Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.

Council is set to vote on Meet and Confer Agreement

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

The San Marcos City Council's work starts early at 3 p.m. today with an executive session with three key issues on the table involving consultation with the city attorney, to be followed during the regular meeting at 6 p.m. with the consideration of approving the Meet and Confer Agreement with the San Marcos Police Officers Association.

During the afternoon work session, the council will consider the airport lease with Blue Skies Aviation, provisions of the EMS services in the city, and the SMART Terminal Development Agreement in executive session, followed by a question and answer session with the public and press.

The regular meeting in the city council chambers at 630 E. Hopkins St. is both an in-person and online meeting where there will be a citizens comment period at the start of the meeting which is likely to have comments on both the Meet and Confer Agreement as well as the SMART Terminal, now known as the AXIS Logistics Park.

The city council is also set to take action as it considers the possible approval of Resolution 2023-96R, the Meet and Confer Agreement with the San Marcos Police Officers’ Association.

Pending approval, the council will provide an effective date for the agreement, authorizing City Manager Stephanie Reyes or designee, to execute the agreement on behalf of the city and also declaring an effective date for this resolution to be effective.

It is a process that has taken many months, with the council hearing particulars of the new proposed Meet and Confer agreement with the SMPOA during the city council meeting held Tuesday, May 2. During that meeting, Reyes and San Marcos Chief of Police Stan Standridge outlined what the new agreement entails, taking into account some of the reforms proposed by the public in response to previous actions by current and former members of the police department. Some citizens are saying that the reform measures proposed in the new Meet and Confer Agreement do not go far enough.

On May 2, Reyes offered a concise explanation of the agreement, including its proposed reform policies and an update on the new parameters of what is expected to be a three-year agreement between the parties.

She said during that meeting that the negotiations between the city and SMPOA originally culminated in the council approving a 3-year agreement on Sept. 6, 2022.

But that agreement was called into question despite what Reyes said were at the time provisions that both the city and the SMPOA thought represented considerable progress regarding reforms.

Reyes had stated on May 2 that the new set of meet and confer negotiations was propelled by state law which allows community members to draft a petition, gather signatures and to present the petition to compel government bodies to either repeal an agreement or place it before voters. A group of citizens did “undertake this process” and a petition was presented in November 2022, and on Feb. 7 the council voted to repeal the agreement with an effective date of June 7, to allow time for new negotiations, rather than place it before the public for a vote. Reyes and the staff took on the process anew with met and confer negotiations that began on March 9 with six meetings overall.

Several key aspects of the negotiated agreement now include doubling the amount of time to investigate and administer discipline. The city was also able “to negotiate limiting the role of an arbitrator in substituting his or her judgement for that of the chief’s in certain circumstances,” as well as allowing for letters of reprimand to be considered during the promotional process, Reyes said.

In response to the anticipated vote, officials of Mano Amiga, issued a press release stating that the public is encouraged to meet at 5:30 p.m., Tuesday before the meeting to make posters outside of San Marcos City Hall and to attend the meeting. According to Mano Amiga Communications Director Sam Benavides, the upcoming agreement does not adequately address the series of Hartman Reforms brought forward during the process of redrafting the meet and confer agreement.

“The new point system that weighs in letters of reprimand when considering officers for promotion is performative emptiness. We simply will not applaud these meaningless crumbs used to thwart actual substance in service of transparency and accountability. The fact that these letters previously meant nothing tells our community a lot about the current lack of accountability practices.” Benavides said. “The Hartman Reforms are common-sense, bare-minimum policies that we still believe are attainable if only there was political will to change the status quo in policing. Since these cops will never give up their undeserved special protections themselves, and our city leadership has failed to effectively advocate for these reforms, we’re gearing up to repeal the entire 143 process.”

In the organization’s press release, Benavides stated “having given the city two opportunities to implement meaningful change, advocates are gearing up to remove San Marcos police (not firefighters) of their civil service status via ballot initiative. Just as Mano Amiga Action did in their Prop A initiative, if the city continues to fail at making changes in the interest of police accountability, Mano Amiga will collect signatures from 10% of registered voters to opt San Marcos out of Chapter 143.”

Pam Watts who survived a vehicle accident on June 10, 2020 with the former SMPD Sgt. Ryan Hartman that took the life of her partner, Jennifer Miller, is quoted in the press release as well.

Mano Amiga stated that it launched its first petition initiative to repeal the agreement as a result of the city failing to implement the “Hartman Reforms” that Watts called for at the beginning of the first round of negotiations last June.

Mano Amiga stated that in its opinion, this version of the contract only includes minimal changes to the SMPD promotion process. The organization is advocating that more of the Hartman Reforms “can and should still be implemented.”

“Being allowed to forfeit vacation time instead of serving a suspension potentially endangers the public and fellow officers, not to mention the suspended officers who need the downtime to consider all the ramifications of their inappropriate actions,” Watts stated in the press release.

Before that action takes place, at the top of the meeting, the council will be dealing with 2023 financial information, including a Quarterly Internal Audit Report provided by Deloitte and Touche, LLP, with staff presentations following with a financial report for the quarter ending March 31 and a second staff presentation on the city’s investments through March 31.

During the consent portion of the agenda, the council is set to consider ordinances, resolutions and other items that may be acted on by one motion and vote of the council.

The council will also consider approval of Ordinance 2023-37, on the second of two readings, approvingTMP-23-01, amending the City’s Transportation Master Plan, Appendix E (Roadway), Appendix G (Bicycle Plan), and Appendix H (Greenways Plan) to remove the extension of McCoy Drive from Mc-Coy Circle to Davis Lane, to remove a future avenue from River Road across the subject property to Davis Lane, and to remove a portion of the proposed greenway adjacent to the applicant’s property; and including procedural provisions; and providing an effective date. These changes were requested by McCoy Building Supply in anticipation of the construction of a new corporate retreat facility in San Marcos.

The council will also consider the approval of a resolution that supports the city’s application for the Purgatory Creek Improvements– Trails project with the Texas Department of Transportation.

In addition, the council will consider approval of a resolution that will authorize the city to use the power of eminent domain to acquire a 1.501 acre wastewater line easement it believes is necessary to “advance and achieve the public use of the Staples Road Wastewater Improvements Project to extend public wastewater lines to provide wastewater services to the area south and east of the intersection of Staples Road and Old Bastrop Highway.”

The use of scooters in the city will be taken up as the council considers approval of a resolution that would authorize a renewal for a term of one year of the city’s license agreement with Skinny Labs, Inc., doing business as SPIN. The approval will enable SPIN’s shared micro-mobility devices such as electric scooters to be operated within city rights-of-way.

The city council will hold a public hearings and hear a staff presentation in regard to substantial amendments to the Community Development Block Grant-Entitlement Action Plans for Program Years 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022 that reallocate funding from the “Southside Community Center Housing Rehabilitation”, “Emergency Repair”, and “Priority Repair” programs to the CDBG Owner Occupied Housing Rehabilitation Program administered by the city.

Also in the non-consent portion of the agenda, the city council is set to deliberate approval of a resolution that will officially end the declaration of a local state of disaster in the city due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week, the federal declaration officially came to an end.

There is room in the meeting If need be for council members to go back into executive session to address again matters brought up in the 3 p.m. work session.

The meeting will conclude with a question and answer session with the public and the press.

For those wishing to view the meeting, go to http://sanmarcostx. gov/421/City-Council- Videos-Archives or watch on Grande channel 16 or Spectrum channel 10.

San Marcos Record

(512) 392-2458
P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666