Dripping Springs news: Christmas on Mercer scheduled; budget updates, legislative priorities set

Mercer Street, which runs through downtown Dripping Springs, is the location of the city's annual holiday festival. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
Mercer Street, which runs through downtown Dripping Springs, is the location of the city's annual holiday festival. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)

Mercer Street, which runs through downtown Dripping Springs, is the location of the city's annual holiday festival. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)

After meeting Aug. 18, Dripping Springs City Council is scheduled to set the city tax rate Sept. 8, while planning efforts for the holidays and upcoming legislative session are underway.

Community preparing for holiday season on Mercer Street

The city's 16th annual Christmas on Mercer festival is scheduled to return Dec. 5.

Like in years past, the festival will bring vendors, arts and crafts, pony rides and decorations to the city’s Mercer Street district.

However, due to the ongoing pandemic, the total number of vendors participating will be reduced, live music will be replaced with recorded songs and social distancing guidance will be followed, according to an Aug. 20 news release by the city. The city’s annual holiday tree lighting will also take place virtually this year.

The Dripping Springs area’s third annual Light Up Mercer Street campaign also began this month, raising money to install holiday lights in the city’s downtown district for the coming winter season. This year, the Dripping Springs Visitors Bureau has a goal to raise $9,000 through local $20 donations, which will allow it to hang lights on every business along Mercer.

More information about donations can be found here.

Dripping Springs delays setting tax rate until Sept. 8

After approving the city budget earlier this month, Dripping Springs City Council delayed the adoption of the tax rate for fiscal year 2020-21. According to the city, the current tax rate of $0.19 per $100 valuation will be maintained.

A public hearing for the tax rate will be held Sept. 8 prior to a council vote to set the rate. Members of the public interested in speaking during public comment can participate online during the virtual meeting. City Hall will also be open to the public temporarily to accommodate the public hearing.

Legislative priorities set

Ahead of the 2021 legislative session in Texas, City Council approved a resolution listing legislative priorities for the coming year. According to the resolution, the city will support legislation that:

  • increases local control;

  • gives cities more authority to regulate signage;

  • expands city authority to regulate lighting and dark-sky requirements;

  • offers cities tools for transportation funding; and

  • increases appraisal accuracy and property tax and budgeting transparency.

The city separately passed a resolution supporting legislation that would allow for more flexible use of hotel occupancy tax funds. Currently, hotel tax funds are reserved for uses that directly drive visitors or tourists to the city.

City Attorney Laura Mueller said the resolution asks the state to allow funds to be used on improvements to municipal parks and related facilities, which would "still be a benefit to tourists and visitors" of the city. Neighboring cities, including Fredericksburg, have passed similar resolutions this summer, she said.
By Nicholas Cicale
Nick has been with Community Impact Newspaper since 2016, working with the Lake Travis-Westlake and Southwest Austin-Dripping Springs editions. He previously worked as a reporter in Minnesota and earned a degree from Florida State University.


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