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.

Phone Scammers Pose as City Employees

Phone scammers who claim to be requesting payment for a City of Georgetown utility account have recently called Georgetown utility customers. Seven local businesses have contacted the Customer Care Center for the utility to report someone calling and trying to get them to pay a utility bill over the phone.

Don’t be fooled.

A similar phone scam targeted local businesses and residents last year. The Georgetown Police Department has been notified of the current scam attempt.

The City utility does not call customers and demand payments over the phone says Leticia Zavala, customer care director for Georgetown Utility Systems. If a bill payment is overdue, Zavala says there is a three-step notification process:

First, late notices are mailed to customers with unpaid balances the day after the billing due date.

Second, an automated phone call is provided to the phone number on the account two weeks after the billing due date.

Third, a second automated phone call is provided to the phone number on the account three weeks after the billing due date.

It is strictly against policy for any customer service representative to accept payment in the field.

If customers have questions about a utility bill, call the Customer Care Center at (512) 930-3640 before giving out financial information regarding your utility account.

Finance Chief Micki Rundell Retires

Micki Rundell 1b-175When Micki Rundell was hired as the City’s accounting director in 1993, Georgetown was a little town with a population less than 18,000. Georgetown has more than tripled in size and is now a fast-growing city of 56,000. Along the way at major milestones marking Georgetown’s transition from small town to city, Rundell has been there, helping to navigate the financial route at each key point.

Today she retires, marking her last day working in an office in the basement of City Hall—the former post office on Eighth Street—where she has worked since her first day 22 years ago. During her tenure in the Finance and Administration Division, Rundell was promoted to finance director in 2000 and then chief financial officer in 2010.

Rundell grew up in Temple and then moved to Salado where she went to high school. She later graduated from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton with a degree in finance.

When she started with the City of Georgetown Accounting Department in 1993, Rundell used Lotus 1-2-3 to create spreadsheets on a 386 computer, which she recalls was the “super machine” of its day.

The first major project Rundell worked on was in 1993 when Del Webb contacted the City about building the Sun City development in Georgetown. Initially, she said, “We had no clue what we were dealing with.” Rundell says she spent weeks creating financial models to determine the impacts of the project and helped devise a mechanism to pay for the utility infrastructure to serve it. The initial plan for 6,500 housing units seemed hard to imagine at the time, but the projections have proven accurate. Sun City Texas is now among the largest planned retirement communities in the country.

In 2001, the dot com bust combined with a change in direction from the City Council led to one of the biggest challenges in Rundell’s career. Past practice had been to use utility revenue to balance the city budget. But in 2001, the council voted to end “what-it-takes-to-balance” transfers from the utility, creating a $3.5 million shortfall in the budget. Rundell remembers sitting in her office with Jim Briggs from the utilities and Laurie Brewer from accounting where they created nine different options or “scenarios” to address the shortfall. The council chose “Scenario H,” a moniker now infamous in city lore associated with Rundell. Scenario H included a package of cuts and phased tax rate increases that eliminated undefined utility transfers. The result was a disciplined budget that no longer depended on utility transfers, but employed a set 7 percent return on investment to the general fund. The shift that Rundell engineered was a big one, which led to later bond rating upgrades due to the City’s sound financial practices.

Another key turning point was in 2003 when the City negotiated agreements with Simon Property Group for the Wolf Ranch retail center. The shopping center that opened in 2005 has given Georgetown residents a place to buy clothes and household items instead of making trips to Round Rock or Austin. Sales tax revenue from Wolf Ranch has been a major boost to the City budget and helped to keep more retail spending in Georgetown.

Rundell cites two more milestones in her career—the acquisition of the Chisholm Trail Special Utility District and the Rivery Sheraton hotel and conference center project—that will likely been seen in the future as key turning points. Rundell believes that the Chisholm Trail deal that was finalized last year and provides a reliable water provider in Georgetown’s key growth corridors to the northwest, which ensures continued quality growth in that area. The Rivery Sheraton Hotel and conference center will be a major boost to the city’s tourism and event sectors when it opens next year.

In addition to her work for the City of Georgetown, Rundell has served on the standing Debt Committee of the national Government Finance Officers Association. She also served as president of the Government Finance Officers Association of Texas, an organization representing 1,000 finance professionals in the state.

Though she didn’t think she’d make it through the first year when she started in 1993, she did, and she says, “It’s been a great ride. It’s been an honor and a privilege to serve this community. I feel truly blessed.”

Rundell plans to stay here in Georgetown after she retires. “This is my home. My friends are here,” she says. Rundell has some home improvement projects in mind and has some ideas for volunteering.

And having made hundreds of presentations to the City Council about budgets and projects over the years, she doesn’t rule out the possibility that she may be back at a future meeting to offer her input—as a citizen.

Notice of 2015 Proposed Property Tax Rate for City of Georgetown

A tax rate of $0.434000 per $100 valuation has been proposed by the governing body of City of Georgetown. This rate exceeds the lower of the effective or rollback tax rate, and state law requires that two public hearings be held by the governing body before adopting the proposed tax rate.

Proposed Tax Rate $0.434000 per $100
Preceding Year’s Tax Rate $0.434000 per $100
Effective Tax Rate $0.417150 per $100
Rollback Tax Rate $0.442221 per $100

The effective tax rate is the total tax rate needed to raise the same amount of property tax revenue for City of Georgetown from the same properties in both the 2014 tax year and the 2015 tax year.

The rollback tax rate is the highest tax rate that City of Georgetown may adopt before voters are entitled to petition for an election to limit the rate that may be approved to the rollback rate.

Your taxes owed under any of the above rates can be calculated as follows:

Property tax amount = (rate) x (taxable value of your property) / 100

For assistance or detailed information about tax calculations, please contact:

Deborah M. Hunt, CTA
Williamson County Tax Assessor-Collector
904 S. Main Street
Georgetown, TX 78626
(512) 943-1603
propertytax@wilco.org
www.wilco.org

You are urged to attend and express your views at the following public hearings on proposed tax rate:

First Hearing: August 11, 2015 at 4 p.m. at 101 E. Seventh Street, Georgetown, TX, 78626

Second Hearing: August 18, 2015 at 6 p.m. at 101 E. Seventh Street, Georgetown, TX, 78626

Go to the FY2016 Proposed Budget to see a copy of the proposed City of Georgetown budget for the 2015 – 2016 fiscal year, which starts on October 1, 2015.

Newspaper tax rate notice:
Tax Rate and Budget Hearings Notice 2015

City Annual Report for 2014 Available

Georgetown_AnnualReport_13-14 cover-450An annual report for the City of Georgetown for the 2014 fiscal year is now available online and in print copies. The report, titled Shaping Our Future, highlights projects, initiatives, and financial information for the 2013 – 2014 fiscal year that started on October 1, 2013 and ended on September 30, 2014.

The report includes profiles of five focus areas, including economic development, public safety, signature destination, transportation, and utilities. A financial section includes details on revenues, expenses, assets, assessed valuation, and taxes.

The report is available online at files.georgetown.org/annualreport. The report was designed by Steve Bracamontez and Samantha Smith with photography by Rudy Ximenez.

A limited number of free printed copies of the annual report are available at the Georgetown Public Library, 402 W. Eighth Street. Pick up a copy near the book drop in the lobby or at the Reference Desk on the second floor.

The report provides a brief overview taken from the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, which is a much longer fiscal report. The Comprehensive Annual Financial Report is available online at files.georgetown.org/comprehensive-annual-financial-report.

City Budget Wins Award for 25th Year

For the 25th consecutive year, the City of Georgetown was given a Distinguished Budget Presentation Award from the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA). The award was presented to the Finance and Administration Department for the budget for the 2013/2014 fiscal year that ends September 30.

GFOA rates budget documents in four categories, including how well the budget serves as a policy document, a financial plan, an operations guide, and a communications device.

According to GFOA, “The award represents a significant achievement by the entity. It reflects the commitment of the government body and staff to meeting the highest principles of governmental budgeting. Award recipients have pioneered efforts to improve the quality of budgeting and provide an excellent example for other governments throughout North America.”

Finance GFOA 2b-1000

Finance and Administration employees pictured above include (left to right) in front row: Jodi Levie, Micki Rundell, and Lisa Haines; second row: La’Mar Kemp, Karrie Pursley, Terry McCord, and Becky Huff; third row: Chris Foster, Danella Elliott, Amy Fancher, Susan Morgan, and Paul Diaz. (Click on photo to see a larger version.)

GFOA is a nonprofit professional association serving nearly 18,000 government finance professionals throughout North America.

Capital Improvement Projects Proposed for 2015

Learn about proposed transportation and utility infrastructure projects in Georgetown for the upcoming fiscal year.

Citizens are encouraged to view the proposed City of Georgetown 2015 Capital Improvement Plan summary to be presented to the Georgetown Utility Systems Advisory Board and Georgetown Transportation Advisory Board on Friday, May 9, 2014 (linked to below).

Projects in the proposed Capital Improvement Plan for 2015 include street overlay and street reconstruction projects, curb and drainage improvements, water line upgrades, wastewater system improvements, and electric system improvements.

Both the Georgetown Transportation Advisory Board and the Georgetown Utility Systems Advisory Board will make a recommendation on the 2015 Capital Improvement Plan to the City Council at their respective Friday, May 9, 2014 meetings. The CIP is scheduled for review and approval by the city council in June as an element of the overall 2014/15 city budget.

All Capital Improvement Plan documents can be viewed at the following location: http://records.georgetown.org/weblink8/0/fol/421931/Row1.aspx

Questions about or comments on the proposed capital improvement projects for 2015 can be emailed to cipcomments@georgetown.org.