“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.