Despite claims of those supporting the development parade, Georgetown has grown because Austin is growing. Growth that is inevitable does not need to be so painful to those of us already here. Our council and city management should be doing everything they can to have healthy growth instead of simply bragging about our city’s growth.
Those who cash in by building here need to pay their own way. If they need incentives from Georgetown taxpayers, they are not fiscally strong enough to be here. Likewise, if they cannot afford to pay for infrastructure expansion beforehand, they are likely too weak to come here. This isn’t about pulling up the ladder after we arrived. We should not be paying for new businesses and people to move in. They can, and should, pay their own way.
Georgetown 2019 Budget and Debt
Details of the 2019 budget can be found on-line, in a voluminous document of 355 pages:
The bottom line is that the city expects to bring in $338 million primarily from property taxes [9.0%], sales taxes [8.4%], service charges [7.0%], utility revenues [37.3%], bond proceeds [12.9%], and other revenue [15.4%]. Expenses will be higher at $354 million, but the reserve is high enough to cover.
Debt at the end of FY 2017 was comparable at $278 million, consisting of General Obligation Bonds [which require voter approval and is not the lion’s share], plus other bonds for which the city is obligated, but which are not approved by voters [Certificates of Obligation, Utility Revenue Bonds, and Sales Tax Revenue Bonds].
Georgetown Projects Are About More Growth
Between the utility revenues, which provide most of the city income, plus utility reserves and non-voter approved bonds, city management has considerable latitude in spending money. Based on projects that the city recently highlighted, little of the city bond money is spent to mitigate traffic congestion. In fact, plans are to issue 10-year bonds.
Instead, the most important projects are aimed at more growth without requiring developer funding:
- Southwest Bypass from SH 29 to Leander. This $20 million project won’t handle much traffic until the rest of it is complete. What it does now is open up land for development.
- Airport Road was widened and adjusted for the benefit of new businesses next to the airport at a cost of $4.5 million.
- Rivery Blvd extension from Williams Drive to I35 cost $4.5 million, not to alleviate traffic, but to route traffic from motels on I35 to the Sheraton Conference Center. Why is the city spending money to enhance Sheraton business?
- City Center move several blocks from downtown past the library. What started at $6.5 million ballooned to $13 million. Guess the new digs are a reward for Georgetown’s rapid growth.
- Garey Park build out as pay to play park, so far out on Leander that it becomes a day trip. In addition to being pay to play, there is a city-run event concession competing with private venues.
- San Gabriel Park refurbishment, replacing functional, WPA built structures with “modern” ones