SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) – City Manager Erik Walsh breaks down the proposed $2.9 million dollar budget for city council and he got some questions about putting the squeeze on the San Antonio Water System.
Walsh says SAWS is being asked to increase its transfer of revenue to the city from 2.7 percent to 4 percent, which amounts to about $10 million dollars. That raised some eyebrows during Thursday’s presentation with several council members questioning how SAWS could have that much extra cash lying around.
Councilman Clayton Perry noted SAWS customers had their rates go up not too long ago. He recalled their argument for raising fees “so that we could contend with that EPA consent decree and our water supply, including Vista Ridge, to prepare for that.”
He voted against that SAWS rate hike.
“And what are we doing now? The city is robbing that account because there’s a perceived lack of funds to operate our 2020 budget and general fund,” said Perry.
Councilwoman Shirley Gonzales questioned how transferring that extra $10 million dollars would affect SAWS projects.
A couple of council members also questioned why the budget includes more than half-a-million-dollars for 4 staff members to work on the Paid Sick Leave program when there’s uncertainty about whether it will actually go into effect. Implementation of San Antonio’s ordinance has been delayed from August to December. A similar ordinance in Austin is pending review by the Texas Supreme Court after being ruled unconstitutional by a lower court.
Mayor Ron Nirenberg says this is probably the most difficult budget city staff has worked on in many years.
“I’m pleased that the proposal includes no property tax rate increase while accounting for our new homestead exemption that Councilman Perry and Councilman Courage had been championing for quite some time,” said Nirenberg. The homestead exemption amounts to about $28 a year for San Antonio homeowners.
You can have your say at workshops and public hearings before the council votes on the proposed city budget September 12.