‘We have the ability to weather the storm': West Lake Hills mayor assesses financial impact of COVID-19

West Lake Hills City Council met virtually May 13 to discuss a potential budget amendment. (Amy Rae Dadamo/Community Impact Newspaper)
West Lake Hills City Council met virtually May 13 to discuss a potential budget amendment. (Amy Rae Dadamo/Community Impact Newspaper)

West Lake Hills City Council met virtually May 13 to discuss a potential budget amendment. (Amy Rae Dadamo/Community Impact Newspaper)

Despite the significant hit on sales tax revenue, West Lake Hills is in relatively good financial shape amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to Mayor Linda Anthony.

City Council members met virtually May 13 to evaluate a proposed budget amendment for fiscal year 2019-20. The city is facing a net change of $401,278 on the general fund balance, in part due to a decrease of $300,000 in estimated sales tax.

City Administrator Travis Askey noted that sales tax data released in June will better reflect the impact of COVID-19.

“Our approach is to be as cautious as we can and as conservative with our revenue estimate,” Askey said.

When drafting the 2019-20 budget, West Lake Hills officials were also anticipating receiving funds from the sale of a city-owned plot of land at 110 Westlake Drive. The sale totaling $1,563,803 cannot close until all site plans have been approved, according to Anthony, who said this will not take place in the current fiscal year.

In total, West Lake Hills reported a $1,922,103 decrease in general fund revenue. However, due to decreases in administration and public works expenses, the overall hit will not be as large.

The proposed amendment reflects a $221,000 reduction in administrative expenses as well as a $1,299,825 reduction in public works expenses.

“We have the ability to weather the storm,” Anthony said. “That’s not to minimize the fact that the sales tax hit is substantial, and we don’t know when that might level off.”

Anthony attributed this to the city’s five-year plans and historically prudent and cautious spending. Council may decide to trim expenses in FY 2020-21 by potentially postponing public works projects.

“In fact, the only project that I think we should proceed with is the project that we’re doing in conjunction with Water District 10 for Wildcat Hollow and Harbor View,” Anthony said.

Progress on the project, which is centered on a water line construction, is already underway, and the city was able to reduce expenses by involving Water District 10.

At this time, the proposed amendment to the FY 2019-20 budget has not been finalized. Action will be requested at the May 27 council meeting.
By Amy Rae Dadamo
Amy Rae Dadamo is the reporter for Lake Travis-Westlake, where her work focuses on city government and education. Originally from New Jersey, Amy Rae relocated to Austin after graduating from Ramapo College of New Jersey in May 2019.


Graphic of a coronavirus unit
COVID-19 rates after Thanksgiving have yet to climb, but experts say spike could still be coming

As Austin awaits a vaccine whose first doses could arrive by the end of 2020, health officials say the impact of Thanksgiving gatherings on the spread of the virus could take time to show up.

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board has launched a campaign to address declining college enrollment numbers across the state since the pandemic started. (Courtesy Pexels)
Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board launches campaign to boost college enrollment

The decline in college enrollment across the state of Texas has prompted several agencies to partner up and create online resources for students and counselors.

Foster Angels of Central Texas is hosting a toy drive for Central Texas teens living in foster care. (Courtesy Foster Angels of Central Texas)
10 Lake Travis-Westlake nonprofits to support this Giving Tuesday

As the holiday season approaches, Dec. 1 marks Giving Tuesday, an official day of global generosity.

Frontyard Brewing opened Nov. 14 in Spicewood. (Amy Rae Dadamo/Community Impact Newspaper)
Spicewood sees addition of new brewery and more business news from the Lake Travis-Westlake area

Here is the most recent business news from the Lake Travis-Westlake area.

Local health leaders are urging caution ahead of Thanksgiving. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Ahead of Thanksgiving, Travis County health officials urge caution

Austin Public Health leaders say gatherings with people outside one's household held indoors and without masks pose the greatest risk.

Harini Logan, 10, won the 66th annual Express-News Spelling Bee at the University of Texas at San Antonio downtown campus on March 17, 2019. For 2021, the event is slated to be held in March at the Brauntex Performing Arts Theatre in New Braunfels. (Photo by Jerry Lara, courtesy the San Antonio Express News)
New Braunfels to host regional spelling bee and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from Central Texas.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced a COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan for the state Nov. 23 for a vaccine he said could be available as soon as December. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announces COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan

The vaccine could start being distributed "as early as next month," according to a Nov. 23 news release.

P. Terry’s Burger Stand is expected to open its long-awaited Pflugerville location this January. (Courtesy P. Terry's Burger Stand)
P. Terry's to open in Pflugerville in January and more Central Texas news

Read the latest Central Texas business and community news.

Austin voters approved a $7.1 billion public transit expansion Nov. 3 that will add bus and rail in Austin. (Design by Miranda Baker/Community Impact Newspaper)
After historic public transportation vote, here is what's next for Project Connect in Austin

Shovels won't be hitting the ground on the light rail and downtown tunnel for years, but work is getting started now after Austinites approved the $7.1 billion plan Nov. 3.

Laura Colangelo
Q&A: Laura Colangelo discusses challenges facing private schools during pandemic

Colangelo said private schools have adapted to remote learning and other obstacles in 2020 despite less revenue and a 9% decline in enrollment statewide.

Hamilton Pool Road residents protest outside of Bee Cave City Council on Nov. 10. (Courtesy Nancy Hernandez)
West Travis County Public Utility Agency delays settlement decision on development off Hamilton Pool Road

A lawsuit between the West Travis County Public Utility Agency and the developers of a Provence, a subdivision off Hamilton Pool Road, will remain unresolved following a decision made during a Nov. 19 board meeting.

Festival attendees will have access to augmented reality artworks throughout the galleria. (Courtesy Bee Cave Arts Foundation)
Inaugural interactive light festival coming soon to Bee Cave and more Central Texas updates

Read the latest business and community news from the Austin area.