San Marcos Passes Budget, Utility Rate And Tax Increases, Moves Forward To Borrow $4.4M For SM River Foundation Property

The San Marcos City Council Passes Budget, Utility Rate And Tax Increases, Moves Forward To Borrow $4.4M for the San Marcos River Foundation Property…

Note: This story has been corrected.

During last Night’s San Marcos City Council meeting city staff gave several presentations on the agenda items.

All budget items attached to the agenda for the proposed FY 2018 budget were approved by City Council, including the 8.37-cent property tax increase and all utility fee and rate hikes.

The San Marcos City Council also voted to move forward and apply for a loan from the Texas Water Development Board for $4.4 million to purchase land currently held by the San Marcos River Foundation.

Dianne Wassenich, Program Director for SMRF, told city council the properties had been purchased by the organization to protect it from development.

Wassenich said private organizations would often purchase land to keep the price lower until a city or governing body was in the position to purchase it; with the city’s interest in purchasing the property, SMRF would be able to apply for grants, which could potentially reduce the cost for the city.

Council member Lisa Prewitt asked to hear from Dr. Benjamin Schwartz, Associate Professor and Director of Edwards Aquifer Research and Data Center, “Like Diane said, these properties, and you pointed it out, these pieces of properties come up for development, and the community says, ‘wait a minute, what’s going on here.’ It’s too late; you can’t do anything about it – that’s the other reality.”

Mayor John Thomaides asked new City Manager Bert Lumbreras, “What would the cost of the application be – approximately?”

Lumbreras answered, “Staff time, on the city’s end, but when you get into the due diligence, then you are looking  anywhere from $50k to $55k per parcel.”

Due diligence includes appraisals and surveys of each property.

During the Sept. 15 packet meeting, Council member Jane Hughson recused herself and was not present for the vote or the discussion in the executive session on item #22; she recused herself from the item again prior to the council entering executive session, Tuesday, Sept. 19.

The council voted 5 to 1 to move forward with the loan application process. However, council member Scott Gregson asked for an amendment; city staff will start the process, but the item will be brought back to them before the loan is officially applied for.

The amendment passed with a 5-to-1 vote; Major John Thomaides voted against.

The following is the exact wording of the amendment.

“San Marcos city staff will bring the issue back to council in December with an update on the loan and grant application. Council will then vote whether they will proceed or not.”


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