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Bexar County commissioners debate ideas for how to spend federal COVID-19 relief funds

Bexar County Courthouse
Brian Kirkpatrick
Bexar County Courthouse

Bexar County commissioners debated the allocation of nearly $18 million in remaining federal COVID-19 relief dollars at their meeting last week.

The county received $389 million under the American Rescue Plan Act to help residents get back on their feet during and after the pandemic.

Most of the funding has been allocated to public health, affordable housing, small businesses and non-profits.

But nearly $18 million remains unallocated. Some of the federal relief could not be spent by those it was allocated to for one reason or another and was returned to the county.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Justin Rodriguez and the other commissioners know the money must be allocated by Dec. 31 and spent by 2026 or the federal government will want it back.

"We can't string this out through the spring and summer. We probably got to make decisions in the next 30 days or so," he said.

Some of the commissioners said the remaining money could be spent on replacing county revenue lost during the pandemic and again allocated toward affordable housing and or small businesses.

Parks update

Commissioners also heard a report from Bexar County Parks Manager Ken McGlamery on progress within his department formally created just two years ago.

The department manages 11 parks, the courthouse Heritage Center, and three civic centers.

McGlamery told commissioners that tens of thousands of visitors come to the parks each year for 3,600 events, including the area's official Juneteenth celebration. Those visits generate around $400,000 in annual revenue for the county.

He said future developments include a major makeover of Rodriguez Park. "This is going to be the home of Bexar County youth sports. We're going to have soccer fields out there. We're going to have kids playing galore."

The county parks website has also been overhauled.

Commissioners praised McGlamery for programming events in the parks, which in the past mostly served as passive green space.

Cracking down on overweight trucks

The court also heard a proposal from Bexar County constables to crack down on truckers whose vehicles violate weight limits.

Precinct 3 County Constable Mark Vojvodich told commissioners the county's four constables are all in to be on the lookout for overweight trucks.

He said overweight trucks damage county roads with ruts. "If you've seen those rutting and that type of thing in areas," he explained, "that's a commercial vehicle that is probably overweighted."

Adding to the concerns is the cargo the 18,000-pound vehicles are hauling, which can be hazardous.

The constables still need formal approval by commissioners and then must undergo state approved training to patrol for overweight trucks.

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