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Council takes first look at latest long-term plan

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The Elgin City Council took a preliminary look last week at the latest form of the city’s Five-Year Capital Improvement Plan (5YRCP), a long-term strategic plan focusing on major projects needed in the coming years.

The 5YRCP does not authorize funds for the projects it lists, but it helps get the council on the same page about the city’s priorities and lets the public know about what the council’s priorities are for such projects, city manager Thomas Mattis said. Additionally, as circumstances change, the list and its priorities can change.

There are no new projects on this plan that were not on last year’s plan, and most of the projects listed on the plan are needed within the next five to ten years.

Since 2016 through the end of 2019, the city will have spent a total of $18 million on capital improvements and infrastructure, with 38 percent of that money coming from external sources such as grants. The total cost for all capital improvement costs in the plan is about $63 million.

A number of projects are proposed to be funded in the upcoming budget, some of which are already funded and in some stage of initial development. These projects include a water transmission line on Old McDade Road, utility upgrades on Central Avenue to support a new bus station (see below) and a multi-year program to upgrade the alleys in the downtown area. The cost for these projects total about $3.1 million dollars, although only $168,000 would have to come out of the general fund in the upcoming budget; most of these projects already have money set aside.

“The bad news is, we have almost $50 million worth of projects where we have no funding source in sight,” Mattis said. “But it’s a healthy exercise to at least have these projects listed.”

Some unfunded projects include: improvements to County Line Road, which could see increased traffic from proposed housing developments in the area; improvements to Lexington Road, a part of which would be completed in part by Circle Brewery as they move to the lot at the corner of Louise Street and Lexington Road; drainage improvements to Taylor Lane; and sidewalk improvements to Martin Luther King Boulevard, for which the city is working on submitting a grant application.

The council will have a work session to more thoroughly discuss the 5YRCP during the next meeting on June 18.

Update on proposed dis-annexation response

Mattis shared a brief update about the issues around land annexed to the city in 2015.

He said the council should see a more detailed report next month about the feedback the city has gotten from residents in the area. The city has not received as strong of a response from the property owners in the area as they expected; about a quarter of the owners of 40 properties in the area proposed to be dis-annexed have responded, but the city is still setting up meetings and getting in contact with more property owners.

Mattis also discussed the recent decision by the Elgin ISD school board to disapprove the city’s dis-annexation agreement. During their May meeting, the school board voted unanimously to disapprove the development agreement, which requires certain restrictions on development of the property.

Mattis expressed his surprise about the vote and disappointment about the decision. He said the city had not been aware of the plan to make a decision until after the vote was cast at the school board meeting.

Mayor Pro Tem Jessica Bega asked about the possibility of following up with the school district and clarify the city’s position on the issue.

CARTS official gives update on station

David Marsh, general manager of Capital Area Rural Transportation System (CARTS), presented the plan for their latest planned station in downtown Elgin.

The CARTS district is responsible for transit service within the nine counties surrounding Austin. The district serves the non-urbanized areas of these nine counties as well as the San Marcos urbanized area. In Elgin, CARTS currently operates its interurban coach, its country bus and its 990 metro connector. The interurban coach connects rural areas to a central point in Austin, the country bus picks up individuals at their rural homes, and the metro connector, a collaboration with CapMetro in Austin, travels from Elgin and Manor to Austin.

CARTS currently operates nine bus stations throughout their district. Their next CARTS station will be built in Elgin and will also be a Greyhound bus station. It will be located at the southwest corner of Avenue C and Central Avenue, drawing design inspiration from the Elgin Depot and using blue glazed brick from Butler Brick.

“It will be an asset to the community,” Marsh said.

CARTS already has construction designs ready and have just hired an architecture firm to finish the project. Marsh hopes to start construction by September or October, and construction will probably take about a year.