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Saturday, April 20, 2024 at 4:20 AM
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HIPPO BITES

Little bits of big news
HIPPO BITES
The Pashupatinath Temple officially opened its doors on March 8. Photo by Edie Zuvanich

Public input requested for city budget

HUTTO — The city kicks off its 2025 fiscal budget planning season with a “speed dating” event for the public April 6 from 8 a.m. to noon at Cottonwood Creek Elementary, 3160 Limmer Loop.

“It’s an interesting and eye-opening exercise and at the end of it, it certainly informs the staff and elective officials in the formation of the budget so it’s an important aspect,” said City Manager James Earp.

Attendees will get an opportunity to find out the intimate details of each public-facing city department for 30 minutes and give input before moving on to the next department for meaningful conversations.

The Police Department, Emergency Management Department, Engineering, Public Works, Information Technology, Library, Outreach and Communications departments will all be part of the exercise.

“After we have collected the input from the public, the staff will go and price the various different items. Then we have a followup meeting in a couple of weeks where we come back with the prices for the things everyone proposed,” Earp said.

The suggestions from the public and their costs will be prioritized and put into consideration in the following budget discussions among city staff and City Council.

The city will provide complimentary breakfast and free child care for children ages 5 to 12.

Nepali community celebrates new temple

More than 20 members of the local Nepali community were on hand to witness City Council proclaim the inauguration of the newly-built Pashupatinath Temple in Hutto at the March 21 meeting.

“The proclamation, recognizing the Greater Austin Nepali Society and the inauguration of the Pashupatinath Temple, marked a significant milestone in cultural exchange and community integration,” a community leader said.

President Bhojraj Bhatta of the Greater Austin Nepali Society encouraged local residents to embrace the temple as a symbol of cultural unity and diversity, inviting all to experience its spiritual ambiance. It is located next to the Nepali Community & Spiritual Center at 1252 County Road 138.

There are more than 15,000 members of the Nepali community in the Austin area, with over 1,000 currently living in Hutto.

City proceeds with license-plate cameras

Hutto will soon be joining law enforcement agencies in Austin, Taylor, Pflugerville, Round Rock and Williamson County in being able to track vehicle movement through the city. Council approved $66,491.50 for leasing ten cameras and software from Flock Group, Inc., that records and collects data on vehicles traveling through the city.

“We do believe, based on what we’ve done research on, it will be a game changer as far as having leads on suspects when we have crimes that involve cars. It should help clear quite a few warrants, should help us recover stolen cars, stolen property,” Assistant Police Chief Dwain Jones told City Council.

According to data presented by Jones, seven out of of 10 crimes are committed with a vehicle. License plate number and vehicle details are most helpful in aiding investigations. Flock cameras capture only rear photos of vehicles, getting a clear photo even in low-light and at various speeds.

The system also connects to a wider network, and will alert officers when a vehicle that is being searched for locally or nationally is recorded passing a camera.

Council Member Dan Thornton said while he was concerned about privacy, he was mollified that Hutto PD had put in policies to protect privacy concerns.

Data collected will be the property of Hutto PD and will be erased after 30 days, though data being used in an active case can be downloaded by police to preserve it. A strict logging system should help ensure that only authorized personnel on an active case can view the recordings.

Jones said the Police Department is working with Texas Department of Transportation for permission to put the cameras on their right of ways.

Proposed locations of license plate reader cameras approved by City Council. Photo courtesy of city of Hutto

County Road 199 town hall set

An opportunity for the public to give input on the renovation of CR 199/E. Front St. will take place at City Hall, 500 W. Live Oak St., April 3 at 6:30 p.m. The project includes the area from FM 1660 South to CR 132.

The meeting is intended to collect feedback on the preliminary design for the road’s reconstruction. The project scope calls for wider roads, sidewalks, lighting, trees and storm water drainage.

City staff and the design consulting firm will be on hand at the meeting. Maps will be laid out ready for the public to examine and mark up with their suggestions.

Feedback may also be submitted online by going to the city calendar page on HuttoTX.gov and clicking on the April 3 date, then following the link.


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