Public safety and quality-of-life top 2020 priorities-September 2019
Making investments to enhance community safety and quality of life are key priorities for the fiscal year 2020 budget plan for the City of Georgetown. Budget specifics and the tax rate are being discussed and approved this month by the City Council.
Georgetown’s population growth remains an important factor for the budget. This year Georgetown was ranked the seventh-fastest growing city in the U.S. with more than 50,000 residents by the U.S. Census Bureau. Georgetown has been one of the top 10 fastest-growing cities in the country each of the past five years.
Maintaining quality of life and community safety while responding to population growth are core elements of the proposed 2020 budget. These themes are evident in the programs and projects proposed for 2020.
Public safety: Two patrol officers, one community engagement officer, two emergency communications operators, and one digital forensics investigator are proposed for the Police Department to respond to growth in the city. An additional code enforcement officer and a fire protection engineer also address growth demands. The budget also includes operational costs and staffing for Fire Station 6 and Fire Station 7, scheduled to open in 2020.
Parks: New projects include the design of the third phase of the renovation of San Gabriel Park, an update to the Parks Master Plan to guide future parks development, plans for regional trail development, and upgrades to the Heritage Community Gardens near Annie Purl Elementary.
Transportation and mobility: Responding to a top priority for residents, mobility projects include widening Leander Road from Norwood Drive to Southwest Bypass, widening Southwestern Boulevard from Raintree Drive to SE Inner Loop, the next phase of sidewalk improvements, and continued funding for GoGeo transit. Construction on the Northwest Boulevard bridge over I-35 funded in 2019 will continue in 2020.
Electric utility: A new energy portfolio management contract, a new risk management policy, and a new general manager for the electric utility are all currently underway and included in the 2020 budget. New feeder and transformer improvements and other upgrades address growth in our service area.
Water utility: New major projects addressing our growing population include the expansion of the Lake Water Treatment Plant water intake, a Round Rock supply pump station and ground storage tank, the Stonewall Ranch pump station, and other line upgrades. Major wastewater projects include the next phase of the Berry Creek wastewater line, the San Gabriel wastewater line, and rehabilitation of the San Gabriel Wastewater Treatment Plant, and other lift station and line upgrades.
Other new positions funded in the budget include a new director of community services to add focus to animal services, code enforcement, and emergency management; a director of communication and public engagement; staff for the Visitors Center, purchasing, and the Georgetown Public Library; and program managers for performance management, business improvement, and staff training. The 2020 budget includes a total of 15.5 new positions compared to 30 in the 2019 budget.
No rate changes are proposed for water, wastewater, electric, or drainage utilities. A 75-cent increase in the monthly solid waste and recycling fee for residential customers is proposed to reflect increased operational costs by Texas Disposal Systems.
The proposed 2020 budget includes a property tax rate of 42 cents per $100 property valuation, which is the same rate as 2019. For an average home in Georgetown valued at $285,357, city taxes would increase by $30 from 2019. While the tax rate is the same as last year, the increase in valuation will increase the taxes paid for the average home.
The budget public hearing and the first public hearing on the proposed tax rate was on Sept. 3. The second public hearing on the tax rate is Sept. 10. Adoption of the budget ordinances is set for Sept. 10 and Sept. 24. Fiscal year 2020 starts Oct. 1. Go to the City of Georgetown website at georgetown.org to see details about the proposed 2020 budget or to see the complete schedule for budget hearings and adoption.