The San Marcos City Council considered imposing new COVID-19 limitations, which could possibly challenge Texas Gov. Greg Abbott's state orders, at its Jan. 19 meeting.
Council member Maxfield Baker proposed the possibility of a city ordinance that would aid in implementing additional COVID-19 restrictions.
While Baker's suggestion was met with mixed agreements throughout the council, some members agreed passing the ordinance would be worth going against the governor's orders.
"COVID is so serious, and I have known so many people that have passed," Council member Saul Gonzales says. "If it gets any worse, I think we as a city body we got to do what we have to do to protect our citizens even though we might be going against the governor."
Council member Shane Scott disagrees with passing the ordinance because of the burdens that could be placed on local businesses and believes the city should depend on vaccines to combat the city's rising COVID-19 cases instead.
However, Baker says vaccines are a privilege that many city residents do not have access to.
"The people that are going to get the vaccine, it's a privilege to be on that list," Baker says. "I'm no where near that list. None of the people that are working in these restaurants are on that list."
If the ordinance is passed, the city could face a potential lawsuit from the state if restrictions are stricter than the governors.
"I can't support it knowing we're just gonna turn around and get sued," Council member Mark Gleason says.
If the council decides to move forward, it agreed to first send a letter to Abbott asking him to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. It also wishes surrounding cities, such as Buda and Kyle, would work with San Marcos in its appeal.
The council will continue its discussion on the potential city ordinance at its meeting on Feb. 2.
City Council also voted to award $567,825 in Community Development Block Grant - Coronavirus Response (CDBG-CV) funding to Community Action, Inc. for use in a rent, mortgage and utility assistance program.
Community Action was one of two organizations to apply for funding, the other being the Veteran Services Office. City staff recommended council members award the total $567,825 amount to Community Action, with the stipulation that a minimum of $454,260 will go to beneficiaries of the program; the council voted unanimously to follow the staff’s recommendation.
“Community Action does a good job and they’ve been around doing this for a while,” Gleason says. “I’m glad to see this go to them. I think it’s an efficient way to use the money.”
Community Action will use the funds to assist approximately 150 households in San Marcos, providing up to three months of rent for each individual or family. Priority will be given to families facing immediate eviction, families with children under 5 years old, seniors on fixed incomes, veterans and those who have a disability. Community Action will open applications for the program once it receives the funding.
In other business, the council approved, on the first of two readings, a resolution amending Chapter 2 of the city’s Code of Ethics. The amended Code of Ethics will require ethical complaints to be sworn before a notary public and will establish a 12-month time period to file a complaint following an alleged violation.
The council also approved a five-year electrical engineering contract with Stanley Consultants Inc. and McCord Engineering Inc. in an amount not to exceed $5 million. The sum of money mentioned in the resolution prompted Scott to request large contracts like this be brought before the council earlier, in the future.
“I want to know what’s going on with $5 million when it’s going out,” Scott says. “We don’t know what type of issues are going to come up in the future and to just let money flow out just because it’s preordained for something might need to change.”
The council approved two construction contracts with New Age General Contractors, Inc. for the South Guadalupe Street Improvements Project; one for bike lane traffic signals in the estimated amount of $183,269.46 and another for sidewalk and landscaping in the estimated amount of $793,199.25.
The council also approved an amendment to the city’s Development Code requiring minimum soil depths and the use of drought-tolerant turf grass species in new land developments.
A $1,579,070 agreement with TMT Solutions, Inc. was approved relating to the replacement of the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) software system with an ignition system to support the city’s water and wastewater system.
The council also approved the purchase of several vehicles for use by the Stormwater Division of the Public Services Department; an air street sweeper from TYMCO, Inc., a dump truck from Rush Truck Center and a Takeuchi excavator from Waukesha-Pearce Industries, for a total of $501,469.90.
The council authorized a $270,578 contract with Holiday Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram for the purchase of 11 Dodge Charger pursuit vehicles, for use by the San Marcos Police Department.
Finally, the council discussed returning to holding meetings at City Hall with the use of audiovisual equipment to broadcast meetings over Zoom. No date has been identified for the potential return to City Hall.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.