JEFFERSON — The Jefferson City Council on Tuesday unanimously voted to exempt hotels from penalties and interest in hotel occupancy tax collections, because of the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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

“Basically, it’s what all the other communities around the state are doing,” Interim Mayor Victor Perot said. “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,” Perot said. “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.”

The council also approved a contingent permit for the Candlelight Tour of Homes event set for December in Jefferson.

“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.

At its next meeting, the council plans to begin addressing again the issue of hiring a new city administrator.

The city has been without one 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 set to resume reviewing applications for the position soon.