Year: 2017

Tax rate increase easier to stomach when you realize you voted for it


The property tax rate proposed in the City’s $330 million fiscal 2018 budget is higher than last year’s. Lest you think we’re on a feeding frenzy of spending, know that most of the increase is needed to support bond projects voters approved in 2013.

The proposed rate is 43.000 cents per $100 of valuation. That’s an increase of 2.7 cents over the effective rate, which is the rate that generates the same amount of revenue as last year based on the new year’s total value of taxable properties.

Let’s dig into that 2.7 cent increase:

  • 1.2 cents is for debt payments on voter authorized bonds from the 2013 election
  • 0.9 cents is for new operating costs associated with those bond projects
  • 0.6 cents is for additional operating costs to keep up with rising costs and growth

So 2.1 cents is related to bonds voters approved. That’s a little more than three-quarters of the increase. (Wondering about progress on the bond projects? For your eyes only, watch this Bond-inspired video to get caught up.)

Bottom line to you: The owner of a median value home ($227,714) in Round Rock will pay $7.58 more per month in City property taxes compared to last year.

While the property tax rate gets a lot of attention — and rightly so since it determines what you’ll pay each year — it’s not the largest revenue component of the proposed budget. Property tax revenue makes up 16 percent of the $330 million budget. By comparison, sales taxes make up 19 percent (more on that below).

We promised we’d slice and dice the tax rate for you in the last Budget Bite post, so here are some more tidbits.

Here’s a tasty morsel you might not be aware of. In the 1980s, Round Rock voters approved increasing the sales tax rate by a half-cent. The revenue from that half-cent is dedicated to reducing the property tax rate. The impact of that reduction is 14.063 cents. In other words, without it we’d be looking at a total tax rate of 57.063 cents.

Another way to look at it: That half-cent for property tax reduction saves the median value homeowner a rather tasty $26.69 a month.

The half cent for property tax reduction is different from the half cent dedicated to transportation and economic development we talked about in the previous Budget Bite.

Sales taxes are obviously a key ingredient in funding City services. We project $64.3 million in sales tax revenue next year, compared to $53.7 million from property taxes. That’s why we encourage residents to Shop the Rock, and why we promote tourism so seriously. (Though we’re not always super serious in how we explain it.) (We’re more serious about explaining sales taxes.)

The tax rate is divided into two components: the rate needed to pay debt and the rate needed for maintenance and operations (M&O). Here are those numbers:

Debt rate14.214 cents
M&O rate28.786 cents
Total43.000 cents

 

For our next Budget Bite, we’ll review staffing changes in the proposed budget.

Key dates

  • Aug. 10 — City Council vote to publish and propose maximum tax rate, set public hearings
  • Aug. 22 — City Council packet briefing and work session on proposed budget and tax rate
  • Aug. 24 — Regular City Council meeting
    • First tax rate public hearing
    • Budget public hearing
    • First reading vote to adopt tax rate and budget ordinances
  • Aug. 31 — Special called City Council meeting for second tax rate public hearing
  • Sept. 14 — Regular City Council meeting
    • Final adoption of tax rate and budget ordinances
    • First reading of utility rate ordinances
  • Sept. 28 — Regular City Council meeting for final adoption of utility rate ordinances.

 

 

Roadfood: How we feed the Transportation beast


If you were to ask residents what leaves a bad taste in their mouths when it comes to local issues, traffic would certainly be the most common response. We get it. We drive in it, too. The good news is we have a veritable smorgasbord of resources to address this vexing problem. Mix them all together and it amounts to $53 million on the menu for transportation spending next year. That’s a lot of dough.

The most plentiful ingredient is the half-cent sales tax Round Rock voters approved in 1997 to fund transportation improvements. That half-cent is projected to generate $17.3 million in Fiscal 2018. And we leverage those dollars with cheddar from partners like Williamson County and the Texas Department of Transportation, as well as bond debt, to get as much mileage as possible from that vital funding source.

To wit: Last year, we had $625 million worth of completed and planned transportation projects since the half-cent sales tax went into effect. About a third of that — $263 million, to measure it precisely — was funded by the Type B corporation that administers the half cent sales tax.

We’re not saying that’s a water into wine miracle. We’re saying we’ve got some resourceful chefs in the kitchen.

While on the subject of sales taxes, know that some of the 1 cent sales tax revenue that funds general government services also gets tossed into the transportation funding pot. In years when revenues exceed projections, we sock that money away in a larder we call the General Self Financed Construction fund. A heaping helping from that fund has been critical to beefing up our street maintenance program in recent years.

Side dish: Generating more sales tax revenue is one we reason we promote tourism with our Sports Capital of Texas tourism program. Visit old budget video friend Ron Pitchman for a brief (less than two minutes) explanation of the benefits of tourism to funding local government.

Your property taxes, by contrast, don’t come close to matching the $17.3 million the Type B corp will collect next fiscal year. The Transportation Services Department draft budget is $12.4 million. Property taxes cover about a third of that — around $3.7 million.

But let’s get to the meat of the issue: What projects are on the menu for FY 18 funding? Here’s a sampling:

ProjectAmountFunding Source(s)
University Boulevard widening$8.6 millionType B sales tax, Williamson County
Neighborhood street maintenance$7.5 millionStreets Budget, General Self Finance Construction
East Bagdad Ave/McNeil Road extension downtown$3.6 millionType B sales tax
Southwest Downtown improvements$3.3 millionType B sales tax, federal and state grant funds
Gattis School Road widening (engineering/design only)$2.2 millionType B sales tax

Hungry for more? Here’s where you can find the list of our current transportation projects, including those we’re working on with regional partners.

Still not full? Dig into the complete list of projects — there are 28 total — funding sources and totals in our proposed five-year Transportation Capital Improvements Plan.

Got room for dessert? Here’s a map showing the streets scheduled for maintenance next fiscal year.

For our next Budget Bite, we’ll slice and dice the ingredients that go into making up the proposed tax rate.

A great meal starts with the right ingredients

The City of Round Rock is regularly recognized for its outstanding work, including fiscal stewardship. With this year’s budget proposal, we’re sharing the secret of Round Rock’s Recipe for Success — strategic planning fortified by a heaping helping of fiscal responsibility.

Over the next month, we’ll be serving up a prix fixe menu of information about the fiscal 2018 proposed budget and tax rate. The City Council spent a full day reviewing the proposed budget at a July 13 workshop, and expressed its desire to get key information out for public consumption prior to the first reading vote on Aug. 24.

To whet your appetite, we offer up a first course of basic information below.

The foundation

The City’s Strategic Plan, updated annually by the City Council at a February retreat, is implemented through the budget process. Here are the six long-term goals:

  1. Financially Sound City Providing High Value Services
  2. City Infrastructure: Today and for Tomorrow
  3. “The Sports Capital of Texas” for Tourism and Residents
  4. Great Community to Live
  5. Sustainable Neighborhoods — Old and New
  6. Authentic Downtown — Exciting Community Destination

The measures

Budget Totals for FY 2018$330.0 million
General Fund (Police, Fire, Parks, Library, Planning and Development Services, IT, etc.)$110.8 million
Total Capital Improvement Program (major construction projects)$136.9 million
All Other*$82.3 million

*Includes the City’s water and wastewater utility operations, stormwater drainage operations, the Round Rock Sports Center, tourism related programs and other services  not funded in the General fund and not funded by property taxes.

The proposed tax rate is 43.000 cents per $100 of valuation, an increase of a half cent from the current rate.

FY 2017 ActualFY 2018 Proposed$ difference
Median residential property value$208,906$227,715$18,809
Median annual tax bill$888$979$91

Next on the menu will be a breakdown of the $53 million planned for transportation spending next fiscal year. Spoiler alert: Your property taxes will help fund about $12 million of that total; the secret sauce that makes possible the bulk of transportation improvements is the half-cent sales tax Round Rock voters approved in in 1997.

Irrigation Rebates can Help you Reduce this Summer

Can you believe it’s July already?  July marks Smart Irrigation Month, and as I have in years past, I’m going to focus on providing you some tips to reduce your water use, or at least help you not waste water this July.  And, ideally, we’ll get some rain, which will help in reducing water use too!!

July is generally one of the hottest months of the year, which means, it’s one of the highest water use months of the year, which is why the Irrigation Association has designated this month as Smart Irrigation Month.

I’m going to focus on the two rebate programs that the City’s Water Conservation Program is offering for those of you with automatic irrigation (sprinkler) systems that are also direct water customers of the City.  You can take advantage of both to help you get that sprinkler system into top notch working order this year!

The first is a brand-new pilot program (being offered until September or until funds run out) for having your system checked out by a licensed irrigation company or irrigator.  This is essentially a “Spring Tune-Up” for your system (yes, even though it’s summer!).  If you hire a licensed company to come do a complete check up of the system and fix anything that needs to be fixed–broken heads, heads pointed the wrong way or are clogged, check the controller settings and whatever else is needed to get the system in tip-top shape, then you would be eligible for the rebate.  You can find the application and details for the Irrigation Check-Up program on the conservation rebate page.

Licensed companies can be found on the TCEQ’s website at this link.  You can also just check that the company has an LI number on their business card or website, or advertisement.  That LI stands for licensed irrigator, which by state law, a person must be to work on an irrigation system.

The second rebate program is the Irrigation Upgrade Rebate.  This rebate has been offered for several years now, but has undergone some recent changes to take advantage of newer technologies.  This program features rebates for the following type of changes, or upgrades, to your system:

  • reducing the water pressure on a system with high pressure by either installing a main pressure reducing valve (prv), or adjusting pressure at the zone valves, or replacing heads or nozzles with pressure reducing technology;
  • installing new technology in the form of weather sensors, such as rain, freeze, or soil moisture sensors;

    multi-stream nozzle

  • installing a new controller that is a WaterSense labeled controller (many new weather-based controllers qualify for this).  Look for the WaterSense label when purchasing at a store or online;
  • converting areas from traditional spray irrigation to drip irrigation;
  • capping off or permanently disabling a zone or zones;
  • converting traditional spray heads to more efficient multi-stream nozzles, or pressure reducing heads or nozzles; and
  • installing check valves on the lowest heads of your system that always look like they are leaking after the system turns off.  This is actually very normal and not a leak, it’s the low head drainage where the “extra” water in the pipe drains out after the system has turned off.  It can be prevented with sprinkler heads that have built-in check valves or installing a check valve in the existing head.

Of course, see the applications for complete details.  Neither of the programs are for the installation of a new system, only for the improvement of existing systems.  You can find those applications here or at www.roundrocktexas.gov/conservation under the rebate section.

Happy July and keep those landscapes water smart!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Police Department improves safety measures during encounters with canines

The following article was written by Angelique Meyers, Public Information Officer for the Police Department, and published in by the Department of Justice’s e-newsletter, Community Policing Dispatch.

Law enforcement agencies across the country have been under high criticism from the public for negative and sometimes fatal outcomes when police encounter dogs in the community. In a few previous incidents, officers with the Round Rock [Texas] Police Department have been involved in fatal dog shootings, even after completing the online COPS Office Dog Encounters Training. In response, Round Rock Police Department leadership decided to take action and implement new training and tools.

The Round Rock Police Department, in collaboration with the Animal Control Unit, created a new community-based initiative called B.A.R.K.: Be Aware of Residential K9s. The B.A.R.K. Alert Program is designed to improve officer safety and empower citizens by alerting first responders to the presence of animals at a residence. Community members voluntarily register their pets and service animals with the program. Officers are forewarned of the possibility of an animal encounter, and are able to bring the necessary equipment to handle that encounter in a way that is safe for both the officer and the animal.  The program is free for residents and all owners, but especially those with large-breed dogs, are   encouraged to participate.

Advertising the B.A.R.K. program was initially challenging, and citizen registration was lower than expected. However, the program was successfully promoted by local vaccination clinics, the Williamson County Animal Shelter, and pet-related businesses in partnership with the Police Department. A B.A.R.K postcard was distributed to residents that resulted in a significant increase in registrations, and the department’s public information specialist was also able to raise awareness for the program through social media. Currently, there are 945 Dog on Site registrations at residences in Round Rock, and the program is expected to keep growing as information spreads.

Residents with ‘Dog on Site’ registrations are given BARK Alert stickers, which alert officers and has the added benefit of deterring burglaries. The cost of printing the alert stickers was minimal and has the added benefit of improved trust between police and the community.  Further, the B.A.R.K program has had a dynamic impact on the community and on the police department’s public relationships. It has provided the department opportunities to speak with pet owners about animal and officer safety, as well as increased the police department’s support from the local businesses, clinics, and shelters that advertise the program.

In addition to the community-based B.A.R.K program, Round Rock sworn police personnel have completed over 700 total training hours in dealing with aggressive animals, including interactive training with canine expert Jim Osorio. This ongoing training reminds officers to seek out signs of aggression for animals.  Officers now use treats and other tactics to interact with animals in the field and are generally able to deescalate situations. Officers have also been issued and trained on animal catchpoles, a tool that allows officers to humanely restrain an aggressive animal. Previously only animal control officers had this tool. These actions were implemented prior to the Texas state mandate for Texas law enforcement officers to undergo canine encounters training.

The result of these changes was recognized when a local citizen sent a letter to the department commending an officer for not shooting his dog even though the dog bit the officer. Officer Randall Frederick’s actions in that encounter were honored by the National Law Enforcement Center on Animal Abuse in 2015.

One neighboring police department has already implemented the B.A.R.K. program in its community, under a different name and many more departments can benefit from replicating either the program or any of its component parts: registration of household animals, the now-mandated training, and the use of catchpoles by police officers. Together, these changes increase public and officer safety and improve community relations—changes law enforcement agencies across the county would find highly valuable.

A simple google search of the terms “police dog shooting” will reveal the nationwide extent of the issue of fatal dog shootings. We truly believe that any department willing to take action on this issue can experience a noticeable change in how their officers interact with animals during calls for service.

The Round Rock Police Department will continue to explore new ideas and advertise at special events to increase participation. The program is expected to continually grow as the information reaches more residents in the City of Round Rock.

Cool spots in Round Rock to beat the summer heat

Looking for the perfect spot to cool off with the kids on these hot summer days? We’ve got you covered with a waterpark, pools and a hometown splash pad!

1. Rock’N River Waterpark (3300 Palm Valley Blvd.; inside Old Settlers Park)

The Rock’N River Water Park went through a multi-million dollar renovation in 2016! The park more than doubled in size, with exciting new for the entire family like a huge sprayground play area called “Splashville” that includes 51 play features, “The Quarry” adventure area featuring a 12 foot Jumping Platform and Rock Climbing Wall with waterfall, cabanas, swim-up concession lagoon and food truck circle.

  • Daily Admission
    $8: Youth (17 years & under)
    $10: Adults (18-49 years)
    $8: Senior (50 years & over)
    $5: Kids (2 years & under)
  • Twilight Admission (5pm to Close)
    $4: Youth (17 years & under)
    $5: Adults (18-49 years)
    $4: Senior (50 years & over)
    $2: (2 years & under)
  • Season Passes
    $60: Youth/Senior Pass
    $70: Adult Pass
    $225: Family Pass (4 people). Add additional family members for just $10 each.
    Valid at Rock’N River Water Park only.
  • Regular Hours
    June 2-August 20

    Open Daily (CLOSED WEDNESDAYS) 12:00pm-7:00pm

  • End of Season Weekend Hours
    Sat. Aug. 29, Sun. Aug. 27, Sat. Sept. 2, Sun. Sept. 3, Mon. Sept. 4
    Open 12:00pm-6:00pm

More details on the Rock’N River Waterpark are available online at: https://www.roundrocktexas.gov/river

2. Micki Krebsbach Pool (301 Deepwood Drive)

Micki Kresbsbach Pool features multiple interactive features including: a pirate ship, crate walk, and large slide (for guests 48″ or taller), along with multiple lanes of swim area. Wait, what? There’s a pirate ship? Got that right! It’s a twenty-six foot long and twenty-three feet high water adventure for all ages! The ship includes wet and wild climbing angles, 2 slides and water cannons for major family fun.
  • Admission
    $2: Youth (17 years and under)
    $3: Adult (18-49 years)

    $2: Senior (50 years and over)

  • 2017 Recreation Swim Schedule
    Open Daily from 1 to 7 p.m.
    Closed Tuesdays

3. Lake Creek Pool (800 Deerfoot Drive; located in Lake Creek Park)

  • Admission
    $1: Youth (17 years and under)
    $2: Adult (18-49 years)

    $1: Senior (50 years and over)

  • 2017 Recreation Swim Schedule
    Open Tuesday through Thursday from 1 to 5 p.m.

    Open Friday through Sunday from 1 to 7 p.m. (contingent on lifeguard availability)

4. Prete Main Street Plaza Splash Pad (221 E Main Street in Downtown Round Rock)

Bring the kids and let the fun begin! While you’re on Main Street, why not try one of our restaurants and make it a day or evening of fun. Prete Plaza is a 14,000-square-foot plaza with a 610-square-foot performance stage, 1,075- square-foot interactive water feature, and features plenty of seating for picnics and playtime.

The fountain schedule can be viewed online at: https://www.roundrocktexas.gov/departments/parks-and-recreation/facilities/downtown-plazas/

 

Add Mulch for a Mountain of Benefits

Mulching the bare soil around plants is a major part of basic water conservation and for the health of the plant and soil.  It should be the last step when new planting is done.  I’m sure you know that a healthy layer of mulch keeps weeds from growing, helps reduce water loss due to evaporation, keeps the soil cooler, and (depending on the type you install) will break-down in time to add nutrients to the soil, and protect against harsh weather in winter, recycle local materials, are loaded with nutrients, lock together and stay in place well, breathe properly and break down fairly quickly to feed microbes in the soil…WOW!

That’s a lot that just a little layer of mulch can do.  But, there are some good and bad choices.  I’m going to liberally borrow from The Dirt Doctor, local Organic Gardener Howard Garrett, and his expertise on mulch.  Here’s a rundown for you and some tips that might help choose the best mulch for your yard.

The Good…

  • Shredded native mulches are the best choices; they provide all the benefits listed above.  As a Round Rock water customer, you can get FREE hardwood mulch at our brush recycling center!

    shredded hardwood bark mulch

  • Pecan shell mulch is a fairly good choice if it is partially composted first. Fresh, new shells don’t behave very well. Like pine bark, they blow and wash around and fresh shells usually have some pecan meat left that may attract fire ants.  Boo.
  • Partially completed compost is good mulch. When ingredients are still identifiable this compost shouldn’t be used in bed preparation, but it is good to use as a topdressing mulch.
  • Shredded hardwood bark is a good mulch. It is not as good as shredded tree trimmings because of much less nitrogen. As opposed to shredded tree trimmings, there is little protein tissue (buds, stems, cambium, leaves, etc.) that is the source of nitrogen and other nutrients.
  • Pine straw or pine needles do not have the same natural chemical issues as pine bark. Plus they stay in place and work well as mulch. Only issue is that this mulch can look out of place if no pine trees are growing on the site. This is an excellent mulch for the vegetable garden because it breaks down quickly and effectively helps feed the soil.
  • Lava gravel is an excellent mulch if you like the look. It helps grow plants and helps keep them healthy.

The Bad…

  • The worst choice – rubber mulch made from ground up tires. It’s full of toxic chemicals, doesn’t break down to feed microbes, and holds heat that will damage microbes and plants. This product should never be used.

    rubber mulch

  • The second worst mulch – colored mulch. These red and black products are all over the place in the marketplace but should not be used. Some of the dyes used in these products are very questionable in toxicity, but there are more serious problems. These “mulches” are made from ground-up wood such as siding, pallets, lumber, etc. These things are all carbon and totally unbalanced due to lack of protein/nitrogen. They not only don’t feed the soil properly, they actually rob nitrogen from microbes and soil health.
  • Cocoa mulch, also a bad one. It smells good, but is expensive and very dangerous to dogs. Don’t use.
  • Cypress breaks down very slowly. That’s not what we want. The rotting of mulch is an important source of natural fertility. Cypress also tends to fuse together and not breathe properly. The way it is harvested from wetlands and shipped across the country is an environmental problem. Not a good choice.
  • Pine bark, also not the worse, but not the best.  The large nuggets are better than the medium and fine-textured products since they will at least stay in place a little better. The small pieces blow and wash away to eliminate the benefit and create a maintenance problem. Plus, all pine bark products contain natural chemicals that are not good for soil health or plant growth.

    bad “volcano” mulching

The Ugly…

  • Volcano type mulching looks horrible and because it is piled high up on the tree trunk, the flare is completely covered and the moisture kept on the trunk is highly detrimental to the tree.  Tree flares should always be exposed (of course) and proper mulching should not be piled up on stems and trunks of plants.
  • Plastic barriers.  Shredded tree trimmings are an excellent mulch choice, but when plastic is used under it, the benefits are eliminated.  Mulches should touch the soil so that their breakdown into humus feeds the life in the soil.  Also the plastic prevents water from soaking into the ground, which is exactly the opposite of what we want!

 

Good luck in picking out the best option for your yard!  I have used the City’s free much for over 10 years now in my yard with no issues.  It looks great!  I replace it annually since it does break down and layer it around trees and in beds about 3-4 inches deep.

 

Residents weigh in on zoning issues for Kalahari project

Kalahari's Bill Otto, center, listens as a resident asks a question at the May 18 open house.
Kalahari's Bill Otto responds to a resident's question at May 18 meeting.
Senior Planner Clyde von Rosenberg points to the tree line along Brushy Creek along the southern portion of the project.
City Councilmember Writ Baese talks to a couple at the May 18 meeting.
Transportation Director Gary Hudder listens to traffic concerns from a resident.
Residents talk among themselves at a map that shows the boundary of the 351-acre site at the May 9 meeting.
Residents talk with City staff and Kalahari officials at the May 9 meeting.
Steve Pine, Kalahari Director of Development, converses with residents at a map that shows the proposed layout of the project.

More than 140 people attended open houses held May 9 and May 18 at Ridgeview Middle School to provide their input on the Kalahari Resort project. We really appreciate the feedback received from folks. It will help inform the Planned Unit Development (PUD) zoning for the 351-acre site.

Attendees were able to ask questions and offer comments to City planners, transportation staff, public safety officials and Assistant City Manager Brooks Bennett, as well as Bill Otto, Executive Vice President, and Steve Pine, Director of Development, for Kalahari. Members of the Round Rock City Council attended as well.

Here’s a full recap of what we heard, and our responses, at the two meetings.

A lot of the concerns we heard dealt with traffic and impact to property values. The most important feedback we were looking for dealt with the various uses Kalahari has proposed for the project. That’s goes to the heart of the zoning change that will be considered later this summer by the Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council.

Here are the written comments we received about potential future land uses:

  • Concerned about petting zoo in Phase 2 and height of potential high tech golfing range.
  • I don’t want to see, hear or smell this from my home.
  • No golf driving range
  • No theme park
  • No petting zoo
  • No aquarium
  • High level of concern over amplified noise from “small venue amphitheater/outdoor music
  • No connectivity of Kalahari to Brushy Creek Trail system +1
  • No outdoor water park
  • Absolutely no outdoor (or indoor) music venue
  • No rec. lake
  • Just no
  • Employee housing means a direct non-guest impact to trails and neighbors ignored by everyone to whom we’ve spoken
  • No screaming children outside
  • No fireworks please
  • Please offer a resident discount. I live a mile away
  • I like the trails and creek. Please don’t ruin them with this.

One thing Kalahari’s Bill Otto told the many residents who sat down to talk to him at the meetings is that Kalahari is a family resort, and many of the concerns — noise, lighting — are issues they focus on for the comfort and enjoyment of their guests.

This graphic shows the process for the zoning change.

 

Round Rock listed among most family-friendly cities in Texas

Photo Credit: Rock Studios


Safe neighborhoods, great schools, Friday night fireworks, splashing good times, splurge-worthy shopping, and a one-of-a-kind hometown downtown are just a few of the reasons Round Rock has once again found itself being talked about as one of the most family-friendly cities in Texas.

Round Rock’s recent ranking by Smart Asset as the No. 9 “Best Place in Texas to Raise a Family” continues to back of what we’ve known all along… this place Rocks!

Here’s what the article had to say about our community:

“If you are looking to raise your family in the greater Austin area, it is hard to beat Round Rock. This city is known for having a strong education system and our data backs that up. Round Rock graduates 94% of its students and has top five scores in both percent of students taking AP exams and percent of students who score well on AP exams. Round Rock is also relatively affordable compared to other cities in our top 10. The median monthly housing cost is $1,250, the second-lowest in our top 10.”

Looking for more? You can read the full article online here: https://smartasset.com/mortgage/best-places-in-texas-to-raise-a-family

Celebrate and Save Water this Weekend

This holiday weekend, you can double-dip on savings on products to help you reduce your water use at your home or business.  This is the second annual Lawn and Garden Water Smart Tax Holiday!

This Memorial Day Weekend, May 27-29, 2017, consumers can purchase water saving items without paying sales tax.  Water saving items, as defined by the Texas Comptroller, can include any plant product, any product with a WaterSense label, mulch, rain water collection systems, and much more!  There is no limit to how many items you can purchase.

This holiday was established in 2016 to encourage Texans to be Water Smart!  Texas comptroller Glenn Hegar said, “Ensuring Texans have an adequate supply of water is fundamental if we want to continue creating jobs and growing the economy,” he continued. “The Tax Holiday helps Texas consumers be water smart, saving money and water in their outdoor landscapes.”

The categories of products is pretty broad; you can buy items tax free during the holiday that are used or planted for:

  • conserving or retaining groundwater;
  • recharging water tables; or
  • decreasing ambient air temperature, and so limiting water evaporation.

Examples of items that qualify for the exemption include:

  • a soaker or drip-irrigation hose
  • a moisture control for a sprinkler or irrigation system
  • mulch
  • a rain barrel or an alternative rain and moisture collection system
  • a permeable ground cover surface that allows water to reach underground basins, aquifers or water collection points
  • plants, trees and grasses
  • water-saving surfactants
  • soil and compost

If you’d like more information on the products and plants you can purchase tax-free this weekend, visit landscapetexas.org or the Texas Comptroller’s website.

Remember, the City’s Water Conservation program offers rebates on many water-saving and WaterSense labeled items.  And residents can always pick up free mulch from the brush recycling center.