I-35 lane closures Aug. 6 for Northwest Boulevard Bridge

Lane closures on I-35 will be in effect just north of Williams Drive in the overnight hours on Thursday, August 6, weather permitting. The closure is for drilling piers for the Northwest Boulevard bridge project.

Closure of one northbound main lane and two southbound main lanes on I-35 will be in effect from 10 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 6 to 5 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 7.

The Northwest Boulevard bridge will be a new east-west connection over the interstate 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.

City’s proposed FY2021 budget lowers property tax rate, focuses on maintaining services

The City’s proposed Fiscal Year 2021 budget would decrease the City’s property tax rate, making it the lowest of all cities in the Austin area with a population greater than 20,000 while maintaining high-quality services to the community. 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.

“The proposed budget is intended to respond to pressures from both the uncertainty of the global pandemic and the continued growth in Georgetown,” City Manager David Morgan said. “We incorporated conservative revenue estimates and adjusted expenses to address the most significant impacts of a growing population to continue providing critical services at the high standards our residents expect of us.”

The full, proposed budget is available for review at finance.georgetown.org. It totals $396 million and reflects priorities shared both through public engagement and previous council discussions.

Morgan will present the proposed budget during the Aug. 11 City Council workshop, which starts at 3 p.m. The Council will set the maximum tax rate and public hearing dates during the regular Council meeting, which starts at 6 p.m.

In-person public comments to the council are limited due to COVID-19. People can visit agendas.georgetown.org for all options and details about how to provide comment.

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.

The proposed 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, would increase by 3.7 percent – lower than the city’s population growth of 7.2 percent.

The proposed budget would decrease the City’s property tax rate by $0.002. The average homestead property in Georgetown has decreased in taxable value by 2.3 percent, down from $284,765 in FY2020 to $278,001 in FY2021. Coupled with the decrease in the property tax rate, it is anticipated the average homeowner in Georgetown will pay $34 less in property tax in the upcoming year.

Other highlights in the proposed 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

IMPORTANT BUDGET DATES
June 10-June 26: Budget engagement
July 21: First Council budget workshop
Aug. 11: First presentation of the full budget; City Council sets maximum tax rate and public hearing dates
Sept. 8: Public hearings and first reading of both the tax rate and the budget
Sept. 22: Second reading of the tax rate and budget

For more information, visit finance.georgetown.org.

Energy conservation tips

Given the forecast for temperatures in the upper 90s in the coming days, the demand for energy could be reaching peak annual levels as air conditioners work to keep homes and offices cool. High electric use could lead ERCOT to take steps to reduce demand, which could include energy conversation alerts or, in rare cases, rolling outages.

To avoid the need for rolling outages, residents can take these steps to reduce energy use.

  • Adjust thermostats 2 to 3 degrees higher, especially from 3 to 7 p.m., and set programmable thermostats to higher temperatures when no one is home.
  • Use fans to feel 4 to 6 degrees cooler.
  • Set pool pumps to run early morning or overnight and shut off from 4 to 6 p.m.
  • Turn off and unplug non-essential lights and appliances.
  • Avoid using large appliances such as ovens and washing machines during the 3 to 7 p.m. hours.
  • Minimize use of lighting and electricity-consuming office equipment as much as possible in businesses and other workplaces.
  • Shut down non-essential production processes at factories and large business operations.

As we enter the hottest days of the year, taking simple these steps to reduce energy consumption will help ensure demand on the hottest days is manageable.

City hosts history-based webinars

The City’s Planning Department has joined with the Georgetown Public Library to host an informal webinar series named “Tuesday Talks with Britin and Ann.” The monthly webinars will feature different topics covering Georgetown’s history lead by Georgetown Downtown and Historic Planner Britin Bostick and Reference Librarian Ann Evans.

The meetings will be held at noon on the first Tuesday of the month, starting Aug. 4, and feature a different topic each month. Links to the meetings will be online at historic.georgetown.org.

The first meeting will cover the history of I-35 through Georgetown, including how the highway’s route came to be and how its construction in the mid-1960s changed downtown Georgetown.

For more information, call (512) 930-3581, email historic@georgetown.org or visit historic.georgetown.org.

Proposed Voluntary Annexation of 0.526 acres (Highland Village Phase II)

The City of Georgetown is considering a voluntary annexation of property into the city limits.  A Public Hearing will be held at the September 8, 2020 meeting at 6:00pm. City Council meetings are located at the City Council Chambers, 510 W. 9th Street. Due to operational constraints resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, this meeting may be held via the video conference. The final location of the meeting and instructions on how to join via the video conference or call in number meeting will be posted with the meeting agenda at agendas.georgetown.org the Wednesday prior to the meeting.

The area being considered for voluntary annexation is approximately a 0.526-acre tract of land out of the L.P Dyches Survey, Abstract No. 171 generally located at 8300 RM 2338 to be known as Highland Village Phase II.

After holding the required public hearings, the City Council will consider an ordinance for the annexation.

For additional information, please contact Nat Waggoner in the Planning Department, 512-930-3584 or email at nat.waggoner@georgetown.org.

Location Map

Proposed Voluntary Disannexation of 20.67 Acres

The City of Georgetown is considering a voluntary disannexation of two properties from the city limits.  The public hearing will be held at the August 11, 2020 City Council meeting at 6 pm.  

City Council meetings are located at the City Council Chambers, 510 W. 9th Street. Due to operational constraints resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, this meeting may be held via the video conference. The final location of the meeting and instructions on how to join via the video conference or call in number meeting will be posted with the meeting agenda at agendas.georgetown.org the Wednesday prior to the meeting. 

The area being considered for voluntary disannexation is approximately an 9.10-acre tract of land situated in the Woodruff Stubblefield Survey, abstract No. 556, generally located at 980 Patriot Way and an approximate 11.57 acre tract of land, situated in the Woodruff Stubblefield Survey, Abstract No. 556 in Williamson County, Texas, and being a portion of a called 93.060 acres as described in a Warranty Deed for Life Estate to Glenda K. Raum Gattis from Gary D. Raum, et al., as recorded in Doc. 2012021515. 

After holding the required public hearing, the City Council will consider an ordinance for the disannexation. 

For additional information, please contact Nat Waggoner in the Planning Department, 512-930-3584 or email to nat.waggoner@georgetown.org 

Location Map (as a .pdf)

Georgetown Animal Shelter kennels get a face-lift

The Georgetown Animal Shelter is moving forward next month on an extensive and necessary project – resurfacing all 29 dog kennels – and needs the community’s continued support.

Disease control is a major consideration at animal shelters to prevent the spread of harmful and contagious bacteria and viruses. Animal shelters require surfaces that can be cleaned effectively.

“Some of our kennel surfaces are peeling, largely due to dogs scratching or chewing on them,” Animal Care Supervisor Melissa Sheldon said. “Bacteria and viruses can adhere to the openings and pass disease from dog to dog.”

The project is expected to take 28 days. During that time, only half of the dog kennels may be used while the other half is worked on, which means a maximum of 12-14 dogs can be housed without doubling up. That’s where community support comes in.

“It is crucial that people continue to adopt and work with us on strays and surrenders, so that we don’t have more dogs than we can safely handle,” Sheldon said.

The resurfacing project is being largely funded by donations to the animal shelter over the past few years. Donations will cover 60 percent of the cost, while the City will cover the remainder.

“We are beyond grateful for the incredible support of all the animal lovers in our community,” Animal Services Manager April Haughey said.

The resurfacing project coincides with the Clear The Shelter campaign, a national campaign that encourages people to adopt from their local shelters in an effort to “clear the shelters.”

This year, the campaign will be a month-long virtual adoption campaign to prioritize shelter and adopter safety during the pandemic. Animal lovers can donate to individual shelters at cleartheshelters.com through a partnership with greatergood.org. Clear The Shelters is spearheaded by NBCUniversal Owned Television Stations, a division of NBCUniversal.

The 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.

City presents preliminary FY2021 budget

City Council will begin its discussions of the Fiscal Year 2021 budget with two workshops this week. City Council must adopt the budget by September.

The workshops on July 21 and 22 will give the Council a chance to weigh options and provide direction, so staff can come back in August with a proposed budget that reflects their feedback. If no additional discussion is needed, the July 22 workshop may be canceled.

The preliminary budget also incorporates feedback received from the public through an online survey in June. Of the more than 650 residents who took the survey, the majority:

  • Would 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.”
  • Would support increased funding to manage traffic and infrastructure/roads.

A budget survey report and results are available online.

“I want to thank everyone who took our survey this year,” City Manager David Morgan said. “The City budget is one of the most important decisions we make each year, and it’s critical to ensure it reflects the priorities of the residents of Georgetown.”

The overall focus of the fiscal year 2021 budget is to preserve and maintain City services, in response both to growth and uncertainty from the COVID-19 pandemic. It includes funding for 14.5 new positions, including staff for Fire Station No. 7, additional training for police, as well as initiating design for improvements to D.B. Wood Road, the last, large project from the 2015 bond. The budget proposal also includes cuts to base budgets in training, travel, and supplies as well as freezing six position in the General Fund for at least a partial year.

The preliminary budget does not include increases to the property tax rate but does reflect staff recommendations to increase 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 service and may recommend rate increases as a result. Due to projected revenue losses as a result of COVID-19, the preliminary budget does not include merit raises for City employees – a first in five years – and likely will result in fewer Parks and Recreation programming. The general fund budget does include a preliminary estimate of $82,000 toward market increases that will affect about 240 City employees across all funds, and an additional $656,000 for step raises and market increases for police and fire staff.

“We won’t know the true effects COVID-19 will have on our local economy and, as a result, the City budget, for several months,” Morgan said. “We do expect the uncertainty to last into the next fiscal year, and are budgeting conservatively, with that in mind.”

IMPORTANT BUDGET DATES
June 10-June 26: Budget engagement
July 21: First Council budget workshop
July 22: Second Council workshop
Aug. 11: First presentation of the full budget; City Council sets maximum tax rate and public hearing dates
Sept. 8: Public hearings and first reading of both the tax rate and the budget
Sept. 22: Second reading and final adoption of the tax rate and budget

For more information, visit finance.georgetown.org.

Reduce watering to avoid limit of one day per week

Water use exceeds 90 percent capacity of treatment plants

Water use from irrigation is leading to record demand on the water treatment system. Water production has exceeded 90 percent of plant capacity on multiple days in the past week.

The City of Georgetown is asking water customers to reduce demand by using the Seasonal Adjust setting on their irrigation system controllers, if they have an irrigation system. Reducing usage to 90 percent with the Seasonal Adjust setting will decrease watering run times on the system without a significant effect on lawns and landscapes.

If water use continues to exceed 90 percent of plant capacity and is not reduced, then the City will enact Stage 2 of the Drought Contingency Plan, which limits watering to one day per week. During the summer months, 75 percent of the water produced each day by water treatment plants is used for lawn and landscape irrigation.

“At the current level of water use for irrigation, we begin to put at risk our higher priority service of indoor use and fire-fighting supply,” Director of Water Utilities Glenn Dishong said. “It is imperative that customers voluntarily reduce irrigation demand using the seasonal adjust settings on their controllers. A simple reduction of 10 percent will be imperceptible in terms of impact on the landscape, but will yield significant results on total daily water demand for the entire system.”

watering scheduleViolations of the irrigation schedule may result in administrative charges on customer bills.

In addition to watering only on their scheduled day, water customers should make sure they are not watering from noon to 7 p.m., and never watering on Mondays.

Find more programming your controller how-to videos, the watering schedule, and more at water.georgetown.org.

“Confronting Racism” program offers community read and virtual panel discussion

Join a community-wide read and virtual panel discussion called “Confronting Racism: A Community Conversation.” The books and the online, moderated discussion on Aug. 31 will focus on deepening participants’ understanding of racism and the ways it impacts individuals and society. The community-wide read and the virtual discussion are open to all and are sponsored by the Georgetown Public Library and Lark & Owl Booksellers.

Select from a slate of three best-selling books: “How to Be an Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi (for adults), “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas (for teens), and “New Kid” by Jerry Kraft (for children grades 5-8). All three books are available in print, audiobook, e-book, and e-audio from the Georgetown Public Library, 402 W. Eighth St., and in print and audiobook editions from Lark & Owl Booksellers, 205 W. Sixth St.

Public Library Director Eric Lashley said, “I would encourage our community to read these critically acclaimed books and sign up to follow the panel discussion focusing on how we can take steps to overcome racism in our personal lives and our community.”

Individuals can sign up at bit.ly/gtx-confronting-racism for the Aug. 31 virtual panel discussion that will focus on each of the three books and on anti-racism in general, with a chance to ask questions or share comments.

The panel discussion will be facilitated by Tiffanie Harrison, an equity leader and marketing educator in Round Rock ISD who was Round Rock High School Teacher of the Year in 2015 and 2019. Harrison has an MBA and a bachelor’s degree from Baylor University, and she is a Beyond Diversity Affiliate Practitioner and Facilitator as well as an active leader in community organizations like Undoing Racism Round Rock, Engage Round Rock, and the Round Rock Black Parents Association.

Of the upcoming virtual panel discussion, Harrison said, “I am honored to be included in this incredibly important work. Georgetown and surrounding communities have the opportunity to show that we have not only the ability, but also the shared duty to honor the humanity of people of all races. At this juncture, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be actively anti-racist. This conversation is a great start to the work that lies ahead of us.” Panel members who will participate in each discussion will be announced prior to the event on Aug. 31.

Schedule for panel discussion on Aug. 31:

7 p.m. Welcome
7:10 p.m. Discussion of “New Kid” by Jerry Kraft
7:45 p.m. Discussion of “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas
8:30 p.m. Discussion of “How to Be an Antiracist” by Ibram X. Kendi

The virtual panel discussion will be held on Crowdcast, which is a videoconferencing platform. Receive details and updates about the books and the virtual panel discussion at bit.ly/gtx-confronting-racism.