Balancing the Need for Concrete Contractors and Safety

The state of Texas has seen a boom in the growth of its population. This contributed greatly to the demand for better infrastructure and housing. With this demand for infrastructure came a proportionate demand for aggregate construction materials

The difficulty involved with transporting these aggregate products has been a cause of concern for Aggregate Production Operations, homeowners, and local governments. Locals often claim that APOs have a negative impact on the environment of their communities. APOs, on the other hand, would maintain that they are legally within their rights to continue operations. 

The responsibility of finding a middle ground then falls to the local government and legislators. There needs to be a balance between meeting the rising demand for infrastructure materials and protecting the health and safety of communities.

Related: 10 Advantages to Public Education

Legislation on Aggregate Production Operations

Aggregates simply refer to the fragments of rock used in the production of construction materials. These are often mixed with other materials that bind them together to produce asphalt, concrete, or mortar. This resulting product is then used to build foundations for homes as well as other public infrastructure. Examples of public infrastructure include municipal water systems, roads, and railroad tracks. 

The economic growth of the state of Texas contributed greatly to the growth of the APO industry. Due to a major increase in production, legislation was passed in order to set safety guidelines. There is now a standard permit in place that regulates how much APOs can operate rock crushing equipment. This is due to how much particulate matter enters the air, which can potentially have harmful effects on the environment and nearby communities.

The regulation of APOs requires a delicate balancing act since their products are important to the continued economic development of Texas. Significant disruptions to the market for construction materials could potentially risk slower economic growth, should prices for raw construction materials increase sharply. 

The Balancing Act

Regulating Aggregate Production Operations is a tough balance between economic growth and public safety. The continued economic development of the state in part relies on APO products. Disruptions to this market can potentially slow down growth and prices can rise sharply. 

In the interest of sustaining economic growth and infrastructure development, the Government of Texas has put forth legislation to protect the interests of both sides. The Texas Health and Safety Code states that APO facilities cannot be within 440 yards of a residence, school, recreational area, or place of worship. This allows for a buffer zone that protects residents and wildlife from the potential effects of their operations.

Supplying a Demand

Sustaining the operations of APOs can allow a concrete company better access to materials. It’s worth noting that the popularity of concrete housing is steadily rising. As early as 2019, Dallas contractors are making the switch to concrete as a primary building material. This is in response to the multiple tornadoes and other inclement weather conditions that have caused widespread destruction in Northern Teas. 

As the need for concrete housing grows, concrete contractors in Fort Worth are stepping up to meet this demand. This allows concrete construction companies to contribute to the overall growth of the many cities in the state of Texas.  

Perks of Concrete Housing

Texas is a state that is often at risk of natural disasters and inclement weather. The versatility and durability of concrete allow structures to resist these elements a bit easier. It also hinders infestations effectively and provides a decent amount of pest control. Concrete also does not rust or decay over time unlike wood so you can expect a longer structural lifespan.

Updates on the Texas Transportation Plan (TTP) for 2021-2022

TxDOT’s 2021-20215 Strategic Plan

The Texas Transportation Commission adopted the Texas Department of Transportation’s 2021-2025 Strategic Plan on May 28, 2020. This plan will be a major reference that will guide the department’s decision-making processes over the next five years. It outlines the agency’s values, vision, mission, budget arrangement, goals, and a comprehensive action plan. 

The TxDOT 2021-2025 SP lists the following goals:

  • Promote Safety
  • Deliver the Right Projects
  • Focus on the Customer
  • Foster Stewardship
  • Optimize System Performance
  • Preserve Our Assets
  • Value Our Employees

Things of note mentioned in the plan include the Historically Underutilized Business Plan, a draft of the Statewide Capital Plan, the Workforce Development Plan, a list of identified issues regarding obstacles and redundancies as well as the summary of surveys conducted over the past year. The surveys of note are those concerning Employee Engagement as well as the Report on Customer Service.

Report on Customer Service Survey Results

The Report on Customer Service is a survey conducted as part of the strategic planning process. The Institute for Organizational Excellence was contracted to conduct a customer service survey on behalf of the Texas Department of Transportation. 

The survey was conducted from March 10 to 24, 2020. Out of approximately 46,800 customers in the total population, 2014 completed surveys were received for a total response rate of 10.6%. Of these respondents, 62.4% consider their overall experiences with the state highway as excellent or good. Overall, the Texas Department of Transportation was given a satisfaction score of 64.4%. This data will be used to determine how the TxDOT can better manage public relations.

Unified Transportation Plan Annual Update

Meanwhile, The Texas Department of Transportation presented their 2022 Unified Transportation Plan (UTP) at the June 30, 2021 Commission Meeting. The UTP is a 10-year plan which serves as a guideline for transportation work developments across Texas. It provides the framework on how funding for construction will be available for distribution over the next 10 years. It is updated annually and requires approval from the Texas Transportation Community prior to its publication. The framework provided by the UTP allows the TxDOT to work with the necessary point persons on high-priority transportation projects.

Developments in Emergency Operations

Both transportation plans have greatly influenced the recent developments in the Texas Department of Transportation’s Emergency Operations. These developments have helped maintain readiness for responding to all sorts of hazards, focusing primarily on imminent large-scale threats.

The TxDOT has doubled up on its efforts to serve its mandate of providing safe transportation options in emergency and disaster situations. This includes public assistance during evacuations or getting citizens home safely as well as debris removal and facility repairs. These developments have also allowed the TxDOT to provide courtesy patrols as well as essential needs (such as fuel and water) to keep traffic moving during evacuations. 

Technological advancements and procurements have also allowed the TxDOT to better inform the public of emergency situations. These include information dissemination through broadcast media, dynamic signage as well as updates through social media. Incident updates such as weather conditions, road closures, or even accidents can now be sent out much faster.

Public education

10 Advantages to Public Education

It is every person’s right to have access to education. Educational achievement is of great importance to any person’s career; having a degree often gives someone an advantage in the job market. One’s learnings and experiences often translate to marketable skill s. Here are just some of the advantages of signing up your children for a public school:

1. Cost

Public schools will always have a significant advantage in terms of cost compared to private institutions. This is simply because it is free to enroll. Tuition fees for private and boarding schools can reach up to $20,000 yearly. Public schools are government-funded and do not rely on private donations to continue functioning.

2. Community

The people who teach or work at public schools are often the people in your community. It offers a sense of security knowing that your children will be surrounded by familiar faces during their formative years.

3. Diversity

Public schools have people who come from all walks of life, allowing your children to experience a vast number of cultures. This diverse environment can teach them to adjust easier to similar situations in adulthood, making them less likely to be prejudiced.

4. Availability

There are likely a good number of schools in your area for your children to attend. Each one is often accessible via a sensible public transportation route. The screening process also allows for an easier time enrolling compared to the extremely rigid requirement of some private institutions.

5. Teacher Credentials

Public schools often have the best educators who are fully committed to their profession. One would certainly want the best learning experience for their children. Most public school teachers have attained higher levels of education, earn more than private school teachers, as well as have years of experience to back up their commitment.

6. Skills

Most public schools allow for access to a great number of extracurricular activities. These can provide your children with learning experiences that often teach them valuable skills. While some activities usually require a participation fee or the occasional fundraiser, it is still easier to access compared to the cost of their private school equivalent.

7. Academic Opportunities

Most public schools are institutions that have been around for a long time. This comes with a certain reputation and renown in most cases. Graduating from a reputable public school opens the doors to better opportunities in higher education. The quality of education also improves one’s chances of getting into prestigious universities in the country or abroad.

8. Employment Opportunities

Some public schools also offer classes that teach specialized skill sets. This can prepare your children for employment in various fields at a certain age. The quality of education also brings about a deeper understanding of different fields, which often translates to a good number of skills that open up opportunities for better career choices. 

9. Reliability

Public schools are government-funded and as such, will be around for a long time. Private schools are primarily businesses and can potentially go bankrupt. Since they are accountable to the public and the government, public schools are also usually more responsible with their finances as well as with their budget allocation and liquidation.

10. Amenities

Public schools are often well equipped with whatever is needed to impart knowledge of a good number of disciplines. This is due to their access to public funding, allowing for an easier time catering to the ever-changing needs of education.

While education often starts at home, providing your child with a good learning environment can still be a huge factor in their personal development. Making the most of the availability of public education opens opportunities for your children to prepare them for the many challenges they may come across in life.

2021 Property Tax Rates in Austin, Texas

Having your own house to call home is often an aspiration a lot of people aim for and consider a milestone for success. It greatly helps to have your need for shelter covered by something you paid for through hard work. On top of the many comforts a home can provide, homeowners often find themselves with many expenses that greatly affect the sustainability and affordability of homeownership. When you’re living in a city like Austin, Texas, it helps to be properly informed on what you can expect to pay for when it comes to your property taxes.

What Is It Like Living in Austin?

The culture in Austin, Texas is deeply rooted in the many multi-generational families that have lived their lives within the city. It owes its unique charm to its citizens, both those residing here and those who have come and gone. 

With the rapid growth of the city, it has become a challenge to keep up with the financial demands of maintaining a home and the cost of living. Homeowners may find themselves pressured by real estate investors to relocate to a different neighborhood or even feel the strain that comes with maintaining or upgrading their home to make it a more sustainable place to live in.

Property Tax Rates

The state of Texas has some of the highest property tax rates in the country, ranking 3rd in the percentage of property value and 14th in median property tax. This is somewhat mitigated by relatively low sales taxes and the lack of state income taxes, which allow for a more affordable cost of living. This is because property taxes are being utilized as the main source of revenue to fund public services such as emergency responders, educational institutions, healthcare services, and road development. 

Austin itself is within the highest in Texas when it comes to the property tax rate, with the median property taxes paid coming to around $6600 annually. Note, however, that you can still get tax breaks and other benefits when you have solar or wind-powered energy devices on your property in order to lighten the financial load.

The Pandemic Effect

With the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic still causing concern all over the world, the government of Austin, Texas has made some adjustments in order to try and make the city affordable and sustainable for its constituents while still generating revenue to keep public services running. 

Currently, they are examining the potential impacts of increasing the rate of property tax by 8% in order to account for the losses due to the pandemic. To soften the blow to taxpayers, they have approved support for guaranteed income as well as allowing people with disabilities and those 65 years and older to take up to $113,000 off the appraised value of their home to lower the property tax they need to pay.

With these things in mind, whether as a longtime resident or a new homeowner moving into Austin, Texas, making a rough estimate for the cost of living and the necessary adjustments should help you manage your finances accordingly.