San Marcos City Council met Tuesday to pass the budget for fiscal Year 2018, analyze the city’s effectiveness during Hurricane Harvey and determine the city’s next step on preserving the undeveloped land over the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone, known as item 22 on the council’s agenda.
The land is owned by the San Marcos River Foundation and asked the council to consider applying for a loan from the Texas Water Development Board for $4.4 million to purchase the land.
Council met in executive session prior to addressing the agenda item. Following the session, citizens voiced their concerns both in opposition and in favor for applying for the loan.
Jason Mock, president of the San Marcos Chamber of Commerce, asked the council to oppose the request to avoid increasing debt.
“The council needs to be strategic in its long-term planning in green space and park acquisition,” Mock said. “If Item number 22 moves forward, the council will be adding more debt to the citizens of San Marcos. This will set a precedent for others to ask for a bailout from the tax payers of San Marcos.”
Dianne Wassenich, program manager of San Marcos River Foundation, addressed the council in support of the loan application. Wassenich said the loan is not a bailout, but an investment for the city and an opportunity to preserve land that would protect the river.
“What we have been working on for the past few years is looking at the spots that would protect our cities the most from flooding, protect water quality, protect the clarity of our river in the future and how to go about doing that and get the grants and get the work done,” Wassenich said.
Council debated the item before passing the resolution. The vote was 5-1; Mayor John Thomadies was the opposing vote.
Thomadies said he would not be able to vote in favor for applying for the loan because of his conservativism toward money.
“This is not an issue of whether we would like to acquire the property or not, it is can we afford it?” Thomadies said. “We are issuing 67 million dollars of debt this year.”
Jane Hughson, Place 4, recused herself from the vote, not present for the discussion or debate.
In addition to passing item 22, the budget for the next fiscal year was approved unanimously.
The total budget consists of $214,053,615. The fiscal year of 2018 starts on Oct. 1, 2017 until Sept. 30, 2018.
The budget breaks down as followed:
- General Fund: $73.3M
- Electric: $63.3M
- Water or Wastewater: $39.5M
- Debt Services: $17.5M
- Other Funds: $7M
- Drainage: $4.7M
- Hotel/Motel: $4.2M
- Resource Recover: $4.1M
- Airport $563K
Lastly, Bret Lumbrereas, city manager, gave a report to council members over the city’s action during Hurricane Harvey. Lumbreras said city staff did an outstanding job in serving the city of San Marcos.
Lumbreras said he would be able to advise staff and correct the mistakes he saw during the storm to better prepare for the future.
In addition, council voted on various appointments.
Lumbreraswas appointed to the GSMP Board of Directors, San Marcos Economic Development Board and CVB Board.
Thomadies was appointed to the San Marcos Area of Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors to provide direction to staff.
City council meets the first and third Tuesday of every month at City Hall. The next meeting will be Oct. 3.