In an emergency meeting called Wednesday evening, the Gonzales City Council amended their declaration of local disaster by establishing rules and regulations for the duration of the disaster, establishing economic development programs, restricting certain activities and establishing penalties for violations.
City council directed the Gonzales Economic Development Corporation (GEDC) and Gonzales Main Street to develop programs to help existing local businesses impacted by this crisis.
“In relation to funding, I’ve had many businesses call with great concern on how COVID-19 has a negative impact on their cash flow and what we can do to help,” Gonzales Mayor Connie Kacir said.
Kacir commended the work of Daisy Scheske Freeman and the Gonzales Chamber of Commerce who have been looking for resources to help support the local businesses that may have been impacted by the pandemic. Local officials are currently gathering information and will share resources in the near future.
The council also added a penalty for violation of the ordinance (such as allowing more than 10 people in a gathering) to be considered a Class C misdemeanor. A person found guilty of the violation shall be punished by a fine not to exceed $1,000.
When asked about the origin fine amount, City attorney T. Daniel Santee noted that multiple jurisdictions they serve have this in place, but that he hasn’t “heard about a lot of citations being placed.”
“They’re getting compliance by just education,” he said. “Just informing folks that, ‘hey, this is in place, you may not know about this.’”
Kacir added that she didn’t anticipate violations being a problem.
“I would hope that our community is going to be compliant and take this pandemic seriously,” she said.
“I think our community is more than willing to comply,” she later added.
The ordinance has not been extended and will continue to run through April 9. The wording of the ordinance can be found attached.
City council also conducted a first reading of a resolution authorizing certain emergency financial assistance up to $500,000 by the GEDC to be used as a line of credit or other financial assistance for businesses located within the City of Gonzales due to the impacts of the COVID-19 virus. The city formally asked EDC to “have a meeting as soon as possible.” A GEDC meeting is expected to be called sometime next week to discuss the financial assistance.
Finally, the council authorized the City Manager Tim Patek to enact Fiscal Management Contingency Plan Level II starting on Monday, March 30. The city will also postpone all capital improvement projects for a period of 30 days.
Kacir noted that the city was utilizing fiscal responsibility and though she does not anticipate any issue with not being able to pay those capital improvement projects, she felt that it was in the best interest of the city to be prepared.
Two projects currently taking place, including one at Independence Park and the other at Larry Drive, will move forward as planned. The demolition of the old library should also start next week or the week after, according to Patek.
During public comment, Gonzales ISD John Schumacher updated council on his conversations with the school board, his staff and with the Texas Education Agency (TEA). Schumacher announced that the district will be unveiling information on graphic organizer assignments that students will be able to work on online or in paper form.
“They pick and choose what they like to work on,” Schumacher said of the program that will begin on Monday, March 30.
Schumacher also added the district has an email address specifically for questions in relation to the pandemic. Anyone with questions can email firstname.lastname@example.org. A dedicated phone number will also be announced soon.