My Happy, Frazzled First Four Years
by
Commissioner Tommy Adkisson
January 16, 2003

This is a great time of year to take stock of accomplishments and goals for the future.  Since I just completed my first four-year term, it is appropriate to recount many of the successes of which I am most proud.  I will share those challenges and goals for the next four years to which I will dedicate my very talented staff and myself over the next four years.

Let us begin with communications.  It is my firm belief that a great deal of the perceived or real excesses of or dissatisfaction with government or nonprofit organizations can be alleviated with a healthy dose of information.  If an army marches on its stomach, a democracy marches on its education and information! 

I checked my calendar in the last three weeks of January 2001 and found that I had attended around 140 events or appointments in the last three weeks that month.  Of significance also is the national-class Website that my staff and I assembled for you to view a great deal of the ongoing stuff of Bexar County Government.  I also personally authored around 35 articles outside the first three months of the year during which I was a contested candidate in the Primary.

With respect to the substance of my work I am pleased to report that with significant energy and leadership from your Commissioner in Precinct Four, the following progress has made.

University Health System

Lead the effort to have the System create a leading-edge health record database accessible by fingerprint, thus more effectively addressing the needs medical personnel to confidentially deal with trauma patients and those unfamiliar with their own medical history.

I am leading an effort to allow for Bexar County to quit placing the burden on local taxpayers for humanitarian medical treatment being provided to residents outside of Bexar County.

Energy Initiatives

Obtained free energy audits on all major County facilities to pursue saving $1 million in energy savings over the next five years.

Supported installation of the world's largest solar thermal energy collector (hot water) at Jail Annex to save $76,000 annually after it is paid off in about five years!

Supported formation of the Metropolitan Partnership for Energy to join all local units of government to reduce energy use through conservation and to promote the use of renewable energy.

Flood Control

Lead the flood control initiative to retrofit Martinez Dam #5 in Converse and secured $525,000 dollars in matching funds from the National Resource and Conservation Service (a federal agency).

Serve on the Watershed Committee of Six to steer the implementation of half a billion to three quarters of a billion dollars countywide, on flood control.

Miscellaneous

Austin-San Antonio Commuter Rail District formed to begin cutting down on the incredible growth of traffic on I-35 and up 281 North to Austin.

First Full-Service Eastside Texas Workforce Center established to help our community get jobs and stay employed.

After many years of neglect, facilitated the long overdue paving of Gibbs-Sprawl Road.

Began the first serious comprehensive courthouse restoration of Texas' largest historic courthouse since 1896, with a $2.8 million grant from the Texas Historical Commission.  Our County match to this grant is $2.3 million.  This covers the current exterior restoration taking place.  So far, the County has allocated through itself and the grant, $13.3 million that covers not only restoration but also some renovations such as the building of a children's court. SBC has contributed another $2 million to this effort for technology upgrades.  The remaining restoration will cost another approximate $20 million.

Formed the first Bexar County Emergency Service District #1 to serve unincorporated housing subdivisions that had been served by a volunteer fire department that was previously serving a rural area gone urban.

Efforts made to tame the BFI---Tessman Road Landfill.

Assisted the attraction of Toyota with the creation of the Bexar County Rail District so that an alternative to Union Pacific may be had.

Have supported the new and improved electronic voting for Bexar County.

Appropriation of CDBG Funds in excess of $2,275,181 for projects exclusively in Precinct Four.

Initiated "Commute Solutions" for Bexar County, an effort to bolster ridership on VIA and therefore cut down on traffic congestion, clean the air and save substantial money for employees and others who can "kick-the-habit" of reliance on the automobile as the sole source of transportation to work.

Supported the Inner City Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone and secured 4.1 Million dollars to improve Houston and Coliseum Rd.

Continuous support for reducing, reusing and recycling in Bexar County.

Chair the Jail Population Committee to prevent the unnecessary expenditure of over $4 million annually by the County to house our inmates out of county.

Law Enforcement Officers 18% increase in salaries

Campaigned for and managed the public process to build SBC Center.

Lead the reinstatement of Bexar County's Small, Minority and Women-Owned Business Initiative.

Supported through the University Health System the development of St. Philip's College Nursing Partnership

Lead the effort to bring the String of Pearls Initiative, a public-private joint venture to enhance the appearance of older homes on the East Side.  I secured $100,000 for rehabilitation of homes ($50,000 from Bexar County Housing and Finance Corporation and $50,000 from Freddie Mac)

Voted for unprecedented and unequalled by other units of government, Bexar County tax rate reductions (6 years in a row)!

Attracted through tax abatements Royal Oaks, a diesel engine manufacturer to employ over 100 employees with very attractive compensation packages.

These are not all the mentionable projects but they are a goodly number of those accomplished in the first four years.

As I write this column, I am preparing to attend the Opening Day of the Texas Legislature.  Our hope is to forge new legislation that helps our County and of course, to kill bills that threaten to force our local residents to pick up the tab on notorious "unfunded mandates". 

May you and yours have a very happy new year!

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