SAN MARCOS, Texas -- A potential candidate for San Marcos City Council wants the public to know about what she calls a councilman's role in a city funding program.
In an email to the media, potential candidate Jocabed Marquez alleges East Hopkins, LLC, an entity half-owned by City Councilman Scott Gregson, used $24,075 of city incentive payments for his own business interests.
"The general rule is it is very unlawful for a city official or an employee to take any official action that they know will either affect economic interests or the official or the employee," Marquez said.
It's via the Business Improvement and Growth Program, a program approved by council members, including Gregson, in 2016.
"The main goal of this program was to increase sales or revenue for the property owner or the tenant," Marquez said.
According to city documents, East Hopkins, LLC-owned businesses Blue Dahlia Bistro and Buzzmill were granted city funding. Blue Dahlia is listed as using funds for a fire suppression system, as well as awning, glazing, and historic feature restoration. Buzzmill used the money for a new sign.
"Out of those total funds, which were $82,175, 29.3 percent of those funds went to the East Hopkins, LLC, where Mr. Gregson is either half owner or the owner. And it's approximately three-fourths, which is about 23 percent totaling $24,075 that he took of this businesses," Marquez said.
Marquez said this is not only unethical, it's wrong.
"It's important to bring it to the forefront because if all of this stays hidden, when are the people of San Marcos going to find out what's really going on?" Marquez said.
She seeks government transparency.
"My question is why a third of all the revenue goes to one business. So that just gets me to think that our government, our leadership is serving the economic interests of the elite few in San Marcos," Marquez said.
Marquez intends to run for City Council in November. Gregson recently announced he is not seeking re-election.
Spectrum News received a written statement from Gregson.
"I did not recuse myself from the Business, Improvement and Growth (BIG) program vote because I was not planning to apply. To date, I have not and have no intention of applying for matching funds under this program.
Tenants in buildings in which I have publicly disclosed an interest in on multiple ethics disclosures participated in this program. As required by the ordinance, the landlord is required to sign any application involving their property. I had nothing to do with submitting the application, completing the work, providing the dollars to draw down the matching funds, or the City Manager’s approval of the application.
For one tenant, the application was for fire sprinklers. Given our recent tragedy, I am relieved they took these preventative measures.
It’s clear election season is getting into gear and anti-small business activists are attacking an outgoing council member who is not running for re-election to attract attention. What’s not clear is why they would attack a program that helped a small business acquire fire sprinklers so soon after a deadly fire."