A gear, a mechanism, a part of some machine? Well, yes…but in this case I’m talking about a Council of Government… something defined by law as “a political subdivision of the state, but it has no regulatory power or the authority possessed by cities, counties or other local governments. Decisions by a council of governments are not binding on member governments. As a political subdivision, councils of governments are subject to state laws governing open meetings, access to public records and conduct of public officials,” says David Partlow who serves as Regional Services Coordinator at the Center for Regional Development of the Capital Area Council of Government.
The Capital Area Council of Governments (CAPCOG), formerly known as the Capital Area Planning Council (CAPCO), was organized in 1970 to serve local governments in its ten-county region, known as State Planning Region 12. CAPCOG is a regional planning commission organized under Chapter 391, Local Government Code, and is one of 24 within the State of Texas.
The primary focus of CAPCOG is to serve as advocate, planner and coordinator of initiatives that, when undertaken on a regional basis, can be more effective and efficient. These include emergency services, elderly assistance, law enforcement training, criminal justice planning, solid waste reduction, infrastructure development, and housing and economic development.
The COG has a $16.8 million budget and serves 10 counties: Bastrop, Blanco, Burnet, Caldwell, Fayette, Hays, Lee, Llano, Travis and Williamson Counties.
Partlow has been working with Cities, Counties and Chamber of Commerce’s for over 24 years. He has been working for the Capital Area Council of Governments as the Regional Services Coordinator for the past 5 1/2 years.
CAPCOG’s function is to work with cities and counties on regional problems…. City Managers convey a need to Partlow that could include an issue with environment, aging, transportation, community development, or many other things. In turn he looks for creative ways to help them solve the problem.
An example of a regional issue is re-cycling. Partlow is assisting city management to build a re-cycling center in Bertram. Bertram is at the junction of Farm roads 243 and 1174 and State Highway 29, ten miles east of Burnet in eastern Burnet County….about 45 miles northwest of Austin. The city has an infrastructure that is advanced for a city its size, and they want to develop some sophisticated services. Some of the equipment needed for a great re-cycling center includes a state-of-the-art building, with a crusher, a glass pulverizer, and bins to set around the city. The city wants to outreach to teach parents and children about the environment and the importance of protecting the environment.
Partlow explained that he is excited because the people he is working with, including the mayor, the city utility director, and the manager of the chamber are excited, and self motivated champions who are helping to develop new projects. But they’re not the only ones…. apparently there are people driving 8 miles to get to a plastic recycling bin nearby just dying to do the right thing. It’s a feel good job.
After Partlow develops this plan for Bertram, he will use the process to help develop more cookie-cutter centers across the 10 counties he serves, adding to the three successful ones there today. CAPCOGS’ program shows the communities and cities what the possiblities are, helps them develop a needs assessment, and assists in developing a strategic plan to get the desired results.
For more information on how you can help CAPCOG email David Partlow.