COVER: In April 2009, former city employees Carlos Rodriguez and CJ Cooley joined with volunteers from Calvary Baptist Church to help a San Marcos resident clear years of accumulated debris from his property. FILE PHOTO by DON ANDERS/CITY OF SAN MARCOS
by BRAD ROLLINS
A new monthly utility bill surcharge that takes effect in March is expected to generate more than a half-million dollars annually to pay for initiatives to “enhance the cleanliness and appearance of the city as a whole.”
The Clean Community Fee — $1 for residential customers and $5 for businesses — was approved in December by the San Marcos City Council, which this week took up the task of deciding how to spend the money.
At its regular meeting on Tuesday, the council heard recommendations from municipal finance director Heather Hurlbert on how to allocate estimated collections of $375,000 during the last seven months of the current fiscal year. Based on that estimate, the fee will raise an estimated $642,850 during a full 12-month cycle.
Hulbert’s recommendations include $65,000 for median landscaping along Craddock Avenue; $50,000 for a street and sidewalk sweeper for use downtown; $50,000 to outfit a “beautification trailer” for neighborhood cleanup days; and $24,000 for trash and recycling receptacles in city parks and natural areas.
Most of the remaining $186,000 would be used for establishing or enhancing recurring programs, particularly increased mowing and trash cleanup along Interstate 35 and other right-of-way. Proposed Clean Community Fund expenditures for fiscal year 2015-16:
|Increased mowing + trash pickup||$160K|
|Dumpster screening matching grant program||$15K|
|Education + awareness||$10K|
|Craddock Avenue median landscaping||$65K|
|Purchase sidewalk sweeper for downtown||$50K|
|Supplies + equipment for ‘neighborhood beautification trailer’||$50K|
|Trash + recycling receptacles for city parks||$24K|
Residential and business customers with an active city utility account — water/wastewater, electricity or both — will pay the beautification fee beginning next month.
For multi-family developments with shared utility accounts, the residential rate will be multiplied by the number of residential units. If a business utility account serves more than one business, the commercial rate will be multiplied by the number of tenants. Governments, including Texas State University and San Marcos CISD, are exempt from the surcharge.
In addition to trash cleanup and landscaping, beautification fee revenue can be used for building and signage improvement grant programs; downtown enhancement; increased graffiti removal; and dead animal removal.