City & County updates

Cedar Park City Council


Cedar Park City Council From left: the 2015-16 Cedar Park City Council includes Stephen Thomas, Lyle Grimes, Corbin Van Arsdale, Mayor Matt Powell, Lowell Moore, Kristyne Bollier and Jon Lux.[/caption]

Meetings


Most Cedar Park City Council regular meetings are hosted at 6:30 p.m. on second and fourth Thursdays of each month at the Cedar Park Council Chambers at City Hall, 450 Cypress Creek Road, Bldg. 4, Cedar Park. 512-401-5000. www.cedarparktexas.gov



Terms and compensation


Council members serve two-year terms without term limits, and they receive reimbursement for cell phone use, meals, travel and other expenses directly related to their role on City Council.



Video coverage


Meetings are broadcast on Time Warner Cable channel CPTV-10 and via a live feed on the city’s website. Meeting agendas, minutes and recordings are also posted and archived on the city’s website, www.cedarparktexas.gov.



Big decisions made in 2015


Bond passage
On Nov. 3, voters approved four bond propositions totaling $96.7 million in new public bonds, which will fund a variety of projects, including road improvements, a new library and emergency department expansions. The city plans to issue the bonds in late 2016.


Destination: Bell Boulevard study
The new city bonds included $20 million, which will help begin redevelopment of Bell Boulevard between Cypress Creek Road and Park Street. Throughout the year the city held public meetings about a study. Redevelopment planning is expected to continue in 2016.


Lime Creek Quarry purchase
On Aug. 27 the council approved a purchase resolution to spend $4.1 million to purchase the 215-acre Lime Creek Quarry site from the city of Austin. The resolution included a timetable to end blasting by two tenants on the site. Development of new businesses on the site could begin by 2021 or 2022.


Shopping center initiative
On Nov. 12 the council approved incentives totaling $3.5 million for The Parke, a shopping center planned southwest of the intersection of New Hope Drive and Toll 183A. Business names have not been announced, except for 365 by Whole Foods.



Top issues for 2016


Diversifying economy
City leaders said they expect Cedar Park will continue to attract different kinds of businesses, including entertainment venues, restaurants and retail. Council members say they want to promote diverse business to help the city rely more on sales tax revenue and keep property taxes low.


Office development
City council members said they want to attract more primary employers to Cedar Park, but the city lacks sufficient multistory buildings that offer potential office space. Several developers have asked the city about building new office complexes, Mayor Matt Powell said Dec. 9.


Road projects
About $63 million in new bond funds will support improvements to highways and arterial roads. Some of the projects could start in 2016, such as improvements to Anderson Mill Road and the addition of final segments to finish Little Elm Trail between Bell and Lakeline boulevards.


Whitestone Boulevard construction
A project may be completed by fall to rebuild the intersection of Whitestone Boulevard and Ronald Reagan Boulevard/Parmer Lane as well as widen Whitestone between Market Street and CR 175. The project is funded by the city and the Texas Department of Transportation.







Leander City Council


Leander City Council From left: the 2015-16 Leander City Council includes Shanan Shepherd, Troy Hill, Michelle Stephenson, Ron Abruzzese, Mayor Chris Fielder, Jeff Seiler and Andrea Navarrette.[/caption]

Meetings


Most Leander City Council regular meetings are hosted at 7 p.m. on the first and third Thursdays of each month at Pat Bryson Municipal Hall, 2014 N. Brushy St., Leander. 512-528-2700. www.leandertx.gov



Terms and compensation


Council members serve three-year terms without term limits, and they can receive reimbursement for conferences, meals, travel and other expenses directly related to their role on City Council.



Coverage


Meeting agendas and minutes are posted on the city’s website, www.leandertx.gov.



Big decisions made in 2015


Comprehensive plan update
On Oct. 15, Leander City Council approved an update of the city’s comprehensive plan. The plan is used to help shape zoning decisions for future development.


Incentives for Old Town Leander businesses
On Nov. 19 the council approved up to $250,000 for a pilot incentive program. Owners of businesses in Old Town Leander could receive city assistance for loans and infrastructure development.


Lakewood Community Park grant
On May 7, City Council accepted a $400,000 grant from the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department. Funds will be used to begin developing Lakewood Community Park, a 125-acre property southwest of the intersection of Ronald Reagan Boulevard and Crystal Falls Parkway.


Rezoning and plan approved for Ronald Reagan/SH 29 retail center
On Dec. 17 council approved a plan that requires a developer to begin work by April 2017 on Bar W Ranch, a 50-acre shopping center planned southeast of the intersection of Ronald Reagan Boulevard and SH 29. The site is planned for high-quality destination businesses.



Top issues for 2016


Bond election
In February, City Council could call for a May bond election, meaning city residents would vote on propositions to issue new bonds that would finance a list of proposed projects.


Housing boom continues
In 2014 and 2015 the city of Leander issued more than 1,100 new single-family house permits each year. The city plans to restructure and hire new building permit office staff to help handle the workload.


Old FM 2243 and Bagdad Road projects
Work began Jan. 4 on a $24 million project to widen Old FM 2243 between North Lakeline Boulevard and US 183. In spring a related $13 million project would widen Bagdad Road between Old FM 2243 and CR 280. Each project would expand the road from two to four lanes and add a center turn lane.


TOD construction
Three significant projects will continue within Leander’s transit-oriented development, or TOD, district. Projects include Bryson and Oak Creek neighborhoods as well as a new apartment complex northeast of the intersection of Hero Way and Mel Mathis Parkway.







Travis County Commissioners Court


Travis CountyCommissioners 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.



Big decisions made in 2015


Budget decisions
The court voted to reinstate in-person visits and reasonably priced phone calls for county jail inmates and their families. The court also reduced property taxes for the average homeowner, including those older than 65 and disabled.


Parks and recreation
The county added more than 3,000 acres of park and conservation land in 2015 as well as 50 miles of bikeways and sidewalks. 


Courthouse
On Aug. 18 the Travis County Commissioners Court called for an order to place a $287.3 million bond election on the Nov. 3 ballot. Voters rejected the bond, which would have spent funds on a new civil and family courts complex in downtown Austin.



Top issues for 2016


Transportation
The county plans to establish better transportation connections for eastern Travis County, Judge Sarah Eckhardt said.


Flood response
One focus area will be reclaiming flood-prone areas of southeastern Travis County to create flood-resilient communities with green spaces, creating safe and affordable housing, and establishing industries committed to employing the community for
generations to come.


Courts
The court plans to reimagine the way it works to deliver civil and criminal justice, Eckhardt said.


County income
Trying to keep property taxes low by exploring other appropriate revenue sources to pay for needed infrastructure and services will be among the court’s goals in 2016.







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.

By


MOST RECENT

Travis County has added 3,069 new confirmed cases over the past week from July 6-12. (Community Impact Staff)
Travis County adds 3,069 new coronavirus cases over past week

Travis County has added 3,069 new confirmed cases over the past week from July 6-12.

A sign directs voters inside Ridgetop Elementary School in North Central Austin. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
11.8% of voters in Travis County have voted early since June 29, exceeding 2018 primary numbers

More than 97,000 Travis County residents have voted in person or by mail. The turnout far surpassed the combined early and Election Day totals in the 2018 primary run-off election.

A photo of the potential Tesla property
Travis County updates Tesla incentive package, pushing for $1 billion-plus investment from the company

Poised for a possible July 13 vote, Travis County has released a refined incentives structure proposal with electric carmaker Tesla.

The Williamson County and Cities Health District confirmed 37 additional coronavirus cases July 10, bringing the total to 3,654. (Community Impact Staff)
37 new cases of coronavirus, 1 death confirmed in Williamson County on July 10

Currently, 103 patients are hospitalized, 32 are in intensive care and 16 are on a ventilator.

The species that tested positive for West Nile Virus is Culex quinquefasciatus, or the southern house mosquito. This species has a flight range of about one mile. ​(Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Mosquitoes test positive for West Nile Virus near southwest Williamson County Regional Park

There have been no reported human cases of West Nile Virus in Williamson County since 2017.

Williamson County sees 844 new coronavirus cases this week

Between July 4 and July 10, Williamson County also reported 9 additional deaths.

Texas Commissioner of Education Mike Morath announced in a June 30 State Board of Education meeting that students will be taking the STAAR in the 2020-21 school year. (Courtesy Pixabay)
Education organizations call for STAAR requirements to be waived another year

Gov. Greg Abbott waived the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness, or STAAR, testing requirements in March of earlier this year in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

With a clinical background in internal, pulmonary and critical care medicine, Corry has been with BCM for 20 years. He now focuses primarily on inflammatory lung diseases, such as asthma and smoking-related chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases. (Graphic by Ronald Winters/Community Impact Newspaper)
Q&A: Baylor College of Medicine's Dr. David Corry discusses immunity, vaccine production amid COVID-19 pandemic

Rapid development and distribution of a vaccine worldwide and successful achievement of herd immunity will be key players in determining the lifespan of the COVID-19 pandemic, said Dr. David Corry, a professor of Medicine in the Immunology, Allergy and Rheumatology Section at Baylor College of Medicine.

The new partnership will provide on-site, same-day testing and results for assisted-living facility staff and their residents. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
State announces partnership for increased COVID-19 testing for patients, staff at assisted-living facilities, nursing homes

These test sites will help the state work toward the goal of processing up to 100,000 tests in the first month.

money
DATA: Leander sales tax revenue jumped 40% in May; Cedar Park stayed steady

Leander sales tax revenue spiked 40% in May 2020 compared to May 2019 data.

cedar-park-city-council-meeting
Cedar Park OKs $61.5M in 3 ordinances for bonds, certificates of obligation

The bonds and certificates of obligation will fund the planned library, parks, street improvements, drainage projects and the Brushy Creek wastewater plant expansion.