Government Center Story
The Cedar Hill Government Center is a solid projection of the partnership culture that has nourished progress in the community. It was completed in July, 2007. It is the only facility in the country that was conceived from the beginning as a way to efficiently provide improved services by co-locating City, CHISD and Police offices under the same roof. “This facility greatly increases the efficiency of delivering services to residents and those who do business with the City, said City Manager Alan Sims.
It is a singular achievement of partnership between two public service entities serving the same body of citizens. The City and CHISD share virtually the same boundaries, making the cooperation even more efficient.
This $27.5 million facility is a tangible representation of how this community achieves significant benefit through efficiencies and improved service due to cooperation between the City of Cedar Hill and the Cedar Hill Independent School District. The partnership saved citizens over $4 million in construction costs alone. Ongoing savings in maintenance and operational expenses will reduce costs in the future. Building one facility instead of two smaller ones eliminated the duplication of many expensive features. Shared facilities include the inspiring lobby, elevator, conference rooms, break rooms, data processing facility, parking and landscaping.
The City Council and CHISD Board of Trustees share the impressive T.W. ‘Turk’ Cannady/Cedar Hill Room for public meetings and employees share conference rooms, a break room, a copy/mail center, loading dock and computer center in addition to shared parking, landscaping, elevator and lobby/concourse.
Shared areas make up about 20% of the five-story building. About 15% of the interior space has been set aside as shell space for future expansion. The building has been sited and constructed to make future expansion easier. The exterior features low maintenance materials.
Reduced operating expenses include facility management/maintenance, janitorial services, grounds maintenance, utilities, and saving from bulk paper and office supplies acquisition.
Benefits of Co-Locating
The facility raises the bar for providing customer service by providing a single location where citizens can transact all their business with the City and the School district. This long-term relationship is expected to reap additional efficiencies benefiting taxpayers.
The most frequently visited offices are located on the first floor. They include Utility Billing, Municipal Court and Human Resources. On the second floor is a one-stop counter for developers and builders doing business in the City.
Combining offices from various locations into the one site has made it much more convenient for residents and has increased productivity.
Determine Needs / Design Process
Once the City and ISD agreed to locate at the same site, the facility needs were compiled by an executive committee that included top administrators and members of the City Council and ISD Board of Trustees.
Deputy City Manager Greg Porter shepherded construction, working with general contractor Hunt Construction. Rising material and transportation costs raised the final cost about 9% above the 2005 estimates but contingency fees to cover overruns were set aside in the original estimate.
Architect Input / Design Process
The Government Center incorporates local materials, regional themes and even the surrounding landscape. It is a unique structure with dramatic elevations and soaring interior spaces. Geometric angles and gentle curves combine to give the interior an inspirational feel. A conscious effort was made to select Texas components for the building. Texas Rose limestone was chosen for the stone that faces the building and continues to the interior. Trim work includes cedar from trees removed at the site.
Office areas have been arranged to maximize natural light. Exposed ceilings reflect the practical, efficient design theme.
The soaring, four-story lobby has been described as inspiring and functional without feeling austere. Many citizens have complemented the layout of the offices and the positive feeling of the building.
The Government Center adds streetscape that blends with the urban design trend in the Uptown Boulevard area. It is located just a few blocks from the Uptown Village shopping area.
“The State of Texas takes great pride in recognizing cooperation between local taxing entities and, in this case, bringing to the forefront the community of Cedar Hill and further establishing its reputation as a premier city in our State.” –text from proclamation at GC Grand Opening.
Community Growth During '80s, '90s & 2,000s
- 1980 = 6,849,
- 1990 = 19,976,
- 2000 = 32,093
- 2008 = 44,500 (est.)
Outgrown Administrative Offices of City and ISD
The need for new City and ISD administrative offices was driven by steady growth of the community. In 1980 the population of Cedar Hill was less than 7,000. By 2000 it had surged to over 32,000 and today stands at over 46,000. City leaders had done a good job of managing and encouraging growth while providing services to the residents. The staffs of both entities were struggling to function in outgrown administrative offices built in the 50s and 60s. The ISD facility needed substantial repair/updating and the City had clearly outgrown the old City Hall with several departments located in satellite offices.
Citizen Approval of Bond for New City and ISD Offices
City leaders and residents were well aware of the overloaded facilities as the community enjoyed both population and retail development growth. Bonds were approved by the citizens to construct new ISD offices as far back as 1999. Funds for municipal government and police administrative offices were approved by a large margin in 2003.
Suggestion to Build a Shared Facility
As attention started to focus on new facilities for the City and the ISD, former Council member Al Armistad pitched the idea of combining the administrative offices into one location. The City Council and ISD Board of Trustees considered the concept and directed staff to move forward with examining the feasibility of building a shared facility. By October, 2005 both groups agreed with the recommendations of staff that showed substantial efficiencies and approved a preliminary partnership agreement.
Benefits of a Shared Facility
Benefit taxpayers by saving $4 million in construction costs and more in ongoing maintenance efficiencies.
- Deliver services more efficiently.
- Reduce costs.
- Provide a centralized ‘town hall’ for residents.
- Continue long-term relationship between City and ISD
- Increase opportunities for partnerships
- Increase and improve communication.
GC Stands as an Inspiration to Other Communities
The Cedar Hill Government Center has been visited by representatives of several communities who want to learn how to achieve similar efficiencies and benefits to taxpayers.
Building Partnerships Builds More Than a Building: Cedar Hill’s Tradition of Partnerships
Much of Cedar Hill’s success can be attributed to a culture of partnerships that includes public agency cooperation and public/private agreements. This attitude of cooperation increases efficiency and drives cost-effective development of infrastructure and private enterprise.
The City has many agreements in place that include cooperation with other agencies to help provide better services for less cost.
One of the earliest was the establishment of the Tri-City Animal Shelter. This animal care/adoption center is equally funded by the cities of Cedar Hill, DeSoto and Duncanville. They recently broke ground on a new multi-million dollar facility.
The same three cities share a Dispatch/9-1-1 Call Center that serves the residents and interfaces with emergency services in all three communities. They are currently deploying a new radio system.
The neighboring city of DeSoto built a jail large enough for their needs and the requirements of the Cedar Hill Police Department based on a long-term jail use agreement.
The Zula B. Wylie Library in Cedar Hill has agreements with the Lancaster Public Library to offer online and book-sharing programs that benefit the residents of both communities.
The City and ISD have been sharing costs for park facilities included in school sports programs. Those include baseball, softball, football and cross-country.
Cedar Hill State Park on Lake Joe Pool borders much of the western boundary of Cedar Hill. This 1,826 acre park is the second-most visited state park. It brings many visitors to the City of Cedar Hill. The City provides police and fire protection for the park.
Cedar Hill police and fire department have several mutual aid agreements with neighboring communities and coordinates joint Emergency Operation Center operations.
The cities of Cedar Hill and Grand Prairie built and operate a fire station serving portions of both communities. Residents receive shorter response times and are eligible for reduced homeowners insurance rates.
Cedar Hill’s Economic Development Corporation is actively engaged in efforts to encourage and provide infrastructure support for new development in the community.
Leadership Southwest is a cooperative effort between Cedar Hill and cities in southern Dallas County designed to help develop citizen-leaders for the future. Alumni from this program currently sit on numerous city boards and serve as council members and school district trustees.
Cedar Hill is an active partner in the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG). The Council provides specialized training for staff and residents. A current topic of interest to Cedar Hill is lobbying efforts supporting regional light rail transportation.
Cedar Hill employs several red-light camera installations on Texas state highways in the city.. These photo-enforcement systems have proven to reduce accidents and revenue from violators is shared between the state and the City. The City's portion is spent specifically on traffic safety including technology like traffic signals that give a green light to emergency vehicles.