City & County updates

Round Rock City Council


Round Rock City Council Round Rock City Council, from left: George White, mayor pro tem and Place 2; Craig Morgan, Place 1; Frank Leffingwell, Place 3; Mayor Alan McGraw; Writ Baese, Place 5; Kris Whitfield, Place 6; Will Peckham, Place 4[/caption]

Meetings
The council meets at 7 p.m. the second and fourth Thursday of the month at Round Rock City Hall, 221 E. Main St., Round Rock. 512-218-5400. www.roundrocktexas.gov


Terms and compensation
The mayor and council members serve three-year terms with no term limits. The mayor is paid $1,000 per month; council members are paid $750 per month. All receive a $200-per-month vehicle allowance.


Video coverage
Meetings are televised live on Time Warner Cable on Channel 10 and U-verse channel 99 as well as live-streamed at www.roundrocktexas.gov/replay.



Big decisions made in 2015


Downtown road work
Construction on a major revamp of downtown roadways began in April. As part of the roadwork, Main Street was realigned, and construction crews are working on widening Mays Street. The goal of the project is to make the downtown area more pedestrian-friendly as well as help the flow of traffic.


McNeil Park sale
The city of Round Rock agreed to sell McNeil Park to Mike Farr, owner of Nutty Brown Cafe & Amphitheatre, for $1.1 million so Farr could relocate the music venue to Round Rock.


Facilities master plan adoption
In August the city adopted its facilities master plan intended to guide the city’s use of infrastructure through build-out. The plan recommends expansion of the Luther Peterson complex in north Round Rock, relocating some parks and recreation offices, and constructing new buildings in downtown.



Top issues for 2016


Transportation
City leaders and staff say transportation is always a priority for the city, and 2016 is no different. Residents will see significant progress on major projects, such as the University Boulevard widening and the Creek Bend Boulevard extension.


Tourism and parks
New facilities are coming online or will soon break ground, greatly expanding opportunities for the city’s tourism
program. A new multiuse sports complex will start construction at Old Settlers Park, and major expansion of the trail system will also start in 2016.


Construction costs
A booming Central Texas economy means costs are rising for the many capital projects the city has in its planning pipeline. Staff and city leaders say putting together a budget that balances the community’s wants versus its needs will be especially challenging.








Pflugerville City Council


Pflugerville City Council Pflugerville City Council, Mayor Jeff Coleman; Wayne Cooper, mayor pro tem and Place 1; Brad Marshall, Place 2; Omar Peña, place 3; Starlet Sattler, Place 4; and Mike Heath, Place 5, meets at 100 E. Main St., Ste. 500, Pflugerville.[/caption]

Meetings
The council meets at 7 p.m. the second and fourth Tuesday of the month at City Council Chambers,  100 E. Main St., Ste. 500, Pflugerville. 512-990-6101. www.pflugervilletx.gov


Terms and compensation
The mayor and council members serve three-year terms with a limit of three terms and without compensation.


Video coverage
Meetings are televised live on Suddenlink cable on channels 17 and 117 and AT&T U-verse on Channel 99 as well as live streamed at www.pflugervilletx.gov/pftv



Big decisions made in 2015


Sports complex land purchase
After determining there was not a city-owned site appropriate to house the future city athletic complex, Pflugerville City Council approved the purchase of approximately 237 acres in east Pflugerville this summer for the complex. The planned sports complex could include up to 24 fields and would give the city’s growing sports leagues additional practice and game space.


Bond election
On Nov. 4, Pflugerville voters rejected a $10.7 million bond proposition for a new city animal shelter and approved a $9.5 million bond for improvements to Weiss Lane in east Pflugerville. The passage of the Weiss Lane bond will result in an average annual property tax bill increase of about $28 for the life of the 30-year bond.



Top issues for 2016


Transit
Pflugerville is the latest of several area cities to commission a transit development plan through Capital Metro and expects to receive the completed plan with Capital Metro recommendations by April. If the city adopts the plan, development of a transit system would begin within one year.


Animal shelter plan
After the animal shelter bond proposition failed to pass in November, city staff began working on a rehabilitation plan for the current city shelter. The first phase of the city’s plan is
estimated to cost about $2 million and includes the addition of a medical room, an outdoor kennel area and other amenities.








Hutto City Council


Hutto City Council Hutto City Council, from left: Tom Hines, Place 2; Veronica Quintanilla-Perez, Place 3; Max Yeste, Place 6; Mayor Debbie Holland; Michael J. Smith, mayor pro tem and Place 4; Anne Cano, Place 1; Lucio Valdez, Place 5[/caption]

Meetings
The council meets at 7 p.m. the first and third Thursday of the month at City Council Chambers at 401 W. Front St., Hutto. 512-759-4033. www.huttotx.gov


Terms and compensation
The mayor and council members serve three-year terms with no term limits and without compensation.


Video coverage
Meetings are televised live on Time Warner Cable on Channel 10 as well as live-streamed at www.huttotx.gov/councilmeetings.



Big decisions made in 2015


2040 Comprehensive Plan
The city’s first comprehensive plan was completed in 2015 and will serve as a guiding document for the city through 2040. The plan addresses infrastructure, mobility, sustainability and other issues facing Hutto. Before adopting the 2040 plan, Hutto used a growth guidance plan as a primary guiding document.


Economic development
Several franchise businesses came to Hutto in 2015, including Starbucks, Jack Brown Cleaners, O’Reilly Auto Parts and Hampton Inn & Suites, marking the largest number of franchises to open in the city in one year, according to city staff. The city also achieved a film-friendly designation, which city staffers hope will draw more attention and investment from the film industry.



Top issues for 2016


Infrastructure
Hutto staffers will implement the city’s new pavement-management system developed in 2015 and also anticipate the completion of several large capital improvement projects, including FM 685 reconstruction and the city’s second wastewater treatment plant. City officials are also expected to make a decision on public transit recommendations presented by Capital Metro.


Recreation and tourism
A series of events are planned for The Gin at the Co-Op District venue, and the city anticipates further development of the Co-Op property. In 2016 city officials expect to approve the design of a city dog park as well as a community swimming pool study. The planned reconstruction of Fritz Park is expected to offer residents additional recreational opportunities.








Travis County Commissioners Court


TRAVIS COUNTY COMMISSIONERS COURT Travis County Commissioners Court, from left: Margaret Gómez, Precinct 4; Gerald Daugherty, Precinct 3; Judge Sarah Eckhardt; Brigid Shea, Precinct 2; Ron Davis, Precinct 1[/caption]

Meetings
The court meets Tuesdays at 9 a.m.
Travis County Administrative Building
700 Lavaca St., Austin
512-854-9020
www.traviscountytx.gov


Terms and compensation
Court members serve four-year terms. The judge’s pay for fiscal year 2015-16 is $118,373, Davis and Gomez are paid $101,417, Shea is paid $98,463 and Daugherty is paid $93,000.


Video coverage
Meetings are televised live on Time Warner Cable Channel 17, Grande Communications Channel 17 and AT&T U-verse Channel 99. Meetings are also posted online.








Williamson County Commissioners Court


Williamson County Commissioners Court Williamson County Commissioners Court, from left: Cynthia Long, Precinct 2; Ron Morrison, Precinct 4; Lisa Birkman, Precinct 1; Judge Dan Gattis; Valerie Covey, Precinct 3[/caption]

Meetings
The court meets Tuesdays at 9:30 a.m. Williamson County Courthouse, 710 S. Main St., Georgetown. 512-943-1550. www.wilco.org


Terms and compensation
The county judge and four county commissioners serve four-year terms. Each commissioner receives $94,037.10 per year. The county judge is budgeted $115,485.10 but has opted not to receive increases for several years, so he is only paid a portion of his salary.


Video coverage
Recordings of meetings can be found at www.wilco.org.



Big decisions made in 2015


Certificate of obligation bonds
The commissioners issued $65 million in bonds in May, which have been used for constructing, improving and renovating facilities as well as purchasing land and equipping county buildings. The county dedicated funds to expand offices within the Georgetown Annex. Funds were also used for a training facility for the Sheriff’s Office, training space for hazardous materials and emergency medical services, office space for EMS, and the radio shop for vehicle and hand-held radios as well as vehicle and facilities storage.


Transportation
The county broke ground on a project to widen FM 1620 between Round Rock and Georgetown as part of the $275 million in road bonds approved by county voters in 2013. Design work is underway for the widening of CR 110 from Hwy. 79 to north of Chandler Road in Taylor and for CR 111 from FM 1460 to SH 130 in Georgetown. Those projects are meant to improve safety and mobility in the area.



Top issues for 2016


Water
County Judge Dan Gattis said a top issue for 2016 will be to focus on water needs in the county. The commissioners heard a presentation requesting $50,000 for a water study in November, and Gattis said he and Commissioner Valerie Covey have moved forward on a study to determine how much water the county has.


Security
According to a memo from the governor’s office issued in October, licensed concealed handgun carriers cannot be prevented from entering multipurpose government buildings as part of a new law that went into effect Sept. 1. Unless an entire building is dedicated to court proceedings or government meetings, the memo states a state agency or political subdivision cannot deny CHL carriers entry to a government building. Gattis said the Williamson County courthouse will have to find a temporary solution to put in place in January while working on a long-term solution.



MOST RECENT

The program, which began this week in San Marcos, gives Amazon and Whole Foods employees and contractors direct access to COVID-19 vaccinations. (Courtesy Amazon)
Amazon begins rollout of statewide vaccination clinics for employees

The program, which began this week in San Marcos, gives Amazon and Whole Foods employees and contractors direct access to COVID-19 vaccinations.

Federal funding is set aside for public schools to address effects of the pandemic. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Why Texas has not yet distributed $18 billion in federal funds intended for public schools

As budget decisions loom for school districts across Texas, state leaders are holding on to federal funds intended for public schools to use in addressing the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The temporary waiver covering initial vehicle registration, vehicle registration renewal, vehicle titling, renewal of permanent disabled parking placards and 30-day temporary permits will end April 14. (Hannah Zedaker/Community Impact Newspaper)
Officials: No grace period to follow end of statewide waiver for vehicle title, registration requirements

Officials with the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles announced April 5 there will be no grace period following the end of the temporary waiver of certain vehicle title and registration requirements this month.

The new tool will give Texans one place to sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine through multiple health departments, including the eight DSHS public health regions—which provides public health services to nearly 200 Texas counties—as well as more than a dozen local health entities statewide. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Department of State Health Services launches Texas Public Health Vaccine Scheduler

The new tool will give Texans one place to sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine through multiple health departments, including the eight DSHS public health regions—which provides public health services to nearly 200 Texas counties—as well as more than a dozen local health entities statewide.

Residents wait to receive a COVID-19 vaccine at the Delco Activity Center in Northeast Austin on March 13. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
More than 74,000 vaccine first doses coming to Austin-area providers in next week

The total allocation is fewer than the area received last week from the state.

The Centers for Disease Control released new guidance on in-person instruction for K-12 grade schools on March 19. (Courtesy Pexels)
CDC loosens guidelines on social distancing in schools

The updated guidance recommends students maintain 3 feet of social distancing in classrooms while wearing masks.

Rice Stadium Vaccine Site
Texas vaccine rollout: After 90 days, over 2.9 million fully inoculated

That figure represents about 13% of Texans over age 16—roughly one of every seven.

Three weeks after the the state's power grid failed leaving millions of Texans without power amid freezing temperatures, the Public Utility Commission of Texas named Adrianne Brandt as the agency's new director of ERCOT accountability in a news release March 11. (Courtesy Public Utility Commission of Texas)
Public Utility Commission of Texas names new director of ERCOT accountability

Three weeks after the the state's power grid failed leaving millions of Texans without power amid freezing temperatures, the Public Utility Commission of Texas named Adrianne Brandt as the agency's new director of ERCOT accountability in a news release March 11.

Lawmakers have returned to the Capitol for the 87th Texas Legislature. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Proposed curriculum, funding changes: 14 public education bills filed in the 87th Texas Legislature

Hundreds of bills related to public education have been filed in the 87th Texas Legislature, from curriculum requirement additions to funding formula changes.

According to a March 4 news release, the updated guidance includes a face covering requirement for employees and encourages guests to wear a face covering when they are not seated at their table. The updated guidance also maintains key safety protocols like regular cleaning and disinfecting, hand-sanitizing stations, and employee and customer health screenings. (Liesbeth Powers/Community Impact Newspaper)
SURVEY: More than 70% of Texas restaurants still requiring employees to wear masks despite statewide mandate lift

The majority of Texas restaurant owners will choose to continue requiring staff to wear face masks after March 10 when Gov. Greg Abbott's statewide mask mandate lifts, according to the results of an informal survey conducted by the Texas Restaurant Association in early March.

With the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's emergency use authorization of a single-dose COVID-19 vaccine developed by the Janssen Pharmaceutical Cos. of Johnson & Johnson in late February, U.S. residents who want to get inoculated against the coronavirus now have three vaccines to choose from—each with varying degrees of efficacy. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
EXPLAINED: See how the 3 COVID-19 vaccines available in the US stack up

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna—both two-shot vaccines—have higher efficacy rates for preventing illness than the single-shot Johnson & Johnson's Janssen vaccine; the vaccine efficacy rates stand at 95%, 94.1% and 66.3%, respectively.

Dr. Benjamin Neuman, a virologist with the Texas A&M University System, spoke about the state of the COVID-19 pandemic in Texas ahead of the March 10 rollback of mask and capacity rules. (Community Impact staff)
Q&A: Virologist discusses COVID-19 response and rollback of state restrictions

Dr. Benjamin Neuman, a virologist with the Texas A&M University System, spoke about the state of the COVID-19 pandemic in Texas ahead of the March 10 rollback of mask and capacity rules.