Lubbock. The League will update the membership when details become available; and
  • TWDB’s Financial Assistance and Texas Water Fund Workshops: The in-person workshops will be held throughout the state through the summer. Interested city officials should register as soon as possible as venues are subject to capacity limitations.

More information can be found in TWDB’s Proposition 6 and Texas Water Fund FAQ and Implementation Timeline.

SLFRF Resources for April 30 Reporting Deadline

Last month, the U.S. Department of Treasury (Treasury) held a workshop for cities ahead of the April 30 reporting deadline for the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF). The recorded workshop can be viewed here

Treasury has provided the following resources to help cities with the report:

  • Self-Services Resources: See Section 2 for information about login.gov, ID.me and SAM.gov. See Section 3 for information about creating accounts, adding/changing points of contact, authorized representative, unique identifier number, and more. 
  • Recipient Compliance and Reporting Responsibilities:
    1. Scroll to “Accessing Treasury’s portal” for login instructions for Login.gov and ID.me.
    2. Register and access Treasury’s portal using Login.gov. Treasury recommends NEUs use Login.gov. Also see the SLFRF Login.gov Account Explainer Video with step-by-step registration information.
    3. Register and access Treasury’s reporting portal using ID.me. Also see the SLFRF ID.me Account Explainer Video with step-by-step registration information.
    4. Scroll to “Webinars” for follow-along instructions about a wide array of helpful topics, including a demonstration of the portal, bulk uploads, user roles, and other topics. 
    5. Scroll to “Key Links” for SLFRF program information and updates, including the 2022 Final Rule, 2023 Interim Final Rule, Obligation Interim Final Rule, fact sheets, and more.

Other resources:

Before submitting the city’s report, please note that the Treasury portal does not work well with Internet Explorer. It is recommended using Google Chrome or Microsoft Edge. For any questions, please email SLFRF@treasury.gov. Interested city officials can subscribe here to Treasury’s SLFRF quarterly newsletter.

Cybersecurity Toolkit for Water and Wastewater Systems

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released cybersecurity toolkit for water and wastewater systems. The League previously reported on the release of the Incident Response Guide. The toolkit can help water and wastewater systems build their cybersecurity foundation and progress to more advanced tools to strengthen their defenses and stay ahead of current threats. The toolkit was developed to highlight the most relevant CISA and EPA sources to protect against threats posed by malicious cyber actors.

TxDOT’s State Infrastructure Bank Program

The Texas Department of Transportation’s (TxDOT) State Infrastructure Bank (SIB) program provides a low-cost, innovative financing solution available to all local governments in Texas. The program allows cities to access capital fund at or below-market interest rates. The SIB enables cities to leverage funds for qualified transportation projects, foster economic development, address the demands of a growing state, and accelerate other infrastructure projects. Eligible projects may include on- and off-system roads, bridges, transportation alternative projects, and high-risk rural roads. If the project is eligible for federal funds and has a local match requirement, the SIB loan may be used to meet the local match requirement.

The SIB offers numerous benefits to borrowers including competitively low interest rates; zero-cost loan applications, processing, and closing; the option to prepay loans at any time without penalty; and flexible repayment terms.

Interested city officials can learn more about the program and eligible projects here.

Deadline Approaching: Local Hotel Occupancy Reporting Requirements

Local Hotel Occupancy Tax Reporting

The three-month window for reporting local hotel occupancy tax information opened January 1, 2024. The reporting deadline is March 1.

The 88th Legislature passed H.B. 3727 and S.B. 1420 which, among other things, update the previous reporting statute to require cities to report all uses of hotel occupancy tax revenue, the amount and percentage of the revenue, and the total unspent revenue.

Cities are required to use the comptroller’s online reporting form to submit all required information. Under the new legislation, a city may use a portion of its local hotel occupancy tax revenue for the costs incurred by the city in making and submitting the report to the comptroller. The total amount a city may use for reporting purposes may not exceed: (1) $1,000 if the city has a population of less than 10,000; or (2) $2,500 if the city has a population of 10,000 or more. For more information see the comptroller’s hotel occupancy tax reporting webpage

The comptroller’s website now consolidates all local government reporting information on one webpage, making it easier to comply with reporting requirements passed in recent sessions. City officials can also access information about special district reporting requirements that generally apply to city-related entities like crime control and prevention districts, municipal development districts, municipal management districts, public improvement districts, and sports and community venue districts.

City officials with questions about the requirements can contact the comptroller’s transparency team by email at transparency@cpa.texas.gov or (844) 519-5676.

Federal Infrastructure Bill Update

In November 2021, the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) was signed into law. The IIJA is altogether a $1.2 trillion bill that will invest in the nation’s core infrastructure priorities including roads, bridges, rail, transit, airports, ports, energy transmission, water systems, and broadband.

The League will monitor state and federal agencies and work with the National League of Cities (NLC) to access the latest information relating to the IIJA. We will provide periodic updates in the Legislative Update on resources for Texas cities on how to access IIJA funding for local infrastructure projects. 

U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

DHS is accepting applications for its Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention (TVTP) grant program. The TVTP program will provide financial assistance, training, and resources to state and local governments to support local multidisciplinary programs and best practices to address the threats of online pathways to violence and terroristic violence in public spaces.

Eligible applicants include state and local governments, Tribal governments, institutions of higher education, and 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations.

Eligible projects include promising existing practices and innovative new practices that help reduce the threat of targeted violence and terrorism in all segments of the community through: (1) raising social awareness; (2) understanding violent content; (3) civic engagement; (4) youth resilience programs; (5) behavioral threat assessment and management (BTAM) teams; (6) bystander training; (7) referral services; and (8) recidivism reduction and reintroduction programs.

All projects must adhere to strict privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties standards and be designed and operated in a manner that does not infringe on an individual’s right to free speech or target anyone based on the exercise of their First Amendment rights.

DHS will prioritize projects designed to:

  • Enhance recidivism reduction and reintegration capabilities;
  • Advance award equity and engaging underserved communities in prevention;
  • Address online aspects of targeted violence and terrorism; and
  • Prevent domestic violent extremism.

City officials can find more information about the TVTP program here.

The USDHS will hold optional TVTP webinars on:

  • February 13, 2024 (2:00 PM – 3:00 PM CST)
  • February 15, 2024 (12:00 PM – 1:00 PM CST)

Interested applicants can register for the TVTP webinars here

DHS will accept TVTP applications from March 1, 2024 to May 2, 2024. Applicants must be submitted online.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

The USDA will soon begin accepting applications for Part E of its Rural eConnectivity (ReConnect) program. The ReConnect program provides grants and loans to state and local governments to construct, expand, or purchase broadband-related equipment and facilities to develop and improve broadband access in rural areas. Part E of the ReConnect program provides 100 percent grant funding for projects serving areas where at least 90 percent of households lack sufficient broadband access.

Eligible applicants include state and local governments, Tribal governments, non-profit and cooperative organizations, and for-profit entities.

Eligible costs include constructing or improving broadband-related facilities and reasonable pre-application expenses. Any facilities built with ReConnect funds must be capable of providing at least 100 Mbps symmetrical service to every premises in the proposed service area.

The USDA will prioritize projects that seek to:

  • Assist rural or disadvantaged communities negatively impacted by COVID-19;
  • Ensure all rural residents have equitable access to USDA-funded broadband programs and projects;
  • Provide economic support to rural communities to increase resilience and reduce climate pollution; or
  • Create good-paying jobs with strong labor standards.

The USDA will hold a three-day in-person ReConnect workshop in Reno, NV, from February 27 through February 29, 2024. Interested officials can register here

City officials can find more information about the ReConnect program here.

U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)

DOT is accepting applications for its Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program. The TIFIA program provides low-interest loans and credit assistance to state and local governments for large-scale surface transportation improvement projects. TIFIA funding will provide financing or credit assistance at more advantageous rates than in the financial markets to help fill funding gaps and leverage co-investment opportunities.

Eligible applicants include state and local governments, Tribal governments, non-profit organizations, and for-profit entities.

Eligible projects may address the following categories:

  • Highway facilities, including interstates, state highways, toll roads, and bridges;
  • Transit, including track and station improvements and purchasing transit vehicles;
  • Rail, including intercity passenger rail improvements and purchasing passenger rail vehicles;
  • Freight, including public and private freight rail facilities, intermodal transfer improvements, and intelligent transportation systems;
  • Surface transportation-related port projects necessary to facilitate port and intermodal transfers; and 
  • Rural surface transportation projects outside urbanized areas with a population above 150,000 people.

TIFIA-eligible projects must also be accessible to and within walking distance of a fixed guideway transit facility, passenger rail station, intercity bus station, or intermodal facility.

Eligible costs include:

  • Development phase activities, including planning, feasibility studies, revenue forecasting, environmental review, preliminary engineering and design work, and other pre-construction activities;
  • Constructing, rehabilitating, repairing, replacing, or acquiring real property; 
  • Capitalizing project-related costs and interest; and
  • Capitalizing other available project funds, including rural project funds.

City officials can find more information about the TIFIA program here.

Interested cities must submit a Letter of Interest (LOI) before applying. DOT recommends that applicants contact the agency before submitting an LOI to ensure the project meets program requirements, to complete initial risk assessments, and to identify significant hurdles that may cause future project delays.

DOT is accepting TIFIA LOIs and applications on a rolling basis.  Applications must be submitted online at here

REMINDER – Upcoming Application Deadlines

U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT)

Applications for DOT’s Access and Mobility Partnership Grants: Innovative Coordinated Access and Mobility (ICAM) Pilot Program must be submitted by 10:59 CST on February 13, 2024.

The ICAM program seeks to increase and improve access to vital community services for older adults, people with disabilities, and low-income persons by providing funding to state and local governments for innovative mobility management transportation and non-emergency medical transportation coordination-related projects. 

City officials can find more information about the ICAM program in the December 7, 2023 Legislative Update and here.

 

TML member cities may use the material herein for any purpose. No other person or entity may reproduce, duplicate, or distribute any part of this document without the written authorization of the Texas Municipal League.