By ANDY SEVILLA
Federal and state legislative sessions are in order, and San Marcos is pushing its agenda.
Mayor Susan Narvaiz and City Manager Rick Menchaca made their way to Washington last week to meet with the city’s federal representatives, including U.S. Representative Lloyd Doggett and U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. Saying the city is interested in taking advantage of an economic stimulus package new President Barack Obama is working out with Congress, Narvaiz wished to inform Washington lawmakers about the city’s requests.
“We wanted to make sure that while they are voting and in the process, they know what our priorities are in the city and regionally,” Narvaiz said.
Narvaiz said “shovel-ready” projects top the list, including an overpass on Aquarena Springs Dr. and the Loop 110 around the southeastern part of the city.
Narvaiz said local officials lobbied Washington to accept San Marcos population numbers in the Census counts, believing it would help to increase federal transportation funding and facilitate breaking ground on mass transit. The city is claiming a population slightly in excess of 50,000.
On reaching 50,000, cities are eligible for additional types of federal funding. However, said Narvaiz, the Census Bureau denied the request, as it is taking a new count in 2010. Narvaiz said increased capital due to a growing population won’t make it to the city until about 2013, due to federal processes.
Staff for Doggett and Hutchison made time to squeeze in San Marcos City officials before the holiday weekend. Menchaca said he and Narvaiz were on their way to their first meeting as soon as they landed in Washington last Thursday.
Winstead PC represents San Marcos in government relations with Austin and Washington. City communications director Melissa Millecam said San Marcos lobbies the state for legislation, while, in Washington, money is the number one priority.
“We don’t have a federal legislative agenda,” Millecam said. “We ask them for funding.”
Millecam said the federal government provided $10 million for the Wonder World extension project, and approximately $3.5 million for the local airport, aside from the monies provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Last Oct. 6, the city council held a workshop to discuss a proposed legislative program for the state legislative session that started this month. The council clarified its direction on legislative priorities, which include:
· Protecting water resources
· Enhancing air and land transportation
· Prohibiting the General Land Office from purchasing properties for private development
· Protecting the tax base
· Preserving eminent domain authority
· Promoting alternate energy resources
· Protecting municipally owned electric utilities
· Promoting economic development
· Opposing new state fees on city services
The city is working with State Senator Jeff Wentworth (R-San Antonio) for legislation that would benefit local developers who are interested in purchasing “real property; personal property that is not affixed to real property; or services, including services for the construction of a building, road, street, bridge, utility, or storm drainage facility.” Under the bill in progress, the city could accept the second lowest bid from a local party, as opposed to the lowest bid for a project from an outsider.
However, there is a stipulation. The second lowest bid from a local party must lie within five percent of the lowest bid price received by the city from a bidder who is not a resident of San Marcos. The bill says the local bidder must offer “the municipality the best combination of contract price and additional economic development opportunities for the municipality created by the contract award, including the employment of residents of the municipality and increased tax revenues to the municipality.”
The city council adopted the legislative action program last Oct. 21.