JEFFERSON — The Jefferson city council on Tuesday unanimously voted to exempt hotels from penalties and interest in HOT (Hotel Occupancy Tax) collections, due to the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The city council exempted all lodging entities from HOT penalties and interest retroactive back to April 1 and running through Aug. 31.

"The board came to me to ask me to have this on the agenda," Perot said. "Basically, it's what all the other communities around the state are doing. There was no one late yet, in their regular payments. The main thing is, if we do have somebody, we just don't want to charge penalties, just like we aren't charging penalties on water bills right now."

The council also unanimously voted to approve the Marion Central Appraisal District's 2021 operating budget, ahead of Jefferson ISD and Marion County's approval.

"It is the exact same budget as it was last year, I have not spoken to the school district but (Marion County Judge) Leward LaFleur feels pretty sure the county is going to approve it since there is no increase," Jefferson Interim Mayor Victor Perot said Tuesday. "I'm generally one that, since I've been on the council, I prefer that the county and the school, if they are not going to approve it, that we don't approve it until they do, but I feel comfortable that they're both going to approve it."

The council also approved a contingent permit for the Candlelight Tour of Homes event in Jefferson set for Dec. 3, 4 and 5.

"We have to follow the guidelines of Gov. Greg Abbott so if he were come to back in and say we are shut down, then we will just approve this tonight on a contingent basis," Perot said. 

The council also plans to begin re-addressing the issue of hiring a new city administrator at the council's next meeting.

The city has been without a city administrator since Sept. 21, 2018 when the council voted to part ways with controversial city manager Kevin Huckabee after residents presented a petition demanding his dismissal. Huckabee was given a $40,000 severance package when he left.

The council is soon set to resume reviewing applications for the position.

To view a recording of the meeting, visit the Marion County Herald’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MarionCountyHerald/