Districts 1 and 5 city council candidates set for May 1 election

For Georgetown City Council elections in May, incumbent Mary Calixtro and Amanda Parr have filed to run in District 1, and Jason Norwood and incumbent Kevin Pitts have filed to run in District 5. The filing deadline was 5 p.m. today.

Early in-person voting is April 19-24 and April 26-27. Election Day is May 1. The last day to register to vote is April 1.

Early voting and Election Day polling places, dates, and times will be listed at wilco.org/elections.

View council district maps at maps.georgetown.org.

For updates about the city council election, go to georgetown.org.

Georgetown calls $90M mobility bond for May 1 election

The City of Georgetown has called a bond election for Tuesday, May 1, 2021. Voters will consider one bond proposition for various street and transportation infrastructure projects. This election is being held in conjunction with the May General Election for local offices and propositions for other taxing entities, including City Council districts 1 and 5.

The total amount of the bond proposition is $90 million in new funding authorizations. If voters approve Proposition A, the City anticipates raising the property tax rate by 3 cents once the bonds are issued to cover the full cost of the projects. The average Georgetown resident could expect their annual property taxes to increase by $83.40, based on the average homestead taxable value in 2020 of $278,001. The City expects to start work on the projects within seven years, economic conditions permitting.

The anticipated 3-cent tax rate increase would generate an estimated $120 million during the life of the bond, which is the total amount required to complete the projects. The additional $30 million generated by the tax increase would go toward completing work on related projects from the 2008 and 2015 bonds that were approved by voters but never funded.

The projects included in Proposition A on the ballot May 1 are as follows:

Project 1: SE Inner Loop | Anticipated $32 million

This 2.91-mile project consists of widening SE Inner Loop to a four-lane, divided, minor arterial from SH 29 to Sam Houston Avenue and to a five-lane, undivided, major arterial from Sam Houston Avenue to FM 1460. The project also includes a shared-use path for pedestrians and bicycles on one side. This project will include engineering and right-of-way acquisition scopes of work from the 2015 bond.

Project 2: Shell Road |Anticipated $12.5 million

This 1.12-mile project consists of widening Shell Road to a four-lane, divided, major arterial from 500 feet north of Williams Drive to 300 feet north of Sycamore Street, with open-ditch drainage. The project also includes a shared-use path for pedestrians and bicycles on one side. This project will include engineering and right-of-way acquisition scopes of work from the 2015 bond.

Project 3: Williams Drive| Anticipated $10.2 million

This 3.18-mile project consists of replacing the existing center turn lane on Williams Drive with a landscaped median, with median openings and left turn bays at limited locations, to create a four-lane divided roadway from DB Wood Road to IH 35. In addition, the project will fill existing sidewalk gaps and repair failing sidewalks. This project will include engineering and right-of-way acquisition scopes of work from the 2015 bond.

Project 4: D.B. Wood Road | Anticipated $18.9 million

This 1.99-mile project consists widening the existing two-lane section of D.B. Wood Road to a four-lane, major arterial with open ditch drainage and a shared-use path for pedestrians and bicycles on one side. This project also includes installing a median in the existing center turn lane south of the Public Safety Center. This project will include engineering and right-of-way acquisition scopes of work from the 2015 bond.

Project 5: Leander Road | Anticipated $7.7 million

This 0.69-mile project consists of widening Leander Road to a four-lane, divided, major arterial from Southwest Bypass to Norwood Drive with open ditch drainage. This project will also include a grass median and sidewalks on both sides of the road. This project will include work from the 2015 bond.

Project 6: Austin Avenue Bridges | Anticipated $10.2 million

This proposition would provide funding to rehabilitate the bridges on Austin Avenue and construct a new pedestrian and bicycle bridge over the north and south forks of the San Gabriel River. The new pedestrian and bicycle bridge would cost $3.8 million of the total estimated cost to construct.

Project 7: Rockride Lane| Anticipated $5.8 million

This project consists of widening Rockride Lane from SE Inner Loop to Sam Houston Avenue to a two-lane collector road with a center turn lane, on-street bike lanes on the shoulders, and sidewalks on both sides of the road.

Project 8: Westinghouse Road | Anticipated $8.2 million

This project is a partnership between the City of Georgetown and Williamson County that would fully reconstruct the two-lane section of Westinghouse Road from FM 1460 to SH 130. This project includes improving shoulders and removing 90-degree turns.

Voters approved this project in the 2019 Williamson County bond. The total project cost is $20.2 million. City would contribute $8.2 million, primarily to improve shoulders on the two-lane section of the road. This cost roughly corresponds to the portion of the extension in the City limits, relative to the full project length.

Project 9: Sam Houston Avenue Extension / SE 1 / Wilco Corridor C | Anticipated $4 million

This 2008 bond project would provide the City’s portion of funding to extend Sam Houston Avenue (initially designated Southeast Arterial 1) as a two-lane road from Patriot Way to SH 29.

Voters approved this $22.5 million project in the 2019 Williamson County bond. The City’s $4 million contribution roughly corresponds to the portion of the extension in the City limits, relative to the full project length. Other funding sources for SE1 include Williamson County and the City’s 0.5 percent 4B sales tax associated with the Georgetown Transportation Enhancement Corporation (GTEC).

Allocations for other transportation infrastructure | Anticipated $10.45 million

The City of Georgetown 2021 Mobility Bond aims to increase roadway capacities and create new, safe connections within and among communities. In addition to the proposed roadway projects, a portion of bond dollars will be allocated to additional infrastructure projects including bicycle facilities, sidewalks, intersection improvements, and transportation technology upgrades. Funding would go toward priority projects identified in both the Sidewalks and Bicycle master plans, as well as prioritized intersections and corridors. Authorization from the 2015 bond could be used for sidewalk and intersection work.

Bond background

In July 2020, City Council created a 16-member Citizen Advisory Committee to narrow down a list of projects for the bond program that address Georgetown’s overall transportation challenges, limit the burden to taxpayers, and reflect the public priorities. The advisory committee spent six months reviewing and evaluating 23 possible bond projects with an estimated total cost of more than $400 million. In January 2021, the Citizen Advisory Committee provided Council with rankings of the top 10 roadway projects and allocations for sidewalks, bicycle facilities, intersections, and transportation technology. The committee’s recommendations were informed by two rounds of public engagement.

For more information about Mobility Georgetown Bond 2021, visit bonds.georgetown.org.

2020 Resident Survey results

The results are in from the most recent resident survey, which is done every two years by the City of Georgetown to guide planning, budgeting, projects, and services.

The Texas State University Center for Public Policy, Research, and Training conducted the survey in October 2020. The anonymous survey is intended to measure the perceptions of residents. The survey was mailed to 2,000 households in Georgetown and 425 residents responded. The margin of error was 5 percent.

In addition to the mailed survey, an open survey was shared online with 767 residents responding. Since the demographics of the two surveys were similar, the results from the two surveys were merged. The total number of responses was 1,192 and the margin of error was 3 percent.

“We are grateful for this feedback from our residents who took the survey,” City Manager David Morgan said. “The City does this survey every two years to listen to our residents to find out where we are succeeding and other places where we need to improve. The results are invaluable in helping us determine priorities for budgets and operations.”

The context of the COVID-19 pandemic affected city services in 2020 and was likely a factor in how residents experienced and perceived city programs and services.

Here are some highlights from the merged survey results.

Ninety percent of residents said the overall quality of life in Georgetown was good or excellent and 65 percent said for city taxes paid, the value of city services was good or excellent. These compare to 98 percent and 81 percent, respectively, in the 2018 resident survey.

The survey found when residents were asked about city services, these percentages of residents gave a rating of good or excellent:

  • Fire and EMS services: 97 percent
  • Police services: 91 percent
  • Library: 94 percent
  • Garbage collection: 91 percent
  • Recycling: 82 percent
  • Water service: 75 percent
  • Electric service: 66 percent

The survey also asked about perceptions of safety. Respondents reported safety as good or excellent for these areas or services:

  • In their neighborhood in daytime: 95 percent
  • In their neighborhood after dark: 83 percent
  • In city parks: 79 percent
  • At shopping centers: 84 percent
  • On the downtown square: 91 percent
  • In recreational waters: 69 percent
  • For drinking water: 74 percent

Traffic continues to be a top concern for residents. In rating traffic flow on major streets, only 20 percent said it was good or excellent with 43 percent who said it was fair and 37 percent who said it was poor.

An open-ended question in the survey asked residents to identify their top priorities. The most frequent top priorities mentioned were crime/safety/police, growth management, water, electric bills/utilities, and parks/trails/bike lanes/sidewalks.

Survey results are used to inform the annual budget process as well as capital improvement plans and changes to city services.

To see the complete results, go to the 2020 City of Georgetown Resident Survey Report.

Updated: Water service restored to area north of Florence

Update: The water line has been repaired and water service restored as of 6:50 p.m.

A water outage is affecting 720 customers north of Florence after a fence builder hit a 12-inch waterline on Highway 138. The incident happened shortly after noon.

Once repairs have been made, water lines will be disinfected and flushed as required by the state. Current estimate for service restoration is 7 p.m.

2020 Annual Report now available

annual report fiscal year 2020 showing images of new murals in the cityAn annual report for the City of Georgetown for the 2020 fiscal year is now available online and in print copies. The report is for the 2020 fiscal year that started Oct.1, 2019, and ended Sept. 30, 2020.

The report highlights projects and initiatives and includes key metrics for city services. It is available online here.

A limited number of free printed copies of the annual report are available at City Hall, 808 Martin Luther King, Jr. St.; Georgetown Municipal Complex, 300-1 Industrial Ave.; Recreation Center, 1003 N. Austin Ave.; and Visitors Center, 103 W. Seventh St.

Solomon announced as Director of Water Utilities

Chelsea Solomon has been selected as Georgetown’s new Director of Water Utilities, following the retirement of Glenn Dishong in December. After an extensive, nationwide search, Solomon was selected from several qualified applicants to serve in the role. Solomon previously served as manager of the control center, which monitors and controls the City’s water and electric infrastructure 24 hours a day.

Solomon has worked for the City since 2014 when she was hired as a utility engineer. She is a graduate of Texas A&M University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering. She brings more than 19 years of water infrastructure engineering experience in the public and private sectors. She holds a professional engineer certification from the State of Texas and is a Certified Floodplain Manager.

“As a Georgetown resident and member of the team, I’m extremely proud of the work we’ve done in the control center, and I’m excited to bring my experience and passion to this new role,” Solomon said. “I’m looking forward to continuing to grow the Water Utility’s services and employees so we can serve Georgetown residents as efficiently as possible.”

Solomon will oversee a dynamic water utility that currently spans a more than 440-square-mile service area and more than 43,000 water accounts. She will focus on providing excellent service delivery with a team of 77 employees, while addressing the construction of more than $175 million of infrastructure during the next five years to address current and expected growth. She will be working with the City Council, city management, and the Brazos River Authority on long-range water supply planning.

“Chelsea has been an integral member of our team from her first day with the City, and we’re honored to have her as the Water Utility’s new leader,” City Manager David Morgan said. “Her technical expertise along with her dedication to employee development and customer satisfaction will be extremely valuable as we ensure the Water Utility addresses growth and long-term water planning needs.”

Prior to serving Georgetown, Solomon worked in the private sector, designing water and wastewater projects for public utilities, most notably for the City of Austin and the San Antonio Water System.

Williamson County starts call center for COVID-19 vaccine information

Williamson County has set up a call center to serve as a resource for residents interested in COVID-19 vaccine information. The call center number is 512-943-1600.

The call center is available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Call center representatives can assist individuals with information such as how to sign up on the Family Hospital Systems vaccine waitlist by walking them through the process over the phone, confirm that someone is on the waitlist, give information about the County’s vaccine plan, and share details on the County’s Vaccine Registration Technical Assistance (VRTA) sites.

For more information, go to Williamson County Call Center for COVID-19 Vaccine Information.

Businesses can open to 75 percent capacity as hospitalization rates go down

Update: Williamson County announced Jan. 31 that the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission has permitted bars in the County to open at 50 percent capacity.

Williamson County was notified Jan. 30 by the Texas Department of State Health Services that it is no longer in a high hospitalization area. Since the COVID-19 hospitalization rate has been under 15 percent for seven consecutive days, the capacity at specified businesses can increase from 50 percent to 75 percent in Williamson County, including Georgetown.

See details: Williamson County at Williamson County No Longer a High Hospitalization Area

Power restored from weather-related outages

Update at 6:30 p.m.–

All power outages have been restored. If you are still experiencing an outage, check the circuit breakers at your residence. If the breakers are all on, then call customer care at 512-930-3640.
With the current weather conditions, there may be additional outages. City crews are on standby ready to respond.
Electric outages shown at https://electricoutage.georgetown.org/.

City of Georgetown electric crews are working to restore power to approximately 1,600 customers in the Serenada area.

Crews have restored power in other areas.

Power outages have resulted from snow-laden limbs falling on power lines.

Go to electricoutage.georgetown.org to see the outage map.

I-35 overnight mainlane closures Jan. 6

Updated: The overnight lane closures on I-35 to pour the concrete deck of the Northwest Boulevard Bridge have been moved to this evening, Wednesday, Jan. 6, due to the weather forecast. The lane closures will start tonight at 10 p.m., with lanes expected to reopen to traffic by 5 a.m. tomorrow. All southbound I-35 mainlanes will be closed south of Lakeway Drive and traffic will be diverted to the frontage road. The work is weather permitting. The closure had previously been scheduled for Jan. 7.

The City of Georgetown will temporarily close some I-35 mainlanes north of Williams Drive Jan. 4 and Jan. 7, to allow crews to pour the concrete deck of the Northwest Boulevard bridge. The overnight lane closures will start each night at 9 p.m., with lanes expected to reopen to traffic by 5 a.m. each morning. All work is weather permitting.

On Monday, Jan. 4, northbound I-35 will be reduced to one lane for the overnight construction work. On Thursday, Jan. 7, all southbound I-35 mainlanes will be closed and traffic will be diverted to the frontage road.

Road signs have been placed to alert drivers of the closures. Please use extra caution when traveling through the area.

The Northwest Boulevard bridge will be a new east-west connection spanning I-35 and an alternative to Williams Drive. The project connects Rivery Boulevard to the west and FM 971 to the east and is scheduled to be complete in early 2021.