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Tuesday’s Council Meeting had a special twist. There were two Council Meetings where two significant items were covered – the City Budget and Tax Rate. The law requires we have one public hearing, and our City Charter requires two readings on both. This week we completed the public hearing and the first reading, and both items passed unanimously. The proposed budget is available to review on-line and in-person here at City Hall. If you’d like to do that, please call City Secretary Ann Franklin to set up an appointment.
The tax rate voted on last night was $0.5794/$100 of valuation. If you own a house worth $209,000 (this is the average value of a home in the area), your taxes will increase $32 per year based on this tax rate. Council clarified that the rate voted on was lower than the proposed rate from August 4. If you would like to share comments or feedback and didn’t get a chance last night, please join us for the second reading at City Hall on September 22, 6:30 pm.
The second meeting started at 7 pm and followed our standard agenda. Special thanks to Chaplain Woods for giving our invocation. Presentations included a proclamation recognizing September 2020 as National Library Card Sign-Up Month. I am so proud of our library staff. They have continued to provide excellent service to all library members during these unprecedented times and in remarkably creative ways.
I reported the crane for wall panel installation at the 921 building completed its task last week despite inclement weather. The building remains on schedule for completion in late October, and we are looking forward to having The Art Institute students arrive in January.
Did your power go out last Saturday night? Probably not, but 30 homes on Pecan Street were out of power for about an hour after a tree limb touching the power line began smoldering. The great crew at BP&L went to work about 11 pm Saturday and restored service. We all love the gorgeous trees we have around town, but they can cause power outages when they grow into our system. Keep an eye out for tree trimmers working to help with the issue over the next few weeks.
I reported the latest information on COVID cases. Bastrop County is down to 149 active cases as a result of people’s social distancing and wearing masks, so please keep up the great work. We discussed moving to Phase 3, which means opening buildings like City Hall as well as the Convention and Senior Centers with safety protocols in place. I shared with Council my intent to move to Phase 3 on October 1 based on the information available now. We will consider this at our next Council meeting when we have data for the two weeks after Labor Day and school openings.
Municipal government follows lots of rules. Federal, State, and local ordinances - we follow them all. Council sets policy within those laws, and last night we approved: City Council Rules and Procedures (which also apply to our Boards and Commissions), the Purchasing Policy, the Financial Management Policy, and the Purchasing Card policy. Rest assured, your City Council takes their fiduciary responsibilities seriously.
I appointed 24 people to various Boards and Commissions, and the Council unanimously approved them. I always share the “breakdown” of the annual appointments. This year’s numbers are:
• 13% new to serving on a Board
• 46% live downtown
• 46% live inside the City limits but not downtown
• 8% live in the ETJ (Extraterritorial Jurisdiction)
• 50% female
• 50% male
Special thanks to all the citizens who engage and help our community thrive.
That’s all for this week!
As Mayor, I’m always looking for ways to improve communication from City Hall. I thought I would share a summary of our Council Meeting Tuesday night for those of you who don’t “do” Facebook or prefer reading as opposed to “twitter” – this is for you.
We had a full agenda covering everything from the yellow dots on Wilson Street to sidewalks on Water Street. I’d like to share the highlights of the meeting.
We started by welcoming a special guest. Police Chaplain Bob Long offered our invocation. It was great to have one of our chaplains inside Council Chambers, and although his presence was brief, it was appreciated by all.
Our City Manager, Paul Hofmann, gave an update on the Main Street Rehabilitation Project. The total project is 75% complete, with the sidewalks at 90%. The plan is for paving to begin in late September with the work happening at night, and it is going to be great when it’s finished.
Mr. Hofmann also reported a terrific grant that Becca Sexton, our Librarian, discovered. If awarded, the grant allows the purchase of 10 laptops and 10 hot spots to create social distancing and increase computer access through our City of Bastrop Library.
We also discussed Lost Pines Christmas. Along with many other communities across the nation, we are not able to safely have our annual Lighted Christmas Parade. We will, however, still celebrate in 2020. Plans are being discussed for a virtual tree lighting, swapping out some of the decorations along the Riverwalk/Trail of Lights, and even adding a little color this year. We want all of our neighborhoods to be a part of the celebration, so stay tuned for more details.
September is “National Preparedness Month,” and I read a Proclamation to recognize the importance. In Bastrop, we have survived fires and floods, and each of us knows the importance of being prepared. This hot weather combined with dry soil conditions create fire hazards, so please make sure you’ve taken every precaution to protect your family, friends, and neighbors.
Have you seen the “yellow dots” installed on July 13 on Wilson Street as part of a pilot plan to slow traffic? Last night we reviewed data on speed reduction (there was a minor improvement) and feedback from citizens. Council directed the City Manager to remove them. Neighbors concerned about the speed of cars are not unique to Wilson Street. Council remains worried about pedestrian safety, and we asked the City Manager to bring back policy on “speed humps” and to review our long-term strategy on sidewalks. There will be more discussion, including an opportunity for feedback from residents, before making any final decisions.
Speaking of sidewalks, Council approved staff applying for a “Downtown Revitalization” Grant for $500,000 to improve the sidewalks and road on Water Street. Exact scope is not yet defined, but it is expected to start at Walnut, head north to Farm Street, and include ADA ramps, repairs to existing and installation of new sidewalks to complete gaps, milling of the street, and finally repaving.
At each Council meeting, I give a brief report. Last night I thanked Union Pacific for completing the much-needed track and crossing maintenance. I also let everyone know there will be a large crane in town next week, installing wall panels as part of the construction of 921 Main. As many of you know, The Art Institute is leasing 921 Main for classroom space. Their current plans are to have students in the building by January.
Mayor Connie Schroeder is a 17-year resident of Bastrop. During that time, she has served on the City’s Planning and Zoning Commission for 6 years, chaired the 2016 Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee, and was elected the first female Mayor of the City in 2017 and was unopposed and re-elected in 2020.
She currently serves on the Texas Municipal League Board and has earned the “Certified Municipal Official” designation the last three years. The Texas Chapter of the American Planning Association awarded Mayor Schroeder the Planning Advocate Excellence Award, and she was also recognized as the Civic Leader Changer Maker for Central Texas by Generation Citizen, both in 2019.
Mayor Schroeder is an Honors Graduate of The University of Texas at Austin and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering. She became a licensed Professional Engineer in 1989 and has a background in design, project management and construction of major transportation and development projects in both the public and private sector. She retired from Motorola/Freescale after a 15-year career in the high-tech industry.
She and her husband, Charlie, enjoy serving their community and cherish time with their children and grandchildren.
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