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City searches for faster virus testing options

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

The San Marcos City Council held $105,530 from the Community Development Black Grant Coronavirus fund in hopes that the City of San Marcos or Hays County would provide fast options for expanded COVID-19 testing after San Marcos overtook Kyle for the No. 1 spot for cases in Hays County. 

The funds were recommended for a COVID-19 collection station proposed by Texas State University, as part of the $425K CDBG Coronavirus funds. 

The other two recommended projects, a COVID-19 small business recovery program and advocacy services for abused and neglected children were approved. 

The hold on the $105K was suggested by Councilmember Melissa Derrick, advocating for faster testing than what the state is providing, saying 10 to 20 days waiting for results is too late, “that’s 10 days shy of the time you have to quarantine, you may be recovered by the time you get results and contact tracing is obsolete at that point.”

Staff will have to hold another public hearing for new project proposals, put forth a recommendation, and hold a five-day public comment period before coming back to vote on the final allocation of the testing funds. Texas State University’s proposal will still be on the table until then.

The small business recovery program was amended to allow for businesses as well as organizations to receive up to $5,000 in assistance.

In other business, Mayor Jane Hughson’s resolution about the death of George Floyd and San Marcos Police Department’s use of force policies will be put on hold until after a work session can be held with all councilmembers. 

A $9 million dollar contract for renovations to the Police Department building was approved by all except Councilmember Joca Marquez despite efforts by Councilmember Maxfield Baker to remove an item allocating funds to build an extension of their shooting range. 

The city council normally takes a hiatus in July, but will still be meeting on July 7 this year to address some of the city’s emergent needs due to COVID-19 and other items that have consequently been pushed back. 

There will however be a special city council meeting Thursday to consider approval on the second of two readings to adjust the city and county’s contribution rate of the tax increment from 70% to 25% for one year. This was one of many cost saving measures discussed during budget work sessions and it's likely to pass as it was approved Tuesday in its first reading 7-0. 

They will also review a grant agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice to assist the city’s fire and police departments in purchasing personal protective equipment related to COVID-19 for the amount of $51,354. 

After nearly one month of the city’s own cite and release ordinance in effect, council will consider a resolution supporting and encouraging the implementation of the proposed cite and divert program by the Hays County Criminal District Attorney’s office for citation-eligible offenses. 

Another resolution up for review will urge the United State Congress to adopt Criminal Justice Reform Legislation requiring local law enforcement agencies to report all deaths of citizens while in police custody to the United States Department of Justice; requiring the department to independently review and investigate each of those deaths to determine if there was unnecessary or improper use of force; and prohibiting the United States Government from supplying local law enforcement agencies with military hardware, vehicles, or weaponry for use against U.S. Citizens.

Back from a rewrite, council will also consider approving a joint letter calling on Gov. Greg Abbott to take specific actions to alleviate the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Latinx Texans and people of color.

Lastly, there will be a discussion related to Capes Dam, including Hays County Parks proposals, a visioning study and options for rehabilitation and renovation.

San Marcos Record

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