Winter storm stroller

Following a presentation from city staff, San Marcos City Council provided direction to staff members regarding utility disconnections for non-payments and late fees at its March 16 meeting.

The council unanimously agreed to extend the utility freeze until Aug. 1 and will provide $1,500 in funding to customers in need. There will be an opportunity for customers to discuss payment plans if the $1,500 is not sufficient.

The utility freeze and financial assistance will apply to customers impacted by COVID-19 and Winter Storm Uri; priority will be given to accounts that are greater than 60 days delinquent. The utility freeze or financial assistance will not go to businesses.

Customers must apply to be considered for the extension and the $1,500 fund. Applications will be sent via email and/or mail.

Council members also asked San Marcos City Manager Bert Lumbreras to create an action item for the next council meeting that proposes adding a requirement to the Revive SMTX funding application. The requirement will state business owners who receive funding must use it for already allocated purposes and must require their customers and employees to wear face coverings. 

The proposal for the action item stems from council members Maxfield Baker and Alyssa Garza who inquired about whether or not recipients of the Revive SMTX funding will follow Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines (CDC) despite Gov. Greg Abbott ending the state's mask mandate. The council members also inquired about whether amendments or changes could legally be made to future applications.

"We've heard from the National Level Chamber of Commerce that they have been asking the federal government to say that businesses are not liable if their employee gets sick while at their work," Baker says. "I didn't see anything in that legislation that removes liability for businesses, and that's why my main concern for this Revive SMTX money is coming from is, you know, making sure that these businesses receiving this are doing everything they can to reduce the likelihood that their employee would get sick by taking those health measures."

Baker also issued a motion to deny a resolution awarding a contract with Wells Fargo for depository services in the estimated annual amount of $60,000 for a three-year term and authorizing one additional extension of up to two years. He expressed concern regarding the ethics of Wells Fargo as a company.

"I think when it comes to, you know, being good stewards of our finances, we need to consider the ethical implications of the people that we do business with," Baker says. "Wells Fargo's support of pipelines in and across the state of Texas is one of [the] reasons why we should consider, you know, the efficacy of or the fiduciary responsibility that they use to manage our funds, and that we would be better off using a more ethical company."

Baker's motion to deny failed and the council voted to approve the resolution in a 4-3 vote with council members Baker, Garza and Melissa Derrick voting against.

An ordinance, on the second of two readings, amending section 14.126 of the San Marcos City Code which requires landscape irrigation systems to include separate irrigation meters in new developments, was unanimously approved by the council.

The council authorized a contract with Techline Pipe, L.P., through the interlocal purchasing cooperative agreement with the Lower Colorado River Authority, for the provision of materials and supplies to be used by the public services department in the estimated annual amount of $350,000. The contract also includes four additional renewals.

A resolution approving a pedestrian underpass agreement with Union Pacific Railroad Company at Milepost 209.39, located between Children's Park and Rio Vista Park, was supported by the council.

Council members approved an ordinance, on the first of two readings, to amend sections 14.006 (c) and 14.372(a)(2) of the San Marcos City Code to continue the residential home improvement exemption fee and to authorize one to perform construction work on an immediate family member's home without a contractor's license unless required by state law.

The council unanimously voted to approve a resolution authorizing Marie Kalka to fill a vacancy on the board of directors of the Alliance Regional Water Authority.

The council agreed in its earlier work session meeting to support the extension of the city's current scooter pilot program through the end of the summer and to begin the search for a single vendor of scooters and dockless bikes. 

Following the council's support, city staff intends to work with Texas State in performing a request for proposal (REP) process to select a single vendor of scooters for San Marcos.  

Since August 2020, San Marcos has partnered with the company Spin in its pilot program. A presentation during the meeting indicated there were 5,010 Spin riders from Sept. 23, 2020 to Feb. 25, 2021. Additionally, 20,207 trips were completed along with 5,385 hours and 31,163 miles. 

Throughout Spin's partnership with the city there has been one misplaced scooter per day and three non-critical injuries. 

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 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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