The Waco-based Heart of Texas Council of Governments received a 2019 Aliceann Wohlbruck Impact Award from the National Association of Development Organizations for its 2018 air quality program.
Award-winning projects were honored during NADO’s annual training conference held in October in Reno, Nevada.
In July 2017, the governor vetoed the Rider 7 Air Quality Program that HOTCOG maintained. So for fiscal year 2019, Limestone, Hill, Bosque, Falls and McLennan counties and the city of Waco from the HOTCOG region chose to fund a more regional air quality program.
HOTCOG staff was dedicated to continuing the program and overseeing the implementation of the program without any funding to do so, officials said in a news release.
With HOTCOG staff guidance, it was decided by local leadership to share in the cost of continuing the air quality monitoring of the region.
The cost of such monitoring is substantial, officials said.
With tight budgets in the HOTCOG region , this decision was a change from the historical perceptions of environmental concerns in rural Central Texas, the release said.
The formula used in the sharing of cost was divided per regional population totals. The HOTCOG board determined that was the fairest method of sharing the cost.
Despite the 2017 state funding cuts , the HOTCOG region was able to keep the program going with collaboration between the city of Waco and Bosque, Falls, Hill, Limestone and McLennan counties.
The HOTCOG release states: “In today’s political environment of constant budget cuts and restraints, it is very forward thinking for small rural areas to courageously approve funding that directly benefits a large urban hub. These elected officials have the incredible foresight to realize that if the Waco Metro Area was labeled a non-attainment area that it would be catastrophic for the rural economies and way of life.
“It is truly an example of the mouse saving the lion. It was the right thing to do to help a neighbor in need.”
NADO is a Washington, D.C.-based membership association of regional development organizations that promotes programs and policies that strengthen local governments, communities and economies through regional cooperation, program delivery and comprehensive strategies.
The association’s Impact Awards program recognizes regional development organizations and their partners for improving the economic and community competitiveness of the nation’s regions and local communities.