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.

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.