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City will remove utility late fees; considers paid parking to support parks
In a plan approved by the San Marcos City Council Tuesday, Utility Customer Service will not be terminating service or sending customers to collections during the COVID-19 emergency. They will remove all late fees from March to December of 2020,. Bills, however, will still be held accountable.
They plan to ramp up customer outreach to make customers aware of available assistance options, including payment plans, use of deposits and working with third parties to pay bills. They are also working with Community Action to provide assistance to low income customers.
In other business, the council discussed the creating of a River Benefit Parking District, potentially paid parking for nonresidents and free or low cost parking for residents to support city parks, which resulted in a recommendation for the Parking Advisory Board to come back to council with a more formalized plan.
The council also approved a resolution supporting Mayor Jane Hughson’s statement on June 3, which condemns the killing of George Floyd.
Hughson wrote, “Like so many of you, I was outraged as I witnessed the horrific killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. To be a police officer in America is to assume responsibility for the safety of one’s community, and to abuse the power of the badge to endanger, and in this case kill, a resident is inexcusable. I’m still shaken, and frankly, I’m angry.”
Separately, the city council work session discussed the San Marcos Police Department’s stance on use of force policies listed in the 8 can’t wait initiative, an initiative meant to restrict use of force policies and reduce killings by police. Staff recommended a public review of the policies by a council-appointed committee.
Councilmembers also voted approval on a recommendation from the Main Street Advisory Board for an emergency installation of curbside pickup parking spaces for COVID-19 Small Business Operations.
At the beginning of the pandemic the signs were laminated and taped to traffic cones as a temporary measure to encourage customers to purchase retail goods, meals and services from downtown businesses while maintaining distancing. The installation of signage moving forward for these parking spaces is intended to continue encouraging curbside pickup from businesses downtown.
Council also approved the submission of a grant to the Lyda Hill Lone Star Grant Program by the San Marcos River Foundation in partnership with the City of San Marcos and San Marcos Greenbelt Alliance to fund a trail connecting Purgatory Creek to the Spring Lake Natural Area.
They also approved the transfer of $100,000 from the Permanent Art Fund to the Art and Cultural Grants.