San Marcos City Council discussed Winter Storm Uri's effects on wastewater rates and debated possible revisions to the Criminal Justice Reform Committee's purpose statement at its meeting on May 4.
The council voted to temporarily alter the method for calculating residential wastewater rates by excluding February 2021 from the timeline used and will start this month to calculate average water consumption. The council says due to Winter Storm Uri, wastewater rates would be higher than the expected average should be. As a result, the council will adjust February's rates to minimize higher costs.
The council's consideration to revise the Criminal Justice Reform Committee's purpose statement was in pursuit of concentrating on a broader array of criminal justice topics, outside of the standard operating practices and city ordinances.
Criminal Justice Reform Committee Chair and council member Maxfield Baker believes that by following the passing of the cite and release ordinance, the committee needs to alter its goals if it hopes to stay productive and bring more transparency to the police department.
“Last [committee] meeting we rallied around the idea of continuing to work with the county toward cite and divert and bring transparency to the policing processes in San Marcos as allowed by law,” Baker says. “We believe that will be a strong mission statement for the committee and allow us to focus on a myriad of issues.”
Baker pushes for a more comprehensive review regarding the use of force policy as well as the use of the thin blue line imagery featured on the American flag within the police and fire departments, which Baker believes has a racist connotation. Baker says these two topics would be covered under the proposed revised purpose statement.
Some City Council members were hesitant to the proposal, arguing a change in goals might make committee members shift focus and be less productive. City Council member Shane Scott says the proposed revised mission statement is attempting to deal with national issues, instead of focusing on local ones.
"I don’t care about the national agenda; I care about the people in this community, and if you’re going to put together a group that’s worried about our criminal justice system, I would prefer it to be about our criminal justice system," Scott says.
According to San Marcos Police Chief Stan Standridge, accountability is being taken seriously at the police department and use of force incidents will be thoroughly reviewed. Standridge admits, however, this review could pull him away from other issues that he believes also need his attention.
“I’m building an accountability structure," Standridge says. "We set up an event review board. The event review board now reviews every pursuit, every crash, every use of force and every significant event or injury."
City Council will continue to work with the San Marcos Police Department and discuss the mission statement for the Criminal Justice Reform Committee.
The council also decided to make a brief six-month COVID-19 Recovery Council Committee to assist the city as citizens receive vaccinations and attempt a return to normalcy.
The council discussed the Parks and Recreation Board's recommended resolution 2021-02RR, which supports the implementation of paid parking at City Park and Rio Vista Park.
Ultimately, the council unanimously voted against Rio Vista Park parking but agreed to grant local citizens free parking at City Park. Paid parking would be offered for visitors, a decision Baker was adamant to approve.
“I love the idea of not charging residents. I think whatever the fee is that we charge at the park should be high enough to cover whatever administrative costs [come from that],” Baker says.
However, the council agreed to table the decision to charge parking at City Park until the number of visitors and locals that use the park was determined. Generating this number could allow the council to gauge the worth of implementing paid visitor parking, in order to see if the number of visitors justifies the added enforcement efforts.
Timia Cobb contributed to this story.
The San Marcos City Council meets virtually at 6 p.m. every first and third Tuesday of each month. For more information, visit the City Council website.