The Breakfast Bites meeting on June 12 will feature Britin Bostick, a planner, designer, and Hill Country native, presenting “Georgetown: Then and Now.” The informal meeting opens at 8 a.m. in the Friends Room at the Georgetown Public Library, 402 W. Eighth St. The talk will start at 8:30 a.m. Coffee and light breakfast snacks will be provided.
Bostick has lived in Georgetown since 1997 and frequently works to bring new life to historic places, including the recently rehabilitated Taylor High School campus. She has also documented historic properties in Georgetown. Her presentation will showcase how Georgetown has changed in the last century and a half. Bostick will highlight what Georgetown looked like in 1848 compared to now, and hopes to foster dialogue about what the community can do to retain our historic properties while ensuring they remain keystones in our local economy.
At the June 12 meeting, there will be updates from City staff on:
- Arts and Culture
- Public Library events
- Convention and Visitors Bureau updates
- 2030 Comprehensive Plan Update
- Downtown construction projects and infrastructure improvements
Also, learn about updates from downtown partner organizations and find out about 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. If you plan to attend, please RSVP by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, June 11, to Kim McAuliffe, downtown development manager for the City of Georgetown, at (512) 930-2027 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The City again needs to increase the power cost adjustment, or PCA, on customers’ electric bills. This follows an initial increase in February that was originally expected to be reduced in September.
The PCA allows the City to compensate for fluctuations in purchased power cost and is one tool to ensure the stability of the electric fund. The City has increased and decreased the PCA several times over the years in response to changing energy prices.
The increased costs for energy is in part tied to energy providers not being able to supply energy to the statewide electric grid. This phenomena, known as congestion, occurs when there is more energy generated than is needed to meet demand. If the energy is not consumed, the transmission lines “fill up,” breaching their limits, which can cause reliability issues. This congestion increases the overall cost of energy for the City.
Customers will incur an increase of $0.00625 per kilowatt hour, resulting in a new PCA of $0.02375 per kilowatt hour. This new PCA amount will be assessed on electric consumption starting June 1. The average customer uses 949 kilowatt hours per month and will experience a $5.93 increase on their monthly bill. During the summer, the average use increases to 1,600 kilowatt hours, resulting in an increase to $10 on their monthly bill.
“As we get through this fiscal year, we will revisit the PCA,” City Manager David Morgan said. “Based on the current performance of the City’s energy contracts and uncertainty regarding the energy costs this summer, fully reducing the PCA may not be possible.”
The City has taken steps to address congestion, as well as securing new third-party energy management partners that are able to more rapidly respond and react to changing market conditions and better ensure against market volatility. Along with bringing on new partners, the city is focusing on internal and external resources to increase the reporting, oversight, and accountability for decision-making related to the energy contracts.
Utility bond rating adjusted
This week, rating agency Standard and Poor’s adjusted the City’s combined water and electric utility bond rating from AA to AA-.
The factors cited in Georgetown’s rating include the energy the City is under contract to purchase above what is needed to serve customers, above average customer electric rates, as well as low energy prices and transmission congestion in the statewide energy grid.
However, S&P highlights a stable credit outlook for the utility, citing strong debt and cash management, continued customer growth, and a strong local economy. The new rating is expected to increase costs for issuing debt by less than 0.1 percent.
“Although it’s disappointing, a AA- rating is still in line with or better than most utilities our size,” Morgan said. “In Texas, similarly sized city-owned utilities have bond ratings that range from A- to AA.”
“We are working to address the issues highlighted in the rating as soon as we can,” Morgan added. “This is a multi-year challenge. There is no silver bullet or short-term solution. Our current focus is bringing in new partners to help improve the day-to-day management of our energy portfolio.”
The search for a new general manager begins
The City will be reorganizing the management of its water and electric utilities as part of the budget process currently underway. Earlier this month, long-time General Manager of Utilities Jim Briggs announced he will retire at the end of September. Current Utility Director Glenn Dishong will continue to lead the City’s water utility, and the City will begin the search for a new general manager of electric this summer.
The new general manager of electric will focus on improving the performance of the City’s energy portfolio, developing new measures to evaluate portfolio performance, as well as clarifying the process for how these measures are shared in meaningful ways with City Council and the public. This person will also be developing and implementing a comprehensive risk management policy that sets boundaries on risk tolerances, financial obligations, and guides decision-making at all levels of the electric utility. Finally, they will be charged with studying alternative governance structures for the electric utility (e.g., a separate oversight board) and the implications of opting in to the competitive retail market.
For more information, please review the FAQ on the City’s energy contracts at gus.georgetown.org/electric.
Today the U.S. Census Bureau released population estimates showing that Georgetown is ranked seventh on the list of fastest-growing cities in the country with a population of more than 50,000. Georgetown’s growth rate was 5.2 percent from July 1, 2017, through July 1, 2018, resulting in a population estimate of 74,180.
“I promise, we’re not trying to be the fastest-growing city in the U.S.,” Mayor Dale Ross said. “Frankly, people choose Georgetown because we are a safe city with a high-quality of life, great parks, an award-winning library, a low tax rate, and the Most Beautiful Town Square in Texas. We recognize what a great place Georgetown is, and others recognize it, too.”
“Georgetown is well-positioned in a fast-growing region. We are working to make the most of opportunities to bring high-quality employers to our city, while preserving Georgetown’s authentic charm and character. We’re fortunate to have like-minded partners like Southwestern University, Georgetown ISD, Williamson County, St. David’s, and Sun City, too.”
Georgetown was the sixth fastest-growing city in the U.S. on the list released last year by the Census. In 2017, Georgetown was the fifth fastest-growing city in the U.S., the fastest in 2016, and the second fastest in 2015.
Georgetown’s population was 47,400 in the 2010 census. According to today’s estimate, Georgetown added 26,780 residents with a growth rate of 56.5 percent from 2010 to 2018.
“The growth does help the City maintain one of the lowest tax rates in the region,” Ross added. “It helps fund the infrastructure needed to prepare for the many new people who will call Georgetown home this year. In fact, we are on pace to complete a decade’s worth of voter approved road bonds in just seven years.”
According to the Texas Demographic Center, the Austin region is expected to more than double in size by the year 2050, growing from 2 million to 4.5 million population.
“We’re kidding ourselves if we think we can stop growth,” Ross said. “It is critically important that we work leverage opportunities that are presented to us, with a focus on preserving what makes Georgetown unique.”
The news release from the Census about the fastest-growing cities in the U.S. is at census.gov.
The annual Memorial Day ceremony in Georgetown will be held at the Georgetown-Williamson County Veterans Memorial Plaza located at 2 Texas Drive, behind the Social Center in the Sun City neighborhood. This free event begins at 9:30 a.m. on Monday, May 27 and is open to the public. The ceremony honors the men and women of our armed forces who gave their lives in service to our country.
The guest speaker is U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz. Music will be provided by the 36th Infantry Division Band of the Texas Army National Guard. The ceremony also includes singing of the national anthem, presentation of wreaths at both Memorial Walls, and sounding of taps. The event also includes a flyover by Falcon Flight, a recreational aircraft formation flying team.
Seven-hundred folding chairs will be placed at the Memorial. Guests also are invited to bring their folding chairs and sit under the trees. The Sun City Community Association will serve refreshments on the Social Center patio after the ceremony.
In case of rain, the event will be held in the Social Center Ballroom. Seating is limited to 600 in the Ballroom due to the room capacity.
City of Georgetown offices and facilities will be closed on Monday, May 27, for the Memorial Day holiday. This includes the following:
- Airport Terminal, 500 Terminal Drive
- Animal Shelter, 110 W.L. Walden Drive
- City Hall, 808 Martin Luther King, Jr. St.
- Library, 402 W. Eighth St.
- Light and Water Works Building, 406 W. Eighth St.
- Municipal Complex, 300-1 Industrial Ave.
- Municipal Court, 510 W. Ninth St.
- Parks and Recreation Administration, 1101 N. College St.
- Public Safety Operations and Training Center, Police Records and Fire Support Services offices, 3500 D.B. Wood Road
- Recreation Center, 1003 N. Austin Ave.
- Tennis Center, 400 Serenada Drive
The Visitors Center, 103 W. Seventh St., will be open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. on Monday, May 27. Garey Park, 6450 RM 2243 will be open normal hours, 8 a.m.-8 p.m., on Monday, May 27.
GoGeo transit service
There will be no GoGeo bus transit service on Monday, May 27.
Pools open Memorial Day weekend
All seasonal outdoor pools will open Saturday, May 25, and Sunday, May 26, but will close May 28-30. Below are hours for City pools on Memorial Day.
Seasonal Outdoor Pools: The Village, River Ridge, and Williams Drive pools will be open 1 to 7 p.m. on Monday, May 27. The Tennis Center Pool will be closed on Monday, May 27.
Outdoor Play Pool at the Recreation Center will be open 10 a.m.-8 p.m. on Saturday, May 25. The play pool will be closed May 26-May 30, and will reopen for normal hours Friday, May 31.
Splash pads: The splash pads at San Jose Park, 1707 San Jose St. and Downtown, 816 S. Main St. and Rabbit Hill Park, 1109 Blue Ridge Drive are open 9 a.m.-8 p.m. each day through Sept. 30. The splash pad at Garey Park is open daily during park hours from March 9 through October 31. The Garey Park splash pad closes 30 minutes prior to park closing.
The outdoor pools will close May 28-30, but will reopen May 31 and remain open for normal summer hours.
For details, go to parks.georgetown.org/aquatics or call (512) 930-3596.
Solid waste and recycling
There will be normal solid waste and recycling collection for City of Georgetown customers on Monday, May 27. Carts should be at the curb by 7 a.m. on pickup day. The Collection Station at 250 W.L. Walden Drive will be open normal hours, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., on Monday, May 27, for the Memorial Day holiday.
The City will celebrate the completion of all the recent improvements to the Georgetown Municipal Airport with a ribbon cutting May 31 at 10 a.m. The event will be at the Airport Terminal, 500 Terminal Drive.
The most recently completed work includes the rehabilitation of Runway 18-36, the airport’s main north-south runway. Other improvements to the airport include the construction of a parallel north-south taxiway, lighting upgrades, and the relocation of the fuel storage tanks to above-ground.
The event will include remarks from Mayor Dale Ross and Marc Williams, deputy executive director of the Texas Department of Transportation, as well as Buz Landry, who attended the airport’s opening in November 1945.
Each year, the National Main Street Center and its coordinating program partners announce the list of accredited Main Street America programs in recognition of their exemplary commitment to preservation-based economic development and community revitalization through the Main Street Approach.
“In Georgetown, we are lucky to have our incredible board, volunteers and staff help us earn accreditation once again from the National Main Street Center,” Downtown Development Manager Kim Mcauliffe said. “It’s through their hard work and dedication that we are able to have such a robust program that is creating economic opportunities in our community.”
The Georgetown Main Street Program is a preservation-driven, economic development organization. In the past 15 years, the Main Street Façade & Sign Grant Program has awarded more than $469,000 to 80 downtown businesses and property owners. Most recently in May, the Georgetown Main Street Program presented Lark and Owl Booksellers with a $20,500 Main Street Façade & Sign Grant.
“Since 1981, many Texas communities have participated in the Main Street network and used its preservation-based framework to generate positive economic gains for their local economies and the state,” said Texas Historical Commission Executive Director Mark Wolfe. “These positive strides happen because of local commitment to prioritize historic downtowns.”
Accreditation is awarded to communities that build and maintain revitalization efforts, including fostering strong public-private partnerships, securing an operating budget, tracking programmatic progress, and actively preserving historic buildings.
Main Street America is a program of the nonprofit National Main Street Center, a subsidiary of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
A team of three student attorneys from Georgetown won the teen court state competition held in Bedford last month. Linsey Jensen, Taylor Price, and Matthew McCarthy took first place in the final round on April 13 in which they competed against a team from Allen. Georgetown Teen Court state competition participants were honored at the Georgetown City Council meeting this week.
The annual state competition in which three-person teams of teen attorneys are scored for their lawyering skills in mock trials is sponsored by the Teen Court Association of Texas. Municipal Court and Teen Court Judge Randy Stump and attorney Caden Wenzel served as competition coaches for the Georgetown Teen Court attorneys.
A Georgetown Teen Court team won the state competition previously in 2016. This is the eighth year that Georgetown has sent a team to participate in the teen court state competition.
Georgetown Teen Court is a program of the City of Georgetown Municipal Court. High school students age 13 to 18 serve as attorneys, jury members, and defendants in the program, which is a real court for traffic tickets and other misdemeanor offenses. The program started more than 25 years ago.
Pictured left to right: Municipal Court and Teen Court Judge Randy Stump, Camryn Whitman, Bella Bartholomew, Daniel Nehrbass, Matthew McCarthy, Linsey Jensen, Taylor Price, Caden Wenzel, and Tina Heine, Georgetown Teen Court coordinator.
Pictured left to right: (State champion team) Linsey Jensen, Taylor Price, Tarrant County District Attorney Sharon Wilson, City of Ft. Worth Chief Judge Danny Rodgers, Metroport Teen Court Attorney Luvenia Sanchez, and Matthew McCarthy.
Pictured left to right: (All Georgetown Teen Court competitor team members) Bailiff Fred Pitcher, Judge Randy Stump, Matthew McCarthy, Linsey Jensen, Taylor Price, Camryn Whitman, Bella Bartholomew, Daniel Nehrbass, Teen Court Coordinator Tina Heine, and Ashley Huey, Georgetown High School teacher/coordinator.
Schneider Engineering has completed its assessment of the City’s practices related to purchasing and managing energy. This assessment is one of many efforts to help improve the financial performance of the City’s energy portfolio.
“The purpose of this assessment is to help the City work through a process to better manage energy contracts,” City Manager David Morgan said. “I think this is a candid and thorough assessment of our current processes and a recognition of blind spots and shortcomings up to this point.”
“I am looking forward to bringing in new partners to help us improve the day-to-day management of our energy portfolio and putting in place policies and procedures that reduce our financial risks moving forward,” Morgan said.
The report highlights several key steps to improve the management of the electric utility. First, the report suggests securing new third-party energy management partners that more rapidly respond and react to changing market conditions and better ensure against market volatility. Along with bringing on new partners, the report recommends focusing internal and external resources on increasing the oversight and accountability for decision-making regarding portfolio management.
Second, the report suggests developing new measures to evaluate portfolio performance, as well as clarifying the process for how these measures are shared in meaningful ways to different audiences. Additionally, the report recommends making better use of the power cost adjustment, or PCA. The PCA allows the City to recover costs associated with purchasing energy.
Third, Schneider recommends developing and implementing a comprehensive risk management policy that sets boundaries on risk tolerances, financial obligations, and guides decision-making at all levels of the electric utility.
Finally, the assessment recommends studying alternative governance structures for the electric utility (e.g., a separate oversight board) and the implications of opting in to the competitive retail market to fully mitigate the City’s risks associated with operating the utility. This study should focus on understanding the financial implications for customers as well as the City, with a specific focus on how the existing long-term power supply contracts could be addressed when opting in to the retail market.
The assessment will be presented during the regularly scheduled City Council workshop on Tuesday, May 14, at 3 p.m. The City will also host a public meeting to present the findings and answer questions from the public on Monday, May 20, starting at 6 p.m. The town hall-style meeting will be in the Council and Court building, located at 510 W. Ninth St., as well as broadcast on Suddenlink Channel 10 and on georgetown.org/gtv.
Schneider was selected to complete this assessment after a competitive bidding process. Prior to starting the assessment, Schneider presented its scope of work and project plan to City Council at its March 26 workshop meeting.
“This summer, the City Council will review agreements with new energy portfolio managers who will be better able to respond to the complicated and dynamic energy market, as well as provide more data and market insight to inform our decision making,” Morgan said. “Additionally, we will be working on a recruitment and staffing plan for the management of our electric utility to best meet these challenges moving forward.”
The grand reopening for businesses along Williams Drive has been moved to June 1 due to the forecast for rain this Saturday. The event will be from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Saturday, June 1. The party will be held in the parking lot of Lone Star Circle of Care located at 2425 Williams Drive.
The event is a celebration of the businesses affected by the recent evacuations in and around the intersection of Williams Drive and River Bend in Georgetown. The community is invited to attend this free, family-friendly event to support local businesses as they reopen. The Georgetown Chamber of Commerce is coordinating the event, with assistance from the City of Georgetown and Williamson County. The event is sponsored by Atmos Energy.
“This community has proven itself to be incredibly generous and resilient,” Georgetown Chamber of Commerce President Jim Johnson said. “This celebration is a great opportunity for each business to showcase themselves and reopen their doors with strong sales and lots of customers.”
The event kicks off at 9 a.m. with a ceremonial ribbon cutting and remarks from Georgetown Mayor Dale Ross and Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell. Complimentary food and beverages will be provided throughout the event, including food from Mariachis de Jalisco, the Pit BBQ, Golden Chick, and Hydrate Smoothie & Juice Bar.
Informational booths will be staffed by representatives from the affected businesses. Live music, a dunk tank, bounce houses, face painting and a City, County, and Atmos Energy vehicle showcase will run throughout the event. Additionally, attendees will have the opportunity to compete for prizes.
More details about the event can be found at GTXBacktoBiz.com.
About the evacuations
Atmos Energy responded to an underground gas leak on Feb. 20 in Georgetown. Subsequent evacuations affected 140 residences and businesses in the Williams Drive and River Bend area as a result of residual gas underground. Atmos Energy extracted the underground gas, repaired leaks, and has committed to continue pipe replacement projects in Georgetown in the coming months.
Atmos Energy paid claims to affected businesses, connected businesses with resources and facilities to continue their operations, and committed to processing claims throughout the evacuation. Atmos Energy will continue to provide support and work through the claims process with those affected as they reopen for business.