A year of promise: Leander mayor reflects on 2016, looks on

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At a Jan. 24 Leander Chamber of Commerce meeting, Leander Mayor Chris Fielder gave the state of the city address, a city which now includes 48,000 residents.

“This has been a record-breaking year for growth in Leander,” Fielder told the Hill Country News.

According to Fielder, 1,558 single-family permits were issued in 2016. City data shows a 3.1 percent spike in new Leander households last year. 

“There are about 13 people a day moving here,” he said. “We predict 50,000 by the end of this first quarter.”

Fielder said that in cities over 15,000, Leander is the fastest growing town in America. 

Population growth isn’t the only record Leander has set. In 2016, the city’s largest tax rate decrease in history was something to brag about.

“It takes us back to the rate we were at 10 years ago,” Fielder said.

He noted that he plans for another slight tax rate decrease this year.

“There is this wide perception that property tax runs the city and that is actually not true,” he said. “54 percent comes from development fees, sales tax, water infrastructure, etcetera.”

In fact, in the city’s general fund expenditures about 46 percent of the amount is for public safety.

“When people say ‘you spent our tax dollars on a new Christmas tree,’ it’s really more likely that it’s for a new fire truck to keep people safer,” Fielder said. 

Leander issued its largest bond last year, a $72 million package. $22.8 million of the bond went toward road improvement projects, $26.7 million was dedicated to parks and park improvements, $18 million was slated for a 50,000-square-foot recreation center run by YMCA and $4.2 million for an 18,500 square-foot senior center and Head Start Center for children. 

Major retailer, Randalls, had a November opening at its Lakeline Boulevard location in 2016. 

More key projects are on the horizon. Fielder discussed Leander’s future Austin Community College campus, scheduled for a fall of 2018 opening. He also highlighted St. David’s HealthCare’s freestanding emergency department that is slated to open by the end of August. They also plan to build a full-service hospital in Leander, although the timeline on that is not yet set in stone.

Leander will be getting its first hotel, although officials have not yet revealed the hotel owner. Fielder said it will be located on US 183, across from the Capital Metro Leander Station train stop.

“Up until this year, we’ve been prepping ourselves for the 2017-18 build out,” Fielder said. “2016 was the year of opportunity, 2017 is the year of promise.” 

 

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