S.A. Council Approves 2019 Budget, No Tax Rate Reduction

San Antonio City Council today voted 9-1 to approve a $2.8 billion 2019 city budget which includes additional funding for street repairs, animal control, and for the mayor's affordable housing program, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

The lone 'no' vote was cast by northeast side Councilman Clayton Perry.

"This year's budget is over $100 million more than last years," Perry said.  "We are over $2.8 billion."

Perry has been fighting all year to get a homestead exemption included in the city's budget, to give a break to homeowners who are facing higher property valuations.  A 'homestead exemption' grants a waiver on property taxes on a portion of a property's value if the taxpayer personally lives in the home.

"Bexar County just passed their budget," he said.  "It was $1.7 billion.  And guess what they were able to do.  They lowered their tax rate, and they were also able to provide a homestead exemption."

The new budget focuses on street repair, sidewalk construction, animal control, and filling vacancies in the police department.

“This budget allocates $110 million for street maintenance that will maintain approximately 350 miles of road. That’s the equivalent of driving from here to Oklahoma," Mayor Nirenberg said.

One of the more interesting line items in the new budget was proposed by northwest side Councilman Manny Pelaez.  It is a pilot program to try to cut down on streetcorner panhandling, by encouraging motorists to instead donate to non profits like the Haven for Hope.

City officials stressed that the 2019 budget does not raise the 'tax rate,' but, considering the higher property appraisals and additional construction, it will mean a 2.88% increase in city tax collections.

City Manager Sheryl Sculley said the budget reflects what citizens wanted in several public hearings held over the last several weeks.

"Residents overwhelmingly supported major funding initiatives for streets, sidewalks, public safety and animal care services," she said.

The budget also continues the mayors' 'equity lens' inititiative, where 'underserved' parts of the city, mainly areas inside Loop 410, will receive larger allocations for basic services like street repair.

“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," he said.

The budget also includes $25 million toward the mayor's housing affordability program, which was approved by City Council last week.

The new budget takes effect October 1.

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