Pflugerville mayor reflects on COVID-19, resilient business community in State of the City address

In his 2020 address, Pflugerville Mayor Victor Gonzales highlighted the achievements and difficulties of a year marked by the coronavirus pandemic. (Screenshot courtesy Pflugerville Chamber of Commerce)
In his 2020 address, Pflugerville Mayor Victor Gonzales highlighted the achievements and difficulties of a year marked by the coronavirus pandemic. (Screenshot courtesy Pflugerville Chamber of Commerce)

In his 2020 address, Pflugerville Mayor Victor Gonzales highlighted the achievements and difficulties of a year marked by the coronavirus pandemic. (Screenshot courtesy Pflugerville Chamber of Commerce)

In 2019, Pflugerville Mayor Victor Gonzales stood in the Courtyard by Marriott Austin Pflugerville to deliver his State of the City address. On Dec. 8, Gonzales addressed the Pflugerville community via Zoom—a meeting format reflective of the times, he said.

“You can’t talk about 2020 without talking about COVID-19,” Gonzales said.

In his 2020 address, Gonzales highlighted the achievements and difficulties of a year marked by the coronavirus pandemic. However, amid the public health crisis, Gonzales praised the work of city staff, chamber leaders, business owners and residents for their resiliency and strength.

From a financial perspective, Gonzales said Pflugerville has traditionally budgeted its sales tax revenue conservatively in years prior, adding it was not as hard hit due to Pflugerville’s lack of dependence on tourism revenues. The city budgeted $11.35 million in its sales tax collections for the fiscal year and anticipates completing two new hotels near Stone Hill Town Center in 2021, an additional financial stream for the city’s hotel occupancy taxes.

Gonzales noted the upcoming Amazon distribution center is “probably one of the focal points” residents will be tracking in 2021. Pflugerville City Council and the Pflugerville Community Development Corp. approved an economic development agreement with Amazon for its upcoming site. Per the agreement, Amazon will stay in Pflugerville for a minimum of 10 years and hire 1,000 employees—an achievement that will redefine development of the city’s eastern portion and its employment pipeline, Gonzales said.


Alongside the anticipation of larger-scale projects such as Amazon coming online, Gonzales credited Pflugerville’s small-business community as the fabric of the city. He congratulated the work of the Pflugerville Chamber of Commerce and PCDC on the Pflugerville Pfund, a small-business grant program that raised more than $100,000 and benefitted 38 locally owned businesses.

The city’s population growth has reflected Pflugerville’s evolving needs for new infrastructure to accommodate more residents, Gonzales said. Pflugerville voters approved a three-part special bond election in November, a $191.3 million package that included infrastructure improvements, transportation, and parks and recreation projects along with a combined senior and recreation center.

Council also approved the establishment of a transportation pickup pilot program to launch in spring 2021. This initiative has been years in the making and will help “serve the underserved community,” such as senior citizens or those with mobility challenges, Gonzales said.

First elected to Pflugerville City Council in 2006, Gonzales said he believed the city should always be looking 50 years ahead to adequately plan for the future. Fourteen years later, he said the city is far closer to making once conceptual ideas tangible realities.

“We have come a long way, even in the last 14 years, which have probably been the fastest growth years in the city,” he said. “It has taken commitment.”

The pandemic has challenged the way the city operates and provides for its citizens, Gonzales said. At the start of the address, Pflugerville Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Shontel Mays said it has forced virtually every industry, business and person to rethink their operations and reinvent new strategies.

“2020 has been a lot of things, and easy is not one of them,” Mays said.

In spite of the pandemic, both Mays and Gonzales said Pflugerville has proven its resiliency time and again. The strength of the city is determined by difficult moments, and COVID-19 has been no exception, Gonzales said.

With new businesses coming online in 2021, approved transportation and parks projects in the works, and the 87th Texas legislative session beginning Jan. 12, positive changes are on the horizon, he said.

“This, too, will be a thing of the past, and we will forge forward,” Gonzales said.
By Kelsey Thompson
Kelsey Thompson is the reporter for Round Rock, Pflugerville and Hutto, where her work focuses on education, city government and community development. Originally from Upstate New York, Kelsey relocated to Austin after graduating from Syracuse University in May 2019.


MOST RECENT

Snow covers I-45 in Houston during a winter storm that hit Texas the night of Feb. 14. (Shawn Arrajj/Community Impact Newspaper)
Legislators probe energy officials over power failures, lack of preparation heading into winter storm

The Texas Legislature held hearings Feb. 25 with energy companies including Oncor Electric Delivery and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas in response to last week’s historic winter storm, which left millions of Texans without electricity for days.

As many as 31 stores across nine states will be shuttered as Fry's Electronics shuts down due to market changes and the pandemic. (Courtesy Qygen, Wikimedia Commons)
Fry's Electronics calls it quits after nearly 36 years in business

As many as 31 stores across nine states will be shuttered as Fry's Electronics shuts down due to market changes and the pandemic.

A lone runner jogs on a snow-covered road in Austin. Transportation projects across the city were briefly paused due to Winter Storm Uri. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
ERCOT: Texas power system was less than 5 minutes from collapse during winter storm

ERCOT's CEO offered details into what led to the massive blackouts that left millions of Texans in the cold last week.

cars on snowy road
Texas Disaster Declaration opens door to federal aid for losses sustained during winter storms

Individuals and businesses who sustained losses during the winter storm are eligible for federal assistance, according to a Texas Disaster Declaration approved

ERCOT president and chief executive Bill Magness (left) was joined by the electric grid manager's senior director of system operations Dan Woodfin on Feb. 19 for a briefing on the company's emergency operations. (Screenshot via ERCOT livestream)
ERCOT chief: 'We are completely back to normal operations' as of Feb. 19

Officials with the Texas electric grid manager also said they are preparing for state and federal reviews of this week's power outages.

H-E-B stores across Texas have limited store hours and placed purchase limits on some high-demand products due to ongoing severe winter weather, H-E-B officials announced Feb. 19. (Courtesy H-E-B)
H-E-B, Central Market limit store hours, product purchases due to severe winter weather

H-E-B stores across Texas have limited store hours and placed purchase limits on some high-demand products due to ongoing severe winter weather, H-E-B officials announced Feb. 19.

Gov. Greg Abbott provided updates on the state's emergency response efforts during a Feb. 18 press conference. (Screenshot of April 17 press conference)
Gov. Greg Abbott: Power restored to nearly 2M homes in past day; statewide aid efforts continuing

While power generation has been restored to serve most Texas residents, Abbott said state agencies remain focused on water and food distribution Feb. 18.

Although tens of thousands of megawatts remain off the statewide power grid Feb. 17, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said relief is on the way for many Texans within the next 24 hours. (Hannah Zedaker/Community Impact Newspaper)
Gov. Abbott: Power restoration on the way for 1M households in next 24 hours

Although tens of thousands of megawatts remain off the statewide power grid Feb. 17, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said relief is on the way for many Texans within the next 24 hours.

Severe winter weather conditions led to outages throughout the Texas electric system this week. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)
'Something that you could have planned for': How isolated Texas power grid, winter weather left millions without electricity

As of Feb. 17, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas said it was still working to restore electric service to customers throughout the state.

An Austin Fire Department truck drives down Manor Road on Feb. 15. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Texans urged to use caution as carbon monoxide cases increase during power outages

Carbon monoxide poisoning calls have increased as people look for ways to stay warm without power and heat.

Many in Texas are battling power outages amid frigid temperatures. (Courtesy Rico Daniels)
Gov. Greg Abbott calls for investigation of ERCOT, Texas' electric reliability council

As of 1:20 p.m., over 4 million customers were out of power, according to ERCOT.

graph showing power demand out pacing grid capacity
Texas enters second day of blackouts

Although outages were initially intended to last for less than one hour, local grid operators are reporting longer outages.