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It’s hard to believe it’s already May. Before any of us realize, school will be out, summer activities will be in full swing – by the way have you contacted Hutto Parks and Recreation about summer camps? – and we’ll be zooming on towards the fall.

With that said, the City Council and I are looking forward to working through the summer for the City of Hutto, and to make sure I’m speaking the same language as you are, I’m going to try something a little different for the next few blogs. I want to do a little less general chatting, and a little more direct discussion about how the City government functions, and how it affects all the citizens and residents of Hutto. After all, we’re all hippos in this together.

What I’d like to do is arrange my blog around a monthly theme. Oh, it won’t be set in stone, so I can still be flexible and address important issues that crop up, but that way, we’ve all got an idea of what’s topics will be covered in the coming months.

Right now, and this might be a little ambitious because it’s a pretty lengthy list, I have the following themes in mind for discussion over the coming months:

o   Partnerships- How we develop them, why they’re critical in government business.

o   Growth- How much is enough? How much is too much? How do we, as a community, decide?

o   History- We all love Hutto’s history, so let’s work on preserving it.

o   Culture- Hutto has a small town feel, and we want to keep that, while attracting new business.

o   Community- What makes our “Hippo Nation” so amazing and how do we foster a feeling of community in a growing city?

o   Budget- Money is always important, and you deserve to know how we handle it.

o   Processes- How does the City do what it does, and how do we improve processes involved in budgeting, decision making, or governing in general. How were existing processes created?

o   Responsibility- Every one of us has a civic responsibility to the community we live in. How can we excite you about getting involved?

o   Change- It’s inevitable, so how do we make it easier?

That’s nine different themes, ones that I want to touch on in my upcoming blogs, and then, to keep the discussion going, we’ll reach out over social media a few times over the month with articles or posts designed to inspire more questions and hopefully, answers. If it works, we’ll keep going, and if not, we’ll try something different.

As always, I love the City of Hutto, and I’m grateful to be able to serve as Mayor. If you see me out and about, don’t hesitate to come up and say hi!

Planning for Growth

In March’s blog, I mentioned how quickly Hutto is growing, and I know that for some of us, who treasure the small town atmosphere, that growth can be a little unsettling. We love living here. We love knowing our neighbors, recognizing each other at football games, and we love the feeling of community that is so important to us all. I also talked a little bit about our city’s strategic plan, and asked for your input, but I realized that I may not have explained why the strategic plan is so important, and why it’s so important for me to hear your voices as residents.

In business, strategic plans are used to set the goals you want to achieve as a company, and really, ours isn’t much different. Our city strategic goals are what we want to achieve as a city.

We want to grow the right way for Hutto, and that means stepping back from the day-to-day running of the city, in our mind’s eye anyway, and asking ourselves and each other “Where are we going and what are our priorities?” Are our priorities new housing developments, new school, and traffic management? Are they all of the above?

Strategic planning is saying “Yes, we’re planning for economic growth, but we’re also going to make sure we honor our commitment to quality of life,” and balancing those priorities, supporting education, maintaining our history, and making sure you have places for family recreation. So, I’ll ask you again to take the planning survey, and join the City Council at one of the meetings to tell me your thoughts and concerns. I look forward to hearing from you!

Springing Forward

What a great time to live in Hutto. One of the many things I love about Hutto is the small-town feel. Cliché, I know. The truth is that no matter where you go, people are friendly, and when we rally around a cause, the support is endless. We embrace that small-town feel; however, we are continuing to grow – and growing quickly.

In August of last year, the council began a journey to update the vision and direction that will encourage, embrace and manage our city’s growth. A lot of work has been done at the council and city staff level as we began looking at the strategic plan and narrowing it down to our top priorities. Now it is time to get input from the citizens on the future land use map, and the strategic plan. While we have done some internal work, we now turn to you!

The Development Services department is updating the Future Land Use Map (FLUM) to accurately reflect the community’s vision and goals for growth and development. I’m asking you to complete a short, 10-question survey to help guide us through the planning process, or join us at one of the meetings for a presentation and Q&A. Come, and ask questions! Check out the web page: www.huttotx.gov/FLUM and Facebook for information on the public meetings and to complete the survey.

Continue to follow the city on Facebook and Twitter for announcements on when and where you will have the opportunity to provide input and feedback on the strategic plan.

Spring is just around the corner and we have several events coming up this spring: Reds, Whites & Brews on April 1 and, The Sunset Party Bash on April 28, and more! I invite you to attend these events; and get involved with our beautiful city. If you ever have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask. I look forward to seeing you at one of these events!

Last summer, the Hutto City Council began a journey to excellence by reviewing the Strategic Guide 2035 to better align with the needs of our community and then converting it to a Strategic Execution Plan. During the initial review, the Council identified their top five priorities as Economic Development, Public Safety, Council Leadership, Infrastructure, and Growth Guidance. Since the initial meeting last summer, the Council, along with staff, have begun to address the top priorities. A few of the major accomplishments since last summer include the following:

1) A joint meeting was held with the Hutto City Council, the Hutto Economic Development Corporation, and Planning and Zoning Commission to review and realign the land use map. The Business & Development Services Department has taken the input and will present an updated map to the Council for final approval.

2) The Business & Development Services Department has begun a review of the building codes and ordinances to bring changes that are friendlier to development. The Council has already approved several codes and ordinances, and additional changes will be brought before the Council for review.

3) The City hired Mr. Odis Jones as our new city manager. Mr. Jones brings a wealth of experience and has a strong Economic Development background.

This past weekend, the Council took the next step in this journey. The Council, along with City Manager Jones and department heads, spent Saturday looking at the current state of the City and identifying the key areas that need to be addressed to attract new business and lower costs to residents and businesses. It is very clear that this Council and staff have a vision and direction that will move Hutto forward, attract business, and manage our finances. Through the discussion, the top five areas of focus identified are Economic Development, Fiscal Responsibility, Public Safety, Quality of Life & Services, and Infrastructure. We also identified the strengths, opportunities, and weaknesses within each key area. Staff will now define clear, measurable objectives that can be used to measure and track progress. We are excited and looking forward to having an execution plan that will drive Hutto forward for the next three to five years. Once the draft of the plan is complete, there will be opportunities for citizen input. Stay tuned.

I personally want to thank the City staff and Council for giving up their Saturday and being willing to look at what we need to do to move forward. At the end of this process, we will have a clear, defined execution plan that will drive the decisions and directions of the Council and staff going forward. As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Welcome to 2017, Hutto! I’m excited about what the new year will bring for all of us. As we look forward to all of the possibilities and opportunities, I would like to share some thoughts for everyone to consider. To me, the new year represents an occasion to reflect on past accomplishments and opportunities, then set new goals and direction for the future.

As you look forward, I would like to challenge each one of you to become an engaged CITIZEN of Hutto. As Hutto continues to evolve and grow we need CITIZENS who are willing to make a difference, join forces and offer fresh ideas. Together we can build a prosperous community that we will continue to be proud of.

Citizenship carries responsibilities. So, what does a Hutto CITIZEN Look like?

Communicating

Engaged citizens communicate with their elected officials and city staff. They ask questions and get clarification when they have a concern. They provide information and solutions so that elected officials can make informed decisions. When they have a problem or concern, they go directly to the city staff or elected official to voice their concern and help reach a solution.

Involved

Engaged citizens are active members of the community, looking for opportunities to build up Hutto. They will serve on a board or commission, volunteer at one of the city events, or attend meetings.

Thankful

Engaged citizens show gratitude to those who serve the community – Police, Fire, Public Works, and city staff who work hard to keep the community safe and operational. They thank those that volunteer their time to make Hutto a better place; a home we can all be proud of.

Inspiring

Engaged citizens inspire others to get involved and make a difference in the community. A simple word of encouragement to a volunteer or neighbor can inspire them to continue serving.

Zealous

Engaged citizens are zealous about what they do and become fully involved in the betterment of their community. Find your passion, whatever it may be, and we can help you put that passion to work serving the community.

Example

Engaged citizens are a positive example to their neighbors. By getting involved, communicating face-to-face, and becoming part of the solution, others will soon follow your lead.

Neighborly

Engaged citizens are good neighbors. In hard times, Hutto neighbors always come together to support and uplift each other. There are some members of this community that may need a word of encouragement or a little help. Small gestures can mean a lot to someone having a hard day. Look for ways to help those around you.

THE POWER OF ONE

Poet Edward Everett Hale once wrote:

I am only one,

But still I am one.

I cannot do everything

But still I can do something;

And because I cannot do everything

I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.

What is the SOMETHING you can do THIS YEAR or THIS WEEK that will make a positive impact? DO IT TODAY!

As we go into a new year of opportunities and possibilities, I hope that I have inspired you to get involved and make a difference. Find a way to make a difference in this community or someone’s life in 2017. Together we can continue to keep Hutto a great community that supports one another. If you are looking for a way to get involved, please contact a city councilmember, city staff or myself. We will find the right fit for you to serve!

Happy New Year, Hutto! May 2017 be a prosperous year for you and all or our citizens.

The Hutto City Council and I are pleased to announce the selection of Mr. Odis Jones as our next City Manager. Mr. Jones has over 20 years of experience in an executive role in local government and Economic Development organizations in both urban and suburban communities. Most recently, Mr. Jones served as CEO of the Public Lighting Authority in Detroit, Michigan, leading the restructuring, financing and reconstruction of the City’s complex power and street lighting grid.

As your Mayor, a local business owner and member of this amazing community, I am excited that Mr. Jones has a reputation as an expert in expanding local economies and helping communities manage growth. Hutto will benefit greatly from his leadership and knowledge of development, finance and infrastructure.

Jones served as the City Administrator in Obetz, OH where he led Obetz to become an industrial logistics hub for the Columbus, OH region. During this time, he helped attract major industry to the community, including Continental Tire Company and Rodenstock USA from Munich, Germany. He also served as Executive Director of Economic Development for the City of Cincinnati, OH. In that role, Jones assisted in the development of the Sports and Entertainment District known as “The Banks” and the Development of the Dunnhumby Corporate Headquarters downtown. Additionally, Jones served as CEO of Columbus Urban Growth, the former Redevelopment Agency for the City of Columbus, OH. It was here that Jones developed two industrial parks and the Mid-West  Headquarters for Time Warner (now Spectrum). Prior to his service in Cincinnati, Jones was the Director of Real Estate & Development for the State of New Jersey (NJEDA), leading the NY/NJ Ports Initiative and the New Jersey Urban Investment Fund, overseeing public infrastructure investment activity and statewide debt transactions, tax credit investment activity, and real estate development negotiations.

In his most recent role as CEO of the Public Lighting Authority in Detroit, Jones led the reconstruction of Detroit’s street lighting project as a part of Detroit’s bankruptcy restructuring plan. As a result of the project’s success, he was featured in Time Magazine, Fortune Magazine, the New York Times, and a national television campaign with Citi Bank.

Jones has a Master’s Degree in Public Administration and was recently honored with the “Michigan Chronicles Man of Excellence” award. He is also a past receipt of the “Public Sector Developer of the Year” award by the Mid-Ohio Development Exchange.  He is married with four children and is looking forward to calling Hutto home.

Mr. Jones is very interested in public input and community feedback when it comes to City projects. Please keep an eye on the City newsletters, Social Media sites and website for opportunities to provide your insight.  

Holidays in Hutto

“Children laughing, people passing, meeting smile after smile…

After a successful and hauntingly fun Treats on East Street, it’s time to start talking about the Holidays in Hutto! Ready or not, Thanksgiving is nearly here and soon Christmas will be upon us. Embrace the season of giving and get to know your community by attending some or all of the City of Hutto’s upcoming events.

Santa Claus Crawl

Kick off your holiday festivities by attending the first ever City of Hutto Downtown & Tourism Department Santa Claus Crawl on Thursday, December 1st from 5-9pm. Come dressed in your best Santa Claus or festive attire and be prepared to have a blast! Downtown shops and business will be open late to provide different festive drinks and of course…shopping! Receive a keepsake mug with a $10 ticket purchase available at VisitHutto.com. Be sure to get yours fast as there are a limited number of tickets available for sale in advance in order to ensure the most delightful experience possible.

ACC Stage Ensemble Christmas Concert

Trust me, this will be a family favorite – jazzy Christmas carols and classic songs at the Gin! Join us on December 2 from 7-9pm for a free community concert that’s sure to get you in the spirit. The Austin Community College Stage Ensemble was a definite crowd pleaser last year, and we are happy to welcome them back for what’s quickly becoming an annual tradition. For more information, go to VisitHutto.com or facebook.com/Downtownhutto.

Christmas Tree Lighting at The Gin at the Co-Op District

What better way to really get into the holiday spirit than with an incredible Christmas tree lighting at Hutto’s one-of-a-kind Gin? Come out to the Gin at the Co-Op District (420 E. HWY 79) on Saturday, December 3rd for an evening of holiday bliss! From 5:30-8:30pm, sip on some hot cocoa while listening to Christmas carols and munch on popcorn while watching a Christmas movie! The Christmas tree lighting will commence at 6:00pm, and don’t forget to take a family picture with the tree. You’ll definitely get that warm, cozy feeling when community and family come together to celebrate. For more information go to VisitHutto.com & HuttoTX.gov.

Breakfast with Santa

Give your children (and yourself) the treat of meeting Santa Claus on December 10th from 8:30-10:30am at the Gin (420 E. HWY 79). Come eat breakfast with Mr. Claus himself, then be sure to stick around for pictures! Tickets will be sold in advance and at the door. Plus, kids can get creative with a variety of fun Christmas crafts. Watch for more information and ticket information at HuttoTX.gov and facebook.com/HuttoTX.

Downtown Christmas Fair

The City of Hutto Downtown & Tourism Department will host the 4th Annual Downtown Christmas Fair on Saturday, December 10, 2016. The event features over 100 artisan and craft vendors, food vendors, live entertainment, children’s activities, and SNOW! Yes, SNOW! Downtown Stores & Restaurants will be open and have Christmas Fair specials throughout the day. The Children’s Area wristband will be $5 and includes all activities; snow, snow slide, bouncy houses, train, and games. There will also be photos with Santa. FREE Parking will be available at the Hutto Co-Op on the north side of the Gin. More information can be found at www.visithutto.com and at www.facebook.com/downtownhutto.

There’s nothing quite like the holidays in Hutto! With our community spirit, it doesn’t take much effort to make the season merry and bright. The City of Hutto staff has been working hard to make sure we all have a variety of fun and inspiring Christmas events. We hope to see you there and let me be the first to wish you a happy and safe holiday season.