The San Marcos City Council almost unanimously supported the staff recommendations for Community Development Block Grant-Coronavirus funding, including $200,000 in relief for small businesses.
The city received four applications for a piece of the $425,261 in funding, three of which met the qualifications for the grant application.
City staff has been directed to move forward with the qualifying three: a COVID-19 small business recovery program, advocacy services for abused and neglected children and a COVID-19 collection station.
Councilmember Maxfield Baker was disappointed there were no applications related to housing, which will inevitably be heavily impacted by the COVID-19 economic crisis. “We are taking a trickle down economics approach here as opposed to helping people directly,” he said.
Councilmember Ed Mihalkanin admitted $200,000 is not much for small businesses, and that more relief may be needed to come from the general fund.
The proposed project would provide technical assistance and funding for small businesses and microenterprises. It would also provide up to $5,000 per business for redesigning physical spaces to ensure safety and social distancing, digital redesign for social distancing and sanitation training and PPE.
Court Appointed Special Advocates will receive $55,600 for advocacy services that have an increased need due to family stress from economic impact and stay-at-home orders. It will partially fund an additional case supervisor and would help them recruit and train volunteer caseworkers to advocate for children removed from their homes, a program which could be scaled depending on need.
Texas State University will receive its requested $105,530 for a portable COVID-19 sample collecting station and staffing from September 2020 to May 2021. The funding will cover the prototype development as well as conversion to a working flexible-use health station. It will also cover two part-time positions at $18 per hour and implementation of research in partnership with Katerra.
Councilmember Joca Marquez requested prioritizing hiring an underrepresented minority for the positions.
Director of Public Safety Chase Stapp announced that San Marcos’ application for $6,429,168 in CARES Act Transit related reimbursements was received and approved.
He also announced the dog park would be reopening Friday.
In other business, city council unanimously supported an ordinance by Marquez to prevent the San Marcos Code of Ethics from being used as a political weapon. The ordinance prevents individuals from filing ethics complaints based on the “policies and purposes” section of the Code of Ethics. Complaints must be filed based on violations of other sections.
Staff will come back to council with the calculated voter-approval tax rate using an 8% threshold for new revenue instead of the 3.5% from last year’s new tax code law due to the governor’s statewide declaration of disaster in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This action will not raise the tax rate, however because property values increase, tax revenue for the city will increase.