NorthPark35 development under construction at I-35 and SH130

NorthPark35 ground breaking: Representatives from Titan Development and the City of Georgetown break ground on NorthPark35, the city’s first master-planned industrial business park on 146 acres at I-35 and SH 130.Titan Development Real Estate and the City of Georgetown broke ground on the first phase of the 146-acre NorthPark35 Class A industrial development at I-35 and SH 130 today.

Phase one of the project includes two buildings totaling more than 330,000 square feet, as well as the extension of Aviation Drive to intersect with SH 130 and I-35. One building will be partially occupied by Georgetown-based Texas Speed and Performance, while the remaining space will be available for future industrial users. The park is designed and master-planned to accommodate users in need of 25,000-250,000 square feet of space.

Phase one of the project is expected to be completed in spring 2021 and will be Georgetown’s first master-planned industrial business park

“Georgetown is poised to become an important new business center along the I-35 corridor,” said Joe Iannacone, vice president of development for Titan Development. “With such direct access to major markets such as Austin, Dallas, and San Antonio, we’ve already had exceptional interest from end-users in the e-commerce, logistics, pharmaceuticals, light manufacturing, and agriculture industries. This new park is destined to become a hub of innovation for Georgetown and beyond.”

The project also includes the extension and expansion of Aviation Drive, as well as electric and waterline infrastructure extensions.

“Here is another great example of how this city is a wonderful place to do business,” Mayor Dale Ross said. “This project creates an opportunity for our local companies to expand and offer others a place to relocate or open. This project will help draw new jobs to our community, which is something our residents have asked for, and something that helps make Georgetown the best community for businesses and residents.”

City Council approved $10.5 million to be reimbursed to Titan Development for the infrastructure improvements, including $8 million from the Georgetown Transportation Enhancement Corporation for the road construction, $1.9 million from the Georgetown Economic Development Corporation for the electric construction, and $600,000 from the water capital improvement fund for the waterline construction.

Reimbursement would be made in three installments if certain terms are met, including construction of the roadway within 24 months, an investment of a minimum of $15 million in capital expenditures, and the developers adhering to approved design and use standards for the construction of the industrial park.

The new road and the utility line extensions will serve future phases of the NorthPark35 industrial business park as well as other undeveloped properties along Aviation Drive.

City to host household hazardous waste collection event Nov. 18

The City will host a household hazardous waste collection event from 3-6 p.m. Nov. 18 at the old show barn in San Gabriel Park, 425 E. Morrow St.

At the event, the City will collect household hazardous waste items from 300 Georgetown solid waste customers who have solid waste service through Texas Disposal Systems. Customers must contact Customer Care and have their name placed on a list to participate. Contact the City’s customer care at 512-930-3640 or customercare@georgetown.org to request being placed on the list for the Nov. 18 event.

“Our last event didn’t go as smoothly as any of us wanted to, and we sincerely apologize to those who sat in long lines or were turned away and did not have the best experience,” Public Works Director Ray Miller said. “We missed the mark and learned a lot from that event. We are doing everything we can to ensure it’s better this time.”

Changes to the event include:

  • Restricting the number of cars at the event to 300
  • A new traffic pattern
  • Two unloading areas instead of one
  • Additional staff to assist the City’s vendor

Due to COVID-19 safety restrictions, 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 its 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 four-foot fluorescent, curly, regular)
  • Grease
  • Thermometers
  • Over the counter, home 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)
  • Clothing and household items for nonprofits Goodwill and Josco
  • Over the counter one-pound disposal propane bottles
  • Gasoline (up to five gallons per vehicle)

Unacceptable items include:

  • Unmarked containers or unknown chemicals
  • No 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

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

Williamson County is also hosting a household hazardous waste collection event open to all county residents from 9 a.m.-noon Saturday, Nov. 14 at the Williamson County Expo Center, 5350 Bill Pickett Trail, in Taylor. For more information, call 512-759-8881 option 4 or visit https://bit.ly/3648ZYX.

Georgetown Parks and Recreation announces day camps

The Georgetown Parks and Recreation Department will offer day camps for students during the upcoming Georgetown ISD student holidays. Pricing and schedules vary for each program.

Participants can select from five camps:

  • Camp Goodwater is offered at the Georgetown Recreation Center on Nov. 30 and Feb. 1 and 17 for children ages 5-12. Camps will also be offered on Nov. 24- 25, and Dec. 22-23 and 28-31 for children ages 5-10. Children must be enrolled in Kindergarten to participate. Programming runs from 7:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. The camp includes outdoor activities, gym games, and seasonal arts and crafts, as well as other activities. Daily fees are $35 for Georgetown residents and $45 for nonresidents.
  • ESTEAM Learning Labs is offered at the Georgetown Recreation Center on Nov. 23-24, Dec. 21, Jan. 4, and Feb. 15-16, from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. for children ages 8-12. ESTEAM, or Entrepreneurship, Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math, activities include animation, building simple machines, creating art and music, and exploring the world of engineering with LEGO Robotics. Each day camp will have four hands-on, mind-on labs designed to excite and engage your child. Daily fees are $75 for Georgetown residents and $95 for nonresidents.
  • Junior Tennis Academy is offered at the Georgetown Tennis Center on Nov. 23-25, from 9-11 a.m. for ages 7-11 and 1-3 p.m. for ages 12-15. This camp focuses on the fundamentals of stroke production, conditioning, movement, footwork, tactics, and strategy. Daily fees are $20 for Georgetown residents and $25 for nonresidents.
  • Multisport Camp is offered at the Georgetown Recreation Center on Dec. 28-30 from 2-5 p.m. for children ages 6-14. Through fun drills, participants are introduced to a variety of games and experience the benefit of being coordinated, balanced, fit, and active. Fees are $75 for Georgetown residents and $95 for nonresidents.
  • Volleyball Camp is offered at the Georgetown Recreation Center on Nov. 23-24 and Dec. 21-22 from 9 a.m.-noon for children ages 8-13. The camp covers the rules of play for beginners and defense and positions for more advanced players. Fees are $55 for Georgetown residents and $75 for nonresidents.

For more information and to register, visit parks.georgetown.org/camp or call 512-930-3596.

Experience the Lights

Celebrate this holiday season in Georgetown with twinkling lights, local shopping and dining, and music around the Most Beautiful Town Square in Texas.

To keep the community safe, the City is putting a new twist to our traditional Lighting of the Square event. The lights around the Square and County Courthouse will be turned on in mid-November, which the City will capture and share on social media through a video featuring the countdown, lighting, and music. The Square will light up each night through Jan. 2, so visitors can come enjoy the lights and local flavor throughout the holiday season.

Additionally, the weekend after Thanksgiving (Nov. 27-29), the Square will have hot chocolate and kettle corn vendors downtown to help visitors get into the holiday spirit.

“In consultation with medical experts, City Council, City Manager David Morgan, and City staff, our solution is as close to our normal Lighting of the Square as we can get while keeping our community as safe as possible,” Mayor Dale Ross said. “In fact, the additional offerings this year should make the holiday season on the Square one of the best ever. Having a countdown video along with a modified, enhanced, weekend-long celebration gives people options based on their level of comfort. This plan helps spread out the time in which people can experience our beautiful, sparkling, winter wonderland of a Square at this time of year.”

People coming to the Square to enjoy the lights need to comply with existing local and statewide orders, including wearing a mask wherever they are unable to keep six feet of distance from people outside their household.

The lights around the Square are supported by the City of Georgetown, and Williamson County provides the lights on the courthouse.

For details on holiday events and activities in Georgetown, visit visit.georgetown.org or call the Georgetown Convention & Visitors Bureau at 512-930-3545.

Georgetown issues local order about outdoor gatherings, special events

OCT. 29, 2020–Outdoor gatherings of more than 10 people and special events are allowed in the city limits of Georgetown, provided attendees and organizers adhere to a local order issued by Mayor Dale Ross. The order is effective immediately and is in response to and in accordance with orders issued by Gov. Greg Abbott.

“We recognize the good people of Georgetown want to get back to some form of normalcy after months of quarantine and closures, and we believe we’ve optimized a way for people to gather while still keeping our community safe and our hospitalizations low,” Mayor Dale Ross said. “The success and longevity of these orders hinge on two very important factors: Compliance and hospitalization rates. I am confident our neighbors will adhere to these safety precautions, which are aimed at minimizing hospitalization rates and ensuring we have an adequate number of hospital beds. Georgetown, like many communities, will continue to monitor and adapt our COVID-19 medical protocols to keep our citizens as safe as possible.”

The order allows outdoor gatherings of more than 10 people in the city limits provided all attendees, including employees and vendors, wear face coverings over their nose and mouth wherever it is not feasible to maintain six feet of distance from people outside their household.

Events requiring a Special Event Permit now will be required to develop, implement, and post Health and Safety Policies detailing the steps the organizer is taking to reduce the risks of spreading COVID-19. The policy must at least require all attendees, including employees and vendors, to wear face coverings when they cannot maintain six feet of distance from people outside their household. Policies also should specify other safety measures, such as taking temperatures or performing health screenings. An example of a health and safety policy is available on the City’s website.

Both outdoor gatherings and special events must comply with other existing orders. This includes Gov. Abbott’s executive orders (GA-29, 30, 32, and any future orders) which speak to occupancy limits and triggers for changing responses based on hospitalizations. It also includes Georgetown’s local order issued July 3, 2020, that requires all people age 10 and older in Georgetown wear face coverings while in public, with some exceptions.

Enforcement 

While the City will prioritize education, both the State and local orders allow for fines to be assessed for violations of gathering orders.

Individuals who believe the orders are being violated by individuals or businesses in Georgetown can report it to the Georgetown Police Department’s non-emergency number: 512-930-3510.

Event organizers found in violation of the order, including failure to post a health and safety policy, may be given a citation and fined up to $1,000 per offense. Individuals found in violation will be given a verbal warning upon first offense and a fine of up to $250 per additional violation.

If an event or business has a customer who is unwilling to abide by the order, the business can ask the individual to leave. If they refuse to leave, the business can call the police department’s non-emergency number and officers will respond. No one can be jailed for violating gathering orders, but if an individual who refuses to comply refuses to leave the premises of the event or business, the individual may be arrested and charged with criminal trespassing.

For more information and updates, visit bit.ly/COVID19GTX.

Director of Water Utilities Glenn Dishong announces retirement

Georgetown’s Director of Water Utilities Glenn Dishong has announced his retirement from his position effective Dec. 18, 2020.

“Glenn has embodied hard work, optimism, and outstanding problem solving during his career with the City,” City Manager David Morgan said. “He’s been a pillar in the city for nearly two decades. His contributions to this community are countless, and he will be greatly missed.”

Dishong came to the City of Georgetown in 2002 as the water services manager.  In 2010, he became the utility director, with responsibility for utility operations encompassing electric, water, and wastewater services. After a reorganization of the utility in 2019, he became the director of water utilities. He is a 1980 graduate of Texas A&M University with a Bachelor of Science degree in industrial engineering. In addition to being a former U.S. Navy submarine officer, he has more than 30 years of experience in utility operations and management, including both water and electric utilities.

“My 18 years with the City have been the most rewarding of my 40-year career leading and managing people in the business of providing essential utility services, Dishong said. “While I turn loose the responsibility of leading a fabulous group of people, I look forward to keeping the relationships into the future.”

Dishong has been involved in numerous community activities, including service as president of the Texas Municipal Utility Association, as vice president of Georgetown Summer Swim Association, as senior warden of Grace Episcopal Church, and as a member on both the Texas Municipal League and the United Way of Williamson County boards.

While in Georgetown, Dishong and his wife, Nancy, started their family by adopting two children from Russia. With one now married to a Navy medic and the other in college, they look forward to the next phase of their journey, which hopefully includes car and motorcycle restoration and lots of travel.

“His vision and leadership were key to the City’s successful management of growth in the water utility,” Assistant City Manager Laurie Brewer said. “His list of accomplishments is exhaustive, and it includes the acquisition of the Chisholm Trail Special Utility District, implementation of advanced metering infrastructure, and a conservation program for the summer peak water demand.”

The recruitment process for a director of water utilities will begin in November, with the goal of hiring a new director after the first of the year. Director responsibilities will be divided among existing staff until a permanent selection has been made.

Council adopts new rates for water, wastewater, and solid waste

City Council approved new residential water, wastewater, and solid waste rates at its regular meeting Tuesday.

The new water and wastewater rates come after a cost-of-service rate study was completed this summer by consultants NewGen Strategies and Solutions. The study helped determine the rates and rate structure needed to equitably fund the water utility, including all costs associated with operating, maintaining, and expanding the utility.

The new water rates include an increase of $1.50 to the average residential customer’s base rate. The change also includes reducing the number of tiers for the volumetric rate to help meet the council’s conservation goals.

Volumetric rates (per 1,000 gallons)

2019

2020

Gallons Cost Gallons Cost
0-10,000 $1.75 0-7,000 $1.85
10,001-20,000 $2.40 7,001-15,000 $2.75
20,001-40,000 $4 15,001-25,000 $4.80
40,001-60,000 $6.50 25,000 and more $8.40
60,001 and more $8.50

For the average water user using 10,200 gallons per month, the monthly water bill will increase to $46.25 from $40.98.

The council also approved increasing residential wastewater rates, which, for residential customers, will increase to $34.85, up from $32 per month.

The new water and wastewater rates go into effect Jan. 1, 2021.

As part of the study, NewGen reviewed the costs associated with operating, maintaining, and expanding a utility and projected those costs over the next five years to determine the revenue required to cover those costs. In addition to expenses, the cost-of-service rate study also evaluated how the different types of customers, such as residential, industrial, and commercial users, used the system to make sure each type of ratepayer is paying their fair share and treated equitably.

The utility reviews its rates and impact fees every three years to ensure the costs to operate the utility are covered by the combination of rates, impact fees, and bond issuance. The last water rate study was completed in 2018. The rate study completed in 2020 was done a year early due to the anticipated need for additional revenue to help fund significant water and wastewater projects that have been accelerated to meet customer demand. Water rates were last adjusted for residential customers in 2014, nonresidential water rates in 2019, and wastewater rates for all customers in 2019.

The new rates will help meet the guidance set by City Council at its Aug. 25 meeting, which includes complying with set policy, making sure revenues are sufficient to cover the cost of operating the utility, encouraging conservation, and making costs of service equitable among customer types.

For more information on the new water/wastewater rates, the 2020 water rate study, and a year-by-year comparison of the new rates, visit gus.georgetown.org/water/2020-water-rate-study-faq.

Council also approved a $1.37 increase to residential customer solid waste rates to help cover an increase in costs from Texas Disposal Systems, the expansion of the Transfer Station, and the City’s household hazardous waste program. The updated solid waste rates go into effect Nov. 1.

Arts and Culture Board seeks mural proposals

The City’s Arts and Culture Board is seeking artist proposals for two murals in Georgetown this fall.

Animal Shelter Mural Project

In October, the Arts and Culture Board reopened the call for art for a mural related to the purpose of the Georgetown Animal Shelter by addressing the rescue and adoption of pets.

Mural designs are due by Nov. 30, and artists will be notified of a final selection in mid-January. The artist chosen will be paid a $4,000 stipend to install the mural, and the cost of materials and equipment needed for installation will be funded by the City. The project must be completed by March 31, 2021.

Georgetown Title mural

Georgetown Title, in collaboration with the Arts and Culture Board, will also be seeking artists to design and install a mural on an exterior wall of their building at 702 Rock St. in downtown. The call for art will be open Nov. 1-Dec. 31.

The mural design should be an interpretation of the history of the site using abstract representation with an emphasis on color and shape instead of realistic representation.

An artist stipend of $4,000 will be paid to the artist selected to install the mural. The cost of materials and equipment necessary to install the mural will be covered up to $2,000. Artists will be notified of selection by late January 2021. The mural will be completed by April 30, 2021.

For more information about the projects, including submittal requirements, visit arts.georgetown.org.

Council adopts FY2021 budget that lowers property tax rate, focuses on maintaining services

The Georgetown City Council adopted the Fiscal Year 2021 budget on Sept. 22. The adopted FY2021 budget totals $396 million and decreases the City’s property tax rate by $0.002, making it the lowest of all cities in the Austin area with a population greater than 20,000. As a result of the lower tax rate and a decline in the average taxable value of homestead property, the average Georgetown homeowner is expected to pay lower property taxes next year.

“Next year’s budget truly reflects the priorities of this community,” Mayor Dale Ross said. “The lower tax rate, competitive employee compensation, and continued commitment to public safety ensure we not only will meet the needs of today, but also lay a solid groundwork for tomorrow. Even in these most challenging times, the City is performing well financially and will be able to maintain Georgetown’s spot as the best place to live, work, play, and retire on planet earth.”

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 this fall.

The FY2021 budget incorporates feedback received from multiple Council discussions, as well as from a public engagement survey in June. Of the more than 650 residents who took the survey, the majority:

  • Did not support changes to property taxes or user fees.
  • Rated the value of City services and the City’s efforts to address the impacts of growth as “Good.”
  • Supported increased funding to manage traffic and infrastructure/roads.

The overall focus of the FY2021 budget is to preserve and maintain City services, in response both to continued growth and uncertainty from the COVID-19 pandemic. It addresses these priorities through utility and transportation infrastructure development, public safety improvements, long-range planning initiatives, economic development achievements, and sustaining City service levels. This includes opening two fire stations in the next fiscal year.

The budget takes a conservative outlook for the next fiscal year, with the overall budget coming in 10 percent lower than the adopted FY2020 budget. The General Fund, which pays for several, critical services such as public safety, streets, library services, and parks and recreation, will increase by 3.7 percent – lower than the city’s population growth of 7.2 percent.

Other highlights in the adopted budget include the following:

  • 15.5 new positions, including staff for Fire Station No. 7 and two police officers
  • 14 frozen positions, for at least part of the year
  • $1 million in cuts to department budgets, including less funding for training, travel, and supplies
  • Competitive employee compensation and benefits, including market and merit raises for non-civil service employees, and market increases and annual step for public safety employees
  • $77.4 million in capital improvement projects, including investments in transportation, water and wastewater, electric, and the public safety complex.
  • Council discretionary funds for one-time uses, including small area plan development for the Track Ridge Grasshopper and San Jose neighborhoods
  • Initiating design for improvements to D.B. Wood Road, the last, large project from the 2015 bond.
  • Increased sanitation rates to help pay for increased costs with Texas Disposal Systems, reconstruction of the transfer station, and improvements to the household hazardous waste program

Additionally, the City is working with a contractor to study the costs to provide water and wastewater service and will likely recommend rate increases as a result.

For more information, visit finance.georgetown.org.

One Extraordinary CommUNITY

Mindful of the ongoing national dialogue regarding public trust and policing, the Georgetown Police Department has created a new initiative called CommUNITY. The program is a framework for community engagement and is the brainchild of Police Chief Wayne Nero. I’d like to share with you an overview of the CommUNITY initiative, and in so doing, I think you’ll see how people from across Georgetown are becoming involved.

The initiative recognizes that the police department can take a leadership role in bringing elements of the community together. The police department is more likely to be successful in its primary mission of protecting public safety when there are strong connections among various stakeholder groups in the community.

The name of the initiative, CommUNITY, places emphasis on the unity in community. That idea also is expressed in the vision statement for the CommUNITY initiative—One Extraordinary Community. The mission of the initiative that supports this vision is to forge strong relationships across various stakeholder groups that provide opportunities for constructive dialogue—or problem-solving—which, through mutual trust and understanding, enables unity that is sustainable.

Seven stakeholder groups in the community are the focus of the program. These include neighborhoods, youth, the business community, seniors, faith-based organizations, non-governmental or social service organizations, and news media. Members of the Georgetown Police Department, as well as volunteers with the department, aim to be engaged with these stakeholder groups in a way that is guided by eight principles: accountability, compassion, justice, kindness, knowledge, patience, respect, and unity.

The police department currently works to strengthen engagement with stakeholder groups through a range of programs and efforts. Some of these programs were started many years ago while others are just beginning.

For neighborhoods, these programs and efforts include neighborhood patrols, directed patrols, community discussions, Citizen Police Academy, crime bulletins, and focused problem-solving.

Youth engagement includes patrols at schools, a Youth Police Academy held over the summer, a new Youth Leadership Program being discussed in partnership with Georgetown ISD, and school safety and security initiatives. Police interactions with youth also include established programs such as Blue Santa, Police Explorers, and the Chase the Chief 5k and Fun Run.

For seniors, programs include the Take Me Home database to help identify persons who may be lost, the Silver Shields program offering safety information for homebound or special-needs seniors, and on-going public education to bring awareness to crimes targeting seniors.

Police engagement with the business community includes business patrols, crime bulletins or analyses, problem-solving, and outreach efforts to enhance crime prevention.

Three other key stakeholder groups include faith-based organizations, non-governmental or social service organizations, and news media. Engagement efforts with these stakeholder groups include sharing resources, community discussions, problem-solving, and sharing positive stories.

The CommUNITY initiative recognizes that members and volunteers of the Georgetown Police Department can effectively engage with these stakeholder groups by building relationships. Those relationships between people are built on a foundation of mutual respect, common problem-solving and meaningful dialogue.

In addition to engagement with stakeholder groups through programs and events, the Chief of Police is in the process of establishing a CommUNITY Advisory Group comprised of leaders from those groups. The advisory group will serve to give counsel to the Chief of Police on a range of community issues. There will also be CommUNITY Stakeholder Subcommittees within each of the stakeholder groups. These subcommittees will include leaders within the specific stakeholder groups as well as police department staff who work collaboratively identifying and developing opportunities for partnership and community engagement.

The CommUNITY initiative is a framework for the Georgetown Police Department to strengthen existing community relationships, as well as strategically build new relationships with the people in our community. The initiative is based on the recognition that police work does not happen in a vacuum, but in relationships with the various stakeholders in the community. As relationships are strengthened, the police department plays a role in helping to bring together Georgetown into one extraordinary community.