San Marcos asks voters to consider $31M bond for first time in decade

San Marcos Public Library (KXAN Photo)
San Marcos Public Library (KXAN Photo)

SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — The city of San Marcos is preparing to ask the public to vote on two bond propositions totaling $31.7 million in the upcoming May election. If both propositions pass residents who own a $150,000 home will pay an extra $125 per year in taxes (with a tax rate of 8.37 cents per $100 valuation). Proposition 1 focuses on public safety, while Proposition 2 focuses on the expansion of the library.

Proposition 1 focuses on public safety and would cost the city $19 million. Up for renovations is the police department for $5.5 million, a new fire station for $4.5 million, renovations to Fire Station No. 2 for $5.2 million and a new fire training field for $2 million.

San Marcos Police Chief Chase Stapp says as his department grows, the lack of space is becoming more apparent. In one room Stapp says 11 detectives work side-by-side in cubicles, but the addition of two more detectives in the coming weeks has them wondering where everyone will sit.

“There’s no place to put them, unless we have them work at the conference table and that’s certainly not ideal,” said Stapp. “We’ve almost doubled the size of the department in terms of staffing and we’re in the same building.”

The renovation of the police department will include additional office space, a remodel of the 911 dispatch center, perimeter security fencing and SWAT storage facility separate from the main building.

“Those contain flammables and things like that,” said Stapp pointing to a SWAT van parked inside the bay area. “The windows are bulletproof, so it’s not good for them to be stored outside in the sun.”

Due to a lack of space, the vans are being stored right next to the evidence vault.

“We don’t anticipate one of these vehicles exploding or anything like that, but if it were to happen, you know it’s right next to one of our evidence vaults. If it was to breach that wall we would have a huge issue on our hands in terms of potentially lost or damaged evidence,” said Stapp.

For Proposition 2, the city says the library is considered “undersized” according to state guidelines. The city also says the learning center and meeting rooms in the library are not sufficient to accommodate library programs or requests from other community, non-profit organizations. The expansion of the library is estimated to cost around $14.5 million.

“We’ve pretty much maxed out the available space that we have right now,” said San Marcos City Manager Jared Miller. Miller says passing a bond has been one of his top priorities since he took the position three years ago. “We have not addressed needed facility modification and expansions over the last 15 years, and that’s put us behind the eight ball with the amount of space we need to build in a very short amount of time.”

If passed, this would be the city’s first bond in 10 years.

“We are going to build appropriately and responsibly and we are going to utilize that, that’s going to make our city team more efficient in the delivery of services. We’ll be safer, our residents will be safer and everyone is going to benefit from these projects,” said Miller.

The first reading of the ballot languaged will be voted on during the Feb. 7 city council meeting.

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