Mayor Morgan: State of the City is well-positioned for the future

Mayor Craig Morgan writes a monthly column for the Round Rock Leader. This is a repost of his most recent feature.


MAYOR CRAIG MORGAN

Last month, I delivered the annual State of the City address at an event at the United Heritage Center at Dell Diamond. While we had a packed house for the event, thanks to the Round Rock Chamber, I want to share with you the news that the State of our City is well-positioned for the future.

The City excels at master planning and has for many years. Our plans don’t sit on a shelf, gathering dust — they get done. That’s why our quality of life is so high and why we make so many “Best of” lists. We know we’re going to have an ultimate population of 250,000, so we’re making decisions today with that future population in mind.

Today, we are poised to address our most pressing strategic priority — improving our transportation system — in a big way. The City Council approved a five-year, $240-million roadway improvement program last year as the first major step to implementing our $1.2 billion Transportation Master Plan. You can expect to see several of these projects underway in the coming year as part of our “Driving Progress” campaign. In order to pay for this program, the Council has adopted roadway impact fees, which will be paid by developers, to create a more fair and dependable funding source for new road capacity. Second, we issued the first round of property-tax backed bonds to help pay for the aggressive road-building program. We continue to see the value of partnerships with entities like Williamson County and the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO), which have committed funding to several major road projects planned for Round Rock.

But it’s not all about new roads. The City continues to invest millions of dollars in a comprehensive street maintenance program to make sure our neighborhood and arterial roadways stay in top condition.

Progress on two other major projects will ensure the state of our City’s infrastructure will remain viable for years to come. We’ve recently completed significant improvements at the Brushy Creek Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant at a cost $700,000 below the anticipated budget, and we started design on Phase 2 of the Brushy Creek Regional Utility Authority project, which will draw water from Lake Travis to meet our long-term water needs.

Enhancing our historic Downtown district is another major strategic priority. In 2019 we made further strides to improving our one-of-a-kind Downtown. We completed a structural rehabilitation and added new lighting to our iconic water tower, adding character to the district at night. We purchased land for a new, expanded Library, which will enhance Downtown for years to come. Our art gallery on Main Street re-opened with a focus on more interactive programming, and residents can expect the continuation of great events like Music on Main, Beaujolais Nights, Christmas Family Night, Dia de los Muertos, the Fourth of July Parade and more.

Our tourism program continues to grow and succeed, and we have expanded its focus to include non-sports tourism as the Kalahari Resorts project nears completion. In 2019, we had more reason than ever to cheer Go Round Rock! We hosted three national championship events and received $78,000 in reimbursements from the Texas Events Trust Fund, and announced that Round Rock will host the Big 12 women’s soccer championship this coming fall, and for two years after that. Forest Creek Golf Club exceeded all expectations in its first year after a major renovation and finished in the black financially despite one of the wetter springs in recent memory.

Round Rock has a well-earned reputation for being one of America’s Safest Cities, and a number of initiatives in 2019 ensured we’ll maintain that status. Having the right tools and trained personnel in our Round Rock Fire Department allowed us to beat the national average for cardiac arrest survival rate by 4.6 percent. Our Community Risk Reduction program is a proactive approach  to find people in need before they have to call 9-1-1. We began construction of Fire Station No. 3 in La Frontera, which will improve response times in south Round Rock. Our outstanding Police Department made arrests in all three homicides we saw in 2019, and we successfully concluded our first independently operated Police Academy at our world-class Public Safety Training Center, graduating eight cadets who were sworn in as officers for our force.

Round Rock also has a reputation for being one of America’s most livable cities as well. There were a number of projects in 2019 that improved the quality of life we enjoy here even more. We completed a new section of the Brushy Creek East Trail between A.W. Grimes Boulevard and Georgetown Street. We increased our Neighborhood Services offerings to the community, helping neighbors to come together in meaningful ways. We successfully transitioned our hugely popular Chalk Walk event to a larger venue at Dell Diamond.

Following a public engagement process, the City Council approved an amended noise ordinance which has led to a better balance between businesses and residents in Downtown. Speaking of public engagement, we successfully interacted with our residents in the 2019-20 budget approval process and saw hundreds participate in a series of public meetings as we developed our long-term Comprehensive Plan, Round Rock 2030.

I could go on and on, but will wrap up this look back at 2019 by remembering two significant anniversaries we celebrated last year. The Round Rock Express played ball for a 20th season at the Dell Diamond, and Dell Technologies marked its 25th year in Round Rock. Both the Express and Dell Technologies came to Round Rock, in part, because of our strong planning. They both knew investing in Round Rock would pay off long term. It was a strength of our community two decades ago, and we’re even stronger and more well-positioned today to face whatever comes our way.

The future looks bright in Round Rock, and we know 2020 will be another successful year as we continue our tradition of putting our plans into action.

 

Mayor Morgan: City faces growth head-on through long-term planning

Mayor Craig Morgan pens a monthly column for the Round Rock Leader. This is a repost of his most recent feature.


Mayor Craig Morgan

At a recent City Council meeting, we voted to rename the City of Round Rock’s new public works building for former City Manager Bob Bennett. During a presentation on behalf of the committee that nominated him, City Attorney Steve Sheets recalled a presentation Bob gave in the late 1970s at a Kiwanis Club meeting, at the time when the population was edging toward 5,000, with the city limits settled between Gattis School Road and Bowman Road, from Georgetown Street and Sunrise Road to Deepwood Drive to the west. The City had one traffic light at Mays and Main Streets, with no frontage roads along IH-35. Bob, who also served as the City’s first planning and zoning director, estimated that the City of Round Rock would reach a population of 100,000 by the early 2000s, which was unthinkable at the time.

During his time at the City, Bob oversaw the development of a Master Transportation Plan that identified the need for many of our roads that exist today: A.W. Grimes, Kenney Fort, Old Settlers, FM 1431, 3406, Dell Way, Chisholm Trail, Wyoming Springs, Forest Creek and Louis Henna. In 1979, when the City’s water wells went dry, Bob immediately went to work to purchase water from Lake Georgetown and proposed a bond sale to construct a new raw water line and water treatment plant. He also developed our first water conservation plan, and pushed for construction of the wastewater plant that we use today. Our partnerships with the Round Rock Express baseball team and Dell Technologies also have Bob’s fingerprints on them. Some of these decisions weren’t always obvious or popular in the moment they were made, but are now integral to our city operations and culture as a community.

Just as Bob once predicted that the City of Round Rock would grow to accommodate more than 100,000 people, we find ourselves having to plan for a future beyond our current understanding of our community as we know it today. Current projections indicate that our full build out will result in a population of about 250,000.

Last month, City Council held our annual two-day retreat, which allows us time to update and reprioritize our Strategic Plan, the foundation for all long-term City initiatives. Our long-term goals haven’t changed much over the past few years, but we do revisit and reprioritize them as needed to meet the changing demands we face. Our strategic goals for the next five years remain the same from last year: 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; and Sustainable Neighborhoods – Old and New. 

This year will certainly be a year that moves us toward our strategic goals. The new year kicked off with the construction of our Downtown parklets, which will be completed in June and include new trees, tables and chairs, additional landscaping, lighting elements and expanded walkable space for pedestrians. We also plan to release more information this spring on the progress of the new library, which will be built on East Liberty Avenue, a block north of the current building. That project will also create a need for us to look at moving forward on plans to continue investment into Downtown infrastructure, particularly in the northeast area. All of these projects, along with private investment, will continue the redevelopment of Downtown into a special place that brings families, friends and our community closer together.

This year will also see several road projects under construction. Last year, City Council approved the first round of funding for $240 million in road projects that will add capacity and connectivity to our road network over the next five years. Our first round of projects expected to break ground in 2020 include the widening of University Boulevard from I-35 to Sunrise Bouelvard, and from A.W. Gimes Boulevard to State Highway 130; the widening of Gattis School Road from Via Sonoma Trail to Red Bud Lane; the extension of Logan Street from Greenlawn Boulevard to A.W. Grimes Boulevard; and extensions along Kenney Fort Boulevard from Old Settlers Boulevard to Joe DiMaggio Boulevard, as well as from Forest Creek Drive to State Highway 45. Our partners at the Texas Department of Transportation will also break ground on RM 620 improvements in the coming months. Although the construction phase of these projects will cause some short-term headaches, the improvements will result in better, safer commutes in the decades to come.

As a City that’s always on the move, it’s important that Round Rock’s leaders regularly check our course to make sure we’re navigating a path that will get us not only where we want to be tomorrow, but 15 years from now and beyond. We owe so much of what we have today to seeds that were planted in the past, and it’s important for us to continue set up Round Rock’s future generations and leadership for even more success. 

Round Rock teen provides 150 dog beds to animal shelter

If today’s students are tomorrow’s future, things are looking bright in Round Rock.

Cedar Ridge High School freshman Cooper Douglas, 14, embodied the Round Rock spirit of taking care of others with his recent Eagle Scout project. A member of Boy Scouts Troop 157, Douglas made 150 dog beds for the Williamson County Animal Shelter. 

Douglas had previously earned service hours by reading to dogs at the animal shelter, and decided to use his passion for animals to take his volunteering to the next level. For his Eagle Scout project, he put together a budget proposal and presented it at a troop board meeting. He mobilized volunteers, distributed materials and oversaw the creation of the beds.

“To be a good leader, you have to step outside your comfort zone into others,” he said. “A leader needs to be someone who shows an example.”

Douglas was promoted to Eagle Scout in July 2019, and the dog beds remain in use at the shelter today.

“It’s probably one of the happiest times of my life, just seeing everything come together and seeing happy animals,” he said. “Who doesn’t like a happy dog?”

Indeed, Cooper. Great job!

Learn more about volunteering at the Williamson County Animal Shelter at pets.wilco.org/volunteer

Wheels in motion to begin Driving Progress on transportation improvements

In 2019, the City of Round Rock put in place funding strategies to accelerate transportation improvements over the next five years – and beyond. The intent is to step up the pace of implementation of the $1.2 billion Transportation Master Plan approved in October 2017.

The City Council approved Roadway Impact Fees in March 2019, which will be paid by developers to cover some of the costs of expanding our transportation network necessitated by their projects. In April 2019, the City issued $30 million in certificates of obligation to begin work sooner rather than later on major roadway improvements such as widening Gattis School Road and University Boulevard.

The City has a target of investing a minimum of $240 million over the next five years to improve roadway capacity and connectivity in a program we’re calling Driving Progress. To reach that total, the City plans to issue additional COs over the next four years.

Other funding sources include our half-cent, Type B sales tax revenues, state and federal funds like those received through the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO); and partnerships with private developers. Funding for Round Rock projects is also expected via the general obligation bonds approved by Williamson County voters in November.

Here are some of the projects expected to break ground in 2020:

  • University Boulevard widening from the IH-35 frontage road to Sunrise Boulevard.
  • University Boulevard widening from A.W. Grimes Boulevard to SH 130.
  • Gattis School Road widening from Via Sonoma Trail to Red Bud Lane.
  • Logan Street extension from Greenlawn Boulevard to A.W. Grimes Boulevard.
  • Kenney Fort Boulevard extension from Old Settlers Boulevard to Joe DiMaggio Boulevard (known as Segment 4).
  • Kenney Fort Boulevard extension from Forest Creek Drive to SH 45 frontage road (known as Segments 2, 3).

Other projects in the Driving Progress program include:

  • Gattis School Road widening from .25 miles west of A.W. Grimes to .2 miles east of Double Creek Drive (known as Segment 3).
  • Wyoming Springs extension from Brightwater Boulevard/Creekbend Boulevard to FM 3406/Old Settler’s Boulevard.
  • Red Bud Lane North widening from Wal-Mart at U.S. 79 to County Road 117.
  • Red Bud Lane South widening from Evergreen Drive to Gattis School Road.

Partner in Progress

These lists don’t include the significant work being done by the Texas Department of Transportation in Round Rock, most notably the widening of RM 620 and improvements to IH 35.

Williamson County Animal Shelter offers free pet adoptions

It’s time to “Bark in the Mew Year” with free pet adoptions at the Williamson County Regional Animal Shelter!

The event, made possible thanks to a donation from the Petco Foundation, will take place through Saturday, Jan. 4.

All adult dogs over 20 pounds and all adult cats will be free to adopt as part of the promotional event and will be spayed/neutered, have age appropriate vaccinations and a registered microchip. Adopters will also receive a certificate for a free veterinary wellness exam as part of the adoption process.

The shelter is open Friday from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m.

For more information about the animal shelter, and to view a listing of adoptable animals, visit pets.wilco.org.

Mayor Morgan: Round Rock marks accomplishments in 2019

Mayor Craig Morgan pens a monthly column for the Round Rock Leader. This is a repost of his most recent feature.


Mayor Craig Morgan

At the city of Round Rock, we often focus on long-range planning, looking five to 10 years down the road as we consider policy decisions. But at the end of each year, it’s nice to take a step back and review all that we have been able to accomplish in just 12 months.

In 2019, we were named one of the Coolest Suburbs in America by Apartment Therapy and ranked No. 2 on Money’s list of Best Places to Live. Even with an increasing number of residents moving here to enjoy our beautiful parks, recreational activities, economic opportunities and safe neighborhoods, we’ve been able to maintain a family-friendly community that is distinctive by design.

The secret sauce to our success? It’s all found in our annual strategic planning process to establish a clear vision for the year ahead. Our strategic goals this year focused on providing high value services, ensuring we have necessary infrastructure in place, maintaining a great community environment for our residents, promoting tourism, providing an exciting community destination in downtown and sustaining our neighborhoods.

Transportation is the most visible piece of our infrastructure, and this year we made huge strides toward reaching our goal of ensuring an adequate transportation system for our residents. Our most recent Transportation Master Plan forecasts a need for $1.2 billion in projects to set our road network up for success by 2040.

That number is no doubt intimidating, but this year, the City Council committed to invest $240 million in funding for road projects over the next five years to improve capacity and connectivity. This is not including state-funded projects already in the works for RM 620 and Interstate 35 in Round Rock.

Part of the funding for our five-year plan will come from roadway impact fees that the Council enacted earlier this year, providing a dependable funding source from private development to meet increasing traffic demands as our community grows.

We expect our faucets and toilets to work when we use them, but it takes deliberate planning to ensure that we have the proper infrastructure in place to provide these essential services to our growing community.

This year, we entered the final design phase of a deep water intake project with our regional partners that will give us improved reliability in times of severe drought, and we invested $12.3 million from our utilities fund in water and wastewater capital improvements to maintain and expand our system. We made improvements to the Brushy Creek regional wastewater system to allow for greater pumping capacity, more efficient power usage and reduced chance for spills at the plant.

It’s easy to appreciate the value that downtown provides for our community at this time of year, when the evenings are filled with the laughter of families and youth taking pictures among glowing holiday lights.

Since adopting our Downtown Master Plan in 2010, we’ve invested $116.9 million in making Downtown an exciting destination that helps residents feel at home in the heart of their community. We paved the way for a new and improved Library this year by purchasing property for its new location, which is located directly behind the current library’s site. The new building, which was approved by voters in our 2013 bond election, is expected to be approximately 60,000 square feet and three stories, with an adjacent 300-stall parking garage.

This year also saw the completion of projects that offer improved recreational opportunities for our residents. Our parks and recreation department renovated the disc golf course at Old Settlers Park and built 1.14 miles of new trail along Brushy Creek between Veterans Park and the Rabb House. Residents will continue to see improvements to trails and playground equipment in the coming year.

Sports tourism thrived in 2019, with 45 out of 52 weekends booked at the Multipurpose Complex and 46 weekend events at the Sports Center. We set a new benchmark of $1 million in revenue at these facilities to help offset costs, and our local economy benefited from the tourism generated by these events. Forest Creek Golf Club exceeded all expectations in its first full year since its renovation, posting positive net income that can be reinvested into the course’s maintenance.

Development continued to see sustained growth this year. In 2018, the city set a record for the most building permits issued at 4,157, and 2019 is on pace to break that record. While we saw more single-family homes built in 2018 than this past year, we’ve seen bigger commercial projects like Kalahari, Embassy Suites, La Quinta and Avid Hotels come through the development pipeline in 2019.

More housing is on the way with this year’s annexation and zoning of more than 750 acres in northeast Round Rock, which combined will eventually create over 2,000 single family homes and up to 700 multifamily units. Zoning was also approved this year for an integrated senior living project that will include 400 senior and low-density multifamily units.

As our community continues to grow, the revitalization and social fabric of our existing neighborhoods remains an important area of focus.

Our neighborhood services division’s new Outdoor Movie Chest was checked out 31 times for neighborhoods to host movie nights, and we launched a new lawn care foster program and pole tree saw kit program to help community organizations mow lawns and trim trees for those in need. We empowered residents to improve their homes through the new fence staining kit, and we helped families in need with minor home repairs funded by the Community Development Block Grant program.

Our Police and Fire Departments also continued to build trust and engage with the community in positive, proactive ways. The Fire Department oversaw the installation of 377 smoke detectors during neighborhood cleanups, and the Police Department received an award from the International Association of Chiefs of Police for its Operation Front Porch program, which aims to curb package thefts.

Long-range planning, public safety and quality of life initiatives all play a major role in achieving the success we saw in 2019. These programs wouldn’t be possible without the staff who make them happen, or the input we receive from residents.

This year, we began the process of updating our comprehensive plan with a six-month public engagement process that will help us develop vision and policies for development of our city over the next decade. As with so much of what we do on City Council, residents who have taken the time to let their voices be heard are helping us shape our future in a way that we can be assured will have an overall positive effect on our city.

It’s truly a team effort to create such a dynamic community, and I look forward to everything we plan to accomplish in 2020.

It’s Emergency Preparedness Month: Are you ready?

September is Emergency Preparedness Month and the perfect time to make sure that you and your family are ready for whatever Mother Nature sends your way.

Over the years, Central Texas has witnessed the devastation that storms, flash floods and wildfire can cause. It’s time to take stock and ensure that if a weather event occurs here, everyone is ready. Knowing the risk and staying informed are two of the most important steps that can be taken in the preparedness journey.

Here are a few tips to help get started:

If we can’t reach you, we can’t alert you – register today for local alerts through WarnCentralTexas.org.

Blog: How we pay for basic city services may surprise you

fiscal 2020 budget graphic
The Round Rock City Council will vote Thursday, Sep. 26, on a slight increase in property taxes this coming year. While no one likes paying more in taxes, the increase is needed to ensure the City has the budget necessary to deliver the high-value services our citizens expect and build the infrastructure necessary to keep up with a growing population. 

While it’s easy to target property taxes as evidence of government spending run amok, consider this: For every $1 of residential property tax, the City uses another $4.36 from other sources to fund the $121 million General Fund budget, which pays for core services like Police, Fire, Library, Transportation, and Parks. Let that sink in a minute. 

Property taxes comprise just 35 percent of our General Fund. So where does the rest of the money for the General Fund come from? Sales taxes make up the largest source of revenue at 43 percent, with other fees and service charges covering the remaining 22 percent.  

Back to property taxes. Consider this: Even though single-family homes make up 92 percent of the properties in Round Rock, nearly half of all property tax revenues are paid by owners of non-single family property.  

Single-family homes will contribute $23 million — about 19 percent — of General Fund revenues forecast for fiscal 2020.  

What’s really interesting is that commercial properties (which includes multifamily) makeup just 8 percent of the real estate parcels, but are responsible for 46 percent of the $14.7 billion of the taxable value in Round Rock. That’s why the City works so hard with our partners at the Round Rock Chamber to attract businesses like Kalahari Resorts and Conventions and UPS to locate here. They’re capital-intensive businesses that contribute significantly to our property tax base. 

Think about it this way: If all the City had was property tax revenue to fund general government, we could only afford Police and the Library, with $5 million dollars left over for everything else – Fire, Parks and Recreation, Transportation, General Services and support services like Finance and Information Technology.   

To drill down even further: If all the City had was single-family property tax revenue, we couldn’t cover the Fire Department’s $24 million budget.  

Property tax proposal  

Let’s look at the proposed property tax rate. The City Council is considering a property tax rate of 43.9 cents per $100 of valuation, an increase of 3.7 cents above this year’s effective tax rate of 40.2 cents. The effective tax rate takes into account the 5 percent growth in existing property values from last year. The increase allows the City to fund one-time public safety equipment replacements (.5 cent), debt payments for a five-year road improvement program (1.5 cents) and to keep up with rising operating costs of public safety and city services, including 10 new employees, six of whom are needed for public safety (1.7 cents). 

At the proposed rate, the owner of a median value home worth $255,198 will pay $93 per month in City property taxes next year. That’s an additional $8.84 per month compared to this year. You can use our handy calculator to determine what your property tax will be based on the value of your home. 

Still, City property taxes could be a lot higher.

If voters hadn’t approved increasing the local sales rate back in the 1980s, your City property tax bill would be 25 percent higher. A half-cent of the 2 cents in local sales tax that shoppers pay in Round Rock goes directly to property tax reduction. That half-cent is equal to 15 cents on the property tax rate. That saves the median value homeowner $372 a year on their City tax bill. (That’s a really great reason to Shop the Rock.) 

Bringing in more sales tax revenue is a primary goal of our Sports Capital of Texas tourism program. Visitors who come to play here also shop and dine here, which helps pay for basic City services and takes upward pressure off the property tax rate.  

Strong sales tax revenue and a successful tourism program are big reasons why Round Rock’s property tax rate compares favorably in Central Texas and beyond. 

 

Your total property tax bill 

Of course, the City is only one entity which you pay property taxes to. Other taxing entities are Round Rock ISD, Williamson County, Austin Community College and the Brushy Creek Water Control and Improvement District. 

The City takes up about 19 percent of your total tax bill. RRISD accounts for 56 percent, Williamson County is 18 percent, and ACC and the WCID make up the final 7 percent. So out of a total tax bill of $5,900 for the median value home, you’re paying about $1,100 toward City services. Again, we think we offer amazing value for your property tax dollars here at the City.  

 

By no means are we saying quit complaining about property taxes. We’re just offering some perspective on how we leverage property taxes to fund City government in Round Rock. Providing remarkable value to our property taxpayers has been a foundational element in Round Rock’s future focus for many years, and this year’s budget and tax rate are no exception. 

Blog: Budget proposal targets major improvements to roadway network

fiscal 2020 budget graphic
How do you implement a $1.2 billion Transportation Master Plan?

One year at a time.

In the proposed Fiscal Year 2020 budget, the City of Round Rock is investing $69.3 million into our transportation network. As highlighted in our first FY20 budget blog post, the largest part of the $444.7 million budget is for infrastructure.

The Transportation Master Plan lays out the expansions, extensions and new roadways needed over the next 20 years to keep up with our growing population. Granted, $1.2 billion is a big number. But few would argue there’s a bigger problem in Round Rock than traffic.

There’s little the City can do to improve flows on I-35, the busiest and most congested roadway in town. That’s a Texas Department of Transportation responsibility, and the good news is the state agency has and is and will be spending tens of millions of dollars on interstate improvements in Round Rock.

The most important transportation element in the proposed budget is funding for the first year of the planned five-year, $240 million transportation improvement program. The projects targeted in that program include:

  • Kenney Fort Boulevard extension from Forest Creek Drive to SH 45
  • Gattis School Road widening from A.W. Grimes Boulevard to Double Creek Drive
  • Gattis School Road widening from Via Sonoma to Red Bud Lane, including improvements to the intersection at Red Bud Lane
  • University Boulevard/Chandler Road improvements from A.W. Grimes Boulevard to SH 130
  • Engineering for the extension of Wyoming Springs Drive from Creek Bend Boulevard to FM 3406

The City Council approved in April $30 million in Certificates of Obligation (COs) to pay for the ​initial round of work for the program.

The COs have an impact of 1.5 cents on the proposed property tax rate. Other funding for the program is expected to come from roadway impact fees from developers; state and federal funds such as CAMPO grants, which have already contributed $29 million to the Kenney Fort Boulevard, Gattis School Road and University Boulevard projects; the half-cent, Type B sales tax revenues; and partnerships with private developers.

Other projects slated for funding in the proposed budget include:

  • University Boulevard widening to six lanes from I-35 to Sunrise Road
  • $4.3 million for street maintenance
  • The extension of McNeil Road east to Georgetown Street, an important project for Downtown
  • Reconstruction of RM 620 from I-35 to Deepwood Drive (TxDOT is funding the majority of this project)
  • Connecting Logan Street to A.W. Grimes Boulevard
  • Subdivision sidewalk improvements
  • Relocation and consolidation of Transportation Department staff into a new facility on Luther Peterson Drive
  • Turn lanes into the Kalahari Resorts property from Kenney Fort Boulevard

Ensuring adequate funding to build out our transportation network is one of the key ways the FY20 budget is focused on our future. We’ve got a ways to go, but we’ve made significant progress in recent years and more improvements — including $69 million worth in FY20 — are on the way.

Blog: Budget tells story of City focused on service delivery, future growth 

fiscal 2020 budget graphic
We usually don’t think about budgets telling a story, but they do. And the City of Round Rock’s
proposed fiscal year 2020 budget tells the story of an organization focused on the future 

Of course, the budget will fund the daily activities needed to successfully run our city — with a population of 116,120 and growing — from October 2019 to September 2020. But the FY20 budget is particularly shaped by the City Council’s strategic priorities, which include ensuring we have infrastructure in place to effectively manage our growth.   

In addition to infrastructure, those priorities include maintaining a family-friendly community that’s safe, with high value services and great neighborhoods, and that draws visitors through our tourism program and an authentic Downtown. 

The proposed $444.7 million budget includes $214 million for capital projects like roads and utility infrastructure, $125 million for daily expenses – including 11 new employees – and $106 million for utility and drainage operations and our sports tourism program and facilities. The City Council is scheduled to make its final budget vote on Sept. 12. 

Here are some of the highlights from this year’s budget: 

Transportation 

  • Total capital spending for transportation is proposed to be $69.3 million 
  • Annual funding for neighborhood street maintenance  of $4.3 million. The City has invested $12.5 million in street maintenance projects recently completed or currently inprogress
  • McNeil (East Bagdad) Extension  will extend  McNeil Road east to Georgetown Street in Downtown
  • Significant engineering and staff work to prepare  for a five-year, $240 million transportation improvement program  – including Kenney Fort Boulevard, Gattis School  Road, Red Bud Lane and University Boulevard 

Public Safety 

  • Construction of a new Fire Station No. 3, needed to improve response times in south Round Rock, estimated to be completed in November 2020 
  • A new truck for the Fire Department’s fleet
  • Hiring an  additional Fire Code Inspector to help the Fire Prevention division keep up with the City’s  commercial and residential growth
  • Two additional police officers  and two  additional  victims’ assistants  to support efforts to keep  Round Rock one of safest cities in nation, along  with an additional assistant for public safety vehicle maintenance 

Recreation/Cultural amenities 

  • Continued work on the expansion of our trail system including the Brushy Creek,  Heritage and Lake Creek trails – funded by bonds approved by voters in 2013
  • Design of our new library facility to be built in  Downtown, just north of its existing location
  • Construction of Behrens Ranch Park and updates to Mesa Village Park and Bradford  Park 

Downtown 

The General Fund, which pays for core services like Police, Fire, Library, Transportation and Parks, is funded through sales taxes, property taxes and other fees and services. The charts below show where the money comes from for the General Fund, and where it is spent.  

That’s it for Chapter 1 of the budget story. In future FY20 budget blog posts, we’ll dig deeper into transportation funding and the tax rate proposal. We hope you’ll follow along, as we tell the story of a city focused on delivering needed services in a fiscally responsible way with a sharp eye on the future.