Minutes — August 2015 Executive Committee Meeting

2015 Council and Committee Meetings

Attendance

Committee Members Present

  • Mary Durheim, Council Chair
  • Gladys Cortez
  • Kristen Cox
  • Michael Peace
  • Lora Taylor

Council Members Present

  • Amy Sharp
  • John Thomas

Guests Present

  • Joey Acosta
  • Robert Holder

Staff Members Present

  • Beth Stalvey, Executive Director
  • Martha Cantu
  • Joanna Cordry
  • Cynthia Ellison
  • Wendy Jones
  • Susan Mihalik
  • Jessica Ramos
  • Koren Vogel

Call To Order

The Executive Committee of the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities convened on Wednesday, August 5, 2015, in the Chautauqua A Room at the Embassy Suites San Marcos, 1001 East McCarty Lane, San Marcos, TX 78666. Council Chair Mary Durheim called the meeting to order at 3:01 PM.

  1. Introductions
    Committee members and staff were introduced.

  2. Public Comments
    No public comments were offered.

  3. Consideration Of Minutes
    The minutes were reviewed and no additions or corrections were noted.

    MOTION: To approve the minutes of the May 6, 2015, Executive Committee meeting as presented.
    MADE BY: Kristen Cox
    SECOND: Lora Taylor
    The motion passed unanimously.

  4. Chair’s Report
    Council Chair Mary Durheim welcomed Beth Stalvey as the new TCDD Executive Director. As Stalvey is in the process of moving to Texas from North Carolina, she is working remotely on a contract basis until her official start date of August 31, 2015. Durheim discussed the interview process noting that the panel reached a decision after the first round of interviews in late May. After completion of the human resources process for hiring, Stalvey was able to begin working with TCDD at the end of June.

    Durheim next reported the expected absences for the meeting which include Hunter Adkins, Kristine Clark, Andy Crim, Stephen Gersuk, Scott McAvoy (Friday only), Dana Perry and representatives from Disability Rights Texas. She also noted that DARS alternate representative Sara Kendall would be in attendance for that agency.

    Durheim also reported that DADS representative Penny Larkin expects to move to the alternate position with Donnie Wilson being appointed as the representative for that agency. Both expect to be in attendance at the meetings but as no official notice has been received and Wilson has not attended orientation, he will not be a voting member. Dan “Dalun” Zhang as the new director of the Texas A&M Center on Disability and Development is the new representative from that agency. He has been through orientation and will be in attendance as a voting member. Amy Sharp as the alternate also expects to attend but will not be voting. UT Center for Disability Studies director Penny Seay has announced her retirement effective in September so she will no longer be representing that agency on the Council.

    Durheim addressed the issue of Council Member suggestions regarding TCDD projects or activities. She noted that this can become complicated for staff if requests are time intensive or not consistent with the state plan goals and objectives or public policy priorities. It was noted that TCDD does not accept unsolicited proposals but suggestions from stakeholders can be reviewed by Committees at the discretion of the Committee Chair. Committee members discussed the need to be vigilant regarding conflict of interest and that members cannot benefit from TCDD projects. Committee member Lora Taylor reported that the topic of conflict of interest was discussed during sessions at the NACDD conference by Technical Assistance Director Sheryl Matney who advised that all projects should be scrutinized for conflicts that may not initially be obvious. Durheim recommended that Council Member suggestions follow the standard process of taking the issue before the appropriate Committee. It was suggested that members be reminded during the review of Conflict of Interest statements that members cannot benefit from TCDD grant projects or stipends. Questions arose about Council Members suggesting a project but then abstaining from further discussion or planning of the project because an organization they are affiliated with could apply or be involved with the project. It was noted that while that situation had not previously been presented, it should be clarified with TCDD legal counsel.

    MOTION: To reaffirm current policy that notes suggestions for projects should be presented to the appropriate TCDD Committee.
    MADE BY: Lora Taylor
    SECOND: Gladys Cortez
    The motion passed without opposition. Kristen Cox abstained from voting.

    The Committee next discussed the current status of Outreach and Development projects. It was noted that staff propose suspending consideration of new Outreach and Development applications for at least 3–6 months. These projects require a significant and disproportionate amount of time for the Senior Grants Specialist to monitor and with her increased responsibilities at this time, additional projects would be difficult. It was noted that there are four current projects and the RFP allows for five per fiscal year. There were no applications to consider during the previous quarter.

    MOTION: To suspend consideration of Outreach and Development projects.
    MADE BY: Lora Taylor
    SECOND: Michael Peace
    The motion passed unanimously.

    Chair Durheim expressed her gratitude to TCDD staff regarding expectations for handling the workload of the Outreach and Development projects as well as other projects given the absence of the Grants Management Director. Committee Member Taylor complimented staff and noted that during the NACDD conference it was very evident to her that TCDD is a “well-oiled machine” regarding effectiveness of staff activities. She noted that Planning Coordinator Joanna Cordry was viewed by many as a “rock star” for her knowledge and experience and that the general opinion of TCDD was extremely positive. Durheim added that her experience at national events shows the work of the Council to be far ahead of other states. A&M Center on Disability and Development representative Amy Sharp added that Texas is one of the very few states that encourages collaborative activities between the DD Network Partners (TCDD, University Centers on Excellence Developmental Disabilities at Texas A&M and University of Texas, Disability Rights Texas).

    Taylor, Cordry, and Michael Peace further discussed their experiences at the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities Annual Conference and the AIDD Technical Assistance Institute. Cordry addressed the focus of NACDD on diversity and advocacy and noted that she attended sessions on sustainability of statewide advocacy organizations. She noted that many Councils have not addressed racial and ethnic diversity related to advocacy and while TCDD is still making efforts in this area, it is ahead of the majority of other states. Cordry further noted that AIDD continues to increase the reporting requirements regarding Council activities and that a new template was received for development of the next state plan with further emphasis on documentation and measurements. Taylor appreciated the opportunity to meet advocates and policy specialists from other states and particularly enjoyed a session from the Ohio DD Council on reaching the under-served. She reported that she learned that TCDD needs to “narrow the agency’s focus and drill deeper on the topics of focus” and will emphasize that to all Council members. Peace discussed his interest in learning how other Councils conduct business and appreciated tips for self-advocates in collaborating with advocacy groups that aren’t focused on disability issues.

    Committee member Gladys Cortez discussed her experience at the National Down Syndrome Congress & Convention in Phoenix, AZ which she attended with her parents and her young sister who has Down syndrome. She noted there were more than 3,000 people in attendance and it was an exceptionally positive experience for her parents to become aware of all of the opportunities available for her sister. She spoke of the power of the key note speaker who was a 24-year old woman with Down syndrome who shared her experiences and encouraged people in her life to not place limits on her abilities.

    Durheim reported that Public Policy Specialist Belinda Carlton attended the Texas Advocates Conference and presented on Supported Decision Making as well as conducted a public input session to obtain information for the State Plan. Public Policy Specialist Linda Logan attended the Texas Autism Research Conference and attended sessions on education and applied behavioral analysis. Public Policy Director Jessica Ramos attended the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD) Texas Conference and participated in the closing panel.

  5. Executive Director’s Report
    Operations Director Martha Cantu reviewed stipend awards that were approved during the past quarter to the following applicants:

    • Texas Advocates: Events stipend for up to $5,972 for the 2015 Texas Advocates Annual Convention on July 24–26, 2015, in Dallas.
    • Providers Alliance for Community Services of Texas: Speakers stipend for up to $6,000 for the PACSTX 2015 Annual Conference on September 16–18, 2015, in San Marcos.
    • Volar Center for Independent Living: Events stipend for up to $6,000 for the Our Lives Disabilities Conference and Service Providers Expo on October 30, 2015, in El Paso.

    Cantu provided an update on TCDD staff and reviewed an updated organizational chart that shows all TCDD positions as filled. Danny Fikac joined TCDD staff as the Planning Specialist on July 1, 2015. He previously worked as an HCS Specialist with Bluebonnet Trails Community Services and has experience with the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services and as a guardianship specialist with the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services. Cantu also reported that Grants Management Director Sonya Hosey continues to be out of the office due to illness. She is still working part-time from home as her health allows and continues to be under a doctor’s care for further testing and treatment.

  6. Grant Activities Report
    Senior Grants Management Specialist Cynthia Ellison reported there were no new grants or projects begun during the quarter. She reviewed the Independent Audit Status Report and noted no deficiencies or exceptions. She discussed the Grants Monitoring Exceptions report for on-site reviews that were completed during the quarter and noted that several are shown with a status of “pending”. The Texas Advocates project is now “completed” but the rest are still pending for further documentation. Ellison reviewed the Risk Assessment document that highlights the projects that will be reviewed for continuation funding during the meeting including the risk level for each project. The report also includes all other TCDD projects and indicates those that have received additional monitoring strategies during the quarter.

  7. Travel Support for Public Members of Advisory Committees
    Chair Durheim reminded members that the Council has designated funds to support travel for public members to participate in advisory committees, councils and workgroups where other funding is not available to those members. Operations Director Cantu noted that funds are advanced to individuals by the Texas Center for Disability Studies (TCDS) following approval for each group by the Council. The contract that TCDD had in place ended June 30, 2015 and participants have not been able to receive funding to support travel since that time. Cantu further explained that funding has progressively increased since 2000 and recommends designating $50,000 per year for FY 2016 and FY 2017 based on the increased needs from the past two years. Committee members questioned the significant increase and it was explained that the lengthy process required to request additional funding when needed jeopardizes the ability of advocates to attend the necessary meetings and any unused funds stay with the Council. Cantu did note that the number of workgroups has decreased but the number of travelers has increased as well as the number of meetings with a specific increase noted for the Employment First Taskforce (EFTF) which now meets on a monthly basis. Committee members further questioned the timeliness of paperwork submitted by TCDS and expressed hesitance to award additional funding that would validate the delays in paperwork. It was acknowledged that there are administrative issues that need to be resolved but TCDD staff further expressed reluctance to obstruct any funding and ultimately impede advocate participation. It was clarified that any amount approved for funding is a reimbursement with TCDS authorizing travel advances up to the amount approved per year and any funds not used stay with TCDD.

    MOTION: To approve funding (at a lesser amount than the staff proposal) of up to $30,000 per year to the Texas Center for Disability Studies for the travel support of public members of advisory committees, with a modified request for reimbursement to include a breakdown of travel expenses.
    MADE BY: Kristen Cox

    No second to the motion was offered. It was noted that if the EFTF needs increase during this time, it could further delay member travel until the Council is able to approve additional funding. Cox then offered to amend her motion to approve funding for up to $50,000 but still require additional reporting on the travel expenses.

    It was questioned if any TCDD funds were used as administrative expense or if 100% was allocated to travel reimbursement and it was noted that a portion of funding was provided toward the salary and benefits for TCDS staff administration.

    Members again noted that TCDS must submit appropriate paperwork along with the Request for Reimbursement (RAR) but it was again acknowledged that withholding funds for non-compliance penalizes the advocates who would then be unable to travel. It was explained that during the past two months additional funds could have been awarded past the end of the contract to allow for participant travel in July but TCDS did not submit paperwork to extend the contract and receive those funds. Executive Director Stalvey again acknowledged the issues with the administration of funds but noted that staff have been making efforts on a daily basis to resolve those issues with the main goal for advocates to be able to attend the next EFTF meeting on August 17, 2015. It was noted that with the impending retirement of the TDCS director it could allow for additional conversations with a new director on the administration of these funds.

    Members further discussed options to continue funding so that advocates may travel but limit the amount awarded to TCDS. Options include limiting funding through October 31, 2015 instead of a full year but it was noted that because the budget request of $50,000 was for an entire year, and expenses do not occur equally throughout the year, it would be difficult to determine how much is needed for that shortened time period. It was also noted that in order to cover the upcoming travel a preliminary contract beginning August 1, 2015 is in the process of being signed but this can be amended for the amount or time limit determined at any point the Council may choose. Stalvey further explained that TCDS has been granted some flexibility in light of reported computer glitches and because they are the only known entity that can provide advance funding to stakeholders in this manner.

    Kristen Cox withdrew the motion previously presented.

    MOTION: To recommend Council approval of funding of up to $50,000 per year for up to two years to the Texas Center for Disability Studies for the travel support of public members of advisory committees. Staff were directed to continue efforts to obtain proper documentation from TCDS and/or present options to amend the contract at the November meeting.
    MADE BY: Gladys Cortez
    SECOND: Michael Peace
    The motion passed unanimously. Committee members requested that staff attempt to obtain the number of advocates receiving travel funding before presenting the motion to the Council.

  8. Consideration Of Grant Awards
    Chair Durheim chose to move forward in the agenda to address continuation grant awards.

    TCDD Grants Management Specialist Susan Mihalik reviewed the executive summary for continuation funding to the Arc of Texas for the Developmental Disabilities Policy Fellows project. She reviewed the accomplishments of the first year which included the selection of Megan Morgan as the Fellow. Morgan has selected guardianship reform as her primary focus and has participated in more than 30 public policy activities including legislative hearings, trainings and conferences such as the Disability Policy Seminar in Washington, DC. Goals for the second year include a public policy campaign on alternatives to guardianship and production of a toolkit for stakeholders to develop their own public policy campaigns. TCDD staff have no concerns regarding this project. It was noted that the requested funding amount includes a 5% pay raise for Morgan but this needs to be approved by the Arc of Texas board and if approval is not granted that award amount will be adjusted. Committee members clarified match amounts provided by the grantee.

    MOTION: To approve up to $67,500 in continuation funding to the Arc of Texas for the second and final year of the Developmental Disabilities Policy Fellows project.
    MADE BY: Kristen Cox
    SECOND: Lora Taylor
    The motion passed unanimously.

    Grants Management Specialist Wendy Jones reviewed the executive summary for continuation funding to Texas Tech University for administrative support of Project SEARCH. She noted that Project SEARCH is a national business-led school to work transition model and Texas Tech provides supports to school districts, business and/or other entities who wish to contract with Project SEARCH. The grantee identifies communities that wish to participate in this business model and provides technical assistance to get begin the project. The goal of the TCDD funding is to support the development of ten new Project SEARCH sites by the completion of the 5th year. As the grant approaches the 4th year, nine communities are participating and seven business partners have been established. 18 students have transitioned from school to work and 2–3 new sites are expected for the 4th year of the project. Staff do not have any concerns with the project.

    MOTION: To approve up to $174,656 in continuation funding to Texas Tech University for the 4th year of a 5–year project that provides administrative support to Project SEARCH sites in Texas.
    MADE BY: Gladys Cortez
    SECOND: Lora Taylor
    The motion passed unanimously.

    Grants Management Specialist Mihalik next reviewed the executive summary for continuation funding to Volar Center for Independent Living for the second year of a five year Building Community Capacity through Collaboration project. She first invited project coordinator Joey Acosta to speak about grantee efforts with this project. Acosta expressed his appreciation for TCDD grant funding and noted that Phase 2 implementation of the project will continue to implement initiatives in areas of youth leadership, transition, and support of Project HIRE. He also noted the proposal of a behavior support training program. Acosta further expressed gratitude to Mihalik and other TCDD staff who provide support to him and his staff. Mihalik explained the purpose of the project to establish a support network that identifies un-met needs of the community with an emphasis on decreasing the need for institutionalization of individuals with developmental disabilities. The Upper Rio Grande Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Community Support Network was established and chose Volar as the fiscal agent for the network to receive grant funds. The end result of the project is to prevent and reduce admissions to State Supported Living Centers (SSLC). An initial development phase of the project took place and during the first year of Phase 2 implementation, the Network has worked on five initiatives. These include emergency respite, supported employment, transition planning, youth leadership and post-secondary education. A transition planner has been hired and has received 32 referrals. 21 families have been assisted including one student who was in the process of being admitted to an SSLC and another student who did not drop out of high school as planned. TCDD funded Project HIRE has provided training to Volar on higher education models for people with disabilities and a summer college readiness training is scheduled through El Paso Community College (EPCC). A Project SEARCH site is also in development. Mihalik reports that goals for the second year include continuing first year initiatives as well as developing person-centered transition plans for young adults, implementation of Project HIGHER (assisting students to complete a certificate training program through EPCC and modeled after Project HIRE), provide workshops on positive behavior supports, and provide leadership and advocacy training to young adult self-advocates. TCDD public policy staff had initial concerns regarding the behavior management trainings due to collaboration with Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs) who may use aversive techniques, but all training modules will be approved by TCDD staff and will have had input from DARS, DADS, and local authority staff members. It was noted that this alleviates staff concerns. The project receives considerable risk monitoring due to the amount of sub-awards but lines of communication are clear with regular documentation provided.

    MOTION: To approve up to $145,475 in continuation funding to Volar for the 2nd year of a 5–year Building Community Capacity through Collaboration Phase2 Implementation project.
    MADE BY: Kristen Cox
    SECOND: Lora Taylor
    The motion passed The motion passed unanimously.

  9. Review Panel Recommendations — Culturally Appropriate Family Supports
    Planning Coordinator Joanna Cordry discussed the review panel recommendations for the Culturally Appropriate Family Supports Request for Proposals (RFP). She first discussed a complaint from an applicant who claimed to have technical difficulties when submitting an application. Cordry noted that staff members from that organization contacted her 2 hours before the deadline indicating they were having trouble with the submission and then later noted they were unable to complete the process. Instructions were provided online and ample time was provided prior to the deadline for questions to be asked. This included two scheduled bidder’s conferences and other opportunity for Cordry to provide personal assistance. The applicant wished to express their dissatisfaction with the process and submit an appeal but it was noted that the only appeal process in TCDD policy is for denied funding of applications. Chair Durheim and Executive Director Stalvey were made aware of the situation at the time of the complaint but since the situation did not meet the guidelines of the appeal process, no formal matter is brought before the Committee. Due to this situation, further guidance has been clarified on the TCDD website regarding the RFP process and notes that applicants should ask for technical guidance as soon in the process as possible and that user/technical errors are not grounds for acceptance of missed deadlines. Chair Durheim confirmed that she and Stalvey consulted with Cordry on this situation and felt that the standards were applied evenly to all applicants, that the applicant participated in a bidder’s conference and just because technical errors were perceived during a last-minute submission did not warrant an exception to the deadline.

    Cordry reviewed the concept of the RFP to allow previous Outreach and Development grantees as well as the grantee administering the Gulf Coast of Texas African American Family Support Conference to apply for further funding to build on the work done with those projects. She reported that six proposals were received from the Arc del Paso, Arc of Greater Houston, Growing Roots, Light and Salt, REACh and Helpful Interventions. She noted the review panel only included 2 external reviewers (after contacting 7) because a third member withdrew at the last minute. TCDD staff also reviewed the proposals. All of the proposals were determined to be time intensive and require considerable work from the grants specialists on project budgets and other topics with five considered eligible for funding. The review panel ranked the proposals with Arc Del Paso & Arc of Greater Houston as the top. The second tier included Growing Roots, Light and Salt Association and REACh. Helpful Interventions was not recommended for funding primarily because this organization focused on mental illness and didn’t specifically reach individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). The RFP allows funding for up to five projects but Committee members were advised that they were not required to provide funding for that many projects if they did not wish.

    Cordry noted that the top three recommended proposals work with Hispanic populations and conduct a large amount of their work in Spanish. The review panel noted that parent involvement is strong in all of these applicants but that Growing Roots appears to be more about providing services where the other two focus on advocacy activities.

    Arc Del Paso was ranked highest due to strengths in collaborative efforts with other organizations but a large part of the proposal includes activities with “Jacob’s Arc Center” which is a day program for people with IDD. Cordry reminded members that this is the same program that the Committee elected not to fund its activities that were proposed as part of the Building Community Capacity through Collaboration project from Volar. It was also noted that the proposed family support coordinator for the project is a board member of the organization and this presents a conflict of interest because she would be supervising herself. Cordry further noted that much of the project funding goes toward salaries of the staff for the day program. Members discussed the activities of the Jacob’s Arc Center and felt this was another group seeking funding for activities that the Committee has previously declined.

    Arc of Greater Houston — Parents as Partners in Special Education began as a support group for Spanish speaking mothers of children with IDD and looks to expand by identifying and training 6–8 families to become public policy advocates and lead other self-advocates in the community. Advocates would attend Inclusion Works! conferences as well host listening forums for policy makers to hear from families. Trainings would be held in Spanish with Spanish-speaking trainers from the medical field, educators, and social workers. Budget concerns were noted by the review panel as well as TCDD staff.

    Growing Roots in the Austin area has a strong focus on family and parents with evidence-based teaching methods. The proposal is focused on providing training to parents but did not say how to identify or share info regarding self-advocacy. Staff and review panel members shared concerns regarding the proposed budget and noted that it would require extensive negotiations.

    Cordry next reviewed the proposal from Light and Salt Association of Houston that works with Asian-Americans. It was noted that a majority of the individuals who receive services from this organization are first-generation immigrants and 30%-40% reported that they speak English “less than well”. The proposal includes advocacy training, translation of information, hosting a forum for policy-makers, providing information to partners and emphasized providing information to TCDD. Cordry noted that Light and Salt Association has a history of doing strong work with the Outreach and Development project. It was noted that the proposal included a day program and a Saturday program with structured activities, job training, development of skills to achieve independence and activities to help participants develop individual talents. TCDD staff concerns included the observation that activities do not seem to have an “Employment First” focus and that the day program goals are not clear. It was noted that if the proposal was approved by the Committee, staff could negotiate a removal of the day program. It was also suggested that due to language barriers the concept of “day program” may not mean the typical definition of “day-hab” programs. Committee members acknowledged the organization’s strong accomplishments including the status of “Community Partner” from Texas Health and Human Services Commission and the fact that two staff and one volunteer are now certified to provide government benefit consultations.

    Cordry next presented the proposal from Reaching Families Advocacy and Support Group (REACh) which provides culturally appropriate family support to families raising children with developmental disabilities and adults with developmental disabilities of East African origin. A primary focus of this organization is children with autism because the autism rate is higher with this population. The proposal focuses on providing education, family inclusion, raising public awareness, and translating educational materials. TCDD staff note that this is an underserved community who may seek improved access to services if attitudinal barriers are addressed. Budget negotiations are expected to take a great deal of work.

    Cordry noted that TCDD stands to learn the most from Light and Salt Association & REACh due to the communities served by those organizations and that those groups do not have an abundance of resources. Chair Durheim briefly discussed the proposals and noted that she agrees that the most potential is seen from those two projects. She also expressed a desire to not fund five projects given the amount of staff resources that many projects would require. It was noted that staff could stagger the start dates if more projects were approved. Committee members agreed to address each proposal separately in deciding which projects to fund.

    MOTION: To not approve funding to the Arc Del Paso proposal.
    MADE BY: Kristen Cox
    SECOND: Lora Taylor
    The motion passed unanimously.

    The Arc of Greater Houston Parents as Partners in Special Education proposal was further discussed and it was suggested that it was the strongest of the three proposals that serve the Hispanic community. Committee members expressed concern regarding the need to hire a project coordinator. No motion was initially offered.

    No motion was offered for the proposal from Growing Roots.

    MOTION: To approve funding of up to $75,000 per year for up to four years to the Light and Salt Association for a Culturally Appropriate Family Supports project.
    MADE BY: Lora Taylor
    SECOND: Michael Peace
    The motion passed Chair Durheim noted that the day program part of the proposal needs to be addressed and clarified. The motion passed unanimously.

    MOTION: To approve funding of up to $75,000 per year for up to four years to Reaching Families Advocacy and Support Group (REACh) for a Culturally Appropriate Family Supports project.
    MADE BY: Lora Taylor
    SECOND: Michael Peace
    The motion passed unanimously.

    MOTION: To not approve other applicants for Culturally Appropriate Family Support projects.
    MADE BY: Kristen Cox
    SECOND: Michael Peace
    The motion passed unanimously.

  10. Memorandum of Understanding with Texas Education Agency
    Operations Director Cantu discussed the annual review of the TCDD Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Texas Education Agency (TEA). This MOU delineates the roles and responsibilities of TEA as the designated state agency to provide administrative services and supports to TCDD. Changes for FY 2016 include a TEA request to add a section on Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Services.

    MOTION: To recommend Council approval of the Memorandum of Understanding between TCDD and Texas Education Agency.
    MADE BY: Lora Taylor
    SECOND: Kristen Cox
    The motion passed unanimously.

  11. TCDD Quarterly Financial Report
    Operations Director Cantu reviewed the quarterly financial report noting that there is $85,905 remaining from FY 2014 funds that will need to be obligated to grant projects by September 30, 2015. $645,000 is planned for new FY 2015 projects but a $416,179 balance of funds is still projected to be rolled into FY 2016 grant projects. FY 2016 funding is based on an estimate because Congress has not awarded funds at this time but there is still estimated to be a small balance after operating expenses and planned projects are considered.

    Cantu further reviewed operating expenses and noted that although negative variances are noted for staff benefits the overall budget will not be exceeded. Variances in this area were explained during the May meeting because inaccurate information was initially calculated for retiree benefits.

    Committee members reviewed the Grants & Contracts portion of the report and did not express concerns.

  12. FY 2016 Operating Expense Budget
    Operations Director Cantu reviewed the proposed operating expense budget for FY 2016. The budget is based on expenditures on the past two years and includes an increase of $157,336 due to increased benefits, the expectations of all TCDD positions to be filled, and an expected increase for professional services regarding training.

    MOTION: To recommend Council approval of FY 2016 Operating Expense Budget.
    MADE BY: Michael Peace
    SECOND: Lora Taylor
    The motion passed unanimously.

  13. Conflict of Interest Disclosures
    Committee members reviewed updated conflict of interest disclosure information for Council members and staff. It was noted that Dalun Zhang is the project manager for the Texas A&M Higher Education project and serves on the board for the Light and Salt Association. He will not participate in discussion or vote on these projects. No concerns were noted.

Adjourn

Chair Durheim adjourned the Executive Committee at 6:00 PM.

Beth Stalvey, Secretary to the Council