Mosquito trap tests positive for West Nile in Georgetown

A mosquito trap sample collected Oct. 5 in north Georgetown has tested positive for West Nile virus. This testing is part of the City of Georgetown’s participation in the Williamson County and Cities Health District’s (WCCHD) Integrated Vector Management program. The positive test was indicated in lab results received Oct. 6 from the Texas Department of State Health Services lab in Austin.

The sample was collected from a trap near Diamond Dove Trail and Airport Road.

West Nile virus is the most common mosquito-borne disease in the United States. In 2021, there have been eight mosquito samples pools that returned positive for West Nile virus in Williamson County. This is the first positive trap in 2021 at this location. The last positive trap collected at this location was October 2016.

The City and the Health District are encouraging everyone to be especially vigilant about protecting themselves from mosquito bites when outdoors and preventing mosquito breeding on their personal property. Recent rain and continued warm temperatures are prime breeding conditions for mosquitoes.

While there have been no reported incidences of human infection of West Nile virus in Williamson County this yearsymptoms of infection may include fever, headache, and body aches, a skin rash on the trunk of the body, and swollen lymph nodes. Those age 50 and older and/or with compromised immune systems are at a higher risk for severe symptoms, which may include stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors, vision loss, paralysis, and in rare cases, death.

City of Georgetown parks staff will continue mosquito control efforts with the treatment of standing water with larvicide, and WCCHD will continue enhanced monitoring and testing, along with increased public outreach and education. The City is prepared to take additional action if necessary.

Mosquitoes are present in Central Texas year-round, but the population is largest and most active from May through November. During this period, WCCHD monitors the mosquito population and tests for mosquito-borne viruses.

The most important way to prevent West Nile virus is to reduce the number of mosquitoes where people work and play. Health officials strongly encourage everyone to remain vigilant about protecting themselves from mosquito bites and preventing mosquito breeding on their personal property. Mosquitoes breed in standing water, needing as little as one teaspoon. By draining all sources of standing water in and around your property, you reduce the number of places mosquitoes can lay their eggs and breed.

What you can do

Eliminating places where mosquitoes can breed and reducing the chances of mosquito bites are the most effective lines of defense against exposure to West Nile virus. As part of its Fight the Bite campaign the Health District recommends the 3 Ds of mosquito safety:

  • Drain standing water in flowerpots, pet dishes, or clogged gutters so mosquitoes don’t have a place to breed and treat water that can’t be drained,
  • Defend by using an EPA-approved insect repellent, and
  • Dress in long sleeves and pants when outdoors.

For more information, go to the WCCHD website at wcchd.org or visit the Texas Department of State Health Services West Nile website at txwestnile.org.

Celebrate Month of the Arts in Georgetown this October

The City of Georgetown is celebrating the Month of the Arts this October with several events for our resident art lovers, including the inaugural Georgetown Autumn Art Stroll.

Autumn Art Stroll

Patrons are invited to come view and purchase art at various locations in the Downtown Georgetown Cultural District from 4-8 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 21.

Locations include Grace Plaza, the splash pad at the Georgetown Art Center, local arts businesses, and arts and culture organizations. Visitors are also invited to participate in a public art project led by muralist J Muzacz at the Georgetown Art Center.

Participants in the event will also be able to view and provide feedback on the design for a capital improvement project in the cultural district between Founders Park and Grace Plaza. The City received a Texas Commission on the Arts grant for the project that will be considered by City Council at a future meeting.

Find more information about the Autumn Art Stroll and the capital improvement project at arts.georgetown.org/georgetown-autumn-art-stroll.

Arts and Culture Brown Bag Luncheon

The quarterly Arts and Culture Brown Bag Luncheon returns at noon Oct. 14. Pack your lunch and join us at the Doug Smith Performance Center for a presentation by Ron Watson, Georgetown Palace Theatre executive director. His presentation “Anatomy of a Production” breaks down the details of what it takes to bring the large productions at the Palace to life; from play selection to casting, inspiration and design, and more. Updates from arts and culture stakeholders in the Downtown Georgetown Cultural District will follow Watson’s talk.

More information about arts and culture in Georgetown is available at arts.georgetown.org.

 

Council adopts FY2022 budget that focuses on utilities, transportation, public safety

The Georgetown City Council adopted the Fiscal Year 2022 budget Sept. 28. The adopted FY2022 budget totals $483 million and decreases the City’s property tax rate by 1.7 cents.

This is the second year in a row the City has proposed reducing the property tax rate, maintaining the City’s rate as among the lowest of all cities in the Austin area with a population greater than 20,000. Council also voted to increase the homestead exemption to the greater of $5,000 or 3 percent, contributing to $370,000 in additional taxpayer relief. However, because property values in Georgetown increased 15.4 percent, the average homeowner in Georgetown is expected to pay $56 more in property taxes in the upcoming year.

“Residents are going to see significant work toward their priorities in this next fiscal year,” Mayor Josh Schroeder said. “The investment in transportation and water infrastructure, the customer service enhancements, and our continued commitment to public safety afforded in this budget are going to help us tackle the complex challenges facing our constantly growing city.”

The adopted budget did not change from the proposed budget, which is provided online at finance.georgetown.org. The adopted budget book will be available later this year.

City staff used the results of recent public feedback opportunities, including the 2020 resident survey and council goals, to develop the preliminary version of next year’s budget, which spans Oct. 1, 2021, through Sept. 30, 2022.

Major themes of the proposed budget are investing in transportation and utility infrastructure, public safety, and customer services, as well as providing the staffing, equipment, and software needed for record-setting growth and development. Adequately funding those priorities—particularly transportation and water capital improvement projects ($90 million), public safety investments, and staffing and resources needed to maintain service levels during Georgetown’s sustained period of high growth—contributed to the preliminary budget being $87 million (or 18 percent) more than the current fiscal year’s budget of $396 million.

Highlights of the adopted budget include:

  • Providing taxpayer relief, despite significant increases to service demand and debt, including Winter Storm Uri and the 2021 mobility bond projects.
  • 53 positions, the majority of which are in the fire, water, and electric departments
  • One-time start-up costs for a multi-year plan to fund a Police K9 unit
  • One of the largest investments in utility infrastructure in the City’s history. This investment includes $49.8 million in water projects ranging from a new pump station to the first phase of construction for the new South Lake Water Treatment Plant.
  • Long-range water supply planning, staffing, and resiliency programs to ensure water demands are met in the City’s water service area to meet current and future growth
  • Significant investment in transportation, including additional staffing, an Overall Transportation Plan Amendment, a Williams Drive Access Management Plan, a Pavement Condition Index, and additional resources to ensure 2021 mobility bond projects are started within the next five years
  • A strong projected electric fund balance of $36.7 million and investments in staffing, technology, and infrastructure to maintain system reliability
  • Investment in customer service staffing and programming, including establishing a program to improve intake and response to all customer complaints; improving water and electric outage notifications; and redesigning and organizing the City’s website

For more information, visit finance.georgetown.org.

POPPtoberFest in downtown Georgetown Oct. 1-3

Celebrate the City of Georgetown’s POPPtoberFest event on the most beautiful town square in Texas. The festival, this year’s rescheduled Red Poppy Festival, kicks off at 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 1, and runs through 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 3, with three days of music, entertainment, family fun, and more than 75 arts and craft vendors.

Event schedule

Dale Watson is the headliner Saturday night and takes the stage at 9:30 p.m. Two Tons of Steel and Brave Combo will open for Watson at 7:45 p.m. and 6 p.m., respectively. Longtime festival favorite Dysfunkshun Junkshun is back for the Friday night concert at 7 p.m. The Peterson Brothers Band will perform 1:30 p.m. Sunday. There is no admission charge for the concerts or other festival activities. Feel free to bring your own chair and cooler (no glass) if you are coming for the day.

Other festival highlights include the Car Show at 10 a.m. Saturday. On Sunday, come see the pet parade and meet City vehicles at 11 a.m. And make sure to stop by the City of Georgetown booth at Eighth Street and Austin Avenue to charge your devices, relax in the shade, and meet City staff.

The Kid’s Fun Zone is open 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. The Fun Zone is free and includes an obstacle course, a huge slide, a bounce house, a basketball game, and a toddler playground.

The City is offering a variety of options for visitors to get to POPPtoberFest.

Several free public parking lots are available throughout downtown, as well as a shuttle option Saturday.

“We’re hoping for perfect, fall weather for our POPPtober event,” Tourism Manager Cari Miller said. “Georgetown may feel like a small town, but this is going to be a big party. Folks need to plan to arrive early, be patient, and be prepared to be amongst hundreds of people, especially Saturday night.”

Event parking

The Williamson County parking garage at Rock and Fourth streets and the public parking lot on Austin Avenue between Fifth and Fourth streets (next to The Monument Cafe) will be open during the festival. Public parking lots on Martin Luther King Jr. Street at West Eighth and West Sixth streets are also available. There is no charge for parking.

Attendees are asked to be courteous when parking on neighborhood streets and avoid blocking driveways or parking in fire lanes. Illegally parked vehicles will be ticketed.

Handicap parking is available at the parking lot at 10th and Main streets.

The City parking lot at Sixth and Main streets will be closed starting at 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 30.

Free shuttle on Saturday

A free shuttle will run 9 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 2. The shuttle will pick up and drop off passengers at the First Baptist Church located at 1333 W. University Ave. The drop-off location is at the corner of Austin Avenue and Ninth Street.

There will be no GoGeo fixed-route bus services. People with a qualifying disability may receive paratransit services until 7 p.m. Friday. Eligible riders pay $2 per trip and must make a reservation 24 hours in advance. More information at gogeo.georgetown.org.

Street closures

Austin Avenue closes Friday morning: Starting at 6 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 1, Austin Avenue will be closed from Sixth to Ninth streets. Traffic will be detoured to Rock Street. This is to allow the placement of the main festival stage. Austin Avenue will be closed through 11 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 3.

Other streets around the Courthouse Square will close at 6 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 1, to allow for vendor set-up. Streets around the Square will remain closed through 11 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 3.

COVID-19 safety

Vendor tents will be spread out to at least 6 feet apart, allowing for increased social distancing between artists and attendees. The City will have hand-sanitizing stations throughout the festival.

While masks are not required outdoors or in City facilities, some private businesses may require them. Masks are encouraged whenever people cannot maintain 6 feet of social distance from others, regardless of vaccination status or whether indoors or outside. Complimentary masks will be available at the Visitors Center, 103 W. Seventh St., and the City of Georgetown booth located at Eighth Street and Austin Avenue.

The City is asking festival attendees to:

  • Stay home if they are sick or think they might have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes.
  • Maintain at least 6 feet away from others not in their group.
  • Wash/sanitize their hands frequently and thoroughly.
  • Be respectful of the decisions of private business owners and individuals.

For a complete schedule and more details, including information on parking and road closures, visit POPPtoberFest.com.

Last day for fixed-route bus service in Georgetown is Sept. 30, 2021

Paratransit services will continue uninterrupted

The fixed-route bus system currently serving Georgetown residents will have its final rides Sept. 30, 2021. City Council during its July 27 meeting directed staff to negotiate a paratransit agreement with Capital Metro, without any provision for fixed-route service. City Council on Sept. 14 approved an interlocal agreement to continue paratransit services only.

“The City of Georgetown remains committed to providing exceptional services where they are needed,” Georgetown Mayor Josh Schroeder said. “The council has been very forward-thinking and proactive with regard to providing some form of public transit to meet our residents’ needs. City Council has given direction to discontinue the current fixed route system as of Oct. 1, 2021, but to continue providing our paratransit services. The current fixed-route system has not produced the expected ridership. As Georgetown continues to grow, so will the need for public transportation. I would expect this issue to be reassessed in the future.”

The City’s paratransit service, which is run by Capital Area Rural Transportation System, or CARTS, as a subcontractor for Capital Metro, currently serves 235 riders. The paratransit service is only available to people with disabilities. Eligibility and screening for paratransit services is provided, through a paper application, by the CARTS.

In the new agreement, the City will have up to two vehicles providing the current, curb-to-curb service from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. Eligible riders will continue to pay $2 per trip and be required to make a reservation 24 hours in advance through the website or by calling 512-478-RIDE (7433).

The cost for continuing the paratransit service is estimated at $271,140. The City would pay $162,684, and the remaining cost would be covered through a match from the Federal Transit Administration. Because the City anticipates the number of qualified riders could increase with the loss of the fixed-route service, the City has committed to set aside an additional $81,342, with the FTA contributing $54,228, which will be used if needed in FY2022.

CARTS’ Interurban Coach bus service between Georgetown and Austin will continue. The bus picks up passengers from two stops in Georgetown, at Eighth and Forest streets and 3620 S. Austin Ave., twice a day Monday through Friday and has several stops on the way to and in Austin, including University Oaks, Tech Ridge Park & Ride, and Austin Greyhound.

History of GoGeo, public transit in Georgetown

The City and Capital Metro launched Georgetown’s fixed-route bus system Aug. 21, 2017. The partnership also included paratransit services in the City. The Georgetown Health Foundation also has provided funding for GoGeo.

GoGeo’s fixed-route service operates four routes with 46 stops that run from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. GoGeo also offered a Saturday service until March 2020, when it was canceled due to the pandemic. Annual average ridership for the fixed-route has ranged from 20,299 in Fiscal Year 2018 to 14,431 in Fiscal Year 2020. The City has spent $1.4 million for both fixed-route and paratransit GoGeo services since its inception. The City also paid $168,031 to install bus stops and other infrastructure. Annual costs for the service averaged $574,552 in local funding. The City’s current contract with Capital Metro expires at the end of September.

Council meeting and agreement materials

July 13 Council Workshop: Video | Presentation

Sept. 14 Council Meeting: Coversheet

Interlocal agreement

ADA Application for Eligibility

For more information about the GoGeo program, visit gogeo.georgetown.org.

City to host household hazardous waste event Oct. 20

The City will host a free household hazardous waste collection event from 3-6 p.m. Oct. 20 at the old show barn site in San Gabriel Park, 425 E. Morrow St.

The event will be available for up to 300 Georgetown solid waste customers who have solid waste service through Texas Disposal Systems. Customers must contact Customer Care at 512-930-3640 or customercare@georgetown.org to have their name placed on a list. Please include your name, address, and utility account number when emailing customer care. Customers must have their name on the list to participate.

Residents must remain in their vehicles during the no-contact collection. Staff will unload items from the back seat or trunk of the vehicle.

All items to be dropped off must be in their marked original containers. Commercial disposal and trailers are not allowed.

Acceptable items include:

  • Batteries (household, hearing aids, cell phone, etc.)
  • Automobile batteries
  • Pool and spa chemicals
  • Used oil/oil filters (up to five gallons per vehicle)
  • Transmission fluid
  • Light bulbs (including regular, compact, and four-foot fluorescent)
  • Grease
  • Thermometers
  • Over the counter, residential lawn and garden chemicals
  • Aerosols
  • Household cleaners and disinfectants marked caution, warning, or poison
  • Art and hobby chemicals
  • Paint (up to 10 gallons per vehicle)
  • Over the counter one-pound disposal propane bottles
  • Gasoline (up to five gallons per vehicle)

Unacceptable items include:

  • Unmarked containers or unknown chemicals
  • Construction, commercial, or landscape waste
  • Professional, concentrated chemicals that require a professional license to mix
  • Medications or pharmaceuticals
  • Oxygen tanks
  • Electronics
  • Tires
  • Explosives (including ammunition and fireworks)
  • Radioactive materials
  • Biological materials

Additional household hazardous waste collection events are being planned for 2022.

For more information about the City’s solid waste and recycling services, visit recycle.georgetown.org.

Williamson County will also host a household hazardous waste collection event open to all county residents 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 25 at the Hutto Football Stadium, 573 Chris Kelley Blvd. Find more information by calling 512-759-8881, option 4, or visiting https://bit.ly/3648ZYX.

National Hispanic Heritage Month events in September

The City of Georgetown is hosting several events to honor National Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs Sept. 15-Oct. 15.

Georgetown Public Library

The cultural celebration will include several events from the Georgetown Public Library, 402 W. Eighth St., including an outdoor movie screening, take and make crafts, and a folklorico dance performance.

Events kick off Sept. 24 with a screening of Disney/Pixar’s “Coco.” The PG film follows aspiring young musician Miguel on a journey to the land of his ancestors where he uncovers the mysteries behind his family’s traditions and stories. The film will be shown at dusk on Forest Street between the Library and Light and Water Works building. Crafts and activities for children will be available starting at 7 p.m.

Ballet Folklorico will host a performance at 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 25, in Library’s Hewlett Room. Tickets will be handed out first-come, first-served starting at 1 p.m. that day.

The Library will also have a selection of craft kit takeaways available to celebrate Hispanic heritage, as well as highlighting relevant items in all collections and sharing lists of recommended books, CDs, and films.

For more information, visit library.georgetown.org.

Tuesday Talks with Britin and Ann

Britin and Ann’s Tuesday Talks presentation in September featured the people and places that are part of Georgetown’s Hispanic heritage. Watch the replay on Facebook and find other past presentations at historic.georgetown.org.

Solar application processing moving to new platform

Applications will temporarily cease Sept. 15-30, 2021

From Sept. 15 through Sept. 30, 2021, the City of Georgetown will temporarily stop accepting solar permit and interconnection applications while the City transitions to a new portal and service provider.

All solar permit applications received through Sept. 15 will be processed through the current application, My Permit Now.

Starting Oct. 1, the City will resume accepting solar interconnection applications on a new portal. This new portal will allow a more streamlined process for submitting a Distributed Energy Resource (DER) interconnection application. DER systems include roof-top solar photovoltaic units, residential battery storage, etc.

The public will be notified when the portal goes live.

New Distributed Energy Resource (DER) Installation and Interconnection Policy

On June 22, 2021, City Council approved the new DER Installation and Interconnection Policy, which goes into effect Oct. 1, 2021.

Please click here to review the policy.

The approved fee schedule is shown below:

Fee Description* Amount
DER installation and interconnection Application Fee $250
Facilities Study* * $1,000
DER Installation and Inspection Fee $450
Additional Inspection Fee** $150

*All fees identified as non-refundable.
**As needed.

If you have any questions, please contact: interconnection@georgetown.org

Breakfast Bites: Lets Get Social

The Breakfast Bites meeting Sept. 9 will feature Rachel Hancock, owner of Something Social/Arkay Artwork, presenting on “Let’s Get Social.” The informal meeting opens at 8:45 a.m. on the patio behind 309 Coffee at 309 S. Main St. The presentation will start at 9 a.m.

Social media can be a powerful tool for reaching new customers, but what platforms and tools are the most effective for your audience? Learn from Hancock in a special, hands-on program in which you are encouraged to bring your own device and follow along for tips, tricks, and new skills you can apply to your own social media accounts.

At the Sept. 9 program, there will also be updates from City staff on a variety of topics, as well as updates from downtown partner organizations and new businesses in the downtown district that have opened or are under construction.

Breakfast Bites is a quarterly meeting of the Georgetown Main Street Program. Limited seating is available. If you plan to attend, please RSVP by 5 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 8, online at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/main-street-breakfast-bites-lets-get-social-tickets-167765227311.

Participants are encouraged to wear a mask or face covering and maintain physical distancing of at least six feet. Hand sanitizer will also be available for attendees.

Animal Shelter joins Clear the Shelters event

The City of Georgetown Animal Shelter is teaming up with KXAN for the sixth annual Clear the Shelters pet adoption drive Aug. 23 through Sept. 19. Clear The Shelters is an annual national adoption event spearheaded by NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations.

This year, the campaign will combine a month-long virtual adoption campaign, with a single-day adoption celebration on Sept. 18.

During the entire event, the shelter, 110 W.L. Walden Drive, will reduce and even waive adoption fees. Dogs age 7 months or older may be adopted for $15 (medium to large size breeds only), while cats age 7 months or older may be adopted free of charge.

“This campaign couldn’t come at a better time,” Animal Services Manager April Haughey said. “Our small shelter has been overflowing with dogs and cats for the last month. We hope this campaign will reach potential adopters and truly clear the shelter.”

To see the list of available pets and learn how to adopt, visit pets.georgetown.org. The shelter is operating primarily by appointment, with adoption applications required in advance. This process ensures staff assistance and one-to-one interactions with animals.

For more information about the Clear the Shelters adoption drive, visit kxan.com/clear-the-shelters/.

The City of Georgetown Animal Shelter is the open-intake municipal shelter for Georgetown and has been serving the community since the 1970s. It recently celebrated its fifth consecutive year of achieving a live outcome rate above 90 percent, which means it is considered a no-kill shelter.