State of the City 2022
Thank you to everyone who attended our virtual State of the City premiere. Mayor Josh Schroeder and City Manager David Morgan did a great job in the video reviewing 2021 accomplishments and previewing what’s ahead in 2022. Many of you submitted questions after the presentations and those, along with answers are listed below.
A message from Mayor Josh Schroeder:
I believe the challenges we faced in 2021 brought us closer to one another, making Georgetown stronger and more connected than ever.
By the middle of the year, we started seeing things return more to the charming Georgetown we’re used to. Like July Fourth, the Beer Crawl, POPPtoberfest, the Stroll, and most recently the Swirl: We got to party together again!
If 2021 was getting back to normal, 2022 is full steam ahead: We are planning, investing, and building for our future of continued, significant growth, while maintaining who we are.
Talking about 2021, it’s just over one year since Winter Storm Uri hit us last February. We would be remiss not to mention that experience and what we’ve done since, so our State of the City presentation starts with that. From talking with y’all, we know your major areas of interest are water, traffic, and parks/quality of life. So, the video and content on this page covers those highlights from 2021 and what to expect this year.
We end our State of the City address with an update on where we are with economic development, growth, and planning.
While 2021 tested us, we still came together as a community. Now, we’re stronger than ever. You can see it every time you interact with your Georgetown neighbors, businesses, and City staff.
Thank you, Georgetown.
Winter Storm Uri hit us in February of 2021.
Staff from emergency departments (utilities, public safety, streets, communications, and more) jumped into action immediately. As the storm stretched into days, staff from all across the City rallied to provide support. Work continued even after the weather emergency ended. City staff picked up tree limbs across the City at no cost to residents. This was a massive effort that lasted for several weeks.
Since then, we did an assessment, came up with recommendations and priorities, and have made significant strides toward equipping our systems and staff, so we’re more ready for the next one.
One of the changes we’re making will have a direct impact to our customers. We’re implementing a new texting platform that will help ensure all residents receive emergency communications in real-time. By making sure your contact information is up-to-date, you will automatically receive these important messages. Click here to learn how, then log into your account here to make updates.
We made other improvements as a result of the storm, including the following to our water system:
- Replacing heaters, purchasing additional heaters, and adding insulation to field equipment such as water pumps
- Contracting for three large portable generators to operate stations that were most affected by the freeze
- Designing permanent generator backups for existing and new water treatment plants
- Joining the statewide TXWarn mutual aid agreement to expand mutual aid assistance beyond local partners
While most of the outages during the February storm were the result of mandated load reductions from ERCOT, the City has taken steps to reduce the chance of outages on the Georgetown electric system related to equipment or power lines. These include:
- Changes to our energy portfolio management practices to better protect us financially from black swan events like Winter Storm Uri. Our modified portfolio management practices were adopted in summer 2021.
- Continued focus on preventive maintenance and inspection programs like tree trimming and equipment replacements to enhance reliability.
- Emergency preparedness exercises.
- Incorporating resiliencies into our infrastructure planning and installation.
Central Texas remains one of the fastest growing regions in the country.
We will continue to grow at significant rates. How we manage that while maintaining our services and “small-town charm” is through planning and investing.
Georgetown is routinely included among the fastest growing cities in nation. The 2020 Census put our population at 67,176, compared to 47,000 in 2010. Williamson County is estimated to reach a population of 1.6 million by 2050, roughly quadruple its 2010 population.
The number of new-housing starts in FY2021 was nearly 2,500 within the city limits, setting a new record for the fifth consecutive year. The pace of residential (and nonresidential) permit activity continues to reach record highs.
This growth continues to have an impact on City services. Last year, we added more than 5,200 new water utility customers bringing us to more than 50,500 customers. Customer Care logged more than 100,800 calls and emails last year and Fire/EMS/Police showed a 25 percent increase in the number of calls.
Another one of the byproducts of all this growth is sales tax revenue. 2021 saw and increase of $8M in sales tax.
However, the City Council and City management don’t take this lightly. Council and staff remain committed to keeping our costs of service as low as possible while continuing to plan and manage growth and provide an excellent level of customer service.
Georgetown maintains the second lowest property tax rate in the Central Texas regions while providing one of the lowest cost for services.
We have and will continue to ask your input as we move forward on initiatives, plans, projects, and more.
Infrastructure and long-range planning continue to be a top priority in order to meet the needs of the community and anticipated growth. Toward that end, we have a number of plans, studies, and updates we’re planning on this year. Just to highlight a few:
- Downtown Master Plan
- Overall Transportation Plan Update
- Plans for the Austin Avenue Corridor and Williams Drive Access Management
- Updating our water and wastewater master plan
The next section gets more into our planned investments in our utilities, starting with water.
During the summer months, the vast majority of our treated, drinkable water goes to lawn care.
Fortunately, the summer of 2021 came with an unusually large amount of rain. Unfortunately, we can’t always count on that, so we must keep conservation efforts top of mind.
With the amount of growth that continues in the Central Texas area, we currently have enough water to get us through 2040. In FY21, we added 5,200 new water utility accounts compared to 2,700 in FY20.
The bigger issue is increasing capacity. Growth isn’t slowing down, and neither are we:
- Construction has begun on the North Lake Plant Expansion, which we estimate will be done by October 2022. The $12 million project will increase the plant’s capacity by about 11 percent.
- We have started designing the South Lake Water Treatment Plant. This $170 million plant will add 44 million gallons to our treatment capacity thus doubling our current capacity. Phase I should be completed by Spring 2025 and Phase II is scheduled for completion by Summer 2026.
We are continuing to work with the Brazos River Authority and Round Rock on regional water solutions to find future resources:
- Third interconnect with Round Rock is under design
- BRA Additional Water Resources will be opened March 21
- Coordinating with City of Georgetown Integrated Water Resources Plan with BRA’s IWRP
We are also working with our neighboring communities in the following ways:
- Divest in the water area in surrounding cities (CCN) where able: 350 square mile service area
- Jarrell Schwertner (pending in PUC)
- Jarrell, Liberty Hill, Florence, and Leander all express resource challenges
We will also be starting (and finishing) several studies related to the resiliency and planning for our water system with long-range water supply planning, staffing, and resiliency programs to ensure water demands are met in the City’s water service area.
In 2021, we increased enforcement of our wrong day watering and water waste ordinances. This will continue through 2022:
- 1,200 total cases opened in FY2020
- 1,771 in FY2021
Marketing efforts to remind and educate about water conservation and water waste ordinances, all continue for 2022. We have $300,000 in rebates we can award folks for taking steps like doing an irrigation check up or installing a rain barrel.
Our focus remains on providing safe and reliable service at competitive rates.
The electric fund ended Fiscal Year 2021 with a reserve of $30.5 million, which compares to an ending reserve of $28.4M in FY2020 and $5.9 million in FY 2019. The ending fund balance for FY 2021 is healthy, and the utility meets all City budgetary and fiscal reserve requirements.
While Winter Storm Uri has had a negative impact on electric utilities across the state, we are exploring all options to continue to manage our costs and improve the financial health of the electric utility.
The American Public Power Association (APPA) awarded us with RP3 status. A RP3 designation is a sign of a utility’s dedication to operating an efficient, safe, and reliable distribution system. Being recognized by the RP3 program demonstrates to community leaders, governing board members, suppliers, and service providers a utility’s commitment to its employees, customers, and community. Currently 274 of the nation’s more than 2,000 public power utilities hold a RP3 designation.
Transportation and traffic management has always been a high priority and we continue to plan, manage and address issues surrounding this very important topic.
Voters approved the 2021 Mobility Bond containing $120 million in transportation investments this past May. Design work starts this year, and we hope to break ground on the first projects in 2023. City Council wants all of these road projects started in five years.
Sidewalks continue to remain a priority. Look for repairs and improvements to Downtown, Old Town, intersections, State Highway 29, Williams Drive, Shell Road, and Leander Road.
Street maintenance is funded each year by a 1/4 cent sales tax and will be on your November ballots this year. For 2021, the street maintenance budget was $5 million.
In 2022, we’ll continue investments in traffic signals. We are working on a plan to take over TxDOT traffic signals as our population has reached the needed threshold for that to happen.
Additionally, TxDOT has several I-35 projects affecting our area:
- Williams Drive: Diverging Diamond, estimated completion 2023
- Leander Road: Diverging Diamond, estimated completion 2023
- Westinghouse: Continuous flow intersection, estimated start 2024
- State Highway 29: Single point urban interchange, estimated start 2025
To learn more about TxDOT I-35 projects, visit my35.org.
The Bikeways Master Plan was funded through the 2021 bond and implementation begins this year.
FM 971 from Gann to Austin Avenue is under construction (from 2008 bond).
Westinghouse Road from FM 1460 to SH 130 is under construction. Williamson County is taking lead on this 2019 bond project. The City will contribute $8.2 million for the section of the road that goes through the City through 2021 mobility bond funds.
Northwest Boulevard Bridge opened in August with a final cost of $8.2 million.
The SE Inner Loop project was opened this past December. The $4.9 million project expanded SE Inner Loop from Austin Avenue to FM 1460 to a four-lane road with a center turn lane.
DB Wood and Southwest Boulevard are under design.
From our amazing parks, arts, events, and downtown to customer service and public safety initiatives, we continue to invest in ways that make your lives in Georgetown easier and richer.
- Parks Master Plan: Significant research and feedback; Council adopted the plan in January
- Grace Heritage Plaza
- Design plan for Heritage Community Garden
Projects to be completed in 2022
- San Gabriel Park: Phase III design
- Gabriel Trail at Wolf Ranch
- Renovations on:
- Heritage Community Garden
- University Park
- Pinnacle Park
- Raintree Park
- Design for Recreation Center renovation
- Acquire land for a southeast community park
PUBLIC SAFETY AND PLANNING
- The tragic fire at a pet boarding facility led to adoption of new fire codes
- FY2022 budget includes funding to start K9 program
- Continue CommUNITY initiative
- Animal Shelter retained no-kill status for 7th year in a row AND reduced average length of stay from 14.35 days to 9.95 days.
- Small area plans for San Jose and TRG: Adoption public hearings scheduled for March 2022
- Update the 2030 Future Land Use Plan and Multi-Family Development guidelines
- Update Unified Development Code
In 2021, we held four household hazardous waste events and two neighborhood cleanups. We also continued paratransit services after the GoGe0 bus service was discontinued.
Many projects are already underway for 2022, including:
- More household hazardous waste and neighborhood cleanup events
- Construction of new collection station
- Update to Customer Care phone systems
- Launch Text Power, a service that will text you about utility outages
- Website redesign
- New café in the Library
- Continuation of the very successful Teen Court program
- Establish a 311-like system
2021 brought some new faces to our City Council: Amanda Parr in District 1 and Jake French in District 6. The City Manager’s Office welcomed two new assistant city managers: Wayne Nero and Nick Woolery. City operations have four new directors: Chelsea Solomon, Eric Johnson, Sally Miculek, and Interim Police Chief Corey Tchida.
The Civic Leadership Academy continued with 35 members meeting quarterly to learn about City operations.
The City launched a new performance management public dashboard, and staff has saved an estimated $230,000 after implementation of processes learned through our Lean Greenbelt Training and Certification program.
2022 is off to a great start with the completion of redistricting and updated City Council goals:
Governance – Guiding Principle: The City of Georgetown follows established rules of governance that promote civil discourse, consistent and predictable deliberation, and exemplary action.
Growth – Guiding Principle: The City of Georgetown will proactively work to anticipate growth in all aspects of city government – mobility, infrastructure, customer service.
Housing – Guiding Principle: The City of Georgetown will strive to provide housing opportunities to ensure a diverse population.
Downtown – Guiding Principle: The City of Georgetown will provide a positive economic environment to ensure an active and viable downtown and provide infrastructures and amenities to ensure safety, mobility and accessibility.
Economic Development – Guiding Principle: The City of Georgetown will promote a strong and diverse economy that strengthens the local sales tax and property tax base while also contributing to a high quality of life.
Risk Management – Guiding Principle: The City of Georgetown will provide a well -planned and coordinated emergency and risk management system for all city services.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT & DOWNTOWN
- 2021: Nine major projects totaling $422 million and 382 jobs announced in 2021 (calendar year) | Four received incentive agreements:
- Ubiquity – Everyone is very excited about this one, the new internet provider coming to town. Working on permits now.
- Texas Outdoor Equipment
- Loram Technologies
- Gateway35 Commerce Center
- Stonelake Logistics Park
- Woodgate Business Park
- Portman Industrial
- Molto Development
- North Georgetown TIRZ
This year: More than a dozen active development agreements
Already in 2022 we have welcomed CelLink Corp. to our Georgetown community. This manufacturing company will open a facility out at Titan Development’s Gateway35 Commerce Center between I-35 and SH 130. It plans to invest $130 million in five years and hire between 800 and 2,000 employees.
- New record of nearly $20 million in downtown reinvestment!
- Downtown façade program: $58,500 in grants
- 10 new businesses:
- Tejas Meat Market
- Foundry 42
- District 6
- Mikey V’s
- City Post
- Grow Salon
- Wish Well House
Additionally, we would like to thank you for your feedback regarding the Downtown Parking Garage and City Center. The Council is still deliberating but hope to announce next steps by summer 2022.
ARTS & EVENTS
2021 saw things getting back to normal with art programs, events, and festivals, and we are already seeing great benefit from having a full-time arts coordinator.
- Sculpture tours
- Art Strolls: Had our first last year, next one is April 21
- POPPtoberfest: Rescheduled Red Poppy was in October
- Glad to welcome back the Red Poppy festival this April
- Beer Crawl this summer
- Lighting of the square and Christmas stroll
- Swirl was March 5
- Working on: Fiesta in San Jose and Festival in Garey Park
- So many more!
Q. Could you provide additional details about the upcoming fiber optic internet installation? In particular, which neighborhoods or areas will be installed first (a full schedule neighborhood by neighborhood would be great), and which providers will be offering services on the network?
A. In general, Ubiquity will be bringing fiber optic network services to any place in the city that doesn’t have fiber at the time we are passing that area. Research shows that’s about 90% of the city addresses today. Regarding areas in the ETJ, the plan is to cover those area as well, assuming fiber networking is not already available at the time of passing. They don’t plan on intentionally passing any areas within the city that aren’t already fiber covered.
Ubiquity’s goal is to start at both ends of the city and move towards the middle. This is undergoing final design approvals. ISPs (internet service providers) using the fiber network will be communicating directly with residents at various points along the way. Typically, that is done 90-120 days from being able to provide service.
The initial fiber provider will be FiberFirst, a fiber provider serving other parts of Texas. Ubiquity made this announcement back in February. Click here to read the press release. Note that FiberFirst will be serving all Ubiquity areas in Central Texas, including announced expansion areas – Hutto and Killeen – so their support will be extensive locally. They are in the process of leasing office space near downtown Georgetown. FiberFirst will have a booth at the Poppy Festival and is a sponsor of the event. They encourage residents to stop by to see them and sign up with interest. More information, including example pricing and speeds, can be gathered on www.fiberfirst.com. Ubiquity is in discussion with a number of other providers in the area and will announce those as they are contracted.
Q. Could you outline what, if any, steps can be taken by citizens to engage the city to “connect” sidewalks and trails throughout the city? There are many instances of sidewalks that just terminate seemingly randomly, without any connection to other sidewalks or trails, and it would be great to hear about plans to make for a more connected experience.
Specific examples include (1) along Wolf Ranch Parkway where a large sidewalk gap exists between River Vista Rd and the Carroll at Rivery Ranch apartments; and (2) no paved connection exists to the regional trail along the south fork of Wolf Ranch.
A. In 2014, the City completed a Sidewalk Master Plan identifying approximately $100MM of potentially damaged and missing sidewalks. As part of the 2015 Road Bond program, the voters approved $10MM to address Priority 1 sidewalks identified in the plan. As part of the 2021 Road Bond program, the voters approved another approximately $7.5MM to fund Priority 2 sidewalks. Priority 1 sidewalks are well underway and a little more than halfway complete. Priority 2 sidewalks will begin design this summer. Priority 3 and beyond has not been funded, but staff will continue to work with Council to identify potential future funding opportunities. The specific gaps noted above are not P1, 2, or 3 sidewalks and currently expected to be completed as adjacent properties develop/redevelop.
Q. Could you share details on the city’s position on installing roundabouts to potentially help alleviate traffic congestion and improve flow?
A. The City does not have an official position on roundabouts. They are not prohibited, but whenever they are considered we are careful to ensure they meet generally accepted international standards for design safety.
Q. Could you provide details about any existing pest (flea, mosquito, gnat) control efforts along the San Gabriel trail system? Is it possible for citizens to engage the city to increase pest control efforts during the humid summer months to increase the enjoyment of running/biking/walking the trails?
A. The only large-scale bug control the City does is related to mosquitos. In partnership with the Health District, we have certain procedures in place that we follow for spraying. Before we spray, the West Nile Virus must be detected in multiple mosquito samples. If we do meet the threshold for spraying, there will be public notice on the City’s website and social media channels.
The best tools available to our community to address mosquitos are education and source reduction. The City asks that our residents help share “Fight the Bite” messaging. Our partners at the Williamson County and Cities Health District have a great page dedicated to the Fight the Bite campaign.
A handy moniker to help remember the tools to address mosquitos is “The 3-D’s”
- DRAIN standing water on your property, so mosquitoes won’t breed.
- DEFEND using an EPA-approved insect repellant
- DRESS in long sleeves and pants and spray insect repellant on your clothes.
It is critical that residents drain standing water on their properties so mosquitos cannot breed. Anything that can hold water for more than a few days can breed mosquitos. Mosquitos can breed in standing water in an area that is as small as a bottle cap!
If you do see standing water in detention ponds or drainage ways, please send a picture along with the address to firstname.lastname@example.org and Code Compliance will take a look.
Q. When will the process be completed to name the new Chief of Police for the Georgetown Texas Police Department or has Interim Chief Tchida already been named the next Police Chief?
A. We are currently doing a national search for candidates and anticipate a selection in the June timeframe.
Q. There needs to be a left-hand turn lane on Leander Road (RR 2243) into Garey Park to prevent significant traffic congestion from people attending events and festivals, as has happened in past couple of years. Is this project already underway?
What plans are being made for the events and festivals scheduled this year to facilitate a large volume of traffic be able to enter Garey Park without backing up traffic for miles?
A. Part of our special-event planning is traffic control, and we will be sharing that information before the June 4 event at Garey Park. I appreciate your suggestion about the left-turn lane on Leander Road into the park. Williamson County is working on improvements to that road. More information here: https://www.wilco.org/rm2243
Q. Why do you charge for Garey park? We pay for it with taxes not to mention it was donated with a nice sum of $$. Is this park only for the affluent…..
A. Entry fees at Garey Park are to offset the cost of maintaining 525 acres, including amenities. Rates for residents are much lower than non-residents. We also have certain days of the year that are free or reduced prices.
Q. We are watching before our eyes what happened to California. Building a bunch of apartments behind Georgetown High School on NE Inner Loop. There is a two-lane road there, an area that floods where Inner Loop and Stadium Drive are. Imagine the traffic over there each morning with kids going to Forbes and Georgetown HS.
A. The City will continue to focus on transportation improvements across our community. City Council is prioritizing implementation of the 2021 road bond projects, and we’ll continue to work with the State of Texas and Williamson County to accelerate transportation projects as quickly as we can.
Q. Too late on traffic! Tired of drought talk……it’s every year since the actual drought. Who can afford water? Georgetown charges so much….
A. Our water rates are competitive with other cities in the area, and our overall cost of service is third lowest in the area. Our water rates are structured to encourage conservation.
To review last year’s State of the City presentation, click here.