2019 City budget responds to growth
Roads, firefighters, and upgraded utilities are among the key requests for the fiscal year 2019 budget. The proposed spending plan maintains the current tax rate while preparing the City for the incredible growth that is expected to continue for the foreseeable future.
The City’s property tax rate will remain 42 cents per $100 of valuation. This is one of the lowest rates in Central Texas. However, home values continue to rise, so the average homeowner will pay approximately $57 more in property taxes to the City. These increases go directly towards maintaining and improving Georgetown’s quality of life.
Even with incredible growth, maintaining Georgetown’s high standards for safety is critical. Fire Station No. 7, located near Hwy. 29 and Inner Loop, is under design. Fourteen new firefighters will be hired to help staff Fire Station 7 to maintain response times across the City. Additionally, a school resource officer will be hired for Wagner Middle School. This ensures an officer is located at each high school and middle school in Georgetown.
Traffic and parking are always key concerns highlighted by citizens. This budget includes the design work to widen three roadways, including Leander Road, Southwestern Boulevard, and SE Inner Loop, to help improve mobility. Voters approved these projects in the 2015 road bond. The City is also planning to construct a new parking garage at Sixth and Main streets and a new parking lot across from the Public Library.
The City owns and operates water and electric utilities. Once again, water rates will remain stable for the coming year. While maintaining rates, the City will be investing significantly in the water system. These investments include improvements to the intake structure at the Lake Georgetown Water Treatment Plant, new water lines to increase water distribution capacity, and new pump stations in areas west of Georgetown and north of Liberty Hill to increase pumping capacity.
There will be a $1.35 increase in the monthly wastewater fee to help cover the cost of new wastewater lines, expanding a treatment plant, and reducing our environmental impacts on the aquifer. Even with this increase, Georgetown has one of the lowest combined water and wastewater bills for the average user in the region.
The city’s electricity is now purchased from 100 percent renewable energy sources. While purchased power costs are fixed, this year the City will increase the monthly base electric charge to cover costs related to needed improvements in the electric system, including replacing poles, relocating electric lines, and increasing system capacity. Georgetown electric customers will see an increase of $4.80 on their monthly bills. This increase helps Georgetown maintain one of the most reliable electric systems in the state.
The City is also taking steps to plan for the future. The budget includes a position to enhance information technology security, a position to expand the business process improvement team, and increases to financial reserves across the City. This budget includes the first full year of operations for Garey Park, as well as a new parks maintenance position. Resources for planning, permitting, and engineering to help respond to the City’s growth also are included.
The total budget is $354 million. This includes 31 new positions, as well as performance-based merit increases for current employees.
The proposed budget is available at finance.georgetown.org. Public hearings on the budget and property tax rate will be held Aug. 14 and 21. The City Council is expected to vote on the adoption of the budget on Aug. 28 and Sept. 11.