City Bond Rating Downgrade Prompts Spat Between Mayor, Councilman

The downgrading of the City of San Antonio's bond rating from the top level AAA which the city has enjoyed for nine years, has prompted a war of words between Mayor Nirenberg and the Councilman who is expected to challenge him for the top spot in 2019, Nws Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

After Fitch Ratings announced it was downgrading the City's bond rating to AA plus, a move which city officials said was due entirely to the uncertainty in the City's financial status due to Proposition C, one of the two measures pushed by the firefighters union and approved by voters last month, Nirenberg tweeted directly to Councilman Greg Brockhouse, who was the only Council member to support the charter change effort.

"I'm disappointed, but we were warned and worked to make sure this wouldn't happen," NIrenberg tweeted.  "Greg Brockhouse promised voters this wouldn't happen.  He lied to voters, and taxpayers have to foot the bill."

Brockhouse immediately shot back, "Ron, being in charge means taking responsibility for your failed leadership, not lying and blaming others.  Your tweet is juvenile and inaccurate."

Then, Brockhouse made a comment which may foreshadow more harsh words between the two in the coming year.

"If you wont' lead, San Antonio voters will find somebody who will."

City officials said the least noticed of the three propositions, two of which were passed and one of which failed, is the one that prompted the downgrade. 

 It requires 'binding arbitration' with an independent arbitrator to settle contract differences between the city and the firefighters union. 

That means a person who is not accountable to the city or to the voters, who has no knowledge of the city's financial situation, will be able to make decisions that affect two thirds of the city's general fund budget, a situation which has worried Fitch even since the idea was floated.

It is not known whether the other two major bond rating houses, Moody's and Standard and Poor's, will go along with Fitch's downgrade, but it is likely that they will.

The downgrade means the city will have to pay higher interest rates for money borrowed for major projects, like the regular street repair and capital improvement bond issue.  Taxpayers will have more of their property taxes routed away from fixing potholes and into the the pockets of bankers.

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