local businesses

Star file photo of local businesses on The Square in San Marcos. 

The San Marcos City Council revised the Revive SMTX small business grant program to correlate with updated Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines at its April 6 meeting.

The new guidelines require small businesses who receive grant funding to follow CDC COVID-19 guidelines. The guidelines will only be enforced for businesses that did not sign grant contracts before April 6.

At the beginning of the agenda item, council members discussed whether the city would advise all businesses to follow the new guidelines. Councilmember Shane Scott says enforcing guidelines to receive grants is not what local businesses need.

“I still don't think that this particular avenue would be the best way to do this,” Scott says. "I think that we need to worry more so about getting these businesses stronger, in the flow, back on their feet. I think that should be our main concern with this particular item.”

It was later suggested that the expectation to follow CDC guidelines should only apply to businesses that have yet to sign contracts. The new requirements would go in the contacts the businesses eventually sign.

The establishments would also have to submit proof indicating they are enforcing the guidelines. However, policies, such as wearing face masks and encouraging social distancing, would only go as long as the CDC recommends them.

Councilmember Alyssa Garza supports the updates to the grant contract and says some businesses were already enforcing COVID-19 policies. She adds the new guidelines are not different from what has already been in place.

“I genuinely believe that most small business owners that I know, will understand the rationale and the why it's, in my opinion, a necessary protection to have this at the policy level, like have it formalized. At least that's my hope,” Garza says.

The council approved the changes, and the revisions passed 6-1 with councilmember Mark Gleason voting against.

The council also received status reports and gave an updated response on the city’s COVID-19 vaccine distribution. Councilmember Maxfield Baker asked the council to clarify if the San Marcos Chamber of Commerce would continue to ask businesses to persuade customers to wear masks and social distance.

“I feel like [Gov. Greg Abbott's] leadership has led us down here pretty rapidly and kind of for nationwide consensus that we’re maybe looking at a fourth wave coming,” Baker says. “Especially, since whole counties are seeing an uptick in northern states. So, you know, I'm just trying to be as proactive as we can, and not waiting for a fourth wave, before we, you know, reverse course, and really start pushing that masks are still important.”

Mayor Jane Hughson informed Baker that businesses are already doing their part in following COVID-19 safety procedures and, if not, the Chamber of Commerce cannot force them to.

“Not all businesses are members of the Chamber, and the Chamber does not control the businesses or tell them what to do,” Hughson says.

During the COVID-19 update, Garza suggested that vaccination sites should provide more hours of availability for individuals who work late.

“Hopefully we can do something that's a little bit more equitable, being considerate of the folks that don't have that luxury of being able to say, ‘Hey boss, I’m gonna you know, run over to get my vaccine’. You can't really do that when you're in a non-office setting, I guess,” Garza says.

The City Council also supported a resolution approving the first amended and restated lease agreement between the City of San Marcos and the San Marcos Lions Club, a local tube rental facility. The lease agreement provides a five-year lease share of the city recreation building and requires Lions Club to pay an annual rent of $11,900. The lease also offers the option to renew for up to two additional five-year terms upon mutual agreement between the business and city.

Before approving the agreement, the council reviewed updated terms in the contract. Among the requirements was for Lions Club to perform litter pick-up activities for 18 hours a week.

The topic of river cleanliness led to a discussion on whether the city should implement its own store at the Lions Club. Products sold at the store, such as reusable containers, would promote recycling and the limitation of littering. The tube rental facility would operate the store, and funds collected at the store would go to river cleaning efforts.

Due to time constraints, the suggestions were not authorized and the restatement to the lease agreement motion failed 3-4, with Garza, Baker and councilmember Melissa Derrick voting for the approval of the restatement.

During the meeting, the council received two presentations — the first concerning the city’s quarterly investment report and the quarter-end December 31, 2020, financial report and the second presented by the Hays County Auditor Office detailing the 2020 Hays County Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.

During the quarterly investment report, San Marcos Director of Finance Marie Kalka assured the city’s general fund is “in a good place.”

The Charter Review Commission submitted updates on the interim report and its preliminary votes, which the council decided not to take action on due to the commission's decisions possibly changing before Memorial Day, the deadline for the report.

However, some items on the report called for placing a limit of two consecutive terms for the mayoral position, eliminating the residency requirement for the presiding judge of the Municipal Court and to not appoint more than one real estate professional to the Planning and Zoning Commission.

The council also supported an ordinance allowing city-owned lots located at 404 Broadway St., 300 Herndon St., 318 Shady Lane and 207 South Comanche St. to be used by qualified buyers under applicable Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and home grant programs for the purpose of constructing affordable single-family homes.

Contracts, deeds and closing documents were unanimously approved and passed. This project acts as a contribution of any resources to the creation of workforce housing and seeks to replace homes lost in the 2015 Texas flood.

A resolution calling for the Community Development Block Grant program to fund demolition services was postponed. If approved, services would have involved demolishing “winded and dangerous” properties within city neighborhoods. However, the council agreed a contract addressing how materials in the demolition will be reused and recovered needs to be created first. Additionally, the council agreed the contract should include that prior to demolition, the process in which usable items are extracted must be approved.

The San Marcos City Council meets virtually on the first and third Tuesday of each month. Residents who wish to speak during the citizen comment or public hearing periods should email citizencomment@sanmarcostx.gov no later than noon on the day of the meeting.

For more information about City Council or to view meeting recordings and agendas, visit its website.

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