The next chapter

 

Planning for a growing community like Round Rock isn’t just about roads and water supplies. It’s just as much about quality of life amenities like parks and trails.

Smack dab in the middle of the many things that make Round Rock such a special place is our Public Library. Located in the heart of Downtown, the library is a hub of learning for Round Rock. With programming designed for kids to adults to small business, the library stays on the cutting edge of information sharing and is an incredibly valuable part of the community.

Don’t take our word for it. The Library recently received the 2018 Texas Achievement of Library Excellence Award from the Texas Municipal Library Director’s Association. Only 51 libraries out of 548 public libraries in Texas – less than 10 percent – achieved this recognition. And the Library’s Biz.ability workshops have been recognized by the U.S. Small Business Administration for helping local entrepreneurs.

It’s not just luck or the waving of Harry Potter’s wand that have created such a forward-focused institution. The Library follows a Strategic Master Plan and is well-prepared for Round Rock’s growth. After a longer-than-anticipated search for a site for a new, larger library, the City Council in April purchased property just north of the existing library for its new home.

The new, expanded library will offer much needed space to grow the Library’s many popular programs and growing collection. How popular? Here’s some data from the recently-released Library 2018 Annual Report.

Summer Reading Program

  • 166,055 books read
  • 51,794 hours read
  • 11,591 attended programs
  • 217 meals fed
  • 178 programs held

Adult Services

  • Adult Programs – 646
  • Attendance Adult Programs – 6,601

Reference

  • Research transactions – 34,086
  • Public Internet Computer Use – 61,728
  • Technology training – 13,130
  • E-Resources Use – 23,906

Collection

  • Print Volumes Added – 20,913
  • Number of Print Books in the collection – 225,903

Check-Outs

  • Interlibrary Loan – 3,673
  • Circulation Total Digital Formats – 96,831
  • Circulation Total – 1,229,141

Speaking of value, the community receives a return of $8 for each dollar invested in the library. If you think that’s impressive, check out the table below. It shows the retail value of the services provided by the library, based on a calculator developed by the Massachusetts Library Association. Check out that bottom line – it shows the incredible value for the many services provided by the Library based on its budget.

UseLibrary Materials, ServicesValue
324,056Adult Books, Movies, CDs Borrowed$5,939,188
782,946Childrens Books, Movies, CDs Borrowed$13,310,082
3,673Interlibrary Loan Requests$91,825
96,831Digital Books, Audiobooks Downloaded$1,452,465
21,708Music Downloaded$21,708
6,601Adult Program Attendance$99,015
1,167Young Adult Program Attendance$14,004
38,469Childrens Program Attendance$269,283
61,728Computer Use (per session)$740,736
23,906Database Searches$476,924
34,086Reference Assistance$238,602
 Total Value$22,653,832
 Total Expenditures, Fiscal 2018$2,747,477

Responding to the future

As Round Rock continues its rapid population growth, we have more citizens who want to “age in place.” While we love having these citizens in our community, the reality is that many of our older adults or disabled are left without support in their declining years. Our first responders respond to a high number of non-emergency calls for help that are misdirected, unheard and often ignored by “the system.” We are finding this small population of citizens account for a large percentage of call volume for these low-acuity calls, and cause delays to other emergency calls.

Round Rock is not alone in dealing with this issue. About one in 11 Americans age 50 and older lacks a spouse, partner or living child, census figures and other research show. What we have found in Round Rock are growing unmet needs such as lack of medical assistance and non-functional smoke alarms.

When analyzing the problem, Fire Chief Robert Isbell saw an opportunity to partner with the City’s Neighborhood Services team to reach this growing demographic though its annual Love the Rock event. At this event, the City partners with neighborhoods and dozens of churches for a single day of service to help neighborhoods. The churches supply more than 1,200 volunteers of different faiths to work on service projects. Fire Department staff are actively involved in identifying and addressing fire safety issues.

A key element of Chief Isbell’s Community Risk Reduction Program is connecting with members of our community who have the most urgent need in order to provide risk assessments of their home environment. For the 2018 version of Love the Rock, two neighborhoods were selected based on high call volume from the Fire and Police Departments.

“That area stood out when analyzing calls and overlaying disabled or veteran tax exemptions, and property age,” Isbell said. “We knew we could reduce the likelihood of having a fire through a home safety survey. With that, we can provide tools like kitchen fire extinguishers to help them deal with the most common fire and, with working smoke alarms, quickly alert anyone in the home so they can exit and call for help. We believe this combination of resources allows us the best opportunity to save a life from a fire.”

During Love the Rock, volunteers are trained to test and install smoke alarms and log any apparent needs on inspection forms, which are returned to the Fire Department for follow up. Chief Isbell says the volunteers do more to help prevent problems on that day than the entire Fire Department could do in a year.

Sharon, an older, disabled resident who lives alone, had her smoke alarms serviced and volunteers also cleaned her yard – abating a code violation. Sharon’s stress reduction was visible to the volunteers, whom she tearfully embraced.

“It’s like a gift better than money, better than jewels,” Sharon said. “As a woman trying to keep up with all the things, it can get overwhelming. It just took weight off my shoulders. I feel so blessed and I feel so honored.”

Since the 2018 Love the Rock event, Chief Isbell said there has been one home where working smoke alarms installed by volunteers alerted residents to a fire. Firefighters were able to respond to the call in a timely manner, and property damage was minimal. Most importantly, no one was injured or killed.

“As well-trained and professional as our firefighters are, we’d much rather not have to make a run to put out a fire,” Chief Isbell said. “We can’t prevent every fire, but through our Community Risk Reduction efforts we can improve the odds in favor of our residents, particularly those most at risk.”


“We knew we could reduce the likelihood of having a fire through a home safety survey. With that, we can provide tools like kitchen fire extinguishers to help them deal with the most common fire and, with working smoke alarms, quickly alert anyone in the home so they can exit and call for help.”

 

—Fire Chief Robert Isbell

 

Artfully planned


‘Art is standing with one hand extended into the universe and one hand extended into the world, and letting ourselves be a conduit for passing energy.’ 
—  Albert Einstein

When the City of Round Rock was developing its Arts Master Plan a little over seven years ago, there was limited appreciation – outside of existing arts groups and their dedicated patrons – of the impact arts and culture activities could have on the community. The plan’s vision called out the importance of arts to Round Rock’s quality of life, as well as “strengthening our community, inspiring more investment, and creating a sense of place.”

The plan also called for increasing programming for “hands-on” activities, additional public arts events and building an organizational infrastructure.

With those guidelines in hand, Scot Wilkinson, hired in 2012 as the City’s Arts and Culture Director, has weaved Round Rock’s fledging arts efforts into the incredible fabric of our community. Scot has helped local arts groups with training for board members, financial support through grants, and he’s also helped develop the many well-attended special events like Music on Main, Beaujolais Nights and Chalk Walk.

Scot also recruited Sculptfest, which brings artists from all over the United States to Round Rock for a weekend. This year’s event is set for April 26-28. Just as significant is the Allan Houser exhibit, on display at Centennial Plaza through this May.

We now have 50-plus arts organizations and businesses who call Round Rock home (not including our amazing Round Rock ISD visual and performing arts teachers). We have 300-plus individual arts exhibits and performances happening yearly in Round Rock with attendance exceeding 250,000 patrons.

Wondering where you can learn about the many upcoming arts events, such as a performance by Penfold Theatre Company, or a concert by the Round Rock Symphony or Community Choir? Scot has assembled an Arts and Culture Guide for just that purpose.

What folks outside the “business” of art may not be aware of is the fact there is a significant financial impact the arts has on a community. Here are few examples from Texans for the Arts:

  • Arts strengthen the economy. The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis reports the arts and culture sector is a $699 billion industry, which represents 4.3 percent of the nation’s GDP — a larger share of the economy than transportation and agriculture. The nonprofit arts industry alone generates $135 billion in economic activity annually (spending by organizations and their audiences) that supports 4.1 million jobs and generates $22.3 billion in government revenue.
  • Arts mean business. The Creative Industries are arts businesses that range from nonprofit museums, symphonies and theaters to for-profit film, architecture and design companies. A 2015 analysis of Dun & Bradstreet data counts 702,771 businesses in the U.S. involved in the creation or distribution of the arts that employ 2.9 million people — representing 3.9 percent of all businesses and 1.9 percent of all employees.
  • Arts are good for local merchants. Attendees at nonprofit arts events spend $24.60 per person, per event, beyond the cost of admission on items such as meals, parking, and babysitters. Attendees who live outside the county in which the arts event takes place spend twice as much as their local counterparts ($39.96 vs. $17.42)—valuable revenue for local businesses and the community.

How does that translate to Round Rock? Those 250,000 people who attended performances last year spend on average $31.47 per exhibit or performance, which puts $7.8 million directly back into our local economy through restaurants, baby sitters, gas and other items. (That does not include the cost of the ticket.)

Beyond the financial benefits, arts improve academic performance. Students with an education rich in the arts have higher GPAs and standardized test scores, and lower drop-out rates — benefits reaped by students regardless of socio-economic status. Students with 4 years of arts or music in high school average 100 points higher on the verbal and math portions of their SATs than students with just one-half year of arts or music.

“I believe the arts can be the fundamental element to make a community whole,” Scot says. “Plus, the arts are something we all can proudly identify with as we all work together to make Round Rock fun, creative and exciting.”

Playing the long game

Known as the Sports Capital of Texas, the City of Round Rock has invested in promoting economic diversity by developing a sports-focused tourism program. With a variety of indoor and outdoor sports facilities, the City plays host to national tournaments, as well as hometown playoffs. 

Round Rock has a key advantage over other cities across the state when attracting youth and adult athletes in amateur and recreational sports: a central location within a three-hour drive from 90 percent of the state’s population. From the Dell Diamond to the Round Rock Sports Center and Round Rock Multipurpose Complex, the City’s investment in top-notch facilities pays off in a number of ways.

Total direct travel spending in Round Rock for international and domestic travelers totaled $319 million in 2017 (the most recent year for which figures are available). State and local tax revenues directly generated by travel spending were approximately $29 million in 2017.

The local tax revenue generated from visitors helps to improve infrastructure, add services and keep property taxes low. The money spent by visitors helps employ residents, pay their salaries and keep the local economy strong. Total direct employment in Round Rock for the travel industry in 2017 was 3,250 jobs and $114 million total direct earnings.

While the economic data is a little old, you may wonder what sports tourism has done for us lately. Glad you asked! We hosted five national championships in 2018, installed LED stadium lighting at Dell Diamond and celebrated the grand re-opening of Forest Creek Golf Club. More national championships are already on the calendar for 2019, including US Quidditch, USA Ultimate D-1 (college) and NIRSA Flag Football (actually January 2020 for the 2019 regular season), and new seats are being installed at Dell Diamond.

What makes all this winning even sweeter is the fact the services provided by the Round Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau come at no expense to local taxpayers since it is funded entirely by hotel occupancy taxes.

Tourism creates a diversified economy, which lays a solid foundation for Round Rock’s future growth. It also attracts business and encourages entrepreneurial opportunities. From softball to soccer and scoreboards to stadiums, Round Rock is playing the long game to ensure a winning economy for years to come.

Growing together, one neighborhood at a time

Round Rock is only as strong as our neighborhoods. That’s why one of our strategic priorities focuses on sustaining them all — old and new. We have programs that encourage connectivity and outreach, so as our population grows, we won’t grow apart.
 

Sustainable neighborhoods has been a strategic priority since 2012, when the City created a Neighborhood Services Program. The City Council’s goals for sustainable neighborhoods include:

  • Increase curb appeal for existing residents and enticing prospective residents
  • Maintain or increase property values for ad valorem tax
  • Help foster a sense of community between neighbors
  • Help elderly and disabled residents remain in their homes
  • Reduce code violations
  • Reduce negative communication from residents such as calls, emails and residents attending council meetings to discuss neighborhood quality of life issues
  • Make neighborhoods that are older, lower income or ethnically diverse feel included in the City’s resources
  • Creating a one-stop shop for all neighborhood quality of life issues for residents and neighborhood leaders. No more phone tree transfer for questions and issues.

To achieve these goals, the Community Development Division developed and implemented programs for neighborhoods to utilize in partnership with the City. 

Programs

  • The Tool Lending Center is designed to be deployed for organized projects such as neighborhood cleanups or other beautification projects where volunteers (scouts, church groups, school groups, etc.) are organized and available.  For neighborhood cleanups, tools will be available for residents of that neighborhood to checkout. During cleanups volunteers borrow tools from the TLC and work on homes whose residents are elderly, disabled, etc. Round Rock’s TLC was the first of its kind in the State of Texas. To date over 3,400 tools have been checked out and 4,500 volunteers have contributed 18,000 hours of volunteer service with the TLC.
  • The Neighborhood Movie Chest is available to Neighborhoods and HOAs that are organizing a community movie night. In today’s digital world, opportunities for neighbors to interact and get to know one another are becoming few and far between. The neighborhood movie kit allows neighborhoods to host a fun, easy event to bring neighbors together. The secret to the program is not the movie itself, but rather the opportunity to encourage neighborhoods to have ancillary events with the movie night designed to get residents to interact with one another. Neighborhoods can do a pot-luck dinner, or pot-luck desert, ice-cream social, beer or wine tasting and even a BBQ competition.
  • The Curb Painting Program was initiated to improve safety in Round Rock neighborhoods by making sure that the Fire Department, EMS, and Police can quickly locate homes in an emergency. Neighborhood volunteers can borrow the all-inclusive kit at no cost to begin painting addresses within their neighborhood. Keep Neighborhood Watch teams active and engaged with this easy to maintain program.
  • Round Rock UniverCity is a 10-week program designed to engage and educate residents on the operations of the City.  UniverCity participants get to experience firsthand the work it takes to run a city department. Each City department hosts a presentation, tour or break out session each week, and provide valuable information about day to day operations of the City and future projects. Residents will receive an in-depth, behind-the-scenes look into City operations within each of its departments.
  • The Lawn Care Foster Program is designed to supply neighborhood leaders with lawn maintenance equipment that their neighbors can borrow in the event of code enforcement violations. The City supplies a lawn mower, weed edger and safety equipment to a neighborhood leader who then becomes the “foster” of the equipment and lends it to neighbors in need who receive a code violation for tall grass. The City supplies a resource for the resident, alleviates a code case quicker and helps to provide a resource to keep neighborhood organizations active for a minimal investment.
  • The Fence Staining Kit — Staining and sealing a wood fence can protect the beauty and value of homes. Even if a fence is weathered and covered by gray oxidation and mold, it can be restored it to its original finish and then stained and seal it, making it look beautiful for years to come. The average cost to clean and stain can be between $800 and $1,000. Residents can borrow a pressure washer and professional grade paint sprayer at no cost from the City to clean and stain their own fence. Homes along major traffic corridors are eligible for rebates.
  • Block Party Trailer — Block Parties are a great way to meet neighbors.  They provide a casual relaxed setting where residents can meet, play, eat, and hopefully, find similarities that bring them closer together.  With a little effort a neighborhood of strangers can be transformed into a connected community of families that care for each other and the overall health and vibrancy of their neighborhood.
By working together, we’re creating a welcome mat not just for our homes, but for our entire community.

This is serious business

Quality of life is inextricably tied to a strong local economy. That’s why the City of Round Rock has a long history of striking economic development agreements designed to bring good jobs to the community and sustainable revenue to the City. And the expansion to our tax base is one reason why the City property tax rate is among the lowest in the region.
 
Those agreements have paid off to the tune of $375 million in revenue to the City over the years. Those funds have helped pay for new roads, trails, fire stations, police officers and a host of amenities that make Round Rock such a great place to call home. Nearly 14,000 jobs have been created, and more than $500 million in capital investment has been made in our community as a result of those agreements.
 
Round Rock’s recent business recruitment successes were recognized last month when the City’s Momentum partnership with the Round Rock Chamber received a Gold Excellence award from the International Economic Development Council.  

Last year, the Chamber released the results of an economic impact analysis that evaluated our economic development project wins from 2012 to 2017. The analysis, which was performed by Impact DataSource, looked at the performance of our work through Momentum, our five-year public-private partnership that funds our economic development efforts. During the time period analyzed (2012-2017), we successfully completed 50 economic development projects. Here’s the impact those projects have had:

  • Through 2017, those projects will generate an economic impact of $2.4 billion annually
  • The total number of jobs created directly, indirectly, or through induced behavior was 8,273 for a cumulative workers’ earnings of approximately $1.4 billion
  • The additional revenue for the community’s three main taxing entities during the four-year analysis period equals over $53 million

Our economic development efforts play a vital role in the local economy by growing local enterprises, expanding and diversifying the existing economic base, broadening the tax base, and attracting and retaining sustainable, well-paying jobs.

All that makes for a seriously good deal for Round Rock.

 

 

We take play seriously in Round Rock

Note: Success doesn’t happen by accident. For the City of Round Rock, it’s been a decades-long process of strategic planning and methodical execution. The Future Forward series highlights our efforts to manage Round Rock’s rapid growth. 


When it comes to taking the long view on City needs, it should come as no surprise we have master plans for transportation and water to ensure these basic needs are met as Round Rock makes its way to an ultimate population of 250,000. But we take our parks and recreation amenities just as seriously, because we know they play such a key role in making this community a place you love to call home.

To give you a sense of how busy our Parks and Recreation Department stays, consider these numbers for participation in programs, events and facilities:

  • 713,035 users of Clay Madsen Recreation Center​
  • 253,625 users of Allen Baca Center
  • 75,219 participants in recreation programs​
  • 161 events/tournaments supported by PARD​
  • 38,128 hours of facility rentals at PARD facilities​
  • 21,034 hours of athletic field usage on PARD fields​
  • 136,478 users of PARD pools

The department rides herd on more than 1,500 acres of developed parkland and 740 acres of undeveloped parkland. But as more folks move to Round Rock, we know the demands on our system will grow too, which is why our master plan for parks and recreation gets updated about every ten years. The most recent update, Playbook 2030, was approved by the City Council this past August.

The master plan is needed to:

  • Point out deficiencies in the existing parks system​
  • Look at potential growth of the City over the next 5-10 years and assesses where additional facilities will be needed​
  • Guide the acquisition of land to meet current and future open space needs​
  • Prioritize recommendations so the most significant deficiencies are addressed as quickly as possible​
  • Guide City leaders in determining where and how parks and recreation funding should be allocated over the next 5 years​

A survey and series of public meetings were used to engage the public as the plan was being developed. We heard from residents that what they want is more trails, more shade, more natural areas, more parks and more fitness opportunities. 

The parks staff identified the following needs: facility repairs, expansions and upgrades​; additional practice space​; additional parkland and recreational programming space​; and grow Old Settlers Park and continue to plan for expansion and upgrades to accommodate and serve future residents. The plan includes a series of goals to accomplish the identified needs. 

The No. 1 goal in the master plan is to link the community. The City should provide a trail and open space system which links parks, schools, greenbelts, neighborhoods, places of employment, retail shops, restaurants and open spaces​.

Other goals target: community cohesion through the creation of special places and programs unique to Round Rock; taking care of what we have by developing a sustainable system; being great environmental stewards through landscape management and maintenance practices and natural resource preservation, as well as continuing to conserve, protect, and enhance the community’s environmentally and culturally sensitive areas; and finally, distributing our resources equitably throughout the community.

All this future planning has taken place at the same time our Parks staff has been busy working on $56.5 million in projects approved by voters in a 2013 bond election. Highlights include expansion of the Rock’N River Family Aquatic Center, Soccer Complex improvements at Old Settlers Park and a major expansion of our trail system.

Taking care of business today while making sure we’re on top of our planning game is what Future Forward is all about.

Training to keep Round Rock safe today, tomorrow

Note: Success doesn’t happen by accident. For the City of Round Rock, it’s been a decades-long process of strategic planning and methodical execution. The Future Forward series highlights our efforts to manage Round Rock’s rapid growth. 


Police Chief Allen Banks is all smiles as he gives a tour of the new Public Safety Training Center.

Round Rock has well-deserved reputation for being one of the safest cities in the country, and the new Public Safety Training Center will ensure it stays that way for generations to come.

The new state-of-the-art facility features training offices and classrooms, an indoor shooting range, training village with fire training props, five-story burn tower and driving skills course.

“Quality training is critical to our community,” City Manager Laurie Hadley said. “Providing the best possible training environment for our public safety officers is essential to keep up with the demands of our growing city and will control training costs long-term.”

Voters approved funding for the project during the 2013 bond election

Police and Fire officials will tell you the type of training most important to our public safety personnel involve practicing low frequency, high risk incidents. Fortunately, there’s not much on the job training for active shooters and trench cave-ins. But when those scenarios play out in real life, our crews must be able to respond with confidence and efficiency to save lives.

But the key date in the project timeline would be 2005, when the City Council approved the purchase of the current Police Headquarters building that sits on 73 acres, with a future vision of using the additional property as a training facility. That foresight meant that when voters approved the funds for the state-of-the-art facility, all those resources went into the facility itself, with none needed for the land. Round Rock was thinking Future Forward more than a decade ago about its public safety needs.

By the numbers

• $29,000,000 construction cost
• 65,000 sq. ft. main building
• 214 students can be seated in large classroom
• 50-yard shooting range
• 5 story burn tower
• 2 Departments share this facility
• 1 driving skills pad
• 6 residential structures for tactics training

Long-term approach to finances keeps City affordable yet awesome

Note: Success doesn’t happen by accident. For the City of Round Rock, it’s been a decades-long process of strategic planning and methodical execution. The Future Forward series highlights our efforts to manage Round Rock’s rapid growth. 


Taking the long view on finances helps keep Round Rock one of the best, most affordable places to live in the United States. We ranked No. 4, in fact, in a study done a couple of years of ago that looked at the most affordable places that you’d actually want to live in.

Every year, prior to the Council’s annual budget deliberations, the City Council takes a hard look at our long-term financial planning and five-year outlook. The City CFO reported in June that Round Rock’s financial outlook remains strong and stable.

The City’s recent business recruiting successes, along with sales tax growth and a long-term approach to strategic planning are key to ensuring financial stability.

Our Strategic Plan provides a north star to guide City planning and budgeting. The City Council reviews and updates the Strategic Plan annually, at a retreat in February. Round Rock’s strategic priorities are:

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

Knowing where we’re going in the future makes today’s spending decisions that much more effective.

Here are the assumptions going into our five-year forecast:

  • Population growth continues in the 2.5 percent to 2.8 percent range, which means a population of 128,000 by 2023
  • Local development and economic growth continue, estimated at 20-25 percent over five years
  • Stable state and national outlook
  • Current Council goals continue as guiding direction (business friendly, family focused, sports tourism, strong public safety)
  • Kalahari Resorts will open as expected in FY 2021

So what are we doing with that forecast information? One of the most significant is working toward a more balanced mix of General Fund revenue (the General Fund is what pays for basic services like Police, Fire and Parks). Currently, the General Fund is comprised of 45 percent sales tax revenue, 32 percent property tax revenue, 23 percent other taxes and fees. By 2023, we project a balance of sales tax and property tax at 40 percent.

The balance means more stability for the City, since sales tax is a more volatile source of revenue. The forecast assumes modest growth in sales tax revenue over the next five years. The projection still maintains the City’s position as having one of the area’s lowest city property tax rates.

But as we noted up top, Round Rock’s not about being the cheapest. It’s about creating a community where you actually want to live, that’s safe, with great parks, a dynamic library and well-maintained streets. Where we implement the long-term plans for water and transportation that will ensure its livability for generations to come.

It just makes cents.

Focused on the road ahead

Note: Success doesn’t happen by accident. For the City of Round Rock, it’s been a decades-long process of strategic planning and methodical execution. The Future Forward series highlights our efforts to manage Round Rock’s rapid growth. 


It should surprise absolutely no one who’s lived here more than 5 minutes the issue most vexing to Round Rock residents is traffic. We get it. We drive in it every day, too.  

The problem, in a nutshell, is too many vehicles for not enough lanes of pavement. Duh, right? So how do you solve that problem? Simple: Create new connections and expand the road network. Duh, again. (And, yes, there are solutions other than laying down more asphalt, like transit and such. Patience, dear reader.) 

Of course, the create-new-connections and expand-the-roadway-network solution is complicated by the fact that we have an interstate highway and major state roads running through the community over which we have limited to no control. 

And then there’s paying for those new connections and roadway expansions. That’s not complicated, it’s just expensive.  

Back to complicated: Where do those connections/expansions need to be added, and when? 

Those questions are answered the Transportation Master Plan approved by the City Council in October 2017.  The Master Plan’s vision is to improve all forms of connectivity, including roads and public transportation, through planning and policy choices, partnerships, dedicated funding and targeted construction so that quality of life, economic opportunity and public safety are enhanced. 

Easier said than done, of course. The plan’s price tag is $1.2 billion. That’s a huge number but bear in mind that gets us to Round Rock’s ultimate build-out, when our population will be 250,000. To put that number into perspective: Since Round Rock’s half-cent sales tax for transportation went into effect in 1998, more than $533 million worth of projects have been completed. Of that, $203 million in funding came from the half-cent sales tax. The City used the sales tax revenue to leverage county, state and federal funds, as well as tapped private development contributions, to get to the total. (More perspective: Round Rock’s population was 61,212 in 1998.) So $1.2 billion is doable, over the long haul.  

Back to the question of precisely where the new roads need to go and when to build them. The Master Plan features a list of projects, ranked from 1 to 55, that are also segmented into short-term (2017-2020), mid-term (2020-2030) and long-term (2030-2040). The rankings are prioritized by the following measures: Safety and mobility (45%), connectivity (25%), environment (15%) and cost (15%). 

Work is currently under way on 8 of the top ten projects. Why not all 10? That brings us back to limited resources. We only have so much funding at the present time. There’s $53 million allocated in the City’s current budget for all things transportation. That total includes a mix of General Fund revenue, Type B revenue (that’s the sales tax we referenced two paragraphs ago) and our General Self Financed Construction Fund, which is fueled by excess General Fund revenues or unspent General Fund budget.  

The City has also submitted nearly $40 million in grant applications to CAMPO earlier this year for transportation funding.   

The Master Plan calls for finding new, sustainable sources of funding. A new method the City is considering is Roadway Impact Fees on new development. Roadway Impact Fees are one-time costs assessed to developers in order to improve roadway capacity. Public input is scheduled to occur this summer, and a draft ordinance is expected to be presented to City Council this fall. 

The City Council has had early discussions about a possible bond election for road projects, something it is likely to discuss in more detail at its budget retreat on July 12.  

Yes, dear and patient reader, we are also working on public transportation solutions. You can learn more about current transit services here, which grew from the Transit Master Plan we completed in 2015.  

We didn’t even get into other transportation options, like hike and bike trails, but we’ve got a plan for those as well, along with $21.6 million in bond funds targeted for four trail projects that will make staying off those frustrating roads a lot easier. 

Throw all those plans and options together, and you can see Round Rock is built for less stop and more go.