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Tuesday, April 16, 2024 at 8:47 PM
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HIPPO BITES

Little bits of big news
HIPPO BITES
Mayor Mike Snyder and Mayor Pro Tem Peter Gordon cut the ribbon at the 5-year anniversary celebration of the City Hall building. Members of the Chamber of Commerce joined council members and city staff for the celebration. Photos by Edie Zuvanich

Hutto City Hall marks fiveyear anniversary

HUTTO — The linchpin of The Co-op District, Hutto’s 35,000-square-foot City Hall celebrated the five-year anniversary of its opening Monday.

“I remember going to City Council meetings at the old building and we would have to stop council meetings when a train would come through because you couldn’t hear a thing. We don’t have that problem here,” said Mayor Pro Tem Peter Gordon. “This is the citizen’s building. We’re here to help take care of it and make sure we do the right things.”

The building’s 2019 grand opening was meant to kick off growth of The Co-op District, a 35-acre walkable development that expands the city’s downtown area.

Development was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the supply chain and worker shortages that followed, but today heavy machinery and construction crews are hard at work. A six-story parking garage is currently being constructed to support Jack Allen’s Kitchen, which is expected to open late this year, joining a number of eateries, retail and service businesses that are already open.

Free tax help at the library

Hutto residents have two more opportunities to have their taxes filed for free. An IRS-certified tax preparer will be available at the Hutto Library, 500 W. Live Oak St., from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. April 4 and April 11.

This service is available to individuals who make less than $60,000 per year and households of two to four people who make less than $85,000 per year combined. The income limit increases by $5,000 for each additional family member.

Residents must bring a photo ID for themselves and their spouse, a social security card or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) letter for everyone who will be on the tax return and all of the necessary filing documents such as W-2 or 1099 forms. A copy of the previous year’s tax return would be helpful as well.

City mulls multi-family options

All across Hutto and into the extraterritorial jurisdiction, buildings are going vertical. Many of those are apartments and multi-family housing units.

“Right now in the city we have about 1,100 units built, we have another 1,000 under construction,” said Ashley Bailey, development services director. Bailey said the city has allowances within the land use code for almost 7,200 multi-dwelling units.

Hutto’s comprehensive plan designates where the city feels it is appropriate to build higher-density housing such as apartments and condominiums, but Bailey wanted council members to be aware of potential state laws that might affect them.

“There are a lot of things that are coming out in the legislature or were attempted last year or that we think will be coming back to help with affordability, so some of those things we might want to go ahead and build into the code to get ready for that,” she said.

Bailey said Hutto currently has two affordable or low-income housing developments built.

“Affordable housing is a misnomer. What it really means is subsidized housing basically and they’re getting the tax credit from the federal government on the income side and they’re not paying property tax to the jurisdiction,” Council Member Brian Thompson said.

The changing diversity of the area is having an effect on home builders, with some of the larger complexes in the region starting to include multi-generational co-living units for extended families who live together, Bailey said. It’s another tactic to make housing accessible.

People in all areas are looking at ways to increase housing availability for lower and middle income families, from investors through legislators.

“It’s something we need to prepare for, not just in the multi-family numbers but coming down from the state, what does affordability look like and how can we help to get there so we’re already prepared for it,” she said.

The six-story parking garage being built next to City Hall will likely be the tallest building in the downtown area when it opens, according to Mayor Mike Snyder. Photos by Edie Zuvanich

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