Decision Points

April 2010 - Posts

EPA mandates, fiscal responsibility drive storm water utility consideration

The City of Round Rock is facing ever increasing demands for effectively managing storm water runoff due to land development and increased federal and state regulations. Our extensive drainage system requires consistent, dedicated funding to ensure regulatory compliance, environmental preservation and – most importantly – protection of life and property from flood damage.

It is the City’s responsibility to manage our storm water drainage system. We are required by the Federal Emergency Management Administration, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to ensure certain development, maintenance and water quality standards are met.

Currently, we pay for the storm water system from general revenues such as sales taxes and property taxes. Because of declining sales tax revenues and increasing demands for other services funded by general revenues, such as police and fire protection, we believe the time has come to change how we fund the storm water system. Also, many of the requirements noted above are new, unfunded mandates from the federal government that we anticipate will only become greater over time.

A Storm Water Drainage Utility – where residents and businesses pay a monthly fee to fund the system – is a recognized best practice throughout the country and used by more than 60 Texas cities. Fees would be based on a property’s impact to the system, which would more appropriately and fairly allocate the costs for storm water services while providing vital funding stability. As the demand and subsequent costs of providing this non-optional service continue to rise, it is more important than ever to ensure a fair and equitable distribution of those costs.

A Storm Water Drainage Utility meets the Community’s financial objectives in two important ways. First, it aligns with our citizen’s preference for user fee based program funding, where service costs are paid for by those who use and benefit the most. Second, it aligns with the City’s adopted financial policy which has a primary objective to reduce general fund reliance on volatile sales tax revenue to fund basic services.

As always, we will continue to make every effort to find cost controllers and revenue generators as we work to provide the services as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Thanks for supporting Round Rock's Google Fiber for Communities response

On Thursday, March 25, the Round Rock City Council unanimously approved a resolution of support for our submission to Google's Fiber for Communities project. Google plans to test ultra-high speed broadband networks in one or more trial locations across the country. Their networks will deliver Internet speeds more than 100 times faster than what most Americans have access to today, over 1 gigabit per second, fiber-to-the-home connections. They'll offer service at a competitive price to at least 50,000 and potentially up to 500,000 people.

We want to thank all 1,194 citizens who responded to our survey (even the 13 who did not support Google providing ultra-high speed access here) and the businesses and institutions who wrote letters of support. You can find our entire response, including survey results and other supporting materials, at roundrocktexas.gov/google.

Even though Google has renamed itself Topeka (note the date of this post, please), we're still feeling lucky.