Masks will continue to be required in municipal buildings, following discussion by council members at the Gonzales City Council meeting held Thursday, March 11.
This discussion came the day after Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s Executive Order GA-34 lifted the statewide mask mandate which had been in place for several months in response to the spread of COVID-19.
Under the order, local governments, courts, businesses, and schools are still able to require masks to be worn in their facilities. However, penalties or jailtime cannot be imposed by local officials on individuals who choose not to wear a mask or businesses which will not require them. Trespassing ordinances can still be enforced, according to the Texas Tribune.
A debriefing regarding Winter Storm Uri’s impact on the city was given by City Manager Tim Patek, who said that while they are still waiting to hear back about rates for LCRA, from which the city purchases most of its electricity, they have heard from AEP, and do not expect Gonzales utility customers to see huge energy bills in April. However, a small increase is expected.
The city’s billing of utilities is offset by a month, meaning that bills for the energy usage period which would reflect the storm’s effect from Feb. 13 to 17 won’t be going out to customers until April.
In public comment:
- Parks and Recreation Director Anne Dollery announced to the council that March 19 would be her last day working for the city.
- James Lawrence, a member of the city’s Charter Review Committee who is also running for a position on the Gonzales City Council in District 2, asked that the council disclose whether the property to be granted to three entities via quitclaim deed had any mineral rights associated with the properties.
- Gonzales Chamber of Commerce Operations Coordinator Brad Cox introduced himself to the council and audience as a new member of the community.
In other business:
- The council approved minutes for the Feb. 4 special called meeting and Feb. 11 regular meeting.
- A certification of unopposed candidate was approved by the council in District 1 for Joseph Kridler. Following the certification of the May 1 election, Kridler will be sworn in as a member of the council.
- Mayor Connie Kacir was authorized to execute a voting machine rental service agreement with Gonzales County for the May 1 General and Special elections.
- An expenditure of funds for the Gonzales Economic Development Corporation in an amount not to exceed $48,000 for repairs to the Lynn Theater was approved.
- A resolution allowing $50,000 of budgeted GDEC funds to be used in matching a grant of $500,000 from the Texas Community Block Grant Program was approved by the council for the benefit of Gonzales Main Street to be used for infrastructure improvements to the 400 block of St. James Street.
- The council authorized the use of Independence Square by Gonzales Main Street for the Main Street Concert Series and Star-Spangled Spectacular on June 4, 5, 11, 12, 18, 19, 25, 25, 26 and July 4. This authorization includes use of the parking lot, closure of the Brickyard area at Independence Park, and sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages.
- A proposal from Victoria College to Lease the billboard located in Sarah Dewitt Drive for the purpose of promotion and marketing educational initiatives was approved.
- The council discussed and approved the engagement of Denton Navarro Rocha Bernal & Zech, and Doucet & Associates for redistricting and reapportionment services. A committee-based model was chosen by the council, and appointees will be names at the next meeting.
- A resolution authorizing the appointment of Liz Hernandez and Betty Vaughn as election judges was approved.
- A recommendation of the Gonzales Convention and Visitors Bureau to fund the purchase of a new sign for the J.B. Wells Park, Arena and Expo in the amount of $29,878 was approved.
- A resolution approving changes to the job descriptions of the positions of Parks and Rec Director and Arena Operations Manager and unfreezing the position of records clerk.
- The council authorized City Manager Tim Patek to submit, and accept if awarded, an application to the National Park Service Underrepresented Community Grant Program in an amount not to exceed $50,000 for building improvements to the Edwards Community Center. This is a collaboration between the Edwards Association and Gonzales Main Street, which will pay for the cost of the application.
- An ordinance amending the City of Gonzales Election Ordinance and Notice to reflect a change in polling locations for Election Day from North Avenue Intermediate School to the City of Gonzales Municipal Building.
- A closing and abandonment of portions of certain unimproved streets beyond municipal boundaries to abutting property owners was approved.
- Updates for the city’s utility rate study, city finances, and the paddling trail dock were given by Patek. Patek said Winter Storm Uri has caused a delay to the utility rate study, leaving its completion date unclear.
- Following closed session, the council voted to add an item exploring a possible venue tax for J.B. Wells to the agenda for the next meeting.