top news

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.

Are you missing out on important weather alerts?

Most Central Texans know firsthand how unpredictable our weather can be. With continuous new technology and numerous notification systems available, it can be difficult to know the best place to look for the most up-to-date information.

Our mobile devices make it easier than ever to receive weather alerts and emergency messages in real-time. Cell phone providers allow automated alerts to be pushed directly to our phones, and a growing number of services provide weather alerts though text messaging (SMS), email, phone calls and apps. Here’s a breakdown of alerts that you should know about:

Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA)

Most people have received automatic messages about flash flooding accompanied by a loud ringer or vibration on their phone — these are notifications through the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) system, which automatically pushes weather alerts from the National Weather Service directly to your phone through a location-based technology. No opt-in is required for these important messages.

In addition to WEA, there are other region-specific services that allow users to create an account, opt-in, and receive alerts. Sign up for these alert systems today to receive important local updates in Round Rock:

Warn Central Texas

  • Web-based regional notification system to alert the public to emergency and non-emergency situations
  • User chooses what type(s) of alerts they want to receive and how they want to receive the alerts, such as text message, phone call and/or email
  • Alerts are sent based off the location that was used to register for an account
  • System was updated in October 2018 — learn more and update your contact information
  • To registerwarncentraltexas.org

WILCO Ready App

  • Helps citizens of Williamson County to stay prepared and protect loved ones in an emergency
  • You can create your family emergency plan
  • Live information on evacuation routes and shelters
  • Library of emergency preparedness guides
  • To registerreadydl.com/wilco-ready

Don’t forget to check tried and true methods to receive weather information such as television, broadcast radio, and NOAA All-Hazards Radio.

As you can see, there are many ways people can be alerted when it comes to severe weather. Users can utilize multiple alerting tools to ensure they are covered wherever they go. With so many methods made widely available in multiple languages, we are able to be a more prepared community. Be ready, Round Rock!

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.

Shop the Rock to give back to your community

Improve your community by shopping the Rock this holiday season! By choosing to spend your money at businesses in Round Rock, you help build our community through sales tax.

The sales tax rate in Round Rock is 8.25 percent, with the state of Texas collecting 6.25 percent and the City 2 percent. Of the City’s share:

  • 1 percent funds basic local government services like police, fire protection, parks and the library
  • .5 percent helps reduce property taxes
  • .5 percent funds economic development, primarily construction of major transportation improvements

The half-cent economic development portion of sales tax has allowed the City to leverage $293 million into $535 million worth of projects since it was approved by voters in 1997.

Whether you’re shopping, dining or running errands, be sure to keep it local. Your city will thank you!

Jumpstart your holidays with these very merry events in Round Rock

There’s no place like home for the holidays, and Round Rock is offering plenty of very merry activities to help you get in the spirit of the season.

Take a stroll through Downtown Round Rock’s winter wonderland.

Downtown will be brighter than ever this winter! Downtown Round Rock’s Hometown Holiday light extravaganza will begin twinkling to life starting Saturday, Dec. 1 and last through Dec. 31. Trees draped in the warm glow of lights will guide your path to perfect selfie spots including larger than life ornaments, gift boxes and archways.

Burn some calories with the family (to make room for more pie, of course!).

Round Rock Parks and Recreation and Rotary Club of Round Rock Sunrise invite you to take a break between holiday meals with the Reindeer Run 5K and Family Fun Run at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 1 at the Williamson County Old Settlers Association. This year’s run features several new light displays and a snowy starting line. Runners are encouraged to dress in festive clothing and costumes, and will receive light-up reindeer noses after registration while supplies last. There will be plenty of fun activities for the whole family and Santa photo opportunities. Learn more and register

Leave any stress of the holiday season behind at a Christmas carnival.

Bring your family to Christmas Towne at the Old Settlers Association and the Dell Diamond parking lot Dec. 13-23 to see amazing light displays including a walking tunnel of lights, full-scale carnival rides, holiday refreshments and more. Hours vary; for more information and ride prices, visit Round Rock Parks and Recreation’s website.

Watch Santa Claus and Mayor Morgan light the iconic water tower and Christmas tree.

Starting at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7, join us for Christmas Family Night in Downtown Round Rock with activities for the entire family including live music, dancers, candle making, game booths, Frosty the Snowman, Santa Claus and more. The water tower will be lit during a special ceremony with Mayor Craig Morgan. Children should bring their “wish lists” for Santa Claus and parents are encouraged to bring their own cameras for pictures with Santa. Plus, enjoy free hot dogs, popcorn, hot chocolate, and other refreshments, activities and snacks.

Get into character at one of the Round Rock Library’s seasonal puppet shows.

Join the Round Rock Public Library, 216 E. Main St., for one of seven free performances of the puppet show, “Jingle Elf’s Gingerbread Man.” This silly and fun show will take place multiple times on Dec. 7, 12 and 13 in Meeting Room C, and is best enjoyed by families with children ages 1-7. For a full schedule, check out the show’s Facebook event page.

See model trains come to life through the eyes of a child.

All aboard! Bring your family to ArtSpace, 231 E. Main St., to see miniature landscapes and cityscapes come to life in the Holiday Model Trains exhibit. Hosted by Round Rock Arts, this event is free and open to the public through Dec. 31. Trains will operate from noon to 5 p.m. on Wednesdays through Sundays.

Give back to others by donating gifts through Blue Santa.

Round Rock Operation Blue Santa is a non-profit organization established in 1978 by the volunteers and employees of the Round Rock Police, Fire, and Parks and Recreation Departments. The program has grown to serve more than 1,600 individuals annually and is supported entirely by the community in the form of donations. Round Rock Operation Blue Santa accepts new, unwrapped toys and wrapping paper. Look for donation sites around town (including the Police Department and all fire stations) or donate online.

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.

 

 

Love the Rock 2018, by the numbers

Love the Rock 2018More than 1,000 volunteers joined forces with the City of Round Rock to “Love the Rock” on Oct. 27.

Round Rock’s annual Love the Rock volunteer event kicked off at Stoney Point High School before volunteers from 40 different churches came together for a single day of volunteer service in our community. 

Volunteers performed voluntary fire safety inspections and smoke detector installation, neighborhood cleanup assistance and curb address painting in the Mesa Ridge and Mesa Village neighborhoods. Using tools from the City’s Tool Lending Center, volunteers mowed and weeded lawns, trimmed trees and bushes, hauled heavy items and more.

So how did we do this year? Here’s the total impact, by the numbers:

  • 28 tons of bulk trash collected
  • 5.8 tons of brush recycled
  • 17 low-hanging tree code issues resolved
  • 25 homes received cleanup assistance
  • 95 tools checked out from Tool Lending Center
  • 272 addresses painted on curbs
  • 204 smoke alarms installed in 70 homes
  • 16 fire suppression devices installed above stoves
  • 200-300 yards of mulch spread in parks

This event was about much more than just numbers, though. As Mayor Craig Morgan said, “It’s about people, and taking care of our own.” Take a look:

Thanks to all of our amazing volunteers! Your servant hearts are what make Round Rock a great place to live.

After 10 months of planning, public input, City presents roadway impact fee proposal

Round Rock, we have a problem.

The City’s current methods of funding the transportation infrastructure needed to keep Round Rock moving do not provide enough capital to meet the increasing traffic demands we face. The Transportation Master Plan adopted by the City Council in October 2017 determined $1.2 billion in new infrastructure is needed to accommodate Round Rock’s ultimate population of 250,000. Property tax and sales tax revenues, along with state and federal funds, are our present funding sources. But those aren’t enough. So, beginning in January 2018, the City of Round Rock began the process to explore Roadway Impact Fees as an additional source of funds.

Impact fees are a mechanism for funding the public infrastructure necessitated by new development. When a new residential subdivision or business park is proposed, we can determine how much new traffic those projects will create based on their size and use and charge a fee to the developer to help pay for improvements needed to accommodate that increased demand on our roadway system.

In short, impact fees help growth pay for itself.

City staff and consultant Kimley-Horn have had several meetings with developers over the past 10 months to discuss the fee. A primary concern we heard was the new fee would render projects unaffordable, and drive development to neighboring communities. We understand that concern. We have researched other Texas cities that have implemented roadway impact fees and there has not been any conclusive impact on the pace of development.

In Round Rock, we’ve had utility impact fees since 1989, and the City certainly hasn’t seen any discernable negative impacts on development. Utility impact fees have helped Round Rock build one of the strongest utility systems in the state – it is one of only 10 cities in Texas with an AAA utility credit rating, the highest possible – and our water and wastewater rates are among the lowest in the region.

Proposal

Our current plan is to phase in the Roadway Impact Fee, to give developers ample lead time to plan financing for their projects while still providing a critical funding source for the City to help pay for much-needed road improvements.

According to our capital needs study, the maximum fee the City could impose is $2,511 per base service unit. Our proposal would assess 30 percent of that maximum for residential development and 20 percent of that maximum for non-residential development in 2019. The fee would ramp up to 60 percent for residential and 30 percent for non-residential by 2022. 

The City Council, which has held multiple public hearings on the issue, will discuss roadway impact fees at a workshop on Dec. 6. The plan going forward is to adopt an ordinance this spring, with an effective date of Oct. 1, 2019. To provide input to the City Council, send an email to impactfee@roundrocktexas.gov.

5 things to know about Tuesday’s rain in Round Rock

Central Texas received an immense amount of rain on Tuesday, and forecasts predict that this is only the beginning. Here’s what you need to know:

RRFD performed swift water rescues in Kingsland on Tuesday.

1. Devastation hit close to home. Pictures of catastrophic flooding saturated social media and the news as nearby communities were hit hard by flooding along the Llano River. Round Rock Fire Department mobilized a boat crew early Tuesday that headed down to Kingsland, working side by side with Williamson County Emergency Services and Austin Fire Department to perform swift water rescues. Our thoughts continue to be with those affected by the storms.

2. More rain is expected for heavy-hit areas. “The region remains very sensitive to additional rainfall and a Flash Flood Watch will remain in effect for parts of South Central Texas through Thursday evening,” according to the National Weather Service (NWS). One reading posted by the NWS showed that Round Rock received 6.12 inches over a 48-hour period as of Tuesday morning.

3. Turn around; don’t drown. While the amount of rain wasn’t catastrophic, it definitely resulted in the closure of some low water crossings in Round Rock, and City crews had to close the Chisholm Trail crossing to clear debris this morning. Even our namesake rock was struggling to stay above water. Be sure to stay up-to-date on the latest low water crossings by visiting atxfloods.com. Round Rock Police Department also released a very timely video earlier this month about the importance of paying attention to low water crossings:

4. There are plenty of resources to make sure you’re prepared for future emergencies. With such devastating flooding happening so close to us, it makes one wonder — am I prepared for something like this? Now’s as good a time as any to brush up on the ways you can prepare for a flooding incident. A great source of information for emergency preparedness, including for floods, is available at ready.gov

Ironically, a Flash Flood Training planned for Round Rock on Wednesday evening has been postponed due to the weather — stay tuned for future updates on a new date. The training sessions focus solely on flooding issues of the region and discuss the meteorology behind the record flooding that Central Texas can receive. 

5. Well, at least the rain’s been good for one thing. After a lengthy summer of dry conditions, our primary source of drinking water, Lake Georgetown, received some much needed help from Tuesday’s downpour.

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.