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.

City asks for residents’ feedback about next year’s budget

The City of Georgetown is asking the public to share comments on the proposed Fiscal Year 2022 budget through an online comment box, which will be up through Sept. 5. Members of the public also can attend any of the public hearings through the budget adoption process. Public comments and feedback will be provided to City Council for its Sept. 14 meeting, during which the council is scheduled to hold public hearings and first readings of both the tax rate and the budget.

The proposed budget totals $483 million and decreases the City’s property tax rate by 1.7 cents (from 41.8 cents per $100 valuation to 40.1 cents). This is the second year in a row the City has proposed reducing the property tax rate, maintaining the City’s rate as the lowest of all cities in the Austin area with a population greater than 20,000. Council also recently 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.

“We anticipated and budgeted for an economic slowdown last year, but we actually saw considerable acceleration,” City Manager David Morgan said. “Next year’s preliminary budget continues our usual practices of budgeting conservatively and taking steps to reduce the burden on taxpayers while investing in the additional resources needed to keep up with our sustained, exponential growth. This preliminary budget is just the first step in the budget process. I hope residents will check out our website to learn more and share their feedback, so we can fund programs and services that meet their needs and priorities.”

The City of Georgetown budget affects every resident in the city. How the City allocates taxpayer dollars and monthly costs as utility customers determines the level of service customers get in return for City functions, such as providing electricity, drinking water, resources to respond to emergencies, well-maintained streets, a world-class library, and accessible trails.

City staff used the results of recent public feedback opportunities, including the 2020 resident survey and council goals, to develop a preliminary version of next year’s budget, which spans Oct. 1, 2021, through Sept. 30, 2022. Staff presented the preliminary budget to City Council on July 26, and the council continued the discussion during its July 27 workshop. The workshops gave the council a chance to weigh options and provide direction so staff could come back Aug. 10 with a proposed budget that reflects their feedback as well.

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.

For more information about the annual budget process and details and documents about the preliminary FY2022 budget, visit finance.georgetown.org.

Budget adoption timeline

July 26 & 27: Council budget workshops
Aug. 10: First presentation of the full budget; City Council sets maximum tax rate and public hearing dates
Sept. 5: Comments on draft budget close (see form online)
Sept. 14: Public hearings and first reading of both the tax rate and the budget
Sept. 28: Second reading and final adoption of the tax rate and budget

Notice of Intention Regarding Combination Tax and Revenue Certificates of Obligation, April 27, 2021

NOTICE OF INTENTION REGARDING CITY OF GEORGETOWN, TEXAS
COMBINATION TAX AND REVENUE CERTIFICATES OF OBLIGATION NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that it is the intention of the City Council of the City of Georgetown, Texas, to issue one or more series of interest bearing certificates of obligation of the City entitled “City of Georgetown, Texas Combination Tax and Revenue Certificates of Obligation” (the “Certificates”) for the purpose of paying contractual obligations incurred or to be incurred by the City for: (1) constructing, improving, extending, expanding, upgrading and developing City streets, bridges, sidewalks, intersections and related traffic improvement including purchasing any necessary right-of-way and equipment, including for Aviation Drive; (2) constructing, improving, expanding and renovating the City’s Solid Waste transfer station; (3) constructing, improving, expanding and renovating the City’s public safety operation and training center; (4) acquiring and upgrading city vehicles, including fire and police vehicles and related equipment, an inspection vehicle and a traffic signal bucket truck; (5) constructing, improving, expanding and renovating the City’s municipal airport, including construction and/or improvement of a maintenance and equipment storage facility; (6) acquiring and upgrading public safety equipment including, cardiac monitors and self-contained breathing apparatus fire safety equipment; (7) constructing, improving, renovating, expanding and equipping City parks and recreation facilities, including renovation of the Teen/Senior Recreation Center, HVAC improvements, park master planning, tennis center facility improvements, and the development of neighborhood parks, including Heritage Gardens neighborhood park; (8) constructing and installing accessibility improvements at City buildings, facilities and parks in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act; (9) acquiring and upgrading City radio communication equipment; and (10) professional services including fiscal, engineering, architectural and legal fees and other such costs incurred in connection therewith including the costs of issuing the Certificates.

The City Council tentatively proposes to consider for first and final reading at a meeting to commence at 6 o’clock, p.m., on the 27th day of April, 2021 at Council Chambers, 510 W. 9th Street, Georgetown, Texas 78626, the passage of an ordinance authorizing such Certificates which ordinance shall be entitled “ORDINANCE AUTHORIZING THE ISSUANCE OF CITY OF GEORGETOWN, TEXAS COMBINATION TAX AND REVENUE CERTIFICATES OF OBLIGATION, SERIES 2021; LEVYING AN AD VALOREM TAX AND THE PLEDGE OF CERTAIN REVENUES IN SUPPORT OF THE CERTIFICATES; APPROVING AN OFFICIAL STATEMENT, A PAYING AGENT/REGISTRAR AGREEMENT AND OTHER AGREEMENTS RELATED TO THE SALE AND ISSUANCE OF THE CERTIFICATES; AND AUTHORIZING OTHER MATTERS RELATED TO THE ISSUANCE OF THE CERTIFICATES.” The maximum amount of Certificates of Obligation that may be authorized for such purpose is $25,000,000. The City Council presently proposes to provide for the payment of such Certificates from the levy and collection of ad valorem taxes in the City as provided by law and from the surplus revenues of the City’s utility system in an amount not to exceed $10,000, being the combined waterworks, sewer and electric system, remaining after payment of all operation and maintenance expenses thereof, and all debt service, reserve and other requirements in connection with all of the City’s revenue bonds or other obligations (now or hereafter outstanding) which are payable from all or any part of the net revenues of the City’s utility system.

Due to the ongoing public health concerns regarding the COVID 19 virus, and as may be authorized by Executive Order of the Governor of Texas, such meeting and public hearing regarding the Certificates to be held on April 27, 2021 may be conducted via a free public video conference or other lawful electronic means. In such event, information regarding how to access the meeting and public participation in the meeting will be available on the City’s website and in the agenda posted no less than 72 hours before the April 27, 2021 meeting at the following internet address: https://government.georgetown.org/

The following information is required pursuant to Texas Local Government Code, Section 271.049: As of February 9, 2021, the aggregate principal amount of all outstanding debt obligations of the City secured by and payable from ad valorem taxes is $222,670,000. As of February 9, 2021, the combined principal and interest required to pay all outstanding debt obligations of the City secured by and payable from ad valorem taxes on time and in full is $283,895,475. The estimated combined principal and interest required to pay the Certificates on time and in full is $33,785,883.

The estimated interest rate for the Certificates is 3.00%. Such estimates take into account a number of factors, including the issuance schedule, maturity schedule and the expected ratings of the proposed Certificates. Such estimated interest rate is provided as a matter of information but is not a limitation on the interest rate at which the Certificates may be sold. The maximum maturity date of the Certificates is August 15, 2041.

CITY OF GEORGETOWN, TEXAS

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.

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.

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.

Vendor payments delayed

Vendor payments will be on hold from March 21 through April 8 as we transition to a new financial software system. During this transition period, we will be accepting invoices for payment processing, but will not be able to issue checks.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause. If you have questions, please contact ap@georgetown.org. Please understand we are working to update the system, and may be slower to respond.

City receives recognition for transparency from Texas Comptroller

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced the City of Georgetown is the latest local government entity to achieve specific transparency goals through the Comptroller’s Transparency Stars program. Georgetown received a star in the area of debt obligations, which recognizes entities whose websites show visual and narrative detail on outstanding debt, tax-supported debt obligations, historical bond elections and more.

“By providing taxpayers with essential debt information in a variety of formats, Georgetown has shown a true commitment to Texas taxpayers. This effort achieves the goals set by our Transparency Stars program,” Hegar said. “I am pleased to award Georgetown a star for its accomplishments.”

The Transparency Stars recognizes local government entities that provide easy online access to important financial data. Georgetown is one of 27 cities in Texas to receive the debt obligations star.

Georgetown’s debt transparency website is finance.georgetown.org/debt-transparency. The site features access to financial reports, graphs of financial information, and downloadable data on the City’s debt obligations.

The Comptroller’s office launched the Transparency Stars program in March 2016 to recognize cities, counties and school districts making important strides to greater government transparency. Local government entities can apply for stars in the areas of traditional finances, contracts and procurement, economic development, public pensions, and debt obligations.

After receiving an initial star for Traditional Finances, remaining stars may be awarded in any order. The City received the Traditional Finances star in 2017. For more information on the program, including specific guidelines and information on how to apply, visit the Comptroller’s Transparency Stars website at comptroller.texas.gov/transparency/local/stars.

City Receives Recognition for Transparency from Texas Comptroller

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced the City of Georgetown is the latest local government entity to achieve specific transparency goals through the Comptroller’s Transparency Stars program. Georgetown received a star in the area of Traditional Finances, which recognizes entities for their outstanding efforts in making their spending and revenue information available.

“By providing meaningful financial data in addition to visual tools and analysis of its revenues and expenditures, Georgetown has shown a true commitment to Texas taxpayers. This effort achieves the goals set by my office’s Transparency Stars program,” Hegar said. “I am pleased to award Georgetown a star for its accomplishments.”

Transparency Stars recognizes local government entities that provide easy online access to important financial data. Georgetown is one of 105 entities and one of 43 cities who have completed the requirements.

Georgetown’s financial transparency website is finance.georgetown.org/financial-transparency. The site features access to financial reports, graphs of financial information, and downloadable data on the budget and check register.

City Manager David Morgan said, “We’re pleased to be recognized and it reinforces our commitment to transparency in order to encourage our residents to be informed about the financial stability of the city.”

The Comptroller’s office launched the Transparency Stars program in March 2016 to recognize cities, counties and school districts making important strides to greater government transparency. Local government entities can apply for stars in the areas of traditional finances, contracts and procurement, economic development, public pensions, and debt obligations.

After receiving an initial star for Traditional Finances, remaining stars may be awarded in any order. For more information on the program, including specific guidelines and information on how to apply, visit the Comptroller’s Transparency Stars website.

Leigh Wallace Named as Finance Director for Georgetown

Leigh Wallace webLeigh Wallace, corporate budget manager for the City of Austin, has been selected as the new finance director for the City of Georgetown. After a nationwide search, Wallace was selected from a pool of 25 highly-qualified applicants from nine states. She will start in her new position February 8.

Wallace has more than eight years of local government finance and public water utility experience. She has served in the Budget Office for the City of Austin since 2009. As the corporate budget manager she develops and monitors Austin’s $3.5 billion annual operating budget. During her time in Austin, Wallace served as the team leader for the Leadership International City/County Management Association Class of 2012 for the Edmonton Capital Projects Consulting Team in Edmonton, Alberta in Canada.

“We are pleased to welcome Leigh to the City of Georgetown,” says City Manager David Morgan. “She has a wealth of experience in local government finance and will continue Georgetown’s traditional of financial reporting excellence and fiscal management. Leigh has a passion for public service and a collaborative management style that will be a tremendous asset to the organization.”

A graduate of the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, Wallace has a master’s degree of public affairs and was a Blodgett fellow in urban management. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Trinity University in San Antonio. Wallace is a member of both the International and Texas City/County Management Associations, a member of the TCMA Professional Development Committee, and a board member of the Trinity University Alumni Association, Austin Chapter.

As finance director for the City of Georgetown, Wallace will lead financial support areas and will direct the annual budget process for the organization.