Keeping up with infrastructure demands in one of the fastest-growing cities in the state and nation has long been a priority for Round Rock leaders. It takes foresight and funding, and the fiscal 2021 budget provides $192.1 million when it comes to meeting infrastructure needs.
Our Community Investment Program (CIP) makes up nearly half of the $420.2 million budget the City Council will vote on at its Thursday, Sept. 10 meeting.
The budget proposal reduces overall spending by $25 million from the original fiscal 2020 budget, due to declining revenues caused by the coronavirus pandemic. But we’re ensuring our capital needs are met by prudent planning, use of long-term debt and regional partnerships to get the big jobs done during a temporary economic slowdown.
The biggest chunk of infrastructure spending will go toward transportation needs, at $91.7 million. We’ll be in Year 3 of our five-year Driving Progress program, which will invest $240 million to improve traffic flows in Round Rock. Much of the funding for that program comes from certificates of obligation, which are long-term notes backed by property taxes. As noted in a previous budget blog post, a silver lining in the COVID-19 cloud was the City’s ability to borrow money at a significantly lower interest rate this year compared to last year.
Among the transportation projects on tap for fiscal 2021 are:
- Construction starts – Gattis School Road Segment 6, Kenney Fort Boulevard Segments 2-3 and 4, Logan Street connection, University Boulevard extension, University Boulevard widening and Oakmont Drive extension
- Engineering progress – Gattis School Road Segment 3, Red Bud Drive North and South, Wyoming Springs and Old Settlers Boulevard extension
- Scheduled completion – North Mays extension, Logan Drive bridge and railroad quiet zones.
Utility infrastructure makes up more than $77 million in CIP spending planned for fiscal 2021. Expansion of the regional wastewater treatment plant highlights the investments, at $44.7 million. That project is a partnership of the cities of Round Rock, Austin, Cedar Park and Leander, which allows us to achieve savings through economies of scale on one of our most basic services. Other utility projects include measures to deal with zebra mussels at Lake Georgetown as well as improvements to the Lake Creek wastewater line. Stormwater improvements are slated for $5.2 million.
And then there are “quality of life” projects targeted for investments in FY 21 (though, let’s face, it’s hard to imagine any decent quality of life without good roads and utility infrastructure) like parks and the library.
The budget earmarks $8.6 million for three trail extensions – Heritage Trail East, Heritage Trail West and the Lake Creek Trail. All three are being paid for with proceeds from the 2013 bond election.
Last but certainly not least is the new library. While we won’t break ground on the structure in FY 21, there are expenses for engineering and site preparation. Estimated completion of the new library is scheduled for November 2023.
That’s certainly not all the capital projects in the budget for next fiscal year, but the City’s goal to make these kinds of investments as our population continues to grow – even in the midst of a pandemic – remains on track.