San Antonio passes $2.8 billion city budget

San Antonio City Manager Sheryl Sculley speaks about the Fiscal Year 2019 city budget at city hall. (Photo: KTSA/Don Morgan)

SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) — The San Antonio City Council passed its Fiscal Year 2019 budget Thursday morning.

The measure passed unanimously.

The $2.8 billion funding measure includes increased funding for streets maintenance, sidewalks and more money to fund affordable housing.

“This budget has been fully vetted, reviewed by the community and now approved by the City Council. After I proposed the budget on Aug. 9, we held eight work sessions with the City Council and seven community days across San Antonio to allow residents an opportunity to meet with departments to learn more about services provided to them,” City Manager Sheryl Sculley said. “More families and millennials participated in the budget development process this year through the SASpeakUp campaign. Residents overwhelmingly supported major funding initiatives for streets, sidewalks, public safety and animal care services.”

“The fiscal 2019 budget is balanced and does not increase the tax rate,” Mayor Ron Nirenberg said.  “This budget also used an equity framework to ensure that areas of greatest need receive the greatest investment. Our city has historical patterns of inequity and I’m proud that we have started to address this issue with candid conversations and real resources.”

“While I supported the FY 2019 budget overall, I have a philosophical issue with committing General Fund dollars to the housing initiative. This issue truly has no end date and further strains an already limited General Fund. I simply cannot support further straining the General Fund outside of the core services that we are responsible for covering,” councilman Clayton Perry said.  “Property taxes, public safety, infrastructure, and public facilities have always been at the top of the list for San Antonians; these concerns are often stressed by our neighbors here in District 10 and are the focus of my attention. The City’s budget should be focused on providing more funding for those core services.”

Highlights of the FY 2019 budget:

  • Increased street maintenance funding from $99 million to $110 million, continuing a two-year program to improve the average street condition index to 70 in Council Districts 1, 2, 3, 5 and 10 and adds funding to address poor street conditions inside Loop 410 and the oldest areas of Council Districts 8 & 9.
  • Sidewalk funding of $19 million. Sidewalks are prioritized based on criteria such as proximity to schools, pedestrian safety, transit and healthcare facility access.
  • Filling police vacancies in the next year. With SAPD’s enhanced recruitment efforts and four academy classes scheduled next year, unfilled positions are estimated to be less than 50 by the end of 2019.
  • Two additional SAFFE officers.
  • Five additional Animal Care Services positions to improve response times to resident requests and to address illegal sale of puppies online, roadside and outdoor markets.
  • Property tax relief for seniors and residents with disabilities. In 2019, the City will forego $52 million in property tax revenue from the Senior and Disabled Homestead Exemptions and frozen City tax payments. The City makes up only 20% of the annual property tax bill.
  • $17.1 million in new funding for the implementation of the Mayor’s Housing Policy Task force recommendations. When combined with current funding, the proposed budget includes a total of $25 million for affordable housing supported by General Funds, Housing and Urban Development grants and the Housing Trust.
  • Three additional code enforcement officers.
  • New funding of $1 million to operate and maintain recently completed Parks capital projects to include 108 new acres.
  • Eight new Parks police officers are added for linear creekways and new parks funded through the voter approved bond program.
  • Library funding for books and digital materials, maintenance, furniture and computer replacement.
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